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By : Marielle Dubbeling, Laura Bracalenti , Laura Lagorio

Urban agriculture is increasingly recognized for its potential contribution to more sustainable urban development. Urban agriculture includes the cultivation and raising, processing and marketing of food and non-food crops, medicinal and aromatic herbs, fruit trees, as well as animal products within urban and periurban areas. Urban agriculture positively impacts urban food security, local economic development, environmental management and community building. To reconcile the demands posed by urban growth with urban agriculture activities of high social and economic value, urban agriculture however should be included into land use planning and design, and regulated by municipalities, assuring its proper management and avoiding potential health and environmental risks. Open and green urban spaces could be designed for multifunctional urban agriculture and combine natural habitat, food production, educational, recreational and leisure activities. Such design processes would benefit from broad participation of urban planners and architects, urban farmers, citizens and slum inhabitants as to enhance ownership and engagement, more effectively use available local resources and give the process a higher credibility and wider outreach. This article shares the experience of Rosario, Argentina where the city planners and University staff collaborated with two low-income communities in the design and implementation of a multifunctional neighborhood park, public square and road reserve. A step-by-step participatory design process was followed: starting from initial visioning, defining and relating the various existing and multi-functional land uses desired, to elaborating the site plan, and agreeing on implementation procedures. The article briefly contextualizes the site and its inhabitants, illustrates the design process and the results achieved and highlights some of the problems encountered. Participatory design of open spaces for urban agriculture in Rosario- though a complex process- proved to have contributed to improving socio-economic and environmental conditions in the city, while also serving as a source of inspiration to other cities in the region.
Keywords : Urban Agriculture, Urban Planning, Neighborhood Upgrading, Participatory Design, Multifunctional Public Spaces.

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