Mapping the growing capacity of climate smart food in urban environments
Keywords:climate smart food, urban agriculture, climate smart agriculture, GIS, constraint mapping
The practice of urban agriculture (UA) is a unique food system model that localizes the production of sustainable, geographically appropriate food. The environmental benefits inherent in UA aligns with the emerging field of climate smart agriculture (CSA). However, the agro-industry focus of CSA is beyond the scope of most UA initiatives. Instead, we put forward the term “climate smart food” as a more appropriate framework to examine the environmental impact of food production in an urban context. The purpose of this study, rooted in the recognition of underutilized private urban land resources for UA, is to assess the potential of urban land to grow climate smart food. The Bowness neighbourhood in Calgary, Alberta is used as a case study. A geospatial process of constraint mapping was applied to analyze suitable private land space that could be converted from lawns to cultivated gardens. Using data from a local food cooperative as a benchmark for local urban production capacity, it was determined that six urban farms in Calgary produced roughly 8,200 pounds of food from private gardens in 2016. In the Bowness neighbourhood, 42 percent of the land was held as private turf grass, and produced only about 800 pounds of food. This type of analysis serves to quantify the magnitude of underutilized land within an urban boundary that could produce significant amounts of climate smart food.
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