Main research question/goal
In this project, we analyze how the phenomenon of urban agriculture in four western cities is developed and managed, and to what degree the (different) context leads to a different type of urban agriculture, with differences in degree of innovation and professionalization. In a number of urban regions, urban agriculture is appearing as an alternative production, distribution and consumption system alongside rural agriculture. The actors and policy representatives link this phenomenon to the sustainable development of cities. By comparing four contexts, we strive for explanations and insight into our own (Flemish) context, and we hope to arrive at recommendations regarding integration (in the urbanized region and with the rural production apparatus), innovation, and professionalism.Research approach
We use a comparative case study research of four European contexts in western and eastern Europe. To achieve a better understanding in how urban agriculture is being governed, data is collected concerning governance, development processes, information and knowledge dissemination, and social networks. The analysis is carried out using a variety of qualitative methods so that all the relevant data in the research can be analyzed in the most effective way. For each case interviews and focus groups are organized for stakeholders and pioneers. Content analysis is done from formal (policy documents) and informal documents (media sources like internet sources, newspapers, etc.) From these empirical observations, we derivel a theoretical framework that is useful for our own context. The analysis ultimately leads to a evaluative comparison of the cases. This comparison of different contexts will supply recommendations on “best management practices” for stakeholders and policy workers. Relevance/Valorisation
A content analysis of the collected data will result in recommendations for 'best management practices' for stakeholders and policy makers in the selected cases. More specific and concrete knowledge about the context of reference makes that we no longer have to depend on findings from other research that have little to do with the context to which we wish to refer. If, in the different cases, there are different discourses and management practices observed, it can be analyzed whether this also affects the outcomes for urban agriculture. Explanations can be sought, for example, for the following questions: Why are urban agriculture innovations in the case of Ghent nearly nonexistent (in contrast to other cases)? What are the preconditions for innovations and professionalization of urban agriculture? In addition, it is the goal of this inductive research to translate the empirical observations into assumptions and then to develop a theoretical frame. The theoretical frame will then make a contribution to the disciplines of sociology and public administration.