What is urban agriculture?

urban agriculture: 

growing food 

by cultivating plants and raising animals 

in and around cities

Courtyard on Ryerson University campus. Photo: Rhonda Teitel-Payne

Where does it happen?

Urban agriculture takes many shapes and can be found in almost every corner of the city:

Parks and public spaces

Churches, mosques, synagogues and temples

Apartment towers – public housing, condos, market rental

TELUS House Toronto urban rooftop garden. Photo: Rhonda Teitel-PayneRooftops and balconies

Restaurants and other businesses

Hospitals and health centres


Back yards

Growing mushrooms in the old kilns at the Evergreen Brickworks. Photo: Grow for Good Inc.Greenhouse at FarmStart's McVean Farm, Brampton. Photo: Rhonda Teitel-PayneIndoors – greenhouses, walls and windowsills and, in the case of mushrooms, kilns!


Working in small spaces including balconies and containers

Community garden in Regent Park. Photo: Rhonda Teitel-PayneVertical growing

Aquaponics (systems integrating fish and plants)




Animal husbandry including beekeeping, small livestock, worm composting, other insects

Food processing and value-added production


How are they organized?

Community gardens where people make some commitment to work on the gardens together, either through shared or common areas, or by sharing organizing tasks

Allotment gardens run by the city offer plots on a rental basis to individuals, families and groups

One of Debbie Nolan's plots in her neighbour's yard. Photo: Rhonda Teitel-PayneBlack Farmers and Urban Growers Collective at Downsview Park. Photo: Rhonda Teitel-PayneUrban farms are mainly focused on production for sale, but they may serve other purposes

School and children’s gardens teach children about where their food comes from

Training and internship gardens and farms prepare the next generation of farmers

Therapeutic gardens and garden programs help foster physical and mental well-being

Private gardens

Other businesses such as sales of value-added products and consulting

Some people exclude community gardening, back yard gardening, children’s gardens and therapeutic gardens from urban agriculture. The argument is that they are not focused on production and don’t involve sales.

TUG takes a broader definition and includes all of these initiatives for the following reasons:

Many urban agriculture projects blur traditional distinctions between production and programming, or for-profit and community benefit. Some of the most innovative projects are hybrids.

Urban ag projects have many commonalities – the challenge of finding space to grow, project sustainability and untangling regulations.

By working together we can learn from each other and have a stronger voice calling for a food-friendly city.

Page updated on 2023-03-12 17:34:40