Urban agriculture: a tool of resilience for crisis-hit Western economies (City Farmer News / New Agriculturist)

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Urban agriculture digs in: ploughing ahead, in the city

Linked by Michael Levenston

New Agriculturist reports

Written by Paul Osborn
New Agriculturist
Sept. 10, 2010


In the last decade, urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) have resurged in the North: in most European cities, waiting lists for allotments have grown, and city farms and school farms blossomed. However, most UPA still blends the frugal and the recreational, with a few financially viable urban farms getting by through the mutual benefits of employing special-needs patients in ‘care-farming’. However after a recent launch conference of the Greater Liverpool Food Alliance (GLFA) in north-west England, urban agriculture is being seen as a tool of resilience for crisis-hit Western economies.

In the early 2000s, a World Health Organization report claimed that the commercial farmers of Greater London, plus its registered individual ‘allotment’ plots, produced some 9,400 tonnes of fruit and vegetables annually. Representing a mere two per cent of London’s minimum recommended intake (FAO: 2 pieces of fruit, 200 grams of vegetables daily), it bears no comparison to the 80 per cent of all vegetables grown and consumed in Accra or Hanoi.

That such statistics are hard to find today for Liverpool, the fourth city of a major OECD country is a legacy of when food security had fallen off the agendas of most city managers. Few Western cities can actually answer the innocent query “how big is your city’s harvest?” with either ease or pride. In North America, interest is richest in cities with high eco-awareness (the north-west) or in the coping strategies of places knocked down by recession, such as Detroit.

Mainstreaming urban agriculture


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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