Urbanization, i.e. the population shift from rural to urban areas, is a phenomenon that has significant impact on our way of living. In the context of food production and consumption, urbanization results in less or no involvement of urban inhabitants into farming activities. Additionally, fertile soils at the fringes of cities are sealed to expand the cities. While these could be worrying developments, we can at the same time observe that consumption trends move towards regional and local food, and that urban gardening is booming in countries of the Global North.
Taking these opposing trends (i.e., pressure of urbanization vs. demand for local food and urban gardening) as a starting point, we decided to take a closer look at urban farming and gardening in different cities of the Global North (with an emphasis on Vienna). The project course “Organic Farming and Regional Development” offered a suitable frame to focus on different aspects within this broad topic. The involved students worked in five teams on the following issues:
- Literature review on urban and peri-urban agriculture and the linkages to local food systems;
- Bottom-up urban gardening initiatives in Vienna;
- Political framework of urban agriculture in Vienna
- Urban agriculture in Detroit in the context of food insecurity; and
- Food Policy Councils as tools to support local food systems in urban areas;