Applying GIS to Identify Suitable Development Sites for Urban Farms in Guelph, Ontario
Determining the locality of where to implement and develop urban agriculture systems continues to be an issue of importance, especially with increasing urbanization. Urban farming provides food for the nearby community and can be especially helpful for families facing financial instability. To ensure these families benefit the most from the development of an urban farm, it is important to ensure the location urban farming occurs near low income community areas. The examination of social, environmental and economic factors are essential to determine appropriate land areas for urban farming. A GIS‐based multi‐criteria evaluation (MCE) model took into account social factors (distance to low income communities, density, distance to bus stops), environmental factors (land-use and slope) and economic factors (average income) to determine the most suitable locations for an urban farm development in Guelph. The most suitable sites were then further analyzed to determine specifics on the soil class at each site as well as their distances to Guelph’s low income neighbourhoods. There were five selected sites which had the highest suitability scores. Four of the five sites are located within the boundaries of Guelph’s low income neighbourhoods in the north end, and the fifth being located slightly northwest of the boundaries of the low income areas. Further analysis on the soil class suitability for ground cultivation of these 5 sites were also examined. An evaluation of the model was conducted regarding its factor rankings and the reliability of the results. Despite limitations to the MCE model approach, this model does provide useful insight into determining the most suitable locations for urban farming as long as the limitations are discussed in conjunction with the results. This research provides useful information that can be used to develop an urban farming site within the City of Guelph in the near future. However, it also has implications for use in other communities around the world looking to invest in the development of urban farming.