Export file:


  • RIS(for EndNote,Reference Manager,ProCite)
  • BibTex
  • Text


  • Citation Only
  • Citation and Abstract

Urban agriculture in the transition to low carbon cities through urban greening

Department of Geography, Brock University, 500 Glenridge Avenue, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2S3A1, Canada

Special Issues: Urban Greening for Low Carbon Cities

Urban agriculture presents an opportunity to extend food production to cities. This could enhance food security, particularly in developing countries, and allow for adaptation to growing urbanization. This review paper examines current trends in urban agriculture from a global perspective as a mitigation-adaptation approach to climate change adaptation in the midst of a growing world population. Employing vegetation as a carbon capture and storage system encapsulates a soft-engineering strategy that can be easily deployed by planners and environmental managers. In this review, urban agriculture is presented as a land-use solution to counteract the effects of urbanization, and as a means to establish a continuum between cities and the countryside. It espouses the usefulness of urban agriculture to enhance food security while sequestering carbon. As part of urban greening (including newer approaches, such as green roofs and gardens as well as more established forms of greening, such as forests and parks), urban agriculture offers traditionally rural services in cities, thereby contributing to food resources as well as working to alleviate pressing social issues like poverty. It also provides a way to reduce stress on farmland, and creates opportunities for employment and community-building. As part of greening, urban agriculture provides a buffer for pollution and improves environmental (and well as human) health and well-being. This review begins by addressing the physical factors of adopting urban agriculture, such as climate change and development, land use and degradation, technology and management, and experimental findings as well as human factors investigated in the published literature. As such, it presents an integrated approach to urban agriculture that is part of a social-ecological perspective.
  Article Metrics


1. Oxfam (2012) Extreme Weather, Extreme Prices: The Costs of Feeding a Warming World. Oxfam International (available from: http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/20120905-ib-extreme-weather-extreme-prices-en.pdf; accessed on 11 September 2012). : -.

2. Yoshino M (1999) Environmental change and rice-producing societies in Monsoon Asia: a review of studies and elucidation of problems. Geogr Rev Japan A 72: 566-588.

3. Petit M (2001) Mankind facing the additional anthropogenic greenhouse warming. Comptes Rendus de l'Academie de Sciences – Serie Iia: Sciences de la Terre et des Planetes 333: 775-786.

4. Rydin Y, Bleahu A, Davies M, et al. (2012) Shaping cities for health: complexity and the planning of urban environments in the 21st century. The Lancet 379: 2079-2108.    

5. Rogus S, Dimitri C (2014) Agriculture in urban and peri-urban areas in the United States: highlights from the census of agriculture. Renew Agr Food Syst 30: 64-78.

6. Thebo AL, Dreshsel P, Lambin EF (2014) Global assessment of urban and peri-urban agriculture: irrigated and rainfed croplands. Environ Res Lett 9: 1-9.

7. Orsini F, Gasperi D, Marchetti L, et al. (2014) Exploring the production capacity of rooftop gardens (RTGs) in urban agriculture: the potential impact on food and nutrition security, biodiversity and other ecosystem services in the city of Bologna. Food Sec 6: 781-792.    

8. Satterthwaite D, McGranahan G, Tacoli C (2010) Urbanization and its implications for food and farming. Phil Trans R Soc B 365: 2809-2820.    

9. Lal R (2013) Food security in a changing climate. Ecohydrol Hydrobiol 13: 8-21.    

10. Gray L, Guzman P, Glowa KM, et al. (2014) Can home gardens scale up into movements for social change. The role of home gardens in providing food security and community change in San Jose, California. Local Environ 19: 187-203.    

11. Mason D, Knowd I (2010) The emergence of urban agriculture: Sydney, Australia. Int J Agr Sustain 8: 62-71.

12. Heynen N, Kurtz HE, Trauger A (2012) Food justice, hunger and the city. Geogr Compass 6: 304-311.    

13. Crush J, Caesar M (2014) City without choice: urban food insecurity in Msunduzi, South Africa. Urban Forum 25: 165-175.    

14. Frayne B, McCordie C, Shilomboleni H (2014) Growing out of poverty: does urban agriculture contribute to household food security in southern African cities? Urban Forum 25: 177-189.    

15. Halloran A, Magid J (2013) The role of local government in promoting sustainable urban agriculture in Dar es Salaam and Copenhagen. Geografisk Tidsskrft-Danish J Geogr 113: 121-132.    

16. Mendes W, Balmer K, Kaethler T, et al. (2008) Using land inventories to plan for urban agriculture. J Am Plann Assoc 74: 435-449.    

17. Hayhurst RD, Dietrich-O'connor F, Hazen S, et al. (2013) Community-based research for food system policy development in the City of Guelph, Ontario. Local Environ 18: 606-619.    

