What do we know exactly about urban agriculture’s environmental impacts?

The following is a quick (and very high level) summary of an article posted on Urban Food Futures.

Scientific evidence is lacking regarding the environmental impacts of urban agriculture.

The method used to cultivate plants, the product and the location are the three components of the equation cities should take into account to develop environmentally sound urban agriculture policies.

Potential environment benefits from urban agriculture:

  • Using urban waste to feed plants
  • Supply chain efficiencies (i.e. higher yields, less transit, packaging, food loss)
  • Local environmental benefits (i.e. decreased urban heat island effect, improved soil quality, reduced water flows to the sewer system)
  • Reduced carbon footprint of food

Policies on urban agriculture must balance social and environmental benefits. As stated in the article, Indeed, the types of urban agriculture that have the most potential to bring community benefits, such as community gardens or allotments, are also the ones that have the lowest yields and make marginal improvements to a city’s environmental footprint… On the contrary, high technological systems that have higher yields are more likely to be owned by private companies with little community involvement.

Read the full article here! The journal article this piece is based on can be found here!