Urban Agriculture: Fostering the Urban-Rural Continuum

Thursday 15 - Friday 16 October 2015

Urban sustainability should be inclusive, in the sense that it should address sustainability in an area large enough to encompass urban centers, but suburban, periurban and dependent rural, or natural places. There is an urban arrangement that can address this urban-rural continuum while deeply transforming urban systems conditions to foster a more sustainable future: Urban agriculture. Urban agriculture postulates that some type of agriculture may flourish within the city. It considers that urban multifunctionality should also include farming. As a matter of fact, Urban agriculture is not such a fresh idea. It existed for centuries in very different places around the world, such as the chinampas in Tenochtitlan — the actual Mexico city — since the 15th century or sooner, the hortillonnages in Amiens — a French city north of Paris — for more than twenty centuries, or the interstitial gardens (agriculture d’interstice) of Yaoundé — Cameroon’s capital — which accompanied the foundation of the city in the 19th century.

But what should be the objectives of urban agriculture in planning? Community gardens, kitchen gardens, food farming, for example, are three different things, completely. The types of urban agriculture that exist in a city vary a lot according to the climate, the cultural background, the economic and social situation of the city, etc. In many urban areas of Central America or India, urban agriculture is essentially a food security issue, related to fight against poverty and malnutrition. The situation is quite different in European or North American cities. There, urban agriculture is mainly seen as a social innovation that contributes to improving the quality of life, fostering social links among neighbors, and enhancing urban landscapes. It is not so much about food, really. The main expressions of this approach are community gardens and kitchen gardens. Theses last years, there has been, in developed countries, a growing proliferation of projects promoting urban farming architectures, such as Agritecture, or Tree-Like Skyscrapers and Vertical Farming —cultivating plants or breeding animals within tall greenhouse buildings or vertically inclined surfaces —. At the same time, urban rooftop farms are epitomized by the mainstream medias as the paragon of urban agriculture. Is it still urban agriculture, or is it something else? Besides, may urban agriculture be the cornerstone that helps reconfigure urban areas, and the backbone of a new and more sustainable urban arrangement to foster urban transition to sustainability in the urban-rural continuum, or not? Here are some of the issues that hase been tackled at the 5th Rencontres Internationales de Reims on Sustainability Studies.

François Mancebo (director of the IRCS IATEUR)

logo IRCS
logo Habiter
logo URCA

logo Reims Métropole
logo Suez Environnement
logo Earth System Governance

Program and videos

Thursday 15 october 2015

9:30 am
Welcome Speech
Catherine Vautrin – President of Reims Métropole, Chair of the Association des villes universitaires de France;
Laurent Martiny – Vice-President of Reims Champagne-Ardenne University

François Mancebo – Director of IRCS IATEUR, University of Reims, France


Theme 1:
Urban agriculture in
the socio-ecological system of the city

10:30 am
Action Research: An Essential Approach to Achieving Sustainable Development of Urban Agriculture Systems
Christopher Bryant – University of Montreal and of Guelph, Canada

11:00 am
Achieving Agri-urban Commons: A Reality or just Wishful Thinking?
Pierre Donadieu – Ecole Nationale Supérieure du Paysage de Versailles, France

11:30 am
Past and Present of the Urban Agriculture in Germany, in a Nutshell
Evelyn Gustedt – ARL, Leibniz Forum for Spatial Sciences, Germany

12:00 am

1:00 pm
End of the morning


Theme 2:
Integrating agriculture into
urban development projects

2:30 pm
Second Nature Urban Agriculture: Designing productive cities
André Viljoen – University of Brighton, United Kingdom

3:00 pm
Is Peri-urban Landscape really an Agricultural Landscape?
Sylvie Salles – IRCS Habiter, Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Paris Val-de-Seine, France

3:30 pm
Urban Agriculture, Commons and Urban Policies:
Scaling up Local Innovation
François Mancebo – IRCS Habiter/IATEUR, Reims University, France

4:00 pm

5:00 pm
End of the first day


Friday 16 october 2015

Theme 3:
Feeding the world or cultivating our garden: subsistence farming, local food and agro-urban industry

10:00 am
Food Autonomy in Urban Areas: A Scaling Issue
Roland Vidal – École Nationale Supérieure du Paysage de Versailles, France

10:30 am
Cultivating the Glocal Garden
Matthijs Hisschemoller – VU Amsterdam, Netherlands

11:00 am
The agricultural land and the new urban paradigm: coexistence, integration or conflict?
Massimo Sargolini – University of Camerino, Italy

11:30 am
Design and Feeding the city with urban agriculture: opportunities and issues
Eric Duchemin – University of the Québec at Montréal, UQAM, Canada

12:00 am

2:00 pm
End of the Rencontres


Download the program (pdf format)




Christopher Bryant

Christopher Bryant

Adjunct Professor at the Universities of Montréal and Guelph, Canada

Christopher Bryant is a leader in community economic analysis and regional development, in regional planning, spatial organization, socio-economic development and sustainable development. He is also an internationally recognized researcher in city-countryside relationships and large metropolitan regions, and urban and periurban agriculture, as well as undertaking research on the adaptation of agriculture to climate change. With 45 years as university professor, on his profile on Research Gate over 950 contributions are listed, in terms of scientific articles, chapters in books, books and reports as well as over 520 communications at congresses, colloquia and other events.

Pierre Donadieu

Pierre Donadieu

Landscaper and Agronomist, Professor at «École nationale supérieure du paysage» in Versailles.

