My friend and colleague in the Toulan School, Megan Horst, and I, along with Lesli Hoey in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, just published a new article in the Journal of the American Planning Association, entitled: The intersection of planning, urban agriculture, and food justice: A review of the literature. The article emerged from our contribution to a White Paper, Scaling Up Agriculture in City-Regions to Mitigate FEW System Impacts, developed in support of a NSF-funded workshop held in 2015 at University of Michigan.
Here's the abstract:
Problem, research strategy, and findings: We draw on a multidisciplinary body of research to consider how planning for urban agriculture can foster food justice by benefitting socioeconomically disadvantaged residents. The potential social benefits of urban agriculture include increased access to food, positive health impacts, skill building, community development, and connections to broader social change efforts. The literature suggests, however, caution in automatically conflating urban agriculture’s social benefits with the goals of food justice. Urban agriculture may reinforce and deepen societal inequities by benefitting better resourced organizations and the propertied class and contributing to the displacement of lower-income households. The precariousness of land access for urban agriculture is another limitation, particularly for disadvantaged communities. Planners have recently begun to pay increased attention to urban agriculture but should more explicitly support the goals of food justice in their urban agriculture policies and programs.
Takeaway for practice: We suggest several key strategies for planners to more explicitly orient their urban agriculture efforts to support food justice, including prioritizing urban agriculture in long-term planning efforts, developing mutually respectful relationships with food justice organizations and urban agriculture participants from diverse backgrounds, targeting city investments in urban agriculture to benefit historically disadvantaged communities, increasing the amount of land permanently available for urban agriculture, and confronting the threats of gentrification and displacement from urban agriculture. We demonstrate how the city of Seattle (WA) used an equity lens in all of its programs to shift its urban agriculture planning to more explicitly foster food justice, providing clear examples for other cities.
Nathan McClintock is a geographer and professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University.