This chapter uses a resilience lens, where resilience is defined as the capacity to absorb shocks, utilize them, reorganize, and continue to develop without losing fundamental functions (Folke 2006). This resilience lens can be used to analyze the role of urban gardens as memory carriers of ways to build food securityin cities (see Chapters 20 and 23, “Memory and Narrative” and “Food and Farming”).
Comparing Western urban histories in a global frame of reference suggests that a marked conceptual and physical separation between urban and rural sectors emerged largely as a consequence of high modernist time–space compression during the 1900s (Harvey 1990). However, it is estimated that in contemporary cities of the global South, approximately 800 million people are still engaged in urban agriculture, producing approximately 15–20 percent of the world’s food. These numbers are diminishing due to similar processes that drove food production from Western cities. Do such changes in the urban environment influence the capacity of urban people to respond to food shortages in the future?It has been suggested that modernist urbanization severs perceived and experienced relations between people and nature as urban lifestyles are adopted and resilience as access to green areas is reduced. This alienation process has been termedthe “extinction-of-experience” (Miller 2005), an ongoing generational amnesia among city peoples about their relationships to, and dependence upon, diverse ecosystems, including agro-ecosystems. Such social amnesia has been argued to produce food insecurity among growing urban populations, simply because it erodes options of self-sufficiency (Barthel, Parker, and Ernstson 2013). Food security is broadly defined here as having physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet dietary needs (FAO 1996). Following Pothukuchi and Kaufman (2000: 113), the food system is defined as “the chain of activities connecting food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management, as well as all the associated regulatory institutions and activities” (see Chapters 23 and 24, “Food and Farming” and “Pollution”). The focus of this essay is on food production, which makes this whole circuit possible. I highlight collectively managed urban gardens as potential “memory workers” to combat the ongoing generational amnesia among city dwellers about the intimate links between local agro-ecosystems and food security (Barthel, Parker, and Ernstson 2013).
Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2014. 428-446 p.