WG 5 - Urban Agriculture Metabolism
Soils are our most vital natural capital. They perform a variety of functions to support ecosystems including nutrient provision, buffering against water pollution, also harbouring a vast microbial community and stock of carbon. Urban soils however are often sealed, disturbed, contaminated and their composition, chemistry and biology imbalanced, reducing or removing their functionality and impacting on waters within their proximity. Waste disposal to urban land and industrial legacy often introduces a risk element to the use of urban soils for crop productivity the mosaic of urban land uses makes it difficult to make bulk evaluations of land capability for UA on this basis. Further resource pressures from an expanding population may require the increasing use of recycled materials, or grey waters as well as alternative fertilisers derived from urban organic wastes. However, the social acceptability and benefits of UA will require good basic natural resources, free of substantial risk to human health so that the construction and maintenance of UA within urban space will also need to rely, to certain degrees, on the natural resource capital available at a local level. This is why the group considers urban agriculture metabolisms; people and nature working together.
Therefore in WG 5 we draw together natural and social sciences into the resource themes of soils, waters and wastes. We consider how people influence natural resources in urban areas, and how natural resources influence UA practices; urban agriculture metabolism. For example, Figure 1. Thus we examine issues, amongst others, surrounding:
- Changing awareness, perception and use of polluted land for UA
- Efficacy and acceptability of wastes recycling from diverse sources to UA plots
- Optimisation of water resources for UA; the role of grey water
- Assumptions about natural resource capital in urban areas
- The role of UA in increasing natural resource empathy and awareness