Types of Urban Agriculture

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UA takes a myriad of forms which can be divided into two broad categories:

Urban Food Gardens: These usually have social objectives at their heart, such as bringing together the community or providing therapeutic benefits. Providing income from agricultural activity is not the primary objective.

Urban Farming: These are enterprises based upon more traditional farm business models. They take advantage of their proximity to urban populations through the sale of agricultural products and services.

COST Action “Urban Agriculture Europe” broke “Urban Gardens” and “Urban Farming” down into a series of further subcategories:

Urban Food Gardens:

  • Allotment garden Allotment Gardens: areas which are subdivided into small units and then rented to individual tenants. This follows a long tradition in many European countries. Following a period of stagnation in the late 20th Century, allotments are now very much again in vogue.

  • Family garden Family Gardens: owned by individuals and families and produce a variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs as well as providing play and social space. There has been a recent trend towards low maintenance, ornamental gardens which has reduced their productivity and potential to deliver social and ecological benefits.

  • Educational garden  Educational Gardens: provide an “outdoor classroom” to introduce groups to food growing, sustainability and nature related themes.

  • Therapeutical garden  Therapeutic Gardens: are often located within institutions which focus upon physical and mental healthcare. They provide the chance for people suffering illnesses, mental wellbeing or addiction problems with the chance to interact with plants, animals and nature.

  • Community garden Community Gardens: grow from the bottom up and involve groups of active citizens working together collectively. They often deliver multiple benefits such as fruit and vegetable production, meeting spaces, biodiversity, health and social inclusion.

  • Squat garden  Squatter Gardens: make informal use of vacant and derelict land to produce fresh food. They are often planted by low income groups to provide for basic subsistence needs.

Urban Farming:

  • Leisure farming Leisure farms: provide a wide range of recreational activities linked around farming themes. This might include, for example, offering “pick your own” produce, farm tours and visits, pony rides, cafes, gastronomy and farm shops.

  • Therapeutical farming Therapeutic farms: use agricultural and farming landscapes to provide recreational or work related training and activities for people with physical health and learning disabilities. Practical involvement in these activities provides positive health benefits to participants.

  • Social Farming Social farms: promote the rehabilitation of people with issues such as persistent offending, drug or alcohol addiction. They also assist in the reintegration of groups, such as migrants, into wider society and the mainstream economy.

  • Cultural Heritage farming Cultural Heritage Farms: preserve and share cultural heritage aspects associated with farming and landuse such as historic farm buildings, machinery and crops. Crop production is a key element of such farms. These often place a high emphasis upon quality, locally grown produce.

  • Experimental farming Experimental Farms: test out new agricultural techniques and innovations. These might include new types of crops or new marketing and distribution initiatives.

  • Local food and farm Local Food+ Farms: aim to specifically tailor their food production to the needs of local urban markets through fostering short supply chains and developing closer links with their customers.

  • Environmental farm Environmental Farms: covers farms that have high natural values and which actively promote biodiversity, environmental stewardship, agro-diversity and delivery of ecosystem services.