Urban agriculture: How bottom-up initiatives are impacting space and policies in São Paulo

Eliane Horschutz Nemoto, André Ruoppolo Biazoti


The growing demand for the creation of urban gardens in large cities has created a discussion about the need for green spaces in cities that fulfil multiple functions. Beyond the production of fresh and healthy food, these spaces should also connect citizens, transform the public space through collective action, and engage the participation of society in the policies and planning for a greener city with a better quality of life. This paper addresses the case of São Paulo specifically and illustrates how urban gardens have been boosted in the city through a dynamic process mainly driven by bottom-up initiatives arising at the local scale. These initiatives have been able to advance strategies and policies, including those regarding urban agriculture, in the Municipality’s agenda. The paper also discusses how these urban gardens have created and reinforced social innovation and social capital among the actors, with the common objective of building a more sustainable and democratic city.

Keywords: urban agriculture, social innovation, social capital, bottom-up initiatives

Data of the article

First received : 18 August 2017 | Last revision received : 27 November 2017
Accepted : 1 December 2017 | Published online : 29 December 2017
URN: nbn:de:hebis: 34-2017110153670

Full Text:



Abelman, J. (2015). Cultivating the City: Infrastructures of abundance in urban Brazil. Future of Food: Journal on Food, Agriculture and Society, 3(1), 101-109.

Ackerman, K. (2011). The potential for urban agriculture in New York City: Growing capacity, food security, and green infrastructure. New York, NY: Urban Design Lab at the Earth Institute Columbia University.

Almeida, D. A. O. De. (2016). Isto e aquilo: Agriculturas e produção do espaço na Região Metropolitana de Belo Horizonte (RMBH) (Doctoral dissertatiton). Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte, Brasil.

Angotti, T. (2015). Urban agriculture: Long-term strategy or impossible dream? Lessons from Prospect Farm in Brooklyn, New York. Public Health, 129(4), 336-341.

Associação de Agricultores da Zona Leste. (n.d.). Retrieved October 28, 2017 from http://agricultoreszonaleste.org.br/

Barbizan, T. S. (2011). Integrating urban and peri-urban agriculture into public policies to improve urban growth: São Paulo as a case study (Master Dissertation). University of Technology, Berlin, Germany.

Baron, B. C. (2017). Agroecologia e urbanidade: uma investigação a partir da agricultura urbana na Região Metropolitana de São Paulo (Bachelor Thesis). Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH/USP), São Paulo, Brazil.

Baycan-Levent, T., & Vreeker, R., Nijkamp, P. (2009). A multi-criteria evaluation of greenspaces in European cities. European Urban and Regional Studies, 16 (2), 219-239.

Beem, C. (1999). The necessity of politics. Reclaiming American public life. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241-258). New York, NY: Greenwood.

Chambon, J. L., David, A., & Devevey, J. M. (1982). Les innovations sociales. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Cidades Comestíveis. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2017 from http://www.cidadescomestiveis.org/projeto/

Coleman, J. C. (1994). Foundations of Social Theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Coleman, J. C. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94, S95-S120.

Cornwall, A., & Coelho, V. S. (2007). Spaces for change? The politics of participation in new democratic arenas. In A. Cornwall, & V. S. Coelho (Eds.), Spaces for change? (pp. 1-25). London: Zed Books.

Costa, C. G. A. (2015). Agricultura Urbana e Periurbana na Ótica da Promoção da Saúde (Doctoral Dissertation). Faculdade de Saúde Pública, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo.

Deelstra, T. & Girardet, H. (2000). Urban agriculture and sustainable cities. In N. Bakker, M. Dubbeling, S. Guendel, U. Sabel-Koschella, H. Zeeuw (Eds.), Growing cities, growing food: Urban agriculture on the policy agenda (pp. 43-65). Feldafing: Deutsche Sitffung für Internationale Entwicklung.

Draus, P.J., Roddy, J. & McDuffie, A. (2014). ‘We don’t have no neighbourhood’: Advanced marginality and urban agriculture in Detroit. Urban Studies, 51(12), 2523-2538.

