Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 101–120 | Cite as

Resolving differing stakeholder perceptions of urban rooftop farming in Mediterranean cities: promoting food production as a driver for innovative forms of urban agriculture

  • Esther Sanyé-Mengual
  • Isabelle Anguelovski
  • Jordi Oliver-Solà
  • Juan Ignacio Montero
  • Joan Rieradevall


Urban agriculture (UA) is spreading within the Global North, largely for food production, ranging from household individual gardens to community gardens that boost neighborhood regeneration. Additionally, UA is also being integrated into buildings, such as urban rooftop farming (URF). Some URF experiences succeed in North America both as private and community initiatives. To date, little attention has been paid to how stakeholders perceive UA and URF in the Mediterranean or to the role of food production in these initiatives. This study examines the promotion and inclusion of new forms of UA through the practice of URF and contributes to the nascent literature on the stakeholder and public perceptions of UA. It seeks to understand how those perceptions shape the development of new urban agriculture practices and projects. Barcelona (Spain) was used as a Mediterranean case study where UA and URF projects are growing in popularity. Through semi-structured interviews with 25 core stakeholders, we show that UA is largely perceived as a social activity rather than a food production initiative, because the planning of urban gardens in Barcelona was traditionally done to achieve leisure and other social goals. However, several stakeholders highlighted the potential to increase urban fertility through URF by occupying currently unused spaces. As a result, the positive valuation of URF depends on the conceptualization of UA as a social or food production activity. In turn, such conceptualization shapes barriers and opportunities for the development of URF. While most UA-related stakeholders (e.g., food co-ops, NGOs) preferred soil-based UA, newer stakeholders (e.g., architects) highlighted the economic, social and environmental opportunities of local and efficient food production through innovative URF.


Rooftop farming Rooftop greenhouses Urban self-sufficiency Local production 



Non-governmental organization


Rooftop farming


Rooftop greenhouse


Urban agriculture


Urban rooftop farming



The authors thank the participants in this study for sharing their experiences and knowledge, the Spanish Ministerio de Educación for awarding a research scholarship (AP2010-4044) to Esther Sanyé-Mengual and the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MINECO) for the financial support to the research project “Agrourban sustainability through rooftop greenhouses. Ecoinnovation on residual flows of energy, water and CO2 for food production” (CTM2013-47067-C2-1-R).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Esther Sanyé-Mengual
    • 1
  • Isabelle Anguelovski
    • 1
  • Jordi Oliver-Solà
    • 1
    • 2
  • Juan Ignacio Montero
    • 1
    • 3
  • Joan Rieradevall
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA)Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)BellaterraSpain
  2. 2.Inèdit. Inèdit Innovació SLUAB Research ParkCabrilsSpain
  3. 3.Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA)CabrilsSpain
  4. 4.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)BellaterraSpain

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