18. Gürcan EC (2014) Cuban agriculture and food sovereignty: beyond civil-society-centric and globalist paradigms. Lat Am Perspect 197: 129-146.

19. Ruysenaar S (2013) Reconsidering the ‘Letsema Principle' and the role of community gardens in food security: evidence from Gauteng, South Africa. Urban Forum 24: 219-249.    

20. Guitart D, Pickering C, Byrne J (2012) Past results and future directions in urban community gardens research. Urban For Urban Gree 11: 364-373.    

21. Easterling W, Apps M (2005) Assessing the consequences of climate change for food and forest resources: a view from the IPCC. Climatic Change 70: 165-189.    

22. Salinger MJ, Sivakumar MVK, Motha R (2005) Reducing vulnerability of agriculture and forestry to climate variability and change: workshop summary and recommendations. Climatic Change 70: 341-362.    

23. Wilkie D, Morelli G, Rotberg F, et al. (1999) Wetter isn't better: global warming and food security in the Congo Basin. Glob Environ Change 9: 323-328.    

24. Tao F, Hayashi Y, Zhang Z, et al. (2008) Global warming, rice production, and water use in China: developing a probabilistic assessment. Agr Forest Meteorol 148: 94-110.    

25. Wang X, Yang Y, Dong Z, et al. (2009) Responses to dune activity and desertification in China to global warming in the twenty-first century. Glob Planet Change 67: 167-185.    

26. Asseng S, Foster I, Turner NC (2011) The impact of temperature variability on wheat yields. Glob Change Biol 17: 997-1012.    

27. Diffenbaugh NS, Hertel TW, Scherer M, et al. (2012) Response of corn markets to climate volatility under alternative energy futures. Nature Climate Change 2: 514-518.

28. Linquist B, van Groenigen KJ, Adviento-Borbe MA, et al. (2012) An agronomic assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from major cereal crops. Glob Change Biol 18: 194-209.    

29. Swearingen WD (1992) Drought hazard in Morocco. Geogr Rev 82: 401-412.    

30. Singh N, Sontakke NA (2002) On climatic fluctuations and environmental changes of the Indo-Gangetic Plains, India. Climatic Change 52: 287-313.    

31. Lal R (2004) Soil carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change. Geoderma 123: 1-22.    

32. Lal R (2010) Beyond Copenhagen: mitigating climate change and achieving food security through soil carbon sequestration. Food Security 2: 169-177.    

33. Doumbia M, Jarju A, Sène M, et al. (2009) Sequestration of organic carbon in West African soils by Aménagement en Courbes de Niveau. Agron Sustain Dev 29: 267-275.    

34. Lal R (2007) Soil science and the carbon civilization. Soil Sci Soc Am J 71: 1425-1437.    

35. Lal R (2008) Sequestration of atmospheric CO2 in global carbon pools. Energ Enviro Sci 1: 86-100.    

36. Edmondson JL, Davies ZG, Gaston KJ, et al. (2014) Urban cultivation in allotments maintains soil qualities adversely affected by conventional agriculture. J Appl Ecol 51: 880-889.    

37. Verdin J, Funk C, Senay G, et al. (2005) Climate science and famine early warning. Philos T R Soc B 360: 2155-2168.    

38. Zhang J, Yao F, Li B, et al. (2011) Progress in monitoring high-temperature damage to rice through satellite and ground-based optical remote sensing. Sci China Earth Sci 54: 1801-1811.

39. Liu L, Wang E, Zhu Y, et al. (2012) Contrasting effects of warming and autonomous breeding on single-rice productivity in China. Agr Ecosyst Environ 149: 20-29.    

40. Badjeck M-C, Allison EH, Halls AS, et al. (2010) Impacts of climate variability and change on fishery-based livelihoods. Mar Policy 34: 375-383.    

41. Smith P (2008) Land use change and soil organic carbon dynamics. Nutr Cycl Agroecosys 81: 169-178.    

42. Confalonieri R, Rosenmund AS, Baruth B (2009) An improved model to simulate rice yield. Agron Sustain Dev 29: 463-474.    

43. Ziska LH, Bunce JA (2007) Predicting the impact of changing CO2 on crop yields: some thoughts on food. New Phytol 175: 607-618.    

44. Byjesh K, Naresh Kumar S, Kumar Aggarwal P (2010) Stimulating impacts, potential adaptation and vulnerability of maize to climate change in India. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 15: 413-431.    

45. Lobell DB, Field CB (2008) Estimation of the carbon dioxide (CO2) fertilization effect using growth rate anomalies of CO2 and crop yields since 1961. Glob Change Biol 14: 39-45.

46. Yang LX, Wang Y-X, Zhu J-G, et al. (2009) What have we learned from 10 years of Free Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) experiments on rice? CO2 and grain yield. Shengtai Xuebao/ Acta Ecol Sinica 29(3): 1486-1497.

