Goals and stages of the research and social, environmental and economic effects
The communal vegetable garden of “Urban farming – Sofia” in Druzhba.
The first stage of the research envisages a qualitative study of the socio-economic, natural and institutional context of urban agriculture development on the territory of Sofia municipality. It will include interviews with key actors and stakeholders, expert statements, focus groups with local communities, environmental and landscape overviews.
The second stage will be dedicated to a representative for Sofia municipality quantitative study of the attitudes and opinions of the citizens about urban agriculture practices in three types of areas in the city – central, residential and peri-urban areas. Also, 3 case studies will be conducted to study in detail the socio-economic and environmental effects of existing urban agriculture practices.
We will try and answer the question if and to what extent urban agriculture can create and maintain social cohesion in urban communities. Can it strengthen interpersonal trust, stimulate civic empowerment and the social integration of the disadvantaged and people in risk of poverty and social exclusion?
The research will analyze the potential of urban agriculture to stimulate the local economy through creating innovative business models based on social entrepreneurship, public-private partnerships and sustainable development of human and natural resources of cities.
An important part of the study is dedicated to analysis of the potential impact of urban agriculture on biodiversity conservation in cities, as well as on improvement of the urban green infrastructure. In response to the popular concern about the cleanliness of food produced in urban areas, we will study the safety of soil and water used for food production.
The project will pay special attention to the mechanisms of planning, managing and social construction of green spaces in the city. They will be studied and documented through territorial analysis of the three types of areas included in the research. The gathered data will be used to create maps and plans to serve in a comparative study of the territories.
Sofia’s typical “green wedges” offer good conditions for urban agriculture. The Vartopo area in the South-east of the city, where hobby gardening is practised, is planned as a green space for active recreation.