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Formalizing objectives and criteria for urban agriculture sustainability with a participatory approach

Abstract : The last few years have seen an exponential development of urban agriculture projects within global North countries, especially professional intra-urban farms which are professional forms of agriculture located within densely settled areas of city. Such projects aim to cope with the challenge of sustainable urban development and today the sustainability of the projects is questioned. To date, no set of criteria has been designed to specifically assess the environmental, social and economic sustainability of these farms at the farm scale. Our study aims to identify sustainability objectives and criteria applicable to professional intra-urban farms. It relies on a participatory approach involving various stakeholders of the French urban agriculture sector comprising an initial focus group, online surveys and interviews. We obtained a set of six objectives related to environmental impacts, link to the city, economic and ethical meaning, food and environmental education, consumer/producer connection and socio-territorial services. In addition, 21 criteria split between agro-environmental, socio-territorial and economic dimensions were identified to reach these objectives. Overall, agro-environmental and socio-territorial criteria were assessed as more important than economic criteria, whereas food production was not mentioned. Differences were identified between urban farmers and decision makers, highlighting that decision makers were more focused on projects' external sustainability. They also pay attention to the urban farmer agricultural background, suggesting that they rely on urban farmers to ensure the internal sustainability of the farm. Based on our results, indicators could be designed to measure the sustainability criteria identified, and to allow the sustainability assessment of intra-urban farms.
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Paola Clerino, Agnès Fargue-Lelièvre. Formalizing objectives and criteria for urban agriculture sustainability with a participatory approach. Sustainability, MDPI, 2020, 12 (18), ⟨10.3390/su12187503⟩. ⟨hal-02942015⟩

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