Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 753–769 | Cite as

Perception and acceptance of agricultural production in and on urban buildings (ZFarming): a qualitative study from Berlin, Germany

  • Kathrin SpechtEmail author
  • Rosemarie Siebert
  • Susanne Thomaier


Rooftop gardens, rooftop greenhouses and indoor farms (defined as ZFarming) have been established or planned by activists and private companies in Berlin. These projects promise to produce a range of goods that could have positive impacts on the urban setting but also carry a number of risks and uncertainties. In this early innovation phase, the relevant stakeholders’ perceptions and social acceptance of ZFarming represent important preconditions for success or failure of the further diffusion of this practice. We used the framework of acceptance to investigate the stakeholders’ attitudes and to identify the key factors that might hinder or promote the introduction of ZFarming. The results are based on an analysis of 38 qualitative interviews conducted with key stakeholders in Berlin. As the results show, major perceived benefits of ZFarming include improved consumer awareness, education, and the creation of experimental spaces. Stakeholders further perceive opportunities for resource savings, new business models, repurposing of abandoned buildings and improved aesthetics. Major perceived risks are associated with growing techniques that are considered “unnatural”, health risks (due to urban pollutants), conflicts with images of traditional agriculture, the rejection of animal production in urban areas, the risk of projects being too expensive and too complex or being implemented too early, i.e. before the mechanisms are fully understood. The analysis further reveals which contextual factors—political, legal, market-related, spatial or societal—might negatively or positively influence ZFarming acceptance.


Qualitative method Urban agriculture Innovation Perceived risks Stakeholders 



Rooftop greenhouse


Urban agriculture


Zero-acreage farming



We appreciate the time and effort that the editor Harvey James and the reviewers have taken to comment on our paper and we want to thank them for their useful suggestions concerning our manuscript. We wish to express our greatest thanks to all our interviewees, who shared their knowledge and fruitfully collaborated with us throughout the entire process. Funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany (BMBF) has supported this work (funding code FKZ 16I1619). The Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) is institutionally funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the Ministry for Science, Research and Culture of the State of Brandenburg (MWFK).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathrin Specht
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rosemarie Siebert
    • 1
  • Susanne Thomaier
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Socio-EconomicsLeibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF)MünchebergGermany
  2. 2.Department for Urban and Regional PlanningTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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