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From Urban Agriculture to Urban Food

Food System Analysis Based on Interaction Between Research, Policy, and Society

Heidrun Moschitz, Jan Landert, Christian Schader, and Rebekka Frick

Abstract

Urban agriculture is embedded in an urban food system, and its full potential can only be understood by looking into the dynamics of the system. Involving a variety of actors from civil society, policy, and the market, we conducted a comprehensive analysis of the food system of the city of Basel, Switzerland, including policy and actor analysis, analysis of perceptions on urban agriculture, food flow analysis, and a sustainability assessment. The article presents the results of these analyses and discusses how research can contribute to the societal debate on food systems transformation. We particularly reflect on how the research project became a boundary object in a dynamic process to develop new ideas and activities, as well as to create a space for future debates in the city’s food system.

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The Incredible Edible Movement

People Power, Adaptation, and Challenges in Rennes (France) and Montreal (Canada)

Giulia Giacchè and Lya Porto

Abstract

All over the world, different forms of urban food gardens (family gardens, school gardens, community gardens, allotment gardens, and so on) are flourishing. These initiatives vary in terms of space, actors, functions, and forms of organization. This article explores community garden typologies, focusing on Incredible Edible (IE) initiatives. We propose a theoretical discussion of IE initiatives and the differential adaptation of this model in contrasting contexts, specifically the city of Rennes, in France, and the city of Montreal, in Canada. The investigation of IE in both case studies is predicated on a qualitative methodological approach. A key conclusion is that the IE movement survives largely because of the input of volunteers. However, its longer-term sustainability requires resources and investment from municipal institutions if a real transition to edible cities is to be attained.

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Introduction

Civil Society and Urban Agriculture in Europe

Mary P. Corcoran and Joëlle Salomon Cavin

Abstract

This special issue comprises articles by social and environmental scientists, most of whom participated in a working group on governance models and policy contexts of the COST Action TD1106 Urban Agriculture Europe during the period 2012–2016. All have a particular interest in the potentialities of urban agriculture as mediated through civil society actors to contribute to, shape, and transform urban policies in the intersecting fields of land use and access; food and urban ecosystems; education and environment; and history, heritage, and cultural practice. The collaborative, interdisciplinary, and bottom-up character of the contributions broadens and deepens our knowledge of urban agricultural practice across Europe.

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Charlotte Prové, Denise Kemper, and Salma Loudiyi

Abstract

Urban agriculture (UA) has turned into a diverse and complex movement. Important challenges will be to set accurate expectations by civil society in relation to UA development, and to find ways to discuss UA in governance and collaboration networks from an aggregate point of view. However, analytical tools that allow comprehensive study of UA initiatives (UAIs) are absent. This article elaborates on a conceptual framework from the COST Action Urban Agriculture Europe () and evaluates findings that result from applying the framework to four UAIs. We found that, analytically, the framework generates in-depth information on UAIs, and argue that it can be a useful tool in networks that are responsible for collaboration, support, or governance within the UA movement. We also discuss its usability issues and discuss future research.

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The Politics of Greening the City

The Case of the Bostan of Kuzguncuk, Istanbul

Alice Genoud

Abstract

The neighborhood of Kuzguncuk in Istanbul has been the theater of a 20-year struggle between the authorities and the local population concerning a green area present in the center of the district. This struggle was interesting as it concerned visions of green areas and more globally of society. The inhabitants wanted to have an open green and social area, whereas the centralized authority wanted to use this land for a profitable building project, without any consultation of the neighborhood. In 2015, a park was inaugurated on this land, the result of a compromise between political authorities and inhabitants of Kuzguncuk. Because of this compromise, this is a unique case, and it will be interesting to understand how different visions of green areas and societal values brought about a project such as that of Kuzguncuk.

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Vegetables and Social Relations in Norway and the Netherlands

A Comparative Analysis of Urban Allotment Gardeners

Esther J. Veen and Sebastian Eiter

Abstract

This article aims to explore differences in motivation for and actual use of allotment gardens. Results from questionnaire surveys and semistructured interviews in two Norwegian and one Dutch garden show that growing vegetables and consuming the harvest is a fundamental part of gardening. The same is true for the social element—meeting and talking to other gardeners, and feeling as part of a community. Although gardeners with different socioeconomic backgrounds experience gardening to some extent similarly, access to an allotment seems more important for gardeners with disadvantaged personal backgrounds: both their diets and their social networks rely more on, and benefit more from, their allotments. This underlines the importance of providing easy access to gardening opportunities for all urban residents, and disadvantaged groups in particular. Public officers and policy makers should consider this when deciding upon new gardening sites or public investments in urban food gardens.

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Andrew McCumber

Abstract

This article analyzes the tension between the built and intrinsic elements that constitute Santa Barbara, California, as a place, by investigating two related questions: How is Santa Barbarans’ sense of place impacted by citywide cultural preferences for a specific plant aesthetic? and How have recent drought conditions affected that plant aesthetic, and its population’s cultural relationship to nature and the environment? The analysis focuses primarily on two key informant interviews, with Madeline Ward, the city’s water conservation coordinator, and Timothy Downey, the city arborist, and is further supported by ethnographic field notes. I argue that the California drought has brought parallel changes to both the city’s physical appearance and its residents’ aesthetic preferences regarding plants. This has further prompted changes to popular conceptions of Santa Barbara as a place, stemming from residents’ desire for an aesthetic that is better in tune with the ecological conditions of the area.

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J. Cristobal Pizarro and Brendon M. H. Larson

Abstract

Human mobility necessitates that people adapt not only to a new society but also to a new natural environment and biodiversity. We use birds as biodiversity proxies to explore the place experiences of 26 Latin Americans adapting to Canada and the United States. Using interviews with open-ended questions, we prompted participants to identify birds that were linked to remarkable experiences in both places of origin and immigration, which we coded respectively as “roots” and “routes.” Participants reported foundational keystone species linked to their cultural heritage and conspicuous key species they associated with self-realization in the new place. Linking species, involving connections between roots and routes, triggered a process of place recalibration in association with key and keystone birds that worked as points of reference. We suggest that biodiversity offers critical social functions that need to be addressed by social integration programs promoting conviviality between humans and nature in the Anthropocene.

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Ryan Gunderson

Abstract

Environmental social scientists should analyze ideologies that reproduce ecologically unsustainable societies through the method of ideology critique. Ideology refers to ideas and practices that conceal contradictions through the legitimation and/or reification of the social order. Ideology critique is a method that allows the researcher to unmask systemic contradictions concealed by ideology. While the primary purpose of this project is to revisit and revise conceptual and methodological tools for the environmental social sciences, I provide examples of ideologies that may aid in the reproduction of the “treadmill of production” or the expansionistic production cycle that accelerates resource use and pollution.

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Jaime Moreno Tejada