Drechsel, P., Thebo, A. L., & Lambin, E. F. (2014). Global assessment of urban and peri-urban agriculture: Irrigated and rainfed croplands. Environmental Research Letters, 9(11), 114002.

Van Dyck B., & Van den Broeck, P. (2013). Social innovation: A territorial process. In F. Moulaert, D. MacCallum, A. Mehmood, A. Hamdouch (Eds.), The international handbook on social innovation: Collective action, social learning and transdisciplinary research (pp. 131-141). Northhampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, Inc.

Encontro Nacional de Agricultura Urbana . (2015). Carta Política do Primeiro Encontro Nacional de Agricultura Urbana - ENAU" 21 a 24 de outubro - Rio de Janeiro, RJ. Retrieved May 03, 2017 from http://agriculturaurbana.org.br/UAalliance/carta_enau.html

Euromonitor International. (2017, February). São Paulo city review. Retrieved April 27, 2017 from http://www.euromonitor.com/sao-paulo-city-review/report

Evans, B., Joas, M., Sundback, S., & Theobald, K. (2005). Governing sustainable cities. London: Earthscan.

Field, J. (2003). Social capital. London: Routledge.

Food and Agriculture Organization. (1999). Taking stock of the multifunctional character of agriculture and land. Conference papers for FAO/Netherlands Conference on The Multifunctional Character of Agriculture and Land, Maastricht, Netherlands, September 12-17, 1999. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/mfcal/pdf/st_e.pdf

Food and Agriculture Organization. (2010). Growing greener cities in Latin America and the Caribbean. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3696e.pdf

Giddens, A. (1990). The consequences of modernity. Cambridge: Polity.

Hannifan, L. J. (1920). The community center. Boston, MA: Silver Burdett.

Hannifan, L. J. (1916). The rural school community center. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 67, 130-138.

Hildyard, N., Hedge, P., Wolvekamp, P., & Reddy, S. (2001). Pluralism, participation and power: Joint forest management in India. In B. Cooke, & U. Kothari (Eds.), Participation: The New Tyranny (pp. 56-71). London: Zed Books.

Huylenbroeck, G. V., Vandermeulen, V., Mettepenningen, E., & Verspecht, A. (2007). Multifunctionality of agriculture: A review of definitions, evidence and instruments. Living Rev. Landscape Res., 1, (2007), 3. Retrieved from http://www.livingreviews.org/lrlr-2007-3

Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. (2017). São Paulo Panorama. Retrieved April 12, 2017 from http://cidades.ibge.gov.br/xtras/perfil.php?codmun=355030

Leeuwen, E. S., Nijkamp, P. & Vaz, T. D. (2010). The multifunctional use of urban green space. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 8(1-2), 20–25.

Macnaghten, P., & Urry, J. (1998). Contested Natures. London, UK: SAGE Publications.

McClintock, N. (2014). Radical, reformist, and garden-variety neoliberal: Coming to terms with urban agriculture's contradictions. Local Environment, 19(2), 147-171.

Miguel, S. (2016, December 02). Agricultura urbana, articulação social e poder público em pauta. Instituto de Estudos Avançados da Universidade de São Paulo. Retrieved March 12, 2017 from http://www.iea.usp.br/noticias/agricultura-urbana-articulacao-social-e-poder-publico-em-pauta

Mougeout, L. J. A. (2000). Urban agriculture: Definition, presence, potentials and risks. In N. Bakker, M. Dubbeling, S. Guendel, U. Sabel Koschella, & H. De Zeeuw (Eds.), Growing cities, growing food, urban agriculture on the policy agenda. Feldafing: Deutsche Sitffung für Internationale Entwicklung.

Mougeout, L. J. A. (2006). Growing better cities: Urban agriculture for sustainable development. Ottawa, ON: International Development Research Centre.

Moulaert, F. (2009). Social innovation: Institutionally embedded, territorially (re)produced. In F. Moulaert, D. MacCallum, A. Mehmood, A. Hamdouch (Eds), The international handbook on social innovation: Collective action, social learning and transdisciplinary research (pp.11-24). Northhampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, Inc.

