GFAR blog, Research in society

The Garden of Thought: A multinational debate on urban farming


The second day of ICYA 2017 turned its priority to agriculture in modern cities. Standing out from solutions for education and waste reduction, urban farming attracted the most attention from the audience. The topic was not new. But neither was it conventional.

In the last several decades, cities have taken up a vast amount of agricultural land. Fertile soil has been turned into buildings and urban infrastructure. There now seems to be a conflict of interest between agriculture and economic development.

The idea of growing food in cities is as old as the hills. Many city dwellers whose life has no connection with farms have taken up gardening as a hobby in their free time. Standing at the middle of a metropolitan area, one can easily spot a terrace full of edible leafy greens or Mediterranean herbs quivering behind a window. But the public has only shown a serious interest in urban farming lately, as it has come to be seen as the potential key to many problem of cities, such as food waste and hunger among the poor.

The discussion in the afternoon between students and two speakers – Prof. De Baerdemaeker (KU Leuven) and Mr. Van Acker (AVFami) – started off with some awkward hesitation. Earlier in the morning, they had talked mostly about high-tech farming practices which made urban farming productive and sustainable. Then a Cameroonian student suddenly asked for advice on how to promote a similar project in her country. The answer she received was not really persuasive but it did unleash a serious and very interesting discussion.

Read the full post on the IAAS website here

Blogpost by Kim Anh Luong, #ICYA2017 Social Reporter –

This post is part of the live coverage during the #ICYA2017 – The International Conference for Youth in Agriculture, organised by IAAS (International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences), a Partner in GFAR.  The #ICYA2017 social reporting project is supported by GFAR.

This post is written by one of our social reporters, as part of their training on social reporting, and represents the author’s views only.


Photo: A 20,000-square-foot rooftop vegetable garden at Chicago Botanic Garden. (Credit: NPR – Courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden)

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