Urban horticulture

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Horticulture is the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers or ornamental plants.[1]

Urban horticulture specifically is the study of the relationship between plants and the urban environment. It is largely focused on the functional use of horticulture so as to maintain and improve the surrounding urban area.[2] This term has been introduced only recently but covers a large and complex area of scientific horticulture.

Salad lettuce cultivation at the Growing Communities‘ urban plot, in Springfield Park, Clapton, North London.
Small radish grown on a balcony in Barcelona city
A variety of flowers and vegetables grown under metal halide lamps

Urban and peri-urban horticulture (UPH) includes all horticultural crops grown for human consumption and ornamental use within and in the immediate surroundings of cities. Although crops have always been grown inside the city, the practice is expanding and gaining more attention. The products of UPH include a large variety of vegetables, cereals, flowers, ornamental trees, aromatic vegetables and mushrooms.

Generally, the types of crops cultivated vary according to the area, influenced by culture and tradition. In cities, short-cycle (annual) crops are preferred, while in the surroundings of the city more crops with longer cycles (perennials) can be cultivated, for example orchards. However, perennial crops can also be grown in the city centre trained against walls or in roof-top containers, for example so-called urban orchards.

Economic Benefits[edit]

There are many different economic benefits from gardening from saving money purchasing food and even on the utility bills. Developing countries can spend up to 60-80 percent of income on buying food alone. In Barbara Lake, Milfront Taciano and Gavin Michaels Journal of Psychology title "The Relative Influence of Psycho-Social Factors on Urban Gardening," they say that while people are saving money on buying food, having roof top gardens are also becoming popular. Having green roofs can reduce the cost of heating in the winter and help stay cool in the summer. Green roofs also can lower the cost of roof replacement. While green roofs are an addition to urban horticulture people are eating healthy while also improving the value of their property. Other benefits include increased employment from non-commercial jobs where producers include reductions on the cost of food, (Lake, Taciano, and Michael).[3]

In summary urban horticulture is defined as the production, functional use and impact of horticultural crops under urban conditions.

Production practices[edit]

Crops are grown in small gardens or larger fields, using traditional or high-tech and innovative practices. Some new techniques that have been adapted to the urban situation and tackle the main city restrictions are also documented. These include horticultural production on built-up land using various types of substrates (e.g. roof top, organic production and hydroponic production).

Urban and peri-urban horticulture in Africa[edit]

A report of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Growing greener cities in Africa,[4] states that market gardening – i.e. irrigated, commercial production of fruit and vegetables in areas designated for the purpose, or in other urban open spaces – is the single most important source of locally grown, fresh produce in 10 out of 27 African countries for which data are available. Market gardening produces most of all the leafy vegetables consumed in Accra, Dakar, Bangui, Brazzaville, Ibadan, Kinshasa and Yaoundé, cities that, between them, have a total population of 22.5 million. Market gardens provide around half of the leafy vegetable supply in Addis Ababa, Bissau and Libreville. The report says that in most of urban Africa, market gardening is an informal and often illegal activity, which has grown with little official recognition, regulation or support. Most gardeners have no formal title to their land, and many lose it overnight. Land suitable for horticulture is being taken for housing, industry and infrastructure. To maximize earnings from insecure livelihoods, many gardeners are overusing pesticide and urban waste water.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Relf, Diane. "Human Issues In Horticulture". Virginia Tech. Department of Horticulture. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Tukey, HB Jr. (1983). "Urban horticulture: horticulture for populated areas". HortScience: 11–13. 
  3. ^ Lake, Barbara, Taciano L. Milfront C. Gavin. "The Relative Influence of Psycho-Social Factors on Urban Gardening." Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 June 2013.
  4. ^ Growing greener cities in Africa. Rome: FAO. 2012. ISBN 978-92-5-107286-8. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Tixier, Philippe and de Bon, Hubert; 2006.Ch. 11. "Urban Horticulture" in Cities Farming for the Future - Urban Agriculture for Green and Productive Cities by René van Veenhuizen (Ed.), International Development Research Centre (Canada)
  • Garden Culture, A magazine that focuses on growing food in an urban environment.

External links[edit]