Moulaert, F., & Mehmood, A. (2011). Spaces of social innovation. In A. Pike, A. Rodriguez-Pose, J. Tomaney (Eds.), Handbook of local and regional development (pp. 212-225). London: Routledge.

Movimento Urbano de Agroecologia. (2017). O que é o MUDA-SP and Mapa da Mudança. Retrieved April 29, 2017 from http://muda.org.br

Nagib, G. (2016). Agricultura urbana como ativismo na cidade de São Paulo: o caso da Horta das corujas (Master thesis). Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH/USP), São Paulo, Brazil

Oliveira, L. C. P. (2017). de Redes, ideias e ação pública na agricultura urbana : São Paulo, Montreal e Toronto 2017. (Doctoral dissertation). Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo (EAESP), Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV), São Paulo, Brazil.

Olsson, E. G. A., Kerselaers, E., Søderkvist Kristensen, L., Primdahl, J., Rogge, E., & Wästfelt, A. (2016). Peri-urban food production and its relation to urban resilience. Sustainability, 8(12), 1340.

Pourias, J., Aubry, C., & Duchemin, E. (2016). Is food a motivation for urban gardeners? Multifunctionality and the relative importance of the food function in urban collective gardens of Paris and Montreal. Agriculture and Human Values, 33(2), 257-273.

Prefeitura de São Paulo. (2016, June 15). Prefeitura lança mapa colaborativo para o desenvolvimento rural sustentável em São Paulo. Retrieved May 03, 2017 from http://gestaourbana.prefeitura.sp.gov.br/noticias/prefeitura-lanca-mapa-colaborativo-para-o-desenvolvimento-rural-sustentavel-em-sao-paulo/

Prefeitura de São Paulo. (2013, March 21). Programa de Agricultura Urbana e Periurbana. Secretaria Municipal do Verde e do Meio Ambiente. Retrieved March 12, 2017 from http://www.prefeitura.sp.gov.br/cidade/secretarias/meio_ambiente/servicos/proaurp/index.php?p=30091

Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

Rabello, T. (2016, June 19). À procura de hortas em plena São Paulo. O Estado de São Paulo. Retrieved April 25, 2017 from http://emais.estadao.com.br/blogs/alimentos-organicos/a-procura-de-hortas-em-plena-sao-paulo/

Ramos, S. (2014, November 14). Agricultura urbana e o novo plano diretor Estratégico do Município de São Paulo: Promoção à sustentabilidade ambiental e à saúde nas metrópoles. Análises e Indicadores do Agronegócio, 9(11). Retrieved from http://www.iea.sp.gov.br/ftpiea/AIA/AIA-55-2014.pdf

Rezende, F. (2016, June 22). Agricultura urbana. Instituto de Estudos Avançados da Universidade de São Paulo. Retrieved May 03, 2017 from http://www.iea.usp.br/pesquisa/grupos-de-estudo/grupo-de-estudos-de-agricultura-urbana/grupo-de-estudos-de-agricultura-urbana

Rodrigues, A., Deodoro, J. (2012, May 14). SP tem só 2,6m² de verde por pessoa. Estado de São Paulo. Retrieved April 02, 2017 from http://brasil.estadao.com.br/noticias/geral,sp-tem-so-2-6-m-de-verde-por-pessoa,872978.

Sesc São Paulo. (2014, February 07). São Paulo também é verde. Retrieved April 29, 2017 from https://www.sescsp.org.br/online/artigo/7338_SAO+PAULO+TAMBEM+E+VERDE

Valdiones, A. P. G. (2013). Panorama da agricultura urbana e periurbana no município de São Paulo (Master Thesis). Escola de Arte, Ciências e Humanidades (EACH/USP), São Paulo, Brazil.

World Bank. (2010). Social capital. Retrieved July 05, 2017 from http://go.worldbank.org/C0QTRW4QF0

World Health Organization. (2010). Urban Planning, Environment and Health: From Evidence to Policy Action. Retrieved from http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/114448/E93987.pdf?ua=1


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Comments on this article

View all comments



 Google Scholar H5 index 3 

Sponsoring Organisations

Logo Agrarekologie Uni Kassel