47. Wang X, Yang L, Wang Y (2011) Progresses of free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) researches on C4 crops: a review. Shengtai Xuebao/ Acta Ecol Sinica 31: 1450-1459.

48. White JW, Hoogenboom G, Kimball BA, et al. (2011) Methodologies for simulating impacts of climate change on crop production. Field Crop Res 124: 357-368.    

49. Shindell D, Kuylenstierna JCI, Vignati E, et al. (2012) Simultaneously mitigating near-term climate change and improving human health and food security. Science 335: 183-189.    

50. Qin S, Wang Y, Hu C, et al. (2012) Yield-scaled N2O emissions in a winter wheat–summer corn double-cropping system. Atmos Environ 55: 240-244.    

51. Fitt BDL, Fraaije BA, Chandramohan P, et al. (2011) Impacts of changing air composition on severity of arable crop disease epidemics. Plant Pathol 60: 44-53.    

52. Tian Y, Chen J, Chen C, et al. (2012) Warming impacts on winter wheat phenophase and grain yield under field conditions in Yangtze Delta Plain, China. Field Crop Res 134: 193-199.    

53. Chen C, Qian C, Deng A, et al. (2012) Progressive and active adaptations of cropping system to climate change in Northeast China. Eur J Agron 38: 94-103.    

54. Gerardeaux E, Giner M, Ramanantsoanirina A, et al. (2012) Positive effects of climate change on rice in Madagascar. Agron Sustain Dev 32: 619-627.    

55. Kiwango YA, Wolanski E (2008) Papyrus wetlands, nutrients balance, fisheries collapse, food security, and Lake Victoria level decline in 2000-2006. Wetl Ecol Manag 16: 89-96.    

56. Harris J (2007) Linking glacial melt to food on our table. Planet Earth Summer: 28-29.

57. Paeth H, Thamm H-P (2007) Regional modelling of future African climate north of 15°S including greenhouse warming and land degradation. Climatic Change 83: 401-427.    

58. Simatele D, Binns T, Simatele M (2012) Sustaining livelihoods under a changing climate: the case of urban agriculture in Lusaka, Zambia. J Environ Plann Man 55: 1175-1191.    

59. Battersby J (2013) Hungry cities: a critical review of urban food security research in sub-Saharan African cities. Geogr Compass 7: 452-463.    

60. Schade C, Pimentel D (2010) Population crash: prospects for famine in the twenty-first century. Environ Dev Sustain 12: 245-262.    

61. Meurer M (1999) Pastoral economy and livestock raising – an ecological perspective. Geographische Rundschau 51: 230-235.

62. Xu Z, Cheng G, Qiu GY (2005) ImPACTS identity of sustainability assessment. Acta Geogr Sinica 60: 198-208.

63. Vernay AL, Salcedo Rahola TB, Ravesteijn W (2010) Growing food, feeding change: towards a holistic and dynamic approach of eco-city planning. IEEE, 6 pp. Infrastructure Systems and Services: Next Generation Infrastructure Systems for Eco-Cities (INFRA), 11-13 November 2010, Shenzhen.

64. Whittinghill LJ, Rowe DB (2011) The role of green roof technology in urban agriculture. Renew Agr Food Syst 27: 314-322.

65. Hanjra MA, Qureshi ME (2010) Global water crisis and future food security in an era of climate change. Food Policy 35: 365-377.    

66. Mok H-F, Williamson VG, Grove JR, et al. (2014) Strawberry fields forever? Urban agriculture in developed countries: a review. Agron Sustain Dev 34: 21-43.    

67. Newman L (2008) Extreme local food: two case studies in assisted urban small plot intensive agriculture. Environments 36: 33-43.

68. Edwards F, Mercer D (2010) Meals in Metropolis: mapping the urban foodscape in Melbourne, Australia. Local Environ 15: 153-168.    

69. McLain R, Poe M, Hurley PT, et al. (2012) Producing edible landscapes in Seattle's urban forest. Urban For Urban Gree 11: 187-194.    

70. Thaman RR (1995) Urban food gardening in the Pacific islands: a basis for food security in rapidly urbanising small-island states. Habitat Int 19: 209-224.    

71. Madaleno I (2000) Urban agriculture in Belém, Brazil. Cities 17: 73-77.    

72. Maxwell DG (1995) Alternative food security strategy: a household analysis of urban agriculture in Kampala. World Dev 23: 1669-1681.    

73. Maxwell D, Levin C, Csete J (1998) Does urban agriculture help prevent malnutrition? Evidence from Kampala. Food Policy 23: 411-424.    

74. Kulak M, Graves A, Chatterton J (2013) Reducing greenhouse gas emissions with urban agriculture: a Life Cycle Assessment perspective. Landscape Urban Plan 111: 68-78.    

