Centre for Food and Farmland Innovation

Understanding Agriburbia

As cities continue to expand, the rural/urban fringe presents a fascinating site for geographic study; competition for space creates extremely complex landscapes of interwoven and conflicting uses. In recent years the desire to preserve peri-urban farmland has led to increased interest in land use regimes that either attempt to preserve agricultural capacity explicitly or to protect farmland through the discouragement of sprawl. The resulting agriburban zones, defined as suburban forms in which agriculture plays a significant role, are of increasing importance as a site of local food production, of affordable housing on the urban fringe, and of settlement regions for migrants from agrarian backgrounds. The impact of the spread of agriburban regions, however, is poorly understood.

Using a spatial geographical lens this project will bring together a diverse scholarly team to explore agriburbia by addressing three main objectives:

  1. To document the evolution of agriburban landscapes and compare and contrast their built form under different sets of land use regimes, and study edge effects under each land use regime,
  2. To evaluate the role of agriburban landscapes in regional food security, and to characterize the contributions of non-traditional agricultural populations to regional food security and farmland preservation,
  3. To evaluate the functioning of wildlands within the agriburban region, and study the conflict between natural ecosystems, agricultural production, and residential uses.

Drawing on examples from Portland, Oregon, Vancouver, British Columbia, and Toronto, Ontario, this four year project will employ a wide range of methodologies to better understand these fascinating regions.


This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

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