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The most important benefits are the supply of fresh vegetables, savings on food expenses, and extra income if a surplus of vegetables is sold Oluoch et al.
This type of urban horticulture is seen by many people as a hobby and an opportunity to spend time outdoors Lovell Enabling urban poor to produce their own food would allow them to save a great amount of money.
However, Nugent reports that poor families engaging in urban horticulture often fail at being sufficiently supplied with food. De Zeeuw et al. Therefore, urban horticulture is less significant for the poorest as they usually have little or no access to land de Neergard et al. In developed countries like the United States of America and the UK, home gardening can also decrease the risk of obesity and unhealthy diets.
Bohn and Viljoen report that both the quantity and the quality of fruit and vegetable uptake were increased significantly by home gardening activities. To achieve sufficient yields and a healthy produce, adequate and sufficient irrigation is necessary. Source for this can be rain, harvested water, tap-water, or wastewater. Especially in Africa, wastewater is often used for irrigation because of its great benefits such as accessibility and permanent supply. Using untreated wastewater can pose a great risk to human health, and unfortunately, modern treatment technology remains too expensive for poor farmers Hamilton et al.
If used untreated or inadequately treated, epidemics can be caused by eating the contaminated food Mbaye and Moustier In tropical climates, irrigated urban agriculture even increases the risk of malaria if mosquito larvae are able to breed in stagnant water Hamilton et al. The garden organizations range from very close-knit associations with mutual activities to loosely organized ones which only share the facilities de Neergard et al. Community gardens also differ in the way they are cultivated.
Some gardens do not have any private vegetable patches but are completely cultivated on a collective base.
The shared areas of community gardens are mostly urban open spaces. These can be roof-tops and other fallow land in a city and range from small plots to larger areas. Limited access to land, lack of tenure on property, and insufficient infrastructure and services for urban growers are among the main restrictions of urban horticulture according to Lovell Community gardens can be either supported through non-governmental organizations, municipalities, or financed through a private sponsor or various donors.
In other gardens, individuals or groups own or rent a private patch and share the facilities with the other gardeners. Vegetables can be cultivated in mobile containers such as boxes Fig. In this way, unusual areas can also be exploited, and there is no risk of plants becoming contaminated through polluted soil.
This means in closed-up or cemented areas of the city such as city squares or terraces. Using mobile containers such as boxes makes it possible to exploit unusual areas. This also includes closed-up or asphalt areas of the city, e. This way, there is no risk of plants becoming contaminated by polluted soil Figure: Gruda, , private collection Community gardens exist all over the world in both developing and industrialized countries.
The big differences between the gardens in the various countries lie in the way and the reasons the gardens were created. In developing countries, the matter of food security plays an important role, and community gardens are often established because of poverty and necessity. Through community gardens, residents have the opportunity to use shared or subsidized land and thus enhance their nutrition.
Many cities in, for example, Sri Lanka, Argentina, and Madagascar, promote school garden programs. These programs are designed to provide young students with fresh and healthy food education and play an important role in terms of nutrition and food security Dubbeling et al. In industrialized countries, such gardens are often established because of the desire for a greener city and a meaningful activity. There, the social and educational benefits predominate.
In this way, agricultural activities do not only serve to supplement food supply, but also provide a platform for intercultural communication and for a strengthened community Lovell In order to give locals access to healthy and fresh food, community gardens can increase the local supply and while strengthening the community Lovell ; Metcalf and Widener This would make the city environmentally more sustainable and would also improve its social and economic performance.
The intention is to improve the overall character of the city and connect it to the rural area Lovell Within Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes, cultivation practices usually range from small-scale gardening to high-yield commercial gardening Bohn and Viljoen In order to implement it in cities without a lot of vacant land, infrequently used roads could be converted into a Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes green space with enough space for a pedestrian and bicycle path Bohn and Viljoen The Incredible edible Todmorden is a town in Yorkshire, England, and was the first city of its kind Bohn and Viljoen Throughout the town, at different public spaces, both visitors and residents can pick vegetables and fruits.
This pioneering project stimulated various cities such as Andernach, Germany Fig. Vegetables are cultivated in green spaces all over the old city for residents.
Everyone can cut vegetables for self consumption, cooking, or preparing a fresh salad. In the city center, close to the central train station, the first eatable park was created in Vegetables grace the city everywhere and human-sized pots are placed on the sides of streets.
The motive is to engage people in food production and to create a sustainable and environmentally friendly city. Vegetables grace the city everywhere, and human-sized pots are placed on the sides of streets. New cropping technologies have been developed in order to address these issues and make horticulture more sustainable.
These cultivation systems are very intensive and are usually found in urban areas with limited cultivation space Orsini et al. These cultivation methods include systems without a solid medium, as well as aggregate systems, in which inorganic or organic substrates are used Gruda ; Gruda et al. In addition, Gruda , reported that an adaptation of cultural management to the specific cultural system of soilless culture, as well as crop demand, can further result in an improvement of the quality of horticultural products.
With the steady increase of soil erosion and the loss of arable land, the importance of soilless cultures is likely to increase in the near future. Because of their light weight and their sustainability in terms of resource efficiency, soilless systems are especially suitable for urban areas. In hydroponic systems, vegetables are grown in water which contains minerals and nutrients needed by the plants. This makes an exact dosage and application of nutrients possible. Interestingly, hydroponics as well as urban agriculture in general, have their roots in times of crises Savvas and Passam ; Mok et al.
Hydroponic systems were used to some extent by the United States Army to produce vegetables for both soldiers and civilians in some non-arable islands in the Pacific which were contaminated due to war operations Jones ; Savvas and Passam ; Mok et al. Aquaponic systems consist of a hydroponic unit cultivating vegetables and an aquaculture unit.
The waste water from a fish tank runs through the hydroponics, and parts of fish excrements are removed from the tank to serve as nutrients for the plants. The water is treated and then flows back to the fish tank to be reused. This production type allows a simultaneous production of both vegetable and fish with the same water and nutrient cycle. This feature makes this production type very sustainable in terms of nutrient and water recycling. In this way, farmers can save money and effort on fertilizing plants Savidov et al.
For an implementation in urban areas, the weight of the system is particularly important and could be a disadvantage, for instance, concerning an installation on a rooftop.
However, since fish do not require natural light, the water tanks could be installed inside a building and a greenhouse with the hydroponic unit could be installed on the roof. Efficiency does not always go hand in hand with modern technology. Simpler technologies in developing countries, such as simplified hydroponics, extensively diffused in Mediterranean African countries and Latin America, couple efficient use of resources with sustainable costs.
Resources include water, recycling waste, and even city compost among others Orsini et al. This cultivation system is mostly found where soil fertility is low and when chemical input is missing. This makes it a suitable system for developing countries and areas without an adequate infrastructure or access to fertilizers and other inputs.
Organoponic is especially promoted by government officials in Cuba which is why both the yield and the area of this cultivation method have increased Orsini et al. Hamilton et al. In Cuba, these systems are used for self-consumption as well as for schools and hospitals. This particular system is extremely sustainable as it operates without fertilizer and is clearly linked to ecologically friendly practices Orsini et al.
However, it has not yet spread to other countries on this scale. With its environmentally friendly and extremely efficient approach, it is highly suitable for urban horticulture, and its broader adoption should be further considered.
Indoor farming systems use the combined effort of agricultural production and buildings and create an integrated whole within the protected environment of a building Specht et al. They can be established as leveled indoor farms in multi-storey buildings, or as storefront greenhouses using such technologies. There are many different approaches of integrating indoor farming systems in urban areas.
However, there is not a lot of literature providing adequate information about the profitability of urban indoor farming. In the following sections, we have reviewed some indoor farming systems including the integration of greenhouses into urban buildings and the highly discussed Vertical Farming with buildings only built for food production purposes. Caplow defines it as the integration of hydroponic greenhouses into the energy and resource cycle of buildings. Specht et al. This term, however, describes all cultivation methods which do not use farmland or open spaces for food production, such as green roofs.
The major aspects that lead to the idea of integrating vegetable production into existing buildings are the saving of resources and higher resource efficiency Specht et al. Caplow sees rooftops of schools, hospitals, hotels, prisons, supermarkets, and shopping malls as ideal settings for building integrated agriculture. These rooftops can be used for the installation of greenhouses.
Suitable greenhouses for the positioning on rooftops could be hydroponic systems because of their light weight compared with conventional greenhouses Caplow To achieve a high level of efficiency, it is important to integrate efficient management cycles. Efficiency can be achieved through different means such as energy consumption, nutrient delivery, waste management, and, of course, land use.
Nowadays, there is a broad range of highly efficient greenhouse systems which are being used worldwide. By linking these greenhouses to the energy cycles of buildings, emitted energy such as waste heat from air-conditioning systems and refrigerators can be reused and recycled.
This is a special advantage in temperate climates as it could secure appropriate heating of the greenhouses during colder months Caplow Furthermore, it is possible that the water requirements of the greenhouses can be covered by using recycled or harvested rain water. In terms of nutrition and fertilizing, the use of organic waste in the form of animal waste, plant residues, or waste from food industry or households can be considered Specht et al.
Recently, the reduction of energy consumption in greenhouses was implemented by using new covering materials, double and triple thermal screens, climate control strategies, energy-optimized cultivation programs, and greenhouses as solar energy storage. When placing greenhouses on rooftops, it is important that the weight-carrying capacity of the building has been examined.
Therefore, it is necessary that greenhouse materials such as roof covering materials are light weight Specht et al. Another factor for static reasons is the wind which is especially important with taller buildings. The material used for greenhouses therefore must meet several requirements. They must be energy-saving, suitable for high-quality products, and suitable for static reasons. The great challenge will be finding material that combines all these characteristics.
However, due to the high cost of installation, significant ongoing maintenance, and building weight restrictions, so far, most green roofs are extensive, cultivating drought-tolerant and shallow-rooted plants Getter and Rowe ; Oberndorfer et al.
The vertical production of crops would allow more cultivation area on a relatively small base area and could therefore reduce the need for large expanses of arable land. Major advantages are the close proximity of a large-scale crop production to the consumers and the controlled environment throughout the building allowing higher yields Despommiers A specific concept of Vertical Farming, envisaged to produce the staple crop rice, is the so-called Skyfarming.
Germer et al. For minimum weight, and therefore lower statistical requirements, an aeroponic system is suggested which would supply the rice roots with a mist enriched with nutrients Germer et al. However, it is also the only article and concept focusing on vertical rice production. We could not agree more with Mok et al. We find, however, that the literature on urban agriculture neglects already existing and operating Asian indoor farms.
In these so-called plant factories, vegetables are cultivated indoors under fully controlled conditions. Computers and sensors control and measure the main environmental factors that affect vegetable growth, such as lighting, carbon dioxide concentration, relative humidity, and plant surface temperature Chang et al.
Despommiers reports of many economically viable enterprises situated in peri-domestic areas in Japan, using both natural sunlight and artificial lighting. As land costs are significantly higher in cities, their economic viability for urban areas has to be reassessed taking the higher capital expenditures into consideration.
As the production systems are not directly dependent on soil and climate factors, cultivation can take place all year round independent of weather extremes. The systems run without soil so are not involved in agricultural runoff, one of the most important issues at present.
Furthermore, a better control of pesticides and fertilizers is possible. One of the greatest advantages is that Vertical Farming is not reliant on favorable climatic conditions. In this way, even cities or sites with contaminated soil or severe weather extremes could grow healthy food sustainably and independently from others Despommiers However, the issue of a satisfactory light source poses a great challenge to both horticulturists and researchers. In the case of vertical farming, plants are isolated in a building in which the amount of sunlight is not at the same level as in a greenhouse.
This leads to the necessity of providing the plants with highly efficient artificial light sources. Nowadays, artificial lighting is still used in horticultural greenhouse production and laboratories in order to mitigate the adverse influence of low and short radiation levels, creating optimal growing conditions for protected crops. The development of light-emitting diode LED lamps offers the use of plant-related radiant energy due to optimization of the plant management processes.
This is very important for plant growth, plant development, and product quality Gruda and Tanny LED lamps have several unique advantages over existing horticultural lighting, such as being small in size and having increased longevity and low heat emission even at very high light intensity levels. In addition, LED lamps have the ability to control spectral composition, giving the opportunity to select the most favorable light spectrum for photosynthesis Fig.
The advantages of using these lamps over existing horticultural lighting are their small size and longevity. LED lamps have the ability to control spectral composition, i.
Here they are used for greenhouse tomatoes at a research station in Germany. This way, light reaches even very-low-hanging leafs and improves yield and product quality Figure: Gruda, , private collection According to Morrow , the LED array provides three times more light output for the same wattage of input power on an equivalent area basis and can be easily integrated into digital control systems.
