Specificities of French community gardens as environmental stewardships

Community-based efforts are essential to address urban social–ecological challenges. Here, we focus on French community gardens. Through participant observation and semistructured interviews, this study seeks to provide empirical evidence on: (1) what motivates volunteer gardeners in French community gardens to undertake this activity, (2) what practices take place in the gardens, and (3) which individual and collective processes are associated with gardeners' experiences in the gardens. Through these questions, we aim to understand how these initiatives relate to environmental stewardship. Our results show that environmental, social, and self-motivations are the drivers behind gardeners' participation in the gardens. It seems that involvement in the gardens provides opportunities to fulfill those needs and/or motives through different interrelated processes between the individual with him/herself, the human collective, and nature such as: contemplating nature and benefiting from sensory experiences, having access to environmental education, experiencing individual and collective organization, renewing social–ecological relationships, and facing local challenges. We note that French community gardens provide arenas for new experiences of nature. In addition, even if gardens’ biophysical features and gardening practices allow a series of processes that provide social and ecological benefits and outcomes, these gardens refer to environmental stewardship practices by cultivating relational values. These values provide opportunities for innovative ways of creative conservation, reflecting how care for ourselves extends to care for others, for places, and for nature.

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New York s’implique dans le développement de l’agriculture urbaine

Billet rédigé par Eric Duchemin, Directeur scientifique AULAB et Jean-Philippe Vermette, Directeur politiques publiques AU/LAB

Près de 30 après avoir adopté ses premières mesures favorables à l’agriculture urbaine, le Conseil de Ville de New York vient tout juste d’adopter à l’unanimité un projet de loi visant la création, par ses services, d’un portail de l’agriculture urbaine qui viendra donner un coup de pouce au développement des projets d’agriculture urbaine aussi bien communautaires que commerciaux.

Bien que plusieurs acteurs se réjouissent de cette nouvelle, la décision du conseil est une mouture beaucoup moins ambitieuse que la proposition initiale du conseiller municipal Raphael L. Espinal et du président de l’arrondissement de Brooklin Eric Adams. Cette première proposition prévoyait la rédaction d’un plan intégré de l’agriculture urbaine new yorkaise. Teintée par le désir de donner des outils de démarrage aux entreprises High-tech, ce plan d’action intégré offrait, selon plusieurs, trop peu de perspectives prometteuses pour le développement d’une agriculture plus sociale à New York. Un danger que l’on voit poindre le bout du nez dans plusieurs villes à travers le monde.

Continuer la lecture de New York s’implique dans le développement de l’agriculture urbaine 

Eric Duchemin

Directeur scientifique et formation du Laboratoire sur l'agriculture urbaine (AULAB)

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A Global Geospatial Ecosystem Services Estimate of Urban Agriculture

Though urban agriculture (UA), defined here as growing of crops in cities, is increasing in popularity and importance globally, little is known about the aggregate benefits of such natural capital in built-up areas. Here, we introduce a quantitative framework to assess global aggregate ecosystem services from existing vegetation in cities and an intensive UA adoption scenario based on data-driven estimates of urban morphology and vacant land. We analyzed global population, urban, meteorological, terrain, and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) datasets in Google Earth Engine to derive global scale estimates, aggregated by country, of services provided by UA. We estimate the value of four ecosystem services provided by existing vegetation in urban areas to be on the order of $33 billion annually. We project potential annual food production of 100–180 million tonnes, energy savings ranging from 14 to 15 billion kilowatt hours, nitrogen sequestration between 100,000 and 170,000 tonnes, and avoided storm water runoff between 45 and 57 billion cubic meters annually. In addition, we estimate that food production, nitrogen fixation, energy savings, pollination, climate regulation, soil formation and biological control of pests could be worth as much as $80–160 billion annually in a scenario of intense UA implementation. Our results demonstrate significant country-to-country variability in UA-derived ecosystem services and reduction of food insecurity. These estimates represent the first effort to consistently quantify these incentives globally, and highlight the relative spatial importance of built environments to act as change agents that alleviate mounting concerns associated with global environmental change and unsustainable development.

