United Nations emphasises Urban Agriculture to resolve multiple sustainability developmental goals to counter climate change, pollution, and social problems around the globe (United Nations Environment Programme, 2022). That is to resolve every issue with urban agriculture (ibid.). Nevertheless, there are many considerations to make appropriate approaches for some parts of the world. The few suggestions are Home Gardening & Communal Gardening, Multifunctional Farms, and Indoor Farms. The tropes are to examine each approach throughout different parts of the world to understand the general concept of urban agriculture.

Home Gardening/Communal Gardening 

In some parts of the world, methods like home gardening and communal gardening require evaluations for future references of urban agriculture. In Philippine cities like Manila, one author like Montefrio had some assertion ensures a realistic take on how to move forward regarding home and community gardening by enhancing community quarantine (ECQ) and other methods during the Covid pandemic lockdown (Montefrio, 2020, Figure 1). Though some individuals utilise competition, envy, and judgement on how people should work hard on the productivity of gardening, Montefrio (2020) seemed more intuitive in improving the community with realistic goals rather than ideal ones. What matters is that Montefrio (2020) is not confident in the fantasy world we would imagine, as Philippines cities are complex (Montefrio, 2020). He demonstrated they need to reflect and do their best to alleviate complex issues about gardening and other urban agricultural methods. Montefrio’s assertion suggests professionals avoid overconfidence about the complexities of Philippines cities. His suggestion also applies to other cities around the globe regarding home and communal gardening to improve urban agriculture.

Urban Agriculture Application - Sheet1
Home Gardening (Water, Agroforestry, Nutrition and Development Foundation, no date, 1_Home Gardening_ ©Water, Agroforestry, Nutrition and Development Foundation)

Multifunctional Farms

In North America, some problems exist where political willingness over the multifunctional farm in urban agriculture (Spyra et al., 2020). The problem is that multiple uses in farming can have one or more activities activate NIMBYISM out of the blue (Spyra et al., 2020). The ugly truth is mostly politics for NIMBYISM, despite the potential benefits from European and American multifunctional farms demonstrating otherwise (Branduini et al., 2020, Poulsen et al., 2017 & Zasada, 2011). The simple solution is to convince the municipalities with reports and legislation of beneficial farms promoting multifunctionality (Poulsen, 2017 & Zasada, 2011). They must empower professionals, vulnerable people, and others to build more multifunctional farms (Josi et al., 2021, Branduini et al., 2020, Poulsen et al., 2017 & Zasada, 2011). The second part is the planning policies still occurring in Ontario, Canada, as an example (Akimowicz, 2020 & Spyra et al., 2020). Most are inefficient, overregulated, and rigid to function in multifunctional farms (Akimowicz, 2020 & Spyra et al., 2020). The solution is to value the population of farmers and their opinions to reform Ontario’s urban and peri-rural agriculture (Akimowicz, 2020 & Spyra et al., 2020). 

Lastly, political will is where politicians only must care for themselves regarding this type of urban agriculture (Josi et al., 2021). The similarities must attribute to one character Polonius with his rigid towards his family and his job to keep tabs on politics in the realm (Shakespeare, 1966). It is a double-edged sword that can protect some civilians but not others. The attitude toward the policies demonstrates the current situation in Ontario in complex legislation because of the politicians’ attitude (Akimowicz, 2020 & Spyra et al., 2020). They should consider both sides rather than vote itself as the solution for multifunctional farms with multiple benefits (Josi et al., 2021, Branduini et al., 2020, Poulsen et al., 2017 & Zasada, 2011). The democratic solution can attribute to the attitude towards the public, the policies, and politicians that have self-interest, which needs solutions to disentangle them all to have the best solutions for multifunctional farms to exist so far. This process is not easy, but simplifying the step and mitigating the situation with different iterations will help solve many existing problems that can taint some municipalities in history and currently.

Indoor Farms

In Europe, Indoor farms are the fact that can help urban agriculture to thrive, considering the challenges in urban agriculture (Milestad et al., 2020, Figure 2). The key challenges are mismeasurements based on Greenhouse Gases (ibid.). For example, it only measures the building of vertical farms themselves instead of other factors like transportation or coal energy (ibid). A better solution is to weigh the outcome of clean energy, like zero-emission carbon and sustainable buildings, instead of cherry-picking to dismiss the source of the vertical farms’ recyclable CO2, protection of food waste, and infrastructure expenses from natural disasters (ibid). Therefore, the way to measure them is to use human judgement, knowing causation, and even identify what methods work the cost-benefit on buildings, transportation, and other factors with experts to make a valid consensus without misleading information. The other challenges are the outdoor activities that serve outdoor services, community ownership, and interaction and contribution to the ecosystem (ibid.) Rather than just relying on the indoors itself, the mixture of indoor and outdoor will help take advantage to resolve the solution to enable social interaction and higher usage of the building between exterior and interior architecture (ibid).

