Glossary

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The main terms and concepts that are related to sustainable food planning, agroecology and agroecological urbanism are presented here.

Term Definition
Agribusiness The system, dominated by corporate business that serves consumers globally and locally through innovation and management of multiple value chains that deliver valued goods and services derived from sustainable orchestration of food, fibre and natural resources. Please note that in this document we do not use the term in the wider sense.
Agricultural park Agricultural parks are designed for multiple uses that accommodate small farms, public areas and natural habitats. They allow small farmers access to secure land and local markets; they provide fresh food, and are an educational, environmental, and aesthetic amenity for nearby communities. Agricultural parks facilitate the continuity of agriculture as the practice of cultivating the land in urbanised landscapes. The naming of the concept as a 'park' is intended to convey its role for open space preservation. While the term suggests the permanent land conservation and recreational use exemplified by the public park, it also evokes the traditional model of a business park, where multiple tenants operate under a common management structure. Agricultural parks are suitable for metropolitan areas and regions that want activated and permanently protected edges to contain cities and provide the 'sense of place'; viable agriculture as an integral part of community and regional health; access to fresh food, parks and green spaces (SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE EDUCATION 2005). Agricultural parks represent a specific component of Urban Agriculture (UA) that plays a key role in two global challenges: urbanisation and food security. UA can provide an important contribution to sustainable, resilient urban development and the creation and maintenance of multifunctional urban landscapes (COST-ACTION UAE 2012).
Agroecology The application of ecological principles to the study, design and management of agroecosystems that are both productive and natural resource conserving, culturally sensitive, socially just and economically viable (Altieri and Toledo 2011; Gliessman 2012; Fernandez et al. 2013). Agroecology is the application of ecological science to the study, design, and management of food systems. It also represents a social movement promoting the transition to fair, just, and sovereign food systems (Anderson et al. 2015:3 & Nyéleni Declaration, Mali, 27 February 2015). A practice, a science and a social movement that has been embraced by the international food sovereignty movement through the Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology (V.E. Méndez, C.M. Bacon, R. Cohen, and S.R. Gliessman, Agroecology: A transdisciplinary, participatory and action-oriented approach)
Allotment garden An area subdivided into small plots which are rented under a tenancy agreement. The owner can be a municipality or a private owner, and the complex can be targeted at a specific social aim. Tenants may be organised as members of an association.( UAE, p 24)
Aquaponics Aquaponics is a food production system that couples aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish, crayfish, snails or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) whereby the nutrient-rich aquaculture water is fed to hydroponically grown plants. (Wikipedia)
Biodynamic agriculture Biodynamic agriculture is a form of alternative agriculture based on pseudo-scientific and esoteric concepts initially developed in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925). It was the first of the organic farming movements. It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives.
CAP Common Agriculture Policy of the EU in 2023 focusing on ten objectives: to ensure a fair income for farmers; to increase competitiveness; to improve the position of farmers in the food chain; climate change action; environmental care; to preserve landscapes and biodiversity; to support generational renewal; vibrant rural areas; to protect food and health quality; and fostering knowledge and innovation. (https://agriculture.ec.europa.eu/common-agricultural-policy/cap-overview/cap-2023-27_en)
City Region Food System (CFRS) A system that provides better connections among cities and towns and between them and their rural surroundings for the activities and relationships in the food cycle: growing, producing, processing, distributing, marketing, retailing, storing, preparing, consuming and disposing. An ideal CRFS fosters four interconnected elements throughout the food chain: food security and nutrition; livelihoods and economic development; sustainable natural resources management; social inclusion and equity.(FAO and RUAF 2015)
Community garden Garden, mainly organised in a bottom-up process, focusing on growing vegetables, herbs and flowers, and composting, while building social networks, building meeting places and establishing a sense of community. Educational and cultural activities are an essential part of their programme. (UAE, p 25)
Community supported agriculture (CSA) A partnership between farmers and consumers in which the responsibilities, risks and rewards of farming are shared. CSA helps to address increasing concerns about the lack of transparency, sustainability and resilience of our food system. It is one of the most radical ways that we can re-take control and ownership of our food system. The main principle of CSA is the community supports the farmer through a direct connection. There are no ‘middlemen,’ what is produced on the farm goes directly to the consumer. (https://communitysupportedagriculture.org.uk/what-is-a-csa)
Ecological farm Ecological farming ensures healthy farming and healthy food for today and tomorrow, by protecting soil, water and climate. It promotes biodiversity and does not contaminate the environment with chemical inputs or genetically engineered plant varieties. Ecological farming encompasses a wide range of crop and livestock management systems that seek to: (1) Increase yields and incomes (2) Maximize the sustainable use of local natural resources and (3) Minimize the need for external inputs.(www.greenpeace.org/international/publication/6923/defining-ecological-farming/)
Edible forest See: food forest
Educational farm A farm that offers a teaching tool, addressing the production, processing, and consumption of foods and their environmental impact, with a high potential for raising public awareness and spreading environmentally and climate-resilient growing ideas and practices. (UAE, p24)
ELC Council of Europe landscape convention, 2000. (www.coe.int/en/web/landscape)
F2F Farm to Fork Strategy of the EU which aims to accelerate the transition to a sustainable food system that should: (1) have a neutral or positive environmental impact, (2) help to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts, (3) reverse the loss of biodiversity, (4) ensure food security, nutrition and public health, making sure that everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, sustainable food, and (5) preserve affordability of food while generating fairer economic returns, fostering competitiveness of the EU supply sector and promoting fair trade. (https://food.ec.europa.eu/horizontal-topics/farm-fork-strategy_en)
Food democracy The process in which actors regain democratic control over the food system - control of seeds, biodiversity, land and territories, waters, knowledge, culture, and the commons, for its sustainable transformation. (Nyeleni Declaration-2015)
Food deserts Geographic areas in which residents’ access to affordable, healthy food options (especially fresh fruits and vegetables) is restricted or non-existent due to the absence of grocery stores within convenient travelling distance.
