Urban and peri-urban crop production is taking place in many farm systems (specialized or part of mixed crop-animal farms; vegetables only or also herbs, fruits or staple crops; or focussing on flowers or ornamental plants), locations (in peri-urban open fields, in home gardens, on grounds of schools, hospitals, prisons, on vacant public lands, etc.) in varying scales, input levels and degree of market orientation (subsistence, mixed subsistence/market, small commercial, large commercial) and using different technologies (indigenous or exotic species, seasonal or year round production; type of irrigation techniques used, onder plastic cover, greenhouses, hydroponics, organoponics, vertical gardens, roof top gardens, etcetera).
Farm management, crop choice and production techniques have to be adapted to the specific urban conditions like the little space availability, the low quality of the soils, higher risks that water and soils are contaminated by industry and traffic, closeness to dense human populations and potential public health risks, closeness to consumer markets, perishable products, competing demands for the land and other factors.
Since traditionally agricultural research has been focussed on rural agriculture and the there prevailing conditions, there is high demand for development of adequate farming systems and technologies apt for the urban conditions and for different categories of urban crop producers (e.g. urban poor, traditional farmers, entrepreneurs/investors).
For an extensive introduction and review of literature on this subject please go to State of the Art. This paper discusses the various urban horticulture systems applied and technologies used, reviews their socio-economic and environmental benefits and associated risks as well as analyses development constraints and opportunities for urban horticulture.
Go to RUAF publications for an overview of RUAF publications on this topic (most of which are available online).
You may also view the articles in the Urban Agriculture Magazine on this topic or use the Search option.