On the Past and the Future of the Urban Agriculture Movement: Reflections in Tribute to Jac Smit


  • Anne C. Bellows University of Hohenheim
  • Joe Nasr Ryerson University
  • Diana Lee-Smith Mazingira Institute
  • Luc J. A. Mougeot International Development Research Center
  • Michael Levenston City Farmer
  • Peter Mann WhyHunger
  • Katherine Brown Southside Community Land Trust
  • Jerry Kaufman University of Wisconsin–Madison




Urban Agriculture


First paragraph:

In the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century, a number of reformers responded to the horrific conditions of life in the expanding industrial cities of Europe and North America by calling for the transformation of modern cities through a rationalized system for producing built environments that can accommodate growing populations while improving living conditions. As Carolyn Steel has rightly pointed out, food has long shaped our cities (Steel, 2008), and food did hold a central place in the theories of many of the key early thinkers about cities and land.[1] These theories were intimately connected to urban reforms through a range of progressive but paternalistic urban design interventions that consciously sought to weave the green shade and restfulness of the countryside into city parks, street tree plantings, urban allotment gardens, and green river and canal banks. On a darker note, the healthy relaxation touted by garden enthusiasts also served to shift the burden of sustenance away from industrialists and fair-wage policies and onto the shoulders of urbanizing families, especially the women in them (cf. Bellows, 2004). But on balance, garden spaces in densely populated cities and factory settlements offered valuable  nourishment and quiet retreats from the chaos of work and cycles of economic instability and war.

[1] Just to cite some key theorists who gave a central place to the food system in their thinking about urban settlements: Henry George, von Thünen, Ebenezer Howard, Patrick Geddes, Frank Lloyd Wright.


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Author Biography

Michael Levenston, City Farmer

Executive Director, City Farmer - Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture; Box 74567; Kitsilano RPO, Vancouver, BC V6K 4P4 Canada; Phone: (604) 685-5832



How to Cite

Bellows, A. C., Nasr, J., Lee-Smith, D., Mougeot, L. J. A., Levenston, M., Mann, P., Brown, K., & Kaufman, J. (2010). On the Past and the Future of the Urban Agriculture Movement: Reflections in Tribute to Jac Smit. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 1(2), 17–39. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2010.012.009

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