“Il faut réculer pour mieux sauter.” (You have to step back to jump further): Agriculture, sustainability and community resiliency in urban environments
As the world continues its trajectory towards increasing urbanization, urban planners find the discipline confronting an ever-changing world; one in which rigid ideologies and static theories are giving way to the necessities of understanding the complexity of rapid urbanization, and how cities and their residents might best be sustained. Popular consensus on urban sustainability (in both research and public sectors) identifies the development of urban agricultural systems as a foundational component of urban resilience and sustainability, especially in developing countries and in urban communities facing social, economic and health disparities. This consensus has emerged in differing disciplines, from urban planning to public health and from human geography to sociology, but there remains a lack of discourse related to the potentially different outcomes of sanctioned vs. unsanctioned (i.e., formal vs. informal) uses of community green space in urban agricultural development.
The practice and academic study of urban planning increasingly recognizes the need for more research on urban agriculture and its relation to local food systems, spatial development, and local and regional economics, but there are many questions left unstudied and unanswered. Specifically, for urban areas to begin addressing both current urban agricultural production, and the potential for new urban agricultural systems, consensus around “best-practice” urban agricultural methods, formal and informal methods of urban agricultural production, food safety and related issues must be addressed, in order to accurately assess the range of risks and benefits posed to communities by urban agriculture.
With such an analysis, yet more questions emerge: How do institutionalized systems of oppression in cities shape urban agriculture and those who practice it, and how might urban agriculture fit within the greater movement towards social and environmental justice for urban residents facing social, economic, and physical disparities? What is the role of urban agriculture in addressing the unique needs of localized food systems that vary widely city by city, and even neighborhood by neighborhood? What is the role of the urban planner in agricultural practice? Perhaps most importantly, there is the need to establish a comprehensive framework to answer one deceptively simple question: “who farms what, where, how, and why?”
0503: Agricultural economics
0999: Urban planning