Success on the Ground: Case Studies of Urban Agriculture in a North American Context
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Urban agriculture (UA) is an increasingly popular land use concept emerging in industrialized nations of the world. Although the phenomenon of UA is a common and well-documented form of food production in developing nations of the global south as well as in North America historically, only a small but growing body of literature exists that discusses UA implementation practices in a North American context today. The purpose of this research was to determine what factors contribute to successful planning and implementation of UA in North American communities. The following questions were addressed: What factors contribute to successful planning and implementation of UA? What stakeholders were most and/or least enabling in achieving success? How do UA projects demonstrate success, and how can these factors be used as a guide for future implementations of agriculture in urban environments? Additionally, how could GIS be employed to aid in spatial decision support for UA planning? Two North American cases (one in Ontario, Canada, and one in Colorado, USA) were analyzed through open-ended, semi-structured interviews, observations, and other data sources. This study involved the researcher’s direct participation with a newly-formed community garden group and the Community Garden Council of Waterloo Region. Findings of this study demonstrate that successful UA planning and implementation is not only the result of several factors and multiple stakeholder involvement, but also that UA—to be successful—should comprise a socially relevant, economically resilient, and environmentally sound system of production.