Recent developments in urban horticulture – facts and fiction
Urban horticulture, the intensive production and cultivation of plants in dense populated areas exists since the first cities have been established by mankind. The earliest reports date back 4000 years, but the role urban horticulture has played has changed since in time and space. During periods of hunger urban horticulture is and has been production oriented while in other times aesthetics and social aspects played a more important role. Recent discussions focus on new vegetable production systems within cities. Benefits are seen in food production close to the consumer improving access to healthy fruits and vegetables having many public health benefits for local residents. Not only in developing countries but also in Europe and North America urban vegetable production systems are on the rise. Daily newspapers are flooded with reports on new technological solutions for inner-urban production systems and the importance of green within cities is getting more attention from political decision makers, scientists and the public. Since there are many hopes associated with such development there is an urgent need to discuss was does really exist and what is still fiction. The discussion needs to distinguish three settings: 1) sustainable low tech production of fruits and vegetables, 2) the production of vegetables in low tech systems emerging from a social movement, and 3) high tech food production in low energy greenhouses, often soilless and combined with new technologies for high quality products. It also should be taken into consideration that urban food production entails risks to health and the environment, if not managed and carried out properly. The present paper focusses on existing and emerging technologies and their importance as promising tool to overcome some of the problems mankind is facing due to world population growth and the existing high urbanization rate.