Food forest A forest that imitates natural ecosystems by combining trees, crops and (sometimes) livestock. Where a monoculture uses only one layer for food production, a food forest is a polyculture with many layers (see figure 1). The top layer is the canopy or tall tree layer with trees around nine meters high, mostly nut and fruit trees or nitrogen-fixing trees. The second layer is the low tree layer, with trees between three and five meters in height, mostly fruit trees. Layer three contains shrubs, between the small trees. These are mainly berries, fruit, nut and currant shrubs, but can also be medicinal and flowering shrubs. In the herbaceous layer underneath, one finds perennial plants without woody stems, such as medicinal herbs and bee-forage plants. The fifth layer is the rhizosphere, consisting of root crops like potatoes or carrots. (RUAF, Urban Agriculture magazine, number 33, November 2017, p 35)
Food hub A food hub is a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers in order to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand. They present an opportunity for communities to make healthy and local food sourcing a profitable enterprise for producers, distributors, retailers, and other business types (e.g., worker-owned co-ops) and aim to better connect local food producers to distributors and/or consumers. (www.healthyfoodaccess.org)
Food security A situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Based on this definition, four food security dimensions can be identified: food availability, economic and physical access to food, food utilization, and stability over time. (https://a4nh.cgiar.org/2020/01/26/glossary-food-systems)
Food system Food systems encompass the entire range of activities involved in the production, processing, marketing, consumption and disposal of goods that originate from agriculture, forestry or fisheries, including the inputs needed and the outputs generated at each of these steps. (Source: FAO, 2013). Food systems also involve the people and institutions that initiate or inhibit change in the systems as well as the sociopolitical, economic and technological environment in which these activities take place.
Foodscape Foodscapes are understood as all those areas that contribute to food production such as arable land and farms, orchards, allotments, and vegetable gardens in combination with the social capital they build.
Forest garden See: food forest
Inclusive landscapes A landscape can be called ‘inclusive’ when it provides a communicative space in which different perspectives, values, identities, preferences and conflicts interest of citizens, inhabitants and organizing actors come together. ((Kamplage, 2017).
Landscape Landscape’ means an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors (ELC 2000)
Landscape approach A landscape approach could be defined as a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way. Principles are to connect spatial planning and multi-stakeholder objectives, to perform climate-smart practices at a landscape level, to diversity the land use across the landscape, to manage the land use interactions at a landscape scale. Ecosystem services have to be in consideration for each step of developing a landscape approach for any context, as well as the impact of human activities from a multi-sectoral perspective. (LE:NOTRE Forum publication Rimini)
Local food Food commodities that are produced and processed within a defined geographic area in which the distribution chain will be short between producer and consumer (Kneafsey, M.; Venn, L.; Schmutz, U.; Balázs, B.; Trenchard, L.; Eyden-Wood, T.; Bos, E.; Sutton, G.; Blacket, M. Short Food Supply Chains and Local Food Systems in the EU. A State of Play of their Socio-Economic Characteristics; EU Commission: Brussels, Belgium, 2013)
MUFPP Milan Urban Food Policy Pact: an international agreement among cities from all over the world, committed "to develop sustainable food systems that are inclusive, resilient, safe and diverse, that provide healthy and affordable food to all people in a human rights-based framework, that minimize waste and conserve biodiversity while adapting to and mitigating impacts of climate change”. (https://www.milanurbanfoodpolicypact.org)
Multi-functional farm A farm that offers in addition to food production services for pedagogy, education, recreation and can include besides the productive plots also family gardens, community gardens, sites for recreation and leisure.
