Why this Indicator is Important
Our urban agriculture indicator captures the number of community gardens, urban farms, and orchards within the city. These are sites of communal food production, usually managed by the city or a nonprofit, sometimes collectively or with individual plots. Urban agriculture provides a clean and local source of food while also building community. While small-scale, urban agriculture tends to use more sustainable methods, producing less emissions than conventional farming, as well as reducing the emissions from food transport.1 Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, many individuals turned to community gardens as a sense of escape from social quarantine. Food shortages and price hikes during this time (an average of 13.2% year over year in fruit prices alone)2 also made growing your own food more attractive. Provincial and municipal governments subsequently created programs to support local gardening initiatives with grants, or are offering more land owned by cities to establish new community gardens (in addition to private land bought by community organizers).3 These programs all have common goals to promote mental health, education programs and/or protect food security for underprivileged areas.
Data Availability and Accessibility: 2/3
NCL data on the urban agriculture (and urban green space in the Nature & Health Section), is drawn from the 2022 Canadian City Parks Report, by Park People (a Canadian charitable organization).4 Our definition of community gardens, urban farms, and community orchards is based on theirs, as food-growing sites that “are available for the public to use that may require membership.” The 2022 report includes a variety of data from 30 diverse Canadian cities. Park People gather data through questionnaires to park staff, as well as expert interviews and a public survey. Check out the 2022 report to see further policy recommendations for how municipalities can improve their urban food production policies! For cities not included in the Parks People report, volunteers consulted city representatives, city websites, and Google Maps.
Note(s): Data are from 2022. Multiple sources are consulted, including the Canadian City Parks Report,by Park People. These figures include community gardens, urban farms, and community orchards that are food-growing and open to the public but that may require membership fees to use.
The winning city, with thirty-six sites of urban food production per 100,000 people, is Charlottetown,Prince Edward Island (PEI). In May 2022, PEI announced the “Island Community Food Security Initiative” that allows local organizations to apply for a grant up to $10,000 to fund community projects, such as community gardens, that help insure accessible food sources for all. Between 2021 and 2022, there has been an 11.5% increase in food costs in PEI, leaving a significant number of households facing food insecurity.5 Community garden organizers have since seen a rapid increase of demand for gardening plots with individuals seeking alternative ways to access fruits and vegetables supply, while others simply looking for new forms of mental and physical activities. Some community PEI gardens, including one of Eastern Canada’s largest urban farms, have almost tripled in number of plots over the last few years here, with more to come.6
Food security is becoming an increasingly important topic in cities’ policies. Singapore has addressed this issue by developing the “30 by 30” goal. This goal states that Singapore will produce 30% of its own food by 2030. To achieve their goal, the city is focusing on developing new innovative urban agriculture projects. Initiatives include using hydroponic systems on rooftops, installing urban farms in existing buildings and increasing green- house infrastructures. The city also encourages citizen action by promoting home gardens.7