Is Urban Agriculture Financially Sustainable? An Exploratory Study of Small-Scale Market Farming in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
AbstractExisting research on the economic sustainability of urban agriculture in the United States tends to emphasize a multifaceted conception of urban agriculture’s return on investment as a combination of revenue and less quantifiable positive externalities. A more business-oriented advocacy literature, however, sees urban agriculture as a way to generate income for farmers and farm workers. The purpose of this study is twofold. First, we estimate the economic returns of urban farming in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, based on data obtained from urban farmers involved in market farming. Here our goal is to better understand the contribution of market farming to the economic viability of urban agriculture. Second, we hope to improve understanding of how the farmers themselves perceive and navigate commensurabilities and tensions between predominantly market-oriented and more heavily social-service oriented forms of urban agriculture. Home to more than a dozen farms, Philadelphia is a suitable location for such an exploratory study of the financial sustainability of urban agriculture.
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