Farming the urban fringes of Barcelona: Competing visions of nature and the contestation of a partial sustainability fix

Chiara Pirro, Isabelle Anguelovski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


© 2017 Elsevier Ltd While the concept of urban agriculture investigates the way in which disused land within the consolidated city is returned to its citizens through a variety of farming practices, many pockets of rural land in peri-urban areas continue to be contested by institutions and communities – including informal farmers, formal farmers, municipal planners, metropolitan agencies, and investors – with contrasting interests. To date however, little scholarly attention has been paid to informal practices within the degraded areas of urban fringes and, more specifