Josh verbally presented a research paper at the AESOP 6 Sustainable Food Planning Conference ‘finding spaces for productive cities’ held from 5-7 November in Leeuwarden in the Netherlands.
The paper, Yield Operations: (Re)Fitting Urban Agriculture in Existing Green Spaces for Economic and Other Benefits explored the potential for urban agriculture to generate income in existing green spaces in socially and environmentally ethical ways. The paper used eight existing growing approaches to calculate fourteen per hectare calculations for possible yields.
Prominent, large public green spaces and parks in most developed cities primarily provide ornamental and passive recreational landscapes that require off-site sourced budgets for maintenance and upkeep. In many areas, maintenance budgets have been diminishing and upkeep falling. Most existing urban agriculture literature focuses on social and environmental outcomes, with little research undertaken investigating its potential to generate income. Gross economic returns per hectare from horticultural crops have been calculated from eight sources and fourteen growing approaches. These range from $USD22,249 to $360,000 per hectare per annum. Several economically viable small urban agriculture businesses are operating with gross returns equivalent to $150,000-$300,000 per ha; if these approaches were deployed at 25% of the area for Central Park this could gross $12,750,000-$25,500,000 annually. If deployed at 25% of the Adelaide Parklands – where annual maintenance costs are $8,550,000 – this could gross $28,500,000-$57,000,000. If deployed at 50% of the expansive Western Sydney Parklands this could gross around $400,000,000-$800,000,000. Urban agriculture in existing public green space presents opportunities for labour arrangements that could increase economic viability, crop intensity and net income. Additional benefits are highly possible such as job creation, local food availability, education and training, health and environmental benefits. There are various barriers to implementation of urban agriculture in public green spaces including policy, social and economic challenges. Ultimately, detailed site-specific research is required to determine economic and social viability.