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School Gardens: A Qualitative Study on Implementation Practices

School gardens have beneficial effects on children's dietary behaviors but information on its implementation is scarce. The current study aimed to gain insight in implementation practices of school gardens and in perceptions of key members and children towards a school garden. We conducted twelve interviews involving 14 key members and five focus groups with 38 children from fifth to sixth grade (10-13 years old) in four primary schools in Ghent (Flanders, Belgium). We analyzed the interviews and focus groups in NVivo, using thematic analysis. School gardens were mainly initiated to involve children in nature, not to improve vegetable consumption. Participants were positive about having a school garden, experienced facilitating factors (e.g., adaptability of the garden, having a person responsible for the garden), but also various barriers (e.g., difficulties with startup, maintenance during summer holidays and integration in the school curriculum) and suggested some solutions (e.g., involving external organizations and parents, expanding the garden) and motivating factors for children (e.g., colorful plants, use of gloves). In order to improve implementation and to contribute to children's health, future school gardening projects should take the recommendations of key members and children into account.

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Rooftop farming on urban waste provides many ecosystem services

Urban farming, especially on rooftops, is a popular and growing topic in both the media and the scientific literature, providing a genuine opportunity to meet some of the challenges linked to urban development worldwide. However, relatively little attention has been paid to date to the growing medium of green roofs, i.e., Technosols. A better understanding of the influence of Technosols and the link with ecosystem services is required in order to maximize the environmental benefits of urban rooftop farming. Between March 2013 and March 2015, a pilot project called T4P (Parisian Productive rooftoP, Pilot Experiment) was conducted on the rooftop of AgroParisTech University. Urban organic waste was used, and results were compared with those obtained using a commercial potting soil, based on yield and trace metal concentrations, substrate characterization, and the amount of leaching. An assessment of the ecosystem services expected from the Technosols was undertaken in terms of the output of food (food production and quality), regulation of water runoff (quantity and quality), and the recycling of organic waste. Indicators of these ecosystem services (e.g., yield, annual loss of mass of mineral nitrogen) were identified, measured, and compared with reference cases (asphalt roof, green roof, and cropland). Measured yields were almost equivalent to those obtained from horticultural sources in the same area, and the Technosols also retained 74–84% of the incoming rainfall water. This is the first quantitative analysis of ecosystem services delivered by urban garden rooftops developed on organic wastes, and demonstrates their multifunctional character, as well as allowing the identification of trade-offs. An ecosystem services approach is proposed for the design of soil-based green infrastructure of this kind and more generally for the design of sustainable urban agriculture.

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Cartographie des jardins individuels à Longueuil (Québec, Canada)

En collaboration avec plusieurs partenaires, le Laboratoire sur l’agriculture urbaine (AULAB) travaille sur un projet d’évaluation de l’agriculture urbaine comme infrastructure verte de résilience individuelle et collective face aux changements climatiques et sociaux. Planifié sur trois ans (20176-2020), ce projet de recherche servira à outiller les acteurs sociaux québécois d’un guide d’évaluation sur les bénéfices de l’agriculture urbaine quant à l’insécurité alimentaire, la justice alimentaire et la résilience individuelle et collective pour l’alimentation, le tout dans un contexte de changements climatiques.

Le travail présenté dans le cadre de ce billet a été réalisé par Léa Brenneval de l’École Nationale des Travaux Publics de l’Etat, qui était en stage à AULAB à l’été 2017. Le stage  a été réalisé sous la supervision de Eric Duchemin, Directeur scientifique et formation de AULAB, avec la participation de Hien Pham, professeure à l’UQAM et Collaboratrice à AULAB.

Résumé : Dans le cadre d’une recherche l’équipe du Laboratoire sur l’agriculture urbaine (AU/LAB) a cartographié par Image satellite la présence de jardins individuels sur une première zone de 20,5 km2 du Territoire de la ville de Longueuil. Cette cartographie a été jumelée par des visites de terrain afin de valider l’identification effectuée par l’analyse des images. Cette zone d’étude couvre 18% du territoire de la ville de Longueuil. Continuer la lecture de Cartographie des jardins individuels à Longueuil (Québec, Canada) 

Cartographie de l’agriculture urbaine à Montréal-Nord (Québec, Canada)

En collaboration avec plusieurs partenaires, le Laboratoire sur l’agriculture urbaine (AULAB) travaille sur un projet d’évaluation de l’agriculture urbaine comme infrastructure verte de résilience individuelle et collective face aux changements climatiques et sociaux. Planifié sur trois ans (20176-2020), ce projet de recherche servira à outiller les acteurs sociaux québécois d’un guide d’évaluation sur les bénéfices de l’agriculture urbaine quant à l’insécurité alimentaire, la justice alimentaire et la résilience individuelle et collective pour l’alimentation, le tout dans un contexte de changements climatiques.

Le travail présenté dans le cadre de ce billet a été réalisé par Bastien Haehnel, Université de Strasbourg, qui était en stage à AULAB à l’été 2017. Le stage  a été réalisé sous la supervision de Eric Duchemin, Directeur scientifique et formation de AULAB, avec la participation de Hien Pham, professeure à l’UQAM et Collaboratrice à AULAB.

