Self-sufficiency through urban agriculture: Nice idea or plausible reality?

I. V. Hume, D. M. Summers, T. R. Cavagnaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


With more than half of the world's population residing in cities, there has been intense interest in urban agriculture's contribution to sustainability and self-sufficiency. This paper provides new insights into the potential for food production to occur within residential properties. High-resolution optical imagery was employed to quantify residential land immediately available for vegetable production (i.e. residential lawn) in a low-density city. Adelaide (Australia) was used as a case study. Productivity was estimated according to three empirical (low, medium and high) and one commercial yield scenario. Under high and medium yield scenarios, lawn in a typical block exceeded the space required to achieve household self-sufficiency of vegetables. Under the high-yield scenario, 23 % of lawn area would be required to meet the recommended vegetable intake of residents, while under the medium yield scenario, 72 % would be required. This study demonstrates the plausible reality of self-sufficiency through backyard vegetable production. Other resources that might limit production, such as labour, water and nutrients, are explored in the discussion. Urban agriculture is shown to be particularly worthwhile in low density cities; contrasting previous research performed under different urban conditions. However, in this case study, potentially productive land has decreased over time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102770
Number of pages12
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Land use capability
  • Low-density city
  • Remote sensing
  • Self-Sufficiency
  • Spectral classification
  • Suburban agriculture
  • Urban agriculture
  • Urban land use
  • Vegetable production


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