75. Agrawal M, Singh B, Rajput M, et al. (2003) Effect of air pollution on peri-urban agriculture: a case study. Environ Pollut 126: 323-329.    

76. Metson GS, Hale RL, Iwaniec DM, et al. (2012) Phosphorus in Phoenix: a budget and spatial representation of phosphorus in an urban ecosystem. Ecol Appl 22: 705-721.    

77. Minca KK, Basta NT (2013) Comparison of plant nutrient and environmental soil tests to predict Pb in urban soils. Sci Total Environ 445-445: 57-63.

78. Hamilton AJ, Burry K, Mok H-F, et al. (2014) Give peas a chance: urban agriculture in developing countries. A review. Agron Sustain Dev 34: 45-73.    

79. Barker-Reid F, Harper GA, Hamilton AJ (2010) Affluent effluent: growing vegetables with wastewater in Melbourne, Australia―a wealthy but bone-dry city. Irrig Drainage Syst 24: 79-94.    

80. Ellis F, Sumberg J (1998) Food production, urban areas and policy responses. World Dev 26: 213-225.    

81. Kremer P, DeLiberty TL (2011) Local food practices and growing potential: mapping the case of Philadelphia. Appl Geogr 31: 1252-1261.    

82. Brinkmann K, Schumacher J, Dittrich A, et al. (2012) Analysis of landscape transformation processes in and around four West African cities over the last 50 years. Landscape Urban Plan 105: 94-105.    

83. Downing TE (1993) The effects of climate change on agriculture and food security. Renew Energ 3: 491-497.    

84. Appendini K, Liverman D (1994) Agricultural policy, climate change and food security in Mexico. Food Policy 19: 149-164.    

85. Campbell BD, Stafford Smith DM, GCTE Pastures and Rangelands Network Members (2000) A synthesis of recent global change research on pasture and rangeland production: reduced uncertainties and their management implications. Agr Ecosyst Environ 82: 39-55.    

86. Chipanshi AC, Chanda R, Totolo O (2003) Vulnerability assessment of the maize and sorghum crops to climate change in Botswana. Climatic Change 61: 339-360.    

87. Jing H, Ridoutt BG, Chang-chun XU, et al. (2012) Cropping pattern modifications change water resource demands in the Beijing metropolitan area. J Integr Agr 11: 1914-1923.    

88. Grewal SS, Grewal PS (2012) Can cities become self-reliant in food? Cities 29: 1-11.    

89. Martellozzo F, Landry J-S, Plouffe D, et al. (2014) Urban agriculture: a global analysis of the space constraint to meet urban vegetable demand. Environ Res Lett 9: 1-6.

90. Yeung Y-M (1988) Agricultural land use in Asian cities. Land Use Policy January: 79-82.

91. Orsini F, Kahane R, Nono-Womdim R, et al. (2013) Urban agriculture in the developing world: a review. Agron Sustain Dev 33: 695-720.    

92. Clark KH, Nicholas KA (2013) Introducing urban food forestry: a multifunctional approach to increase food security and provide ecosystem services. Landscape Ecol 28: 1649-1669.    

93. Ackerman K, Conard M, Culligan P, et al. (2014) Sustainable food systems for future cities: the potential of urban agriculture. Econ Soc Rev 45: 189-206.

94. Tambwe N, Rudolph M, Greenstein R (2011) ‘Instead of begging, I farm to feed my children': urban agriculture – an alternative to copper and cobalt in Lubumbashi. Africa 81: 391-412.    

95. Smith VM, Greene RB, Silbrnagel J (2013) The social and spatial dynamics of community food production: a landscape approach to policy and program development. Landscape Ecol 28: 1415-1426.    

96. Head L, Muir P, Hampel E (2004) Australian backyard gardens and the journey of migration. Geogr Rev 94: 326-347.

97. Hovorka AJ (2005) The (re) production of gendered positionality in Botswana's commercial urban agricultural sector. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 95: 294-313.    

98. Karanja N, Yeudall F, Mbugua S, et al. (2010) Strengthening capacity for sustainable livelihoods and food security through urban agriculture among HIV and AIDS affected households in Nakuru, Kenya.. Int J Agric Sustain 8: 40-53.    

99. Hecht AD (2009) The tipping points of sea level rise. Environ Res Lett 4: 1-2.

100. Choi BCK, Pak AWP (2006) Multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity & transdisciplinarity in health research, services, education & policy: 1. Definitions, objectives, & evidence of effectiveness. Clin Invest Med 29: 351-364.

Copyright Info: © 2015, Mary Thornbush, licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

Download full text in PDF

Export Citation

Article outline

Show full outline
Copyright © AIMS Press All Rights Reserved