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Socio-Economic Viability of Urban Agriculture - A Comparative Analysis of Success Factors in Germany
Socio-economic viability of urban agriculture (UA) is, especially regarding non-commercially oriented initiatives, at most a generically treated issue in scientific literature. Given a lack of data on yields, labor input, or saved expenditures, only a few studies have described it either from a cost-avoidance or a specific benefit generation perspective. Our hypothesis is that hybrid roles of consumers and producers in urban agriculture challenge the appraisal of socio-economic viability. This paper presents an empirical study from three prevalent urban agriculture models: self-harvesting gardens, intercultural gardens, and community gardens, combining qualitative and quantitative survey data. A multi-value qualitative comparative analysis was applied to grasp the perception of socio-economic viability and its success factors. This allowed us to identify necessary and sufficient conditions for economic and social success. Results give an indication of the existence of different value systems and cost–benefit considerations in different urban agriculture models. A service-focused business relationship between farmers and consumers ensuring self-reliance is important for success for self-harvesting gardens, while self-reliance and sharing components are relevant for intercultural gardens. Community gardening builds upon self-governance ambitions and a rather individually determined success and failure factor pattern beyond explicit production output orientation. It is shown here for the first time with a quantitative approach that participants of urban agriculture models seem to go beyond traditional trade-off considerations and rather adopt a post-productive perception, focusing more on benefits than costs.