(originally named North American Urban
and Peri-Urban Agriculture Alliance)
Urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) refers to the production, distribution and marketing of food and other products within the cores of metropolitan areas (comprising community and school gardens; backyard and rooftop horticulture; and innovative food-production methods that maximize production in a small area), and at their edges (including farms supplying urban farmers markets, community supported agriculture, and family farms located in metropolitan greenbelts). Looked at broadly, UPA is a complex activity, addressing issues central to community food security, neighborhood development, environmental sustainability, land use planning, agricultural and food systems, farmland preservation, and other concerns.
As a result of this diversity, a patchwork of energetic individuals, organizations and institutions has emerged, making up an extensive but disjointed UPA movement in North America. Yet, most efforts to link these actors with one another, and with disciplines that could play supportive roles, have had limited effectiveness, due largely to the fact that no one entity has had the creation and maintenance of such linkages as its sole focus. In response to this situation, the Community Food Security Coalition's Urban Agriculture Committee, along with other organizations like the American Community Gardening Association and Food Secure Canada, have identified this fragmentation as a major hindrance to the development of urban farming in North America. They are thus prioritizing the need for a new initiative that can bridge several divides: geographical (the US, Canada, and ultimately Mexico and the Caribbean), thematic (comprising, beyond community food security, everything from farmland preservation to climate-change prevention), professional (across several disciplines and areas of specialization). This initiative, launched in October 2006 in Vancouver, is establishing a new North American Urban and Periurban Agriculture Alliance.
Such an alliance of organizations and individuals is needed to monitor the dimensions of UPA, disseminate information on its methods and benefits to a wider audience, and engage key actors who may currently lack awareness of how UPA operates at many different levels. Ultimately, the intention of such an alliance is to enable UPA in North America to reach the potential that today's signs only hint at. In October 2007, the Alliance was awarded $90,000 from the Cedar Tree Foundation in Boston to support the Alliance's proposed slate of activities during 2007-2008. This generous grant is expected to be supplemented by grants from other funding sources in the US and Canada.
The aim of this initiative is to form an alliance encompassing a wide and culturally diverse range of actors and stakeholders involved in urban and periurban agriculture in North America, to share knowledge and best practices amongst them and to foster linkages externally, so as to give voice to its advocates and recognition and legitimacy to its activities.
Public Forum, Philadelphia, October 4, 2008
All are welcome to join us at the first public forum of the Alliance, taking place on Saturday, October 4th, 2008, from noon to 5:30 PM, in
Philadelphia. The theme of this event, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania's Planning Department, will be: "Metropolitan Agriculture in
North America: From Planning to Development". For further details, please download the announcement [PDF].
6-page description of the Alliance [PDF]