The economic performance of urban gardening in three European cities – examples from Ljubljana, Milan and London

Matjaž Glavan, Ulrich Schmutz, Sarah Williams, Stefano Corsi, Federica Monaco, Moya Kneafsey, Paola Andrea Guzman Rodriguez, Majda Čenič-Istenič, Marina Pintar

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    27 Citations (Scopus)
    349 Downloads (Pure)


    Urban gardening is not a new phenomenon but it has received considerably more practical and academic interest in recent years. Studies on economic aspects such as crop yields, inputs and outputs of production, productivity, gross margins and the contribution to home economics are rare, especially in Europe. While urban gardening plays an important role in the Global South, its role in Western Europe for food productivity and home economics is currently under-researched. The aim of this study is to analyse European urban gardeners’ economic performance and self-sufficiency on a household level, as well as to reach a better understanding of their contribution to food self-provision and food security in the metropolitan areas. In a study carried out in 2014 with on-site personal and with online questionnaires participated 180 urban gardeners from three case study cities (Ljubljana, Milan, and London). Results from the economic analysis showed that although for most urban gardeners, profit is not their main motivation, the economic calculation shows that productivity in small urban plots can be comparable to market garden production. Urban gardeners are saving money, especially when, compared to retail prices for regular produce or organic produce, their input is included in the gross margin calculation. We conclude that, in the case-study cities, the self-provisional potential of urban gardeners’ households to adequately cover the annual vegetable need of five-a-day servings can be met under three conditions: (1) sufficient garden size; (2) increased area productivity, and (3) sufficient labour-hour inputs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)100-122
    Number of pages23
    JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
    Early online date29 Oct 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

    Bibliographical note

    NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Urban Forestry and Urban Greening. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, [26], (2018) DOI: 10.1016/j.ufug.2018.10.00

    © 2017, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    • Economic performance
    • Motivation
    • Productivity
    • Self-sufficiency
    • Urban gardening
    • Vegetable production

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Forestry
    • Ecology
    • Soil Science


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