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Benis, K., & Ferrão, P. (2018). Commercial farming within the urban built environment – Taking stock of an evolving field in northern countries. Global Food Security, 17, 30–37.
Abstract: Urban horticulture has historically contributed to the supply of fresh produce to urban dwellers and has been gaining popularity over the last years in the Global North, with growing awareness of environmental and health concerns. Over the past few years, commercial farms have been emerging in major northern cities, promoting a trend of environmentally friendly food, grown in highly efficient installations on top of or in buildings. This paper presents a scoping study, including: (i) a review of the scientific literature addressing environmental, economic and social aspects of commercial farming in urban contexts; and (ii) a consultation exercise to inform and validate findings from the review, consisting of semi-structured interviews with a few practitioners in the Netherlands. The main findings are: (1) while the recent proliferation of commercial farms in major cities shows that these new modes of urban agricultural production are gaining momentum, establishing their viability as compared to conventional agricultural practices is a challenge when it comes to scalability, resource efficiency, and cost-effectiveness; (2) as it is still a relatively new field, very few studies have been conducted to quantitatively assess the impacts of commercial farming in urban areas; (3) given the complex environmental, economic and social dimensions of urban agriculture, holistic decision support tools could help integrating them in urban areas.