The worldwide practice of urban agriculture has shown itself to be an often-successful model for the inclusion of different urban sub-communities into an intentional social organisation typically focused on producing the necessary resource of food.
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But the general value of urban agriculture as a means of achieving several other community objectives – in building community capital – is of equal significance.
This chapter suggests how community capital is composed of seven dimensions, each of which is commonly addressed in some way through the practice of urban agriculture. The multi-faceted character of successful community-based urban agriculture examples is based upon the addressing of one or more of these seven dimensions to create a place-based form of grassroots community development, while also involving representatives of often-marginalised subgroups, such as women, youth and the poor.
Cities in the 21st century contain many different "communities". One can distinguish between communities of interest (belief, cultural background, football, golf, learning), communities of circumstance (race and ethnicity, disabilities, prisons, orphanages), and communities of place (cities, villages, gated communities, refugee camps, Wall Street). Members of each of these communities recognise the commonalities that link them as a community, but do not see themselves as separate from the rest of urban society.
Examples of urban agriculture worldwide, including many described in this book, display situations where the practice of city farming accommodates often marginalised subgroups. Urban farming repeatedly allows for the inclusion of women, children, the poor, the homeless and the elderly into constructive food production activities.
Thus urban agriculture, in a manner consistent with the practice of conventional community (social and economic) development, can be a constructive contributor to city neighbourhoods, and the social networks of entire cities (see also the discussion in chapter 1 on social impacts).
This goal is articulated in the mission statement of the American Community Gardening Association, a key non-government supporter of city farming in the US and Canada: