Symposium Explores Ways to Promote Urban Agriculture

November 13, 2009 - News Release

Academics, municipal planners, community activists, gardeners and farmers will gather at the University of Guelph next week to cultivate connections between city-dwellers and the food on their tables by encouraging farming in urban areas.

Opportunities for Action: An Urban Agriculture Symposium is a first for Guelph and takes place Nov. 20 at the Arboretum. The all-day event is hosted by the University and several local partners, including the Backyard Bounty project.

The symposium aims to explore key issues and help people make connections to advance the urban agriculture movement.

“It’s an opportunity to bring people together to share ideas and experiences, identify common barriers, seek feasible solutions and inspire action,” said organizer Shannon Lee Stirling, who is Backyard Bounty’s project co-ordinator.

The symposium kicks off with a keynote presentation by U of G’s Karen Landman, a landscape architecture professor in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development. Landman will discuss her recent tour of urban agriculture projects across the western United States and Canada.

“People have always grown food in cities and still do, particularly in the developing world, but it’s quite new in North America,” she said. “And for someone to try to make a living as a farmer in a city, that’s certainly something new.”

Landman said urban agriculture is one way to address growing public concerns about food security and safety, and the environmental impacts of transporting huge volumes of food over long distances, by making it easier for people to grow food in everything from backyard and rooftop gardens to community plots and large tracts of open land within city limits. It also plays a role in community development by putting people in touch with farmers and providing access to locally grown, nutritious and affordable food, she said.

The symposium will also feature panel discussions, a lunch made from urban- and organically-grown produce, and a facilitated workshop to explore the barriers facing urban agriculture and the opportunities for encouraging it. For example, some discussions might focus on figuring out ways to help municipal planners incorporate the concept into their processes, Landman said.

For more information or to register, visit Backyard Bounty’s symposium website.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1