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Open Access Urban Agriculture In and On Buildings in North America: The Unfulfilled Potential to Benefit Marginalized Communities

Urban agriculture (UA) has been identified as having many potential benefits; one is food production in cities for residents lacking good access to fresh, healthy foods. UA in and on buildings (herein referred to as UAB) is particularly interesting for its potential to avoid major challenges to UA, including development pressure and the perceived (or actual) contamination of urban soils. To assess the extent to which UAB fulfils these potentials, this study conducted a qualitative evaluation of nineteen example projects published in refereed sources. The characteristics assessed included the socioeconomic context of the project sites (household poverty levels, racial/ethnic identities, and vehicle access), other, non-food benefits generated, the produce-distribution mechanism,financing mechanisms, the nature of agricultural labour, the food produced, and productive area/yield. The results suggest that UAB projects are not usually located in extreme-poverty areas and tend to be investor-financed, and while jobs are usually created, non-food benefits are not more common in areas of extreme poverty than in other areas. The produce-distribution mechanism does not appear to relate to the projects' proximity to extreme-poverty areas. A range of foods supporting a healthy diet was found in each project. Further evaluation of UAB is warranted to better understand its unique characteristics within the larger field of UA; several questions are suggested for further research.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2017

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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