Metropolitan agriculture references a growing understanding of the complex relationship between cities and agriculture. As a concept, it can help serve as a linkage between issues as open and diverse as sustainability, urbanization, urban agriculture, urban land use policies and agricultural change.
The specific notion of metropolitan agriculture has recently been developed further by TransForum, a Dutch foundation that works on sustainable agriculture (by fostering multi-stakeholder collaboration and knowledge dissemination via pilot projects, publications, etc.). Metropolitan agriculture expresses a growing understanding of the multiple ways in which agriculture is linked with urban areas.
Over several years, TransForum's work on a number of pilot projects centered on re-connecting agriculture and cities while attempting to develop more sustainable agricultural systems and ventures. Out of this work emerged certain underlying characteristics and design principles as well as a larger conceptual framework for understanding the different ways that agriculture plays a part in urban development. On a project level, TransForum used 'metropolitan agriculture' to convey an emphasis on systems integration in production processes, lowering external inputs by striving towards closed-loop systems, and multi-functionality in agricultural enterprises. These design principles have been applied to pilot initiatives that seek to re-connect agriculture with metropolitan areas.
In terms of the larger relationship between cities and agriculture, metropolitan agriculture provides a conceptual framework for analysis of all the systems and processes through which agriculture manifests itself in urban areas. This goes beyond primary production to include distribution, processing, marketing and consumption. It can be seen as drawing on urban systems theory to understand the complex ways that agriculture contributes to, shapes, and is shaped by the process of urban development. This requires a spatial lens wider than the immediate urban environment, and the term 'metropolitan' attempts to convey a wider spatial boundary as well as wider conceptual focus.
The Metropolitan Agriculture Innoversity is an initiative currently being launched by TransForum and Reos Partners, which convenes multi-stakeholder forums in cities all around the world to create dialogue across sectoral boundaries with the goal of creating new partnerships to better utilize metropolitan resources and create more sustainable agriculture as well as urban development
- Heimlich, Ralph (1989) "Metropolitan Agriculture: Farming in the City's Shadow" Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol 55 no 4: 457-466.
- Can the Way We Eat Change Metropolitan Agriculture? The Portland Example Works, M. and Harvey, T., Terrain.org
- Metropolitan Agriculture as a sustainable perspective
- Wascher, Dirk M., et al: Innovation Characteristics for Sustainable Metropolitan Agriculture, SUSMETRO Phase 1 Final Report, Wageningen University and TransForum, 2007
- Metropolitan Agriculture