A hybrid method to quantify household urban agriculture gardening: Implications for sustainable and equitable food action planning

Anu Ramaswami, Dana C Boyer, Peter Nixon, Nic Jelinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urban food action plans seek quantitative data on household agriculture gardening, traditionally difficult to quantify rapidly, as well as data on inequality to explore the potential to improve equitable access to fresh vegetables through household agriculture. This article presents a novel hybrid field survey (HFS) method, combining ground surveys with satellite imagery to quantify the prevalence and area of household agriculture gardens, as well as inequality by neighborhood income. We test the method in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, (Twin Cities), USA, analyzing the presence/absence (prevalence) and size of agriculture gardens across a total of ~17,500 households in 2017 and repeated in 2020 (during COVID-19). In 2017, the overall mean frequency of household agricultural gardening was 5.0%, with significant differences (2.7 vs. 7.0%) across low- vs. high-income neighborhoods. The city-wide median area per agriculture garden size was 14.6 m2 with greater size (19.8 vs. 11.6 m2) in low- vs. high-income neighborhoods, respectively. Across all income groups, the gardening area was a small fraction of the yard area, suggesting little land availability constraints. Measurements in the summer of 2020 during COVID-19 found the method sensitive over time, showing an overall 60% increase in the prevalence of household agriculture with low-income neighborhoods increasing rates from 3 to 5%. Overall, the method can inform aggregate production potential and inequality in household agriculture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number997081
JournalFrontiers in Sustainable Food Systems
StatePublished - Oct 28 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture at the National Science Foundation/United States Department of Agriculture - Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems (INFEWS) (Grant No. 2019-67019-30463) and the National Science Foundation's Sustainable Research Network (SRN) (Award # 1444745).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Ramaswami, Boyer, Nixon and Jelinski.


  • Milan Urban Food Policy Pact
  • food access
  • food equity
  • household gardening
  • urban agriculture
  • urban food action planning
  • urban food systems


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