Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Land Use Planning and Urban/Peri-Urban Agriculture

Urban agriculture is the practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around (peri-urban) a village, town, or city. Strengthening connections between traditional land use planning and the emerging field of community and regional food planning have co-benefits, which include

  • Helping to build stronger, sustainable, and more self-reliant community and regional food systems,
  • Utilizing the role that planners can play to help reduce the rising incidence of hunger and obesity,
  • Saving fossil fuel energy used to produce, process, transport, and dispose of the food Americans eat,
  • Understanding the effects of rapid farmland loss in metropolitan areas and therefore the capacity to produce food for local and regional markets,
  • Recognizing the overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture pollutes ground and surface water and adversely affects drinking water supplies.
  • Helping to reduce sprawl and diminish urban heat island effects caused by heat build-up in buildings and other structures, and
  • Increasing local fresh fruit and vegetable access in urban communities by growing food on parcels of land within a city or urban environment (urban farming), edible landscaping, community gardens, and green spaces.

The Role of Planners in Supporting Healthy Food Environments and Urban/Peri-Urban Agriculture

According to the American Planning Association, planners can have a role in Urban/Peri-Urban Agriculture.

Community planners can

  • Get involved with food policy councils
  • Seek growth management strategies to preserve farm and ranch land
  • Recommend commercial districts where restaurants and grocery stores are located, and
  • Suggest policies to encourage community gardens and other ways of growing food in communities.

Economic development planners can

  • Support the revitalization of main streets with traditional mom-and-pop grocery stores, and
  • Develop strategies to attract food processing plants to industrial zones.

Transportation planners can

  • Create transit routes connecting low-income neighborhoods with supermarkets

Environmental planners can

  • Provide guidance to farmers to avoid or reduce the effects of run-off on lakes and rivers.

For more information on the role of planners in urban/peri-urban agriculture see American Planning Association: Policy Guide on Community and Regional Food Planning under Resources below.

Resource Library/ White Papers

American Planning Association: Policy Guide on Community and Regional Food Planning (HTML version). Available at: [PDF - 141 KB].

Raja S, Born B, Kozlowski Russell J. A planners guide to community and regional food planning: transforming food environments, facilitating healthy eating. 2003. Available at [PDF - 5.6 MB].

Planning for Healthy Places explores community planning solutions to increase access to healthy foods and physical activity through improvements to the built environment.

Community Design for Healthy Eating; how land use and transportation solutions can help. Available at: [PDF - 590 KB].

Food Security Learning Center

Land Use Planning

Smart Growth Online

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Case Studies

Feeding the city from the back 40: A commercial food production plan for the City of Toronto. Available at: [PDF - 98 KB].
This document was generated in response to a request by the Environmental Task Force (ETF), to include food as a key sector of environmental action in the city. The report looks at urban agriculture as a cutting edge issue requiring policy development.

NeighborSpace is a not-for-profit organization to support community gardens. NeighborSpace operates in the City of Chicago. It is funded through the city of Chicago, the Chicago Parks District, and the Cook County Forest Preserve District, which is empowered to acquire property to preserve land for community gardens. NeighborSpace acts as a land-trust for community gardens and accepts liability for the various sites. Since 1996, NeighborSpace has acquired more than 50 sites throughout Chicago for preservation as community garden space. Available at:

The Community Food Security Coalition’s North American Urban Agriculture Committee. Urban agriculture and community food security in the United States: farming from the city center to the urban fringe: a primer. 2003. Available at: [PDF - 195 KB].

Health Benefits of Urban Agriculture is a paper from members of the Community Food Security Coalition's North American Initiative on Urban Agriculture. Available at: [PDF - 165 KB].

Journal Articles

Campbell MC. Building a common table: the role for planning in community food systems. Journal of Planning Education and Research 2004:23(4):341 –55.

Hung Y. East New York farms: youth participation in community development and urban agriculture. Children, Youth and Environments 2004;14(1):20–31.

Lombard KA, Forster-Cox S, Smeal D, O’Neil M. Diabetes on the Navajo nation: What role can gardening and agriculture extension play to reduce it? Rural and Remote Health 2006;6:640.

Pothukuchi K. The food system: a stranger to planning field. Journal of the American Planning Association 2000;66:113.

Pothukuchi K. Inner city grocery retail: what planners can do. Progressive Planning 2004;158:10–12.

Pothukuchi K. Attracting supermarkets to inner-city neighborhoods: economic development outside the box. Econ Dev Q 2005;19(3):232–44.

Wrigley N, Warm D, Margetts B. Deprivation, diet, and food-retail access: findings from the Leeds ‘food deserts’ study. Environ Plan 2003;35(1):151–88.

 Top of Page