His research focuses on several topics: theories and approaches of the landscape project, landscape public policies, landscape geo-mediation or diversification of the landscape businesses. He is the author of many books such as «Urban Campaigns» (1998 with Michel Périgord and Régis Barraud), or «Landscape, between nature and culture» (2012).

Eric Duchemin

Eric Duchemin

Associate professor and lecturer at the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal and consultant for many organizations such as Environmental Defense, Environment Canada and the Organization of United Nations.

Expert for several environmental authorities (UNEP, IPCC…), he is co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Since 2007, he leads interdisciplinary research related to urban agriculture. Research associate at the interdisciplinary research center on biology, health and environment, he is also the creator of [VertigO] magazine.

Evelyn Gustedt

Evelyn Gustedt

Head of the «Spatial planning, spatial policy « at the Academy for Spatial Research and Planning of Leibniz, Germany.

She started her professional life in private planning and research enterprises. Lecturer and researcher at the University of Hanover, she finished her PhD in 1999 on “Sustainable Regional Development through Intermediate Organisations?” Since 1998 she heads the Scientific Department of Spatial Planning, Spatial Policy of ARL. She is responsible for planning related issues especially, such as European spatial development processes, comparative spatial planning research, EU funded research projects, policy consultancy and international research relations.

Matthijs Hisschemöller

Matthijs Hisschemöller

Researcher at the Free University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Matthijs Hisschemöller has built up a broad experience in the field of(environmental) policy science. His current work focuses on interactiveapproaches to enhance policy learning through the articulation andevaluation of conflicting lines of argument.

François Mancebo

François Mancebo

Director of the International Research Center on Sustainability (IRCS) and of the Institute of Regional Development, Environment and Urban Planning (IATEUR), France.

Full professor of urban planning and sustainability at Rheims University, co-head of HABITER laboratory, François Mancebo also is a senior research fellow of the IHDP Earth System Governance and held the Chaire de la France Contemporaine at the Université de Montréal.
His research focuses on transitions to sustainability in urban areas, particularly in terms of conflicts in implemented sustainable policies, and with particular interest in issues of social justice and climate change adaptation.

Sylvie Salles

Sylvie Salles

Assistant Professor in geography and landscape at Paris – Val de Seine School of Architecture and researcher at the International Research Center on Sustainability (IRCS).

Her research focuses on the relationship between urban planning, landscape and environment. She is interested in the contributions of landscape culture in the transition to the environment of development projects. Her work on public space and green infrastructure are interested on the links between urban, suburban and rural territories through urban ecology. She is a member of the scientific committee of two journals « Projet de paysage» and «Cahiers thématiques du Lacth».

Massimo Sargolini

Massimo Sargolini

Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Camerino (Italy).

Massimo Sargolini conducts research on issues of planning the use ofsoils, landscapes and protected areas.

Roland Vidal

Roland Vidal

Environmental Science graduate of ENGREF (National School of Rural Engineering, Water and Forestry) and research engineer at the National Graduate School of Landscape of Versailles.

His teaching and researches focus on the relationship between the city, agriculture and landscape. He participated in the foundation of the CERAPT which aim is to develop the needed skills for the development of interface areas between urban and rural. At the same time, he participated in focus group «Urban Nature project», working in particular on the relationship between city, nature and agriculture.

André Viljoen

André Viljoen

Architect and principal lecturer in architecture at the University of Brighton.

Andre Viljoen is a leading figure in the field of urban food production and its urban and architectural design implications. Much of his research is undertaken collaboratively with colleague Katrin Bohn, and is cross disciplinary, engaging with artists, design, planning and development practitioners/researchers and the public. They published especially the book «Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes: designing urban agriculture for sustainable cities» which consolidated a body of research underpinning the case for urban agriculture as an essential element of sustainable urban infrastructure.

Practical information


The Conference is organized by the International Research Center on Sustainability (IRCS) that develops research in transitions to sustainability of spaces and societies. This research center is part of the Habiter research laboratory of the Rheims University.


Previous Rencontres received the support of: the Earth System Governance, the UNITAR, Suez-environnement, the Région Champagne-Ardenne, Reims-Métropole, Néoma Business School.


Scientific contact : François Mancebo – francois.mancebo@univ-reims.fr – Tél : (+33) 6 12 53 74 46

Administrative Contact: Sébastien Piantoni – sebastien.piantoni@univ-reims.fr – Tél : (+33) 3 26 91 36 81

Next events

Underground Cities - Living Below the Surface: Supporting Urban Transition to Sustainability

The next Rencontres de Reims in sustainability studies will be host on October 2016 on the theme of "Underground Cities".
The third dimension of the city concerned, essentially, height growth. However, basements are already important components of urban operation and more and more cities around the world are also considering their development underground.
The sixth Rencontres Internationales de Reims in Sustainability Science meet, to discuss this subject, eight leading researchers: Jeremy Rifkin, Alain Berthoz, Alain Bourdin, Catherine Grout, Amos Kloner, François Mancebo, Aurèle Parriaux and Sylvie Salles.
This event will take place on Wednesday 26 and Thursday, October 27, 2016 in Reims (Faculty of Arts and Humanities).

You could visit the web page of the event for more information.

Past events

5th Rencontres

Urban Agriculture

15-16 October 2015

4th Rencontres

Urban Transition to Sustainability

24-26 June 2014

1st Summer School

Urban Transition to Sustainability

23-26 June 2014

3rd Rencontres

Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals:
Towards a New Social Contract

19-20 June 2013

2nd Rencontres

Which Systems of Governance for Which Sustainability after Rio+20?

26-27 September 2012

1st Rencontres

Social Justice and Sustainability:
Back to Planning?

22-23 June 2011