Organic farming A mode of farming that includes a sustainable management system that is based on the principles for respect for nature’s systems and cycles and the sustainment and enhancement of the state of the soil, the water and the air, of the health of plants and animals, and of the balance between them; the preservation of natural landscape elements, such as natural heritage sites; the responsible use of energy and natural resources, such as water, soil, organic matter and air; the production of a wide variety of high-quality food and other agricultural and aquaculture products that respond to consumers’ demand for goods that are produced by the use of processes that do not harm the environment, human health, plant health or animal health and welfare; ensuring the integrity of organic production at all stages of the production, processing and distribution of food and feed; the appropriate design and management of biological processes, based on ecological systems and using natural resources which are internal to the management system, using methods that: use living organisms and mechanical production methods; practice soil-related crop cultivation and land-related livestock production, or practice aquaculture which complies with the principle of the sustainable exploitation of aquatic resources; exclude the use of GMOs, products produced from GMOs, and products produced by GMOs, other than veterinary medicinal products; are based on risk assessment and the use of precautionary measures and preventive measures, where appropriate; the restriction of the use of external inputs; where external inputs are required or the appropriate management practices and methods referred to in point (f) do not exist, the external inputs shall be limited to: inputs from organic production; in the case of plant reproductive material, priority shall be given to varieties selected for their ability to meet the specific needs and objectives of organic agriculture; natural or naturally-derived substances; low solubility mineral fertilisers; the adaptation of the production process, where necessary and within the framework of this Regulation, to take account of the sanitary status, regional differences in the ecological balance, climatic and local conditions, stages of development and specific husbandry practices; the exclusion from the whole organic food chain of animal cloning, of rearing artificially induced polyploid animals and of ionising radiation; the observance of a high level of animal welfare respecting species-specific needs. (Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007)
Paludi culture Wet agriculture and forestry on peatlands, which combines the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from drained peatlands through rewetting with continued land use and biomass production under wet conditions. The concept was developed at Greifswald University (Wikipedia).
Permaculture (farm) An approach to land management and settlement design that adopts arrangements observed in flourishing natural ecosystems. It includes a set of design principles derived using whole-systems thinking. It applies these principles in fields such as regenerative agriculture, town planning, rewilding, and community resilience. Permaculture originally came from "permanent agriculture", but was later adjusted to mean "permanent culture", incorporating social aspects. The term was coined in 1978 by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, who formulated the concept in opposition to modern industrialized methods instead adopting a more traditional or "natural" approach to agriculture.
Pick your own farms A farm where one can pick fruit or harvest vegetables oneself and then paying for the amount you have picked.
Regional branding A way to promote rural regions and support development of socially, culturally and environmentally oriented economies in areas that are interesting due to their natural and cultural heritage.
Short food chains The food supply chain has four components namely food production, food storage and distribution, food processing and packaging and retails and markets (HLPE, 2017).
Sustainable agriculture Is a very broad definition of farming in sustainable ways meeting society's present food and textile needs, without compromising the ability for current or future generations to meet their needs. It can be based on an understanding of ecosystem services. There are many methods to increase the sustainability of agriculture. When developing agriculture within sustainable food systems, it is important to develop flexible business process and farming practices. (Wikipedia)
Therapeutic gardens and farms Sites meant to provide healing effects of gardening and agriculture for the treatment of mental disorders, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral paralysis, addition to drugs, alcohol, etcetera. (UAE, p24)
Urban agriculture Spans all actors, communities, activities, places and economies that focus on biological production in a spatial context, which – according to local standards, is categorized as ‘urban’. UA takes place in intra- and peri-urban areas and one of its key characteristics is that is is more deeply integrated in the urban system compared to other agriculture (UA Europe, p 21). The growing of plants and the raising of animals within and around cities for both commercial and non-commercial purposes. The most striking feature of urban agriculture, which distinguishes it from rural agriculture, is that it is integrated into the urban economic and ecological system: urban agriculture is embedded in -and interacts with- the urban ecosystem. Such linkages include the use of urban residents as labourers, use of typical urban resources (like organic waste as compost and urban wastewater for irrigation), direct links with urban consumers, direct impacts on urban ecology (positive and negative), being part of the urban food system, competing for land with other urban functions, being influenced by urban policies and plans, etcetera.
Urban farm Multifunctional farms, operating in the urban context, providing and processing food, and meeting additional demands for recreation and tourism, also providing services and goods such as landscape management, environmental measures, land rental and direct marketing. There are several types, some focusing more social and educational services, others focusing on food and circularity (material flows).
Urban gardening The practice of growing vegetables, fruit and plants in urban areas, such as schools, backyards or apartment balconies.
Urban pastoralism As a practice: an extensive system of animal husbandry that involves transhumance and/or seasonal grazing of urban and peri-urban, mostly 'unenclosed' areas dominated by semi-natural vegetation. A specific phenomenon of the beginning of the 21st century that evokes pastoral activity in urban interstices (predestined to other functions) in a planned or spontaneous way depending on the context.