Triple-bottom-line analysis of urban agriculture on vacant land

This report identifies a range of economic, social, and ecological benefits associated with urban agriculture and explores ways of measuring the aggregate economic value of these benefits. Experience from the literature – particularly in the field of ecological economics – is combined with results from field surveys and ecological analysis in Cleveland. The results are intended to not only enable us to fully appreciate the overall importance of urban agriculture in redeveloping cities like Cleveland, but also to recognize the true potential of these emerging green landscapes as long-term, sustainable urban land use solutions. Another goal of the study is to develop a generalized framework of analysis and apply it to the urban agriculture case study in order to inform and aid similar triple-bottom-line analysis of other green infrastructure solutions.

The results indicate that converting vacant lands to urban agriculture in Cleveland will generate a total economic benefit of $41,949/acre and four full-time-equivalent seasonal jobs. In addition, homes with a garden within 400m are likely to see a 3.2% increase in property values in the Cleveland area. Many other ecological benefits (preservation of heirlooms and local varieties of plants, increased biodiversity, recycling/composting of waste, etc.) and social benefits (benefits to children and elderly, increased community interaction, health benefits, etc.) have been identified and documented, but could not be expressed in monetary terms. The results of the non-monetary benefits have been presented in a policy relevant matrix using color coding to support local and regional decision making. Care has been taken to use conservative estimates whenever the results were sensitive to the analytical assumptions and the alternative estimates have been described in the text. While the precision of analysis had to be compromised at times due to the time and resource constraints associated with this pilot study, the findings should still be within a reasonable margin of error for use by policy makers.

Read report: Triple-bottom-line analysis of urban agriculture as a solution to vacant land repurposing: A case study of Cleveland

Suggested citation: Shammin, Md Rumi, Walter E. Auch, Laura Rose Brylowski. 2012. “Triple-bottom-line analysis of urban agriculture as a solution to vacant land repurposing: A case study of Cleveland.” A report for Cleveland Botanical Garden for Great Lakes Protection Fund project 949. Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio.