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

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Figure 1. Diagram showing the four elements of the urban agriculture nexus as the social and material flows we measured. Reprinted with permission from Caputo (2021).

Our research underscores the importance of finding the right urban agriculture for the right urban space.

By Agnès Fargue-Lelièvre, Jason K. Hawes, Benjamin Goldstein, Lidia Poni?y, Erica Dorr
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
May 7, 2024


Krystyna lives in a block of flats in Gorzów Wielkopolski, Poland. For the past 20 years she has looked forward to every spring, when she can spend her spare moments in her allotment plot.

On a sunny May morning, she walks briskly to her small garden. Upon arrival, she is greeted by the sights and smells of spring; almost half of the small space is filled with blooming flowers, as well as a few fruit trees that provide shade in the heat and tasty fruits in the fall. Vegetables fill the remaining space. Krystyna checks how much the kohlrabi has grown, and whether it is possible to pull out a lettuce for the first spring salad. She tends to her tomatoes in her small greenhouse, built using worn-out windows from a local school. At noon, she pauses for tea with a friend from the neighboring garden, chatting over a fresh salad spiced with Krystyna’s radishes and chives.

Around the same time in Paris, approximately 1,000 kilometers southwest of Krystyna’s garden, school chil- dren spill into their playground for an outdoor lunch, the usual basketball hoop and benches hemmed in by verdant raspberry bushes, artichokes, thyme, and toma- toes. Dozens of kids are gardening in their own small plots with the help of an urban farmer. Others play among the trees and by the pond that were put in place with the help of neighborhood volunteers.

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