|Author: ||M. Chiappe Hernández|
|Keywords: ||urban gardens, food security, MESMIS, sustainability evaluation, critical points|
In year 2002, many urban agriculture ventures emerged in the metropolitan area of Montevideo in the face of the economic crisis in which the country was submerged in that year.
Faced with unemployment, job instability and loss of income, many families chose to produce their own food by starting home or community gardens and the adoption of agroecological principles.
In this context, the Food Production and Community Organization Program (PPAOC) of the University of the Republic, developed between 2002 and 2006, involved the creation of neighborhood organization spaces in different areas of Montevideo and Canelones, and the joint work of neighbors and university students.
The production of food for self-consumption not only improved the access to vegetables, but also it has allowed to incorporate ingredients of high nutritional value, which possibly, due to their cost, were not consumed previously. On the other hand, the organizational forms adopted by urban agriculture implied higher levels of social participation.
Meeting with neighbors, the exchange of information, knowledge and materials, as well as the search for collective solutions and common projects, contributed to a more active citizenship.
The organized groups of urban farmers managed to have higher levels of self-management as well as a greater capacity for proposal and demand in local areas of decision and before institutions linked to the productive sector.
This process was subject of one undergraduate student thesis, of which this study is a follow-up.
This paper presents the results of two years of research conducted in eight urban non-commercial horticultural gardens of metropolitan Montevideo, between 2007 and 2009. The general objective was to generate knowledge about the management of the urban agricultural gardens selected for the study and to propose appropriate management alternatives which consider social, environmental and economic sustainability aspects.
The specific objectives were as follows: 1. Identify and characterize from the social, environmental and economic point of view the urban agriculture management systems of the metropolitan area of Montevideo selected for the study. 2. Validate the sustainability assessment indicators of urban agriculture management systems developed in studies previously conducted in the study by Blixen et al. (2006). 3. Measure and monitor the indicators that allow evaluating the critical points of the ventures. 4. Propose appropriate alternatives for the surveyed management systems that contribute to their sustainability.
Through the use of the “Framework for the evaluation of farming systems incorporating sustainability indicators” (MESMIS), we identified with the participants those sustainability indicators that were more meaningful to assess their urban gardens.
After a process of grouping variables, a total of 12 social, environmental and economic indicators were identified.
We characterized each system and applied the indicators according to different levels of sustainability, which ranged from 1 to 10. The lack of studies in Uruguay in this field of knowledge-indicators of sustainability in urban agriculture makes this an original contribution from which to think future research venues.
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