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A Scoping Review of Urban Agriculture: Trends, Current Issues, and Future Research

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2018 ASABE Annual International Meeting  1801241.(doi:10.13031/aim.201801241)
Authors:   Ronald J. Smith, Robert M. Stwalley III
Keywords:   Urban agriculture, definition, Scoping, review, systematic, search, literature

Abstract. Food production in and around cities presents a major challenge for growing populations in the near future. Consequently, there is renewed global interest in various forms of urban agriculture (UA) and the greening of local communities. The concept of UA is vague and ambiguous, which renders its implementation and acceptance very difficult. A large share of literature surrounding UA has reported methods and results from diverse disciplines related to Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE). However, widespread adoption of integrated practices and policies is affected by a lack of empirical evidence on recent characteristics of UA. To improve upon this situation, a scoping review was performed using the Arksey and O‘Malley framework to address the primary research questions: what is UA and how has it been reported in recent years? This study examined publications from 1988 to December 2017 to (1) review the recent state of research on UA, (2) highlight different research approaches and methods related to UA, and (3) to identify possible areas for future research. Relevant publications were identified, screened, and results were reported. The project identified different elements of UA and how they relate to an ABE research lens. Economic, environmental, and social domains covered the dominant forms of agriculture practiced in urban and peri-urban spaces. An interdisciplinary framework for understanding the different elements of UA was also reported. A key outcome of this study has been the development of a transparent method for mapping relevant areas of UA research and identifying research gaps and avenues for decision-making. Further comparative tests are needed to develop guidelines that include stakeholder engagement to build a more inclusive and comprehensive systematic search protocol. This framework for characterizing UA as a nexus of study can lead to integrating future research and work in urban agricultural spaces.

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