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Urban Agriculture as Social Innovation?

Authors: Yuki Kato*, Georgetown University
Topics: Food Systems, Urban Geography
Keywords: urban agriculture, green policy, social innovation, social entrepreneurialism
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


With urban agriculture gaining popularity across North America, cities are increasingly implementing policies that are supportive of growing food in the city. These policies tend to reinforce, rather than challenge, the neoliberal urbanism through the framing of the practice as a form of social innovation that promotes entrepreneurialism and private (not public) solutions to social problems. However, to what extent these policies and structural support for urban agriculture actually This paper draws from the two case studies from New Orleans, LA, and Washington, DC, and explores the alignments and disconnects between urban agricultural policies and the practices on the ground, with a specific focus on entrepreneurial cultivation projects. In-depth interviews with the growers in these cities reveal that they have more complex views of their practices and roles. Many enter urban agriculture with a set of social missions in hopes of solve a range of social and environmental issues, from food insecurity, ecological sustainability, environmental injustice, and community organizing. Nevertheless, many growers face challenges in enacting their missions into practice, despite the expansion of structural opportunities and the public support for urban agriculture. The paper highlights the types of challenges commonly experienced by social entrepreneurial urban agricultural projects, and identifies where the current policies fail to effectively alleviate these challenges.

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