The last challenge is to produce more (ibid). A better approach would be to utilise new technology like genetic engineering and other techniques like aquaponics and other methods to maximise yields (Pinstrup-Anderson, 2018). There should be no fear of technology, as Josi et al. (2021) demonstrated that technology, especially genetic engineering and other farming technologies, can outweigh the benefit over the cost. Some challenges exist, but mistakes and lessons to learn to minimise the existing problems within the vertical farm realm. One thing is to identify the problems with solutions for the indoor farm to thrive in the near and far future for urban agriculture.

Swedish Indoor Farm_©Smart City Sweden)

Conclusions

The approaches in urban agriculture are just a scratch of the surface to understand its complexity. First, home and community gardening can become complex, as demonstrated in the Philippines. Second, multifunctional farms can face challenges despite the benefits they can offer in North America. Lastly, the indoor farms in Europe are to demonstrate how to overcome each complex challenge by promoting them with research that will help them overcome the long-term future. As these three approaches only scratch the surface, the challenges and solutions guide beginners to navigate how to settle urban agriculture in each part of the world.

References:

Akimowicz, M. et al. (2020) ‘Planning for the future? the emergence of Shared Visions for agriculture in the urban-influenced Ontario’s Greenbelt, Canada, and Toulouse Interscot, France’, Regional Environmental Change, 20(2). doi:10.1007/s10113-020-01635-4. 

Branduini, P., Laviscio, R. and Scazzosi, L. (2020) ‘Agriculture in Milan. the mutual benefit between urban agriculture and Cultural Heritage’, Urban Agriculture, pp. 245–261. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-49012-6_15. 

Josi, D., Olivas, S. and Brooks, A. (2021) An industry worth fighting for. Nashville, TN: JRNYman Publications. 

Milestad, R., Carlsson-Kanyama, A. and Schaffer, C. (2020) ‘The Högdalen Urban Farm: A real case assessment of sustainability attributes’, Food Security, 12(6), pp. 1461–1475. doi:10.1007/s12571-020-01045-8. 

Montefrio, M.J. (2020) ‘Interrogating the “productive” home gardener in a time of pandemic lockdown in the Philippines’, Food and Foodways, 28(3), pp. 216–225. doi:10.1080/07409710.2020.1790142. 

Poulsen, M.N., Neff, R.A. and Winch, P.J. (2017) ‘The multifunctionality of urban farming: Perceived benefits for neighbourhood improvement’, Local Environment, 22(11), pp. 1411–1427. doi:10.1080/13549839.2017.1357686. 

Pinstrup-Andersen, P. (2018) ‘Is it time to take vertical indoor farming seriously?’, Global Food Security, 17, pp. 233–235. doi:10.1016/j.gfs.2017.09.002. 

Shakespeare, W. (1966) The tragedy of hamlet, prince of Denmark. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. 

Smart City Sweden (2019) Swedish Indoor Farm, Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/status/1168788227966345216/photo/1 (Accessed: 16 May 2023). 

Spyra, M. et al. (2020) ‘Governance of ecosystem services trade-offs in peri-urban landscapes’, Land Use Policy, 95, p. 104617. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2020.104617. 

United Nations Environmental Programme (2022) Urban Agriculture’s potential to advance multiple sustainability goals – an International Resource Panel think piece, UNEP. Available at: https://www.unep.org/resources/publication/urban-agricultures-potential-advance-multiple-sustainability-goals (Accessed: 15 May 2023). 

Water, Agroforestry, Nutrition and Development Foundation (no date) Home Gardening, GlobalGiving. Available at: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/covid-19-home-gardening-for-food-security/photos/#menu (Accessed: 16 May 2023). 

Zasada, I. (2011) ‘Multifunctional peri-urban agriculture—a review of societal demands and the provision of goods and services by farming’, Land Use Policy, 28(4), pp. 639–648. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2011.01.008. 

Author

Joshua Yae Joon Park wrote about urban planning and architectural articles ranging from urban design to missing middle. After graduating from the University of Waterloo and the University of Western Ontario, Joshua has experience in urban design and planning projects in Southern Ontario.