Unraveling the contribution of periurban farming systems to urban food security in developed countries

  • Rosalia Filippini
  • Sylvie Lardon
  • Enrico Bonari
  • Elisa Marraccini
Research Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Urban agriculture


The debates on food security in developed countries have raised questions regarding the capacity of periurban farming systems to provide food for urban dwellers. Attention thus needs to be paid to what kind of food production is performed nearby cities. This study aims at developing a methodology to characterize the food production provided by periurban farming systems in terms of quality, quantity and crop production intensity. The case study is the Pisa’s urban area (Tuscany, Italy), which is illustrative of coastal Northern Mediterranean farming systems. The methodology was based on the construction of farm typologies considering 51 on-farm surveys using multivariate statistics (principal component analysis and cluster analysis). Farms were classified into six types, considering seven on-farm indicators. Results showed that the amount of production sold in the local food system is negatively correlated to the farm’s size and the amount of on-farm food production, thus indicating for local food policies the need to support the food allocation in local markets through specific agri-urban projects. In terms of food quality, we have shown for the first time that local food labels seem to positively impact urban markets rather than organic labels. Crop production intensity indicators have heterogeneous dynamics, which do not seem to depend on the farming system, nor on the farm’s involvement in local food systems. This could be an effect of the proximity to urban areas, a specific character of periurban farming systems, that should be carefully investigated in future research. This is the first time that territorial food production is analyzed combining indicators on food quantity, quality and crop production intensity at the farm level. Our results demonstrate that the highly heterogeneous dynamics of periurban farming systems in developed countries need to be accurately analyzed to develop more efficient food policies with benefits for the urban food security.


Local food system Periurban agriculture Farm type Multivariate statistical analysis Italy 



The authors acknowledge ANR funding via the DAUME project no. ANR-2010-STRA-007-01 and the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Pisa, Italy) for the first author PhD grant, as well as all the farmers that took part in the interviews.


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DISAAUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly
  2. 2.INRA and AgroParisTech, UMR TerritoiresAubièreFrance
  3. 3.Istituto di Scienze della Vita, Scuola Superiore Sant’AnnaPisaItaly
  4. 4.UP INTERACT 2018.C102, UniLaSalleBeauvaisFrance

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