What do we really know about urban agriculture’s impact on people, places, and the planet?

For many city dwellers, rooftop gardens are pocket-sized green oases in a sea of buildings, as seen in this image of an experimental rooftop garden at the old campus of AgroParisTech. All images by Agnès Fargue-Lelièvre unless otherwise noted.

What do we really know about urban agriculture’s impact on people, places, and the planet?


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Cohen, N., and Reynolds, K. 2016. Beyond the Kale: Urban agriculture and social justice activism in New York City. University of Georgia Press. p 224

Dorr E., Goldstein B., Horvath A., Aubry C., Gabrielle B. 2021. “Environmental impacts and resource use of urban agriculture: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” August 24. Environmental Research Letters. Volume 16, Number 9. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ac1a39

Dorr, E., Hawes, J.K., Goldstein, B., Fargue-Lelièvre, A., Fox- Kämper, R., Specht, K., Fedeńczak, K., Caputo, S., Cohen, N., Poniży, L., Schoen ,V., Górecki, T., Newell, J.P., Jean-Soro, L., and Grard, B. 2023. “Food production and resource use of urban farms and gardens: a five-country study.” February 1. Agronomy for Sustainable Development. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-022-00859-4

Grard, B., Bel, N., Marchal, N., Madre, N., Castell, J.F., Cambier, P., Houot, S., Manouchehri, N., Besancon, S., Michel, J.C., Chenu, C., Frascaria-Lacoste, N., and Aubry, C. 2015. “Recycling urban waste as possible use for rooftop vegetable garden.” May 20. Future of Food: Journal on Food, Agriculture and Society. Vol. 3, No 1, p. 21-34 https://www.thefutureoffoodjournal.com/index.php/FOFJ/article/view/119

Hawes, J., Goldstein, B., Newel, J., Dorr, E., Caputo, S., Fox-Kämper, R., Grard, B., Ilieva, R., Fargue-Lelièvre, A., Ponizy, L., Schoen, V., Specht, K., and Cohen, N. 2024. “Comparing the Carbon Footprint of Urban and Conventional Agriculture.” January 22. Nature Cities.  https://doi.org/10.1038/s44284-023-00023-3

Ilieva, R.T., Cohen, N., Israel, L., Specht, K., Fox-Kämper, R., Fargue-Lelièvre, A., Poniży, L., Schoen, V., Caputo, S., Kirby, C.K., Goldstein, B., Newell, J.P., and Blythe, C. 2022. “The Socio-Cultural Benefits of Urban Agriculture: A Review of the Literature.” April 15. Land 2022. 11(5) https://www.mdpi.com/2073-445X/11/5/622

Kirby, C.K., Specht, K., Fox-Kämper, R., Hawes, J.K., Cohen, N., Caputo, S., Ilieva, R.T., Lelièvre, A., Ponizy, L., Schoen, V., and Blythe, C. 2021. “Differences in motivations and social impacts across urban agriculture types: Case studies in Europe and the US.” August. Landscape and Urban Planning 212. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2021.104110

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