Urban Agriculture and the Sustainable City: How Policy Changes Concerning Infrastructure and Urban Agriculture Can Economically and Environmentally Benefit Atlanta

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Ward, Elizabeth
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The intent of this paper is first to assert that urban agriculture provides numerous economic and environmental benefits to cities, and second to identify ways that the City of Atlanta could take advantage of these benefits. The first part of the paper, the Literature Review, will take a broad look at why AU is a desirable land use for cities, and then identify three major areas where cities stand to benefit. The three areas that will be addressed include waste management, public land management, and stormwater management. Within each area, examples will be shown from other cities to support the proposition that AU is an advantageous land use. Once the argument for AU as a beneficial land use is established, the latter half of the paper will posit that Atlanta could economically benefit from encouraging and allowing urban agriculture within the city. The Analysis and Recommendations section of the paper will assert and test the hypothesis that the City of Atlanta can economically benefit by establishing AU as a land use. The hypothesis will be tested by establishing benchmarks of success, scaling data from the example cities to Atlanta, and providing a land suitability criteria and analysis. A discussion of limitations and policy recommendations will conclude the paper. To address the hypothesis, the analysis will first establish benchmarks of success and then use data from the example cities to provide scalable metrics. The analysis will then provide a brief context for the City of Atlanta and establish guidelines for a land suitability analysis to be conducted in GIS. The paper will go on to analyze the potential benefits for the city by scaling the collected data to Atlanta’s population and the amount of suitable land available in the city. Finally, the analysis will inform and identify policy changes that will allow the city to better capture these benefits. Agricultural Urbanism offers a variety of advantages to cities in the form of social, environmental and economic benefits. While the social and environmental benefits may be more obvious, the economic benefits are often overlooked. AU is frequently dismissed as a utopian or charitable ideal, which belies its benefit as a movement that is economically viable and could provide cities with substantial economic returns. Sustainability is usually thought of in the ecological sense of conserving or preserving resources; however, ‘sustainable’ actually implies something that can be upheld or maintained at a certain rate or level. If an idea is not economically viable, it is not wholly sustainable. The first part of this paper will examine urban agriculture from an economic lens, specifically as it relates to economic and environmental benefits to cities.
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