Urban agriculture could generate thousands of jobs and up to half of the fresh produce consumed in the cities.
- The study is applied to the city of Sant Feliu de Llobregat (Barcelona), as part of the Edible Cities Network project.
- In this city, urban gardens could generate up to 3,500 jobs and 50% of the fresh food consumed.
- Among other benefits, urban agriculture would reduce the risk of flooding, improve soil infiltration and water retention.
A study by the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA-CERCA) evaluates the benefits of filling cities with urban gardens. The research, published in the scientific journal Landscape and Urban Planning, has been carried out by ICRA-CERCA researchers Josep Pueyo-Ros, Quim Comas and Lluís Corominas, in collaboration with the University of Ljubljana.
The study is applied in the city of Sant Feliu de Llobregat (Barcelona), since the city is part of the Edible Cities Network project, where the research is also framed. However, the authors assure that this can be extrapolated, at least, to the rest of the medium-sized cities in Catalonia and the north of the Mediterranean.
The research project has simulated 11 scenarios in different areas of the city that are progressively filled with urban gardens: private gardens, unbuilt plots and flat roofs.
They have also varied the percentage of community and commercial gardens in each scenario.
In the most optimistic scenario, in the case of Sant Feliu de Llobregat, urban gardens could generate up to 3,500 jobs and 50% of the fresh food consumed in the city. Thus complementing all the production that already takes place in the Agricultural Park of the same city.
But the benefits do not stop there. Researchers have also calculated that urban agriculture would significantly reduce the risk of flooding, improve soil infiltration, water retention and encourage the installation of rainwater harvesting systems for the irrigation of these same gardens.
Other estimated benefits would be the reduction of the urban heat island, a better access to quality green spaces in the case of community gardens or the improvement of air quality thanks to the fixation of polluting particles such as nitrogen dioxide.
The researchers conclude that the benefits of urban agriculture depend greatly on the type of garden, as well as its location within the urban fabric. Josep Pueyo-Ros, lead author of the study, believes that "to maximize the potential benefits of urban agriculture, cities need to find new forms of strategic planning that allow them to unite the integrated vision of the city that is characteristic of urban planning with the fragmented nature of urban gardens".
The study has no direct implications for cities as it is a simulation of fictitious scenarios. Even so, the authors are convinced that it can help convince city and regional governments of the role that urban agriculture can play in the ecological transition that is so necessary in our cities.