The term ‘urban Agroecology’ implies a paradox, the contrast of an urban environment devoted to industry and commerce with the tranquillity of inner city farms and gardens that address sustainable food security while providing economic alternatives to sustainable community development. The healing powers of green landscape are increasingly recognized and the value of landscape in anchoring people in time and place and in developing a sense of community apparent. Urban Agroecology encompasses at least seven inter-related aspects: the convergence of horticulture and applied ecology in the creation of new public landscapes, appreciation of the economic benefits of green space rather than the traditional focus on its costs, environmental education to give children a sound understanding of their place in nature, benefits to human health, the use of inner city farms and ‘gardening’ as a catalyst for economic and social cohesion, a revival in public horticulture from costly bedding schemes to wildflower or productive meadows, awareness of ‘ecosystem services’ aspect of green space for flood control, environmental amelioration and biodiversity.
There are six key factors which will shape urban Agroecology in this century and which will determine its contribution to civilized urban life: climate change; decreasing oil supplies; population growth; the countervailing attractions of town and country; social order or disorder and global finance.
Perhaps the black cloud of the credit crunch could have a silver lining if the reassessment of our true wealth becomes the butterfly wing redirecting our society into a more sustainable way of life.