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Investigaciones geográficas

versão On-line ISSN 2448-7279versão impressa ISSN 0188-4611


AVILA SANCHEZ, Héctor. Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture. Territorial Rearrangement and Potential of Urban Food Systems. Invest. Geog [online]. 2019, n.98, 00009. ISSN 2448-7279.

Agriculture has become a common practice in many cities, regardless of the local socio-political and economic environment. Unique territorial expressions have emerged from the interactions between rural and urban dynamics, essentially regarding the modalities in agricultural practices and their potential contribution to sustainable management and food security in urban and peri-urban areas. Some contemporary debates on the role of Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture (AUP) in the spatial rearrangement of metropolitan systems and their rural environment are outlined here. We use concepts such as geographic proximity and organizational proximity, which support the changes in production dynamics, as well as the roles of stakeholders and networks in peri-urban agricultural areas, which strengthen modalities such as short production-consumption circuits. We describe the territorial conflicts that emerge around this phenomenology. Also, we describe some contemporary territorial expressions (characterized as agricultural urbanity or ruralization of the city) in terms of the rural-urban relationship (living framework, landscape, or territorial reserve, agricultural space); also, the conceptualization of territorial projects is analyzed, where agricultural production plays a key role in territorial organization processes (agri-urban projects, urban factories, agricultural parks, etc.). The proliferation of urban agricultural practices, which take place within interstitial spaces or in public urban spaces (urban gardens, community gardens), and their inclusion in policies on sustainable development or food security are discussed as novel elements of agro-urban territorial governance.

Various questions are explored regarding the true meaning and potential of urban and peri-urban agricultural practices, such as commodification, which transforms and revalues rural areas, setting new guidelines for rural production and consumption, mainly in peri-urban areas. The trend of urban agricultural practices in the strengthening of processes such as gentrification is outlined as a strategy of real estate capital for revaluation in the marketing of lots as regards urban, peri-urban, and even rural properties, by shifting the uses of land for the development of amenities and rural urbanization; the effectiveness thereof is challenged in relation to territorial sustainability and their influence on urban food consumption patterns.

As for urban and peri-urban agricultural practices, the territorial dynamics derived from supportive production and consumption associations is also addressed, This includes organizational models of agro-ecological consumption groups and cooperatives; their integration and implementation of new production and consumption schemes; as political and social self-organization options; as alternative food networks; where aspects worth highlighting include their dimensions and association with local farmers, as well as with the social fabric and its relationship with resilience and urban development strategies. Some international modalities developed from the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model are highlighted.

The phenomenon focuses on current developments in metropolitan areas of Western Europe, North America, and Latin America, where urban and peri-urban agricultural production has spread, both within cities and in adjacent areas, where they still coexist with solidly structured agricultural production systems for the daily supply in urban markets. It is concluded that, although its practice has grown, AUP has not attained a significant presence in urban food supply systems yet, still being only marginally considered in the development of territorial public policies. Although AUP contributes to food production in developed countries, its primary impact deals with therapeutic and landscaping (green spaces), as well as with the patrimonial safeguard of urban and peri-urban spaces; in poor countries, it focuses on the food self-sufficiency of the low-income urban population, the recovery of public spaces, the strengthening of the social fabric, and community development.

Palavras-chave : peri-urbanization; proximity; territorial governance; gentrification; community development; food security.

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