Community Gardens Are the Highest and Best Use of Land in the City
Urban agriculture support systems take different forms and promote diverse priorities in different U.S. cities. Some treat farming and gardening as a public good—public spaces that are valued for their community-building, environmental, public health, and other social benefits. Others have sought to extract more economic and redevelopment gains from urban agriculture. The specific ways cities support urban agriculture—and the outcomes city governments, support organizations, and funders expect from it—have significant impacts and implications for social equity and justice.
In an article from JAFSCD, “’The highest and best use of land in the city’: Valuing urban agriculture in Philadelphia and Chicago,” Domenic Vitiello explores these divergent, often opposing expectations of what urban agriculture can yield, and what it should be. Reflecting on over a decade of research and practice, he traces the evolution of urban agriculture activities, support, and policy in Philadelphia and Chicago since the end of the twentieth century. These histories reflect broader tensions among different approaches to governing, supporting, and practicing agriculture in cities.