Farms in cities: New study offers planners and growers food for thought

Growing food in a city can improve local food security and express local culture. Little information is available, though, on what kinds of spaces and technologies urban agriculture requires. This sort of information would be useful to architects and built environment specialists when they design buildings and urban spaces that can accommodate urban agriculture. 

As part of a larger research project on the climate change adaptation potential of urban agriculture,'s study explored the spatial, material, and technological characteristics of selected urban agriculture farms. They looked at how it's done in dense urban settings in four countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, Singapore, and South Africa. 

The selection of countries aimed to present diversity of context, climatic conditions, and forms of urban agriculture. Belgium, the Netherlands, and Singapore are developed and high-income countries. South Africa is a developing context and therefore offers a contrasting perspective. 

In this process, researchers identified various ways of using space and technology under different conditions. They grouped them into eight types, ranging from low-tech to sophisticated solutions. 

Eight types of urban farms
The eight farm types emerged from the way they use space (planted in soil or on/in buildings), the level of control over growing conditions (like ambient temperature, light, nutrients, water, and airflow), and the use of other resources. The latter may be waste sources (such as wastewater, bio-matter, or waste heat), internet and connectivity networks, and human labor (such as the immediate community).

Click here to access the entire study at

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