Résumé : Dans le cadre d’une recherche l’équipe du Laboratoire sur l’agriculture urbaine (AU/LAB) a cartographié par Image satellite la présence de jardins individuels sur l’ensemble du territoire de l’arrondissement Montréal-Nord, soit une superficie de 11,07 km². Cette cartographie a été jumelée par des visites de terrain afin de valider l’identification effectuée par l’analyse des images. Cette zone d’étude couvre 2,6% du territoire de la ville de Montréal. Continuer la lecture de Cartographie de l’agriculture urbaine à Montréal-Nord (Québec, Canada) 

Eric Duchemin

Directeur scientifique et formation du Laboratoire sur l'agriculture urbaine (AULAB)

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Agir pour les agricultures des aires urbaines : Guide d’aide à la décision

Cet ouvrage cherche à donner des outils de compréhension et d’action aux professionnels publics et privés (collectivités locales, entreprises, aménageurs, urbanistes, paysagistes, agriculteurs,…). sollicités sur ce sujet dans leurs métiers, il s’agit pour eux de partager une approche et un vocabulaire communs. À cette fin, le guide est organisé en trois grands chapitres : « Comprendre l’histoire » dresse le portrait de l’agriculture des aires urbaines en France, en présentant l’historique récent des relations entre la ville et l’agriculture, ainsi que la diversité des initiatives et les enjeux actuels. « Agir dans le Cadre des projets urbains » présente les facteurs clés à prendre en compte pour intégrer différentes formes d’agriculture urbaine dans l’espace et le temps urbains, avec les leviers d’action associés. « Agir dans le Cadre des politiques publiques » s’intéresse à la construction d’une stratégie agricole et alimentaire cohérente des collectivités urbaines, en décrivant notamment une démarche et en approfondissant des thématiques à mobiliser.

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Urban Gardeners’ Motivations in a Metropolitan City: The Case of Milan

Urban gardening (UG) as a component of urban agriculture (UA) has reached popularity during the last decades. This growing interest depends on several factors including the different functions that have been attributed to UG over the years, operating from the economic to the social, health and cultural levels. While multifunctionality of UG is well documented, only a few studies investigated individual gardeners' motivations, which can be subjective and heavily affected by the local context in which it takes place. The paper aims to detect some peculiar features of Milan city gardeners, in order to highlight the motivations of their activity through an innovative and replicable approach based on multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) and hierarchical clustering analysis (HCA). The analysis has been applied to the Milan case study, in the North of Italy; the results suggest a great importance of the social component of UG, and trace some different gardeners' profiles.

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Home-grown: Gardens, practices and motivations in urban domestic vegetable production

Food production is of symbolic and practical importance in sustainable cities. Vegetable gardening in public spaces and community gardens is better understood than the same activity on private residential property. In suburbanised western cities most vegetable production is likely to be on private blocks. To increase vegetable production in cities, we need to understand private vegetable growing. We used a questionnaire administered in person with a diverse sample of 101 gardeners in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia to determine variation in gardens, gardening practices and gardener motivations, relationships between them, and potential for planning and other interventions to increase domestic vegetable production. Vegetable gardens varied from highly species-rich to species-poor and from staple production to expressions of culinary fashion. Gardening practices varied from integrated, organic and displayed, to strongly constructed and reliant on synthetic inputs. While all respondents were motivated to grow vegetables for pleasure, many were activists who wished to promote social change, while others wished to ensure affordable access to vegetables or to improve health. Activist gardeners used integrated organic or permacultural practices and produced highly complex garden outcomes. With the exceptions of the activists and food fashionistas, garden type, gardening practice and gardener motivation were not strongly interlinked. A large majority of respondents identified family members as important sources of information and inspiration. Gardeners without family role models were either influenced by new food cultures or were on low-incomes and wanted affordable access to vegetables. This latter group could be expanded through appropriate education and incentives.

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Mapping public and private spaces of urban agriculture in Chicago through the analysis of high-resolution aerial images in Google Earth

Although always a part of city life, urban agriculture has recently attracted increased attention from diverse groups in the United States, which promote it as a strategy for stimulating economic development, increasing food security and access, and combatting obesity and diabetes, among other goals. Developing effective policies and programs at the city or neighborhood level demands as a first step the accurate mapping of existing urban agriculture sites. Mapping efforts in major U.S. cities have been limited in their focus and methodology. Focusing on public sites of food production, such as community gardens, they have overlooked the actual and potential contribution of private spaces, including home food gardens, to local food systems. This paper describes a case study of urban agriculture in Chicago which used the manual analysis of high-resolution aerial images in Google Earth in conjunction with ArcGIS to identify and map public and private spaces of food production. The resulting spatial dataset demonstrates that urban agriculture is an extensive land use type with wide variations in the distribution of sites across the city. Only 13% of sites reported to be community gardening projects by nongovernment organizations and government agencies were determined, through image analysis, to be sites of food production. The production area of home gardens identified by the study is almost threefold that of community gardens. Study results suggest opportunities may exist for scaling up existing production networks—including home food gardens—and enhancing community food sovereignty by leveraging local knowledges of urban agriculture.

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Redes, Ideias E Ação Pública Na Agricultura Urbana: São Paulo, Montreal E Toronto. São Paulo 2017

This thesis deals with an analysis of different Urban Agriculture (UA) models of public action. The theoretical model adopted is the cognitive analysis of public action, based on Pierre Muller and Yves Surel, and the actor-network theory by Bruno Latour. The purpose of the thesis is to understand the relationship dynamics between ideas, organizations, networks of action and results in the field of UA public action. The results are understood as basic services for Urban Agriculture, that were defined according to the literature analysis in this field, and it can be offered by state and/or civil society organizations. Based on the literature review of 21 different cities, four different types of public action were identified.

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Cultivating (a) Sustainability Capital: Urban Agriculture, Ecogentrification, and the Uneven Valorization of Social Reproduction: Annals of the American Association of Geographers: Vol 0, No 0

Urban agriculture (UA), for many activists and scholars, plays a prominent role in food justice struggles in cities throughout the Global North, a site of conflict between use and exchange values and rallying point for progressive claims to the right to the city. Recent critiques, however, warn of its contribution to gentrification and displacement. With the use–exchange value binary no longer as useful an analytic as it once was, geographers need to better understand UA's contradictory relations to capital, particularly in the neoliberal sustainable city. To this end, I bring together feminist theorizations of social reproduction, Bourdieu's “species of capital” and critical geographies of race to help demystify UA's entanglement in processes of ecogentrification. In this primarily theoretical contribution, I argue that concrete labor embedded in household-scale UA—a socially reproductive practice—becomes cultural capital that a sustainable city's growth coalition in turn valorizes as symbolic sustainability capital used to extract rent and burnish the city's brand at larger scales. The valorization of UA occurs, by necessity, in a variegated manner; spatial agglomerations of UA and the ecohabitus required for its misrecognition as sustainability capital arise as a function of the interplay between rent gaps and racialized othering. I assert that ecogentrification is not only a contradiction emerging from an urban sustainability fix but is central to how racial capitalism functions through green urbanization. Like its contribution to ecogentrification, I conclude, UA's emancipatory potential is also spatially variegated.

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Urban migrant women’s everyday food insecurity coping strategies foster alternative urban imaginaries of a more democratic food system: Urban Geography: Vol 0, No 0

Urban migrant women worldwide utilize a creative combination of food insecurity coping strategies to procure food for themselves and their families. Using in-depth interviews with 72 migrant women in Medellín, Colombia, and Washington, DC, this paper argues that in low-income urban communities these everyday strategies can further their demands for autonomy in determining what foods they produce and consume. Relying on feminist geography and food sovereignty literature, this research explores how migrant women living in poverty rely on informal networks for growing and sharing food, seek out organic, fresh foods, and utilize independent survival strategies to counter exclusionary rhetoric and a food system they view as unhealthy. In doing so, they devise alternative urban imaginaries of a more democratic food system. This research contributes a more nuanced understanding of the food insecurity experiences of urban migrant women.

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L’appréhension de l’agriculture urbaine par le droit français

L’intégration de l’agriculture dans la ville n’apparaît pas comme une évidence juridique. Au contraire, la ville est habituellement considérée comme l’ennemi de l’agriculture : elle s’étale, elle morcelle les terres agricoles et met en danger l’agriculture périurbaine. Un véritable arsenal juridique s’adresse, non sans raison, à l’agriculture tant dans ses dimensions spatiales que dans ses pratiques, mais l’exercice de cette activité en milieu dense urbain se révèle très largement ignoré par le droit. Pourtant, l’agriculture en milieu dense urbain s’impose peu à peu, tant dans les concepts que dans les faits, et ce phénomène dont les manifestations se multiplient, appelle à un renouveau des fondements ruralistes du droit de l’agriculture, sinon à la reconnaissance juridique de l’agriculture urbaine en tant que telle.

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