Some recent literature has examined the influence of the light spectrum. The increase of blue light Hogewoning et al. Gruda and Tanny state that plant-specific choice of light intensity and spectrum with a combination of far red and blue light rate using LED could contribute to a reduction of fertilizer and chemical use, due to an aimed shortening of the vegetation period and improvement in plant morphology. However, although LED has little energy consumption and produce very little heat, the energy costs are still high.
Despite the resource efficiency of indoor farming systems, they are still very expensive. With urban farming, all of these factors can be improved. In respect to production for self-consumption, regardless of the income level, food and nutrition security can be improved by growing food in a home or community garden Kortright and Wakefield ; Lovell Especially in developing countries, a constant migration from rural to urban areas is projected to take place.
This is why the significance of urban horticulture is likely to increase further in the future. By implementing urban horticulture in cities of the future, a greater scale of food security could be achieved.
However, to gain global food security, attention has to be paid to both urban and rural agriculture. With urban horticulture alone, global food security cannot be achieved. However, urban food production on a large scale could take some pressure from rural agriculture Specht et al. Urban horticulture could also help reach a certain balance between food availability in rural and urban areas.
But even with a highly developed worldwide urban horticulture, rural agriculture will keep its significance concerning global food security Dubbeling et al. Cuba is a very special example when it comes to the scale of urban farming.
After the break down of the Soviet Union, Cuba had lost their major trade partner. As a consequence, urban agriculture evolved as the solution for self-sufficiency and food security Fig.
Because of the lack of inputs like fertilizers, pesticides, or fuel for food transportation into the city, labor-intensive, chemical-free, and urban became the main characteristics of Cuban food production. This makes Cuba the leading country in urban agriculture globally Hamilton et al.
This was made possible through different networks and state services which provided technical assistance as well as equipment such as seeds and fertilizer. In this image, an urban farmer is selling his own produce in front of an urban garden in Havana, Cuba Figure: Eigenbrod, , private collection 6.
In developing countries, employment opportunities outside the agricultural sector are often rare. Through the increasing demand in cities for food, it is projected that urban agriculture will create more jobs in the future de Bon et al. Therefore, getting involved in home gardening empowers women being more independent Galhena et al. While many cities worldwide experience an immense growth, rather the opposite can be found in crisis-ridden cities such as Cleveland, Ohio, USA Grewal and Grewal Economic crises and foreclosures of homes result in an ongoing rise of vacant land.
Creating community gardens on this vacant land would empower local communities to be more self-reliant, increases food and nutrition security and has the potential to reduce crime rates Metcalf and Widener Several sources Mok et al. By engaging these people in urban agriculture, the communities can be strengthened, and their food security significantly increased. In Cologne, Germany, intercultural community gardens were established to give migrants the chance for better integration and also for the opportunity to grow crops from their respective homeland which are not available in German stores Dubbeling et al.
Many authors report positive effects of school gardens and urban agriculture in education Dubbeling et al. The educational function of urban agriculture can reach from activities offered in community gardens to an implementation of urban agriculture in school curriculums. The Manhattans School for Children in Manhattan, United States of America, teaches children about sustainably cultivating plants in urban hydroponic greenhouse on a rooftop. To increase the awareness for healthy food and to teach science skills in a hands-on environment, many Chicago and Milwaukee Public Schools have urban agriculture integrated in their curriculums.
Definition[ edit ] The American Sustainable Sites Initiative  is an interdisciplinary approach used by the American Society of Landscape Architects , the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices: it was founded in However, there are a number of basic and common underlying biological and operational principles and practices in the sustainable sites literature.
Biological principles[ edit ] Sustainable management of man-made landscapes emulates the natural processes that sustain the biosphere and its ecosystems. First and foremost is the harnessing the energy of the Sun and the cycling of materials thereby minimising waste and energy use. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and geology, and often require less maintenance than exotic species.
Native plants also support populations of native birds, insects, and other animals that they coevolved with, thus promoting a healthy community of organisms. Avoiding the use of invasive species helps to prevent such plants from establishing new populations.
Similarly, the use of native species can provide a valuable source to help these plants colonise new areas. Some non-native species can form an ecological trap in which native species are lured into an environment that appears attractive but is poorly suited to them. However, in Britain research by the University of Sheffield as part of the BUGS project Biodiversity in Urban Gardens in Sheffield  has revealed that for many invertebrates - the majority of wild animals in most gardens - it is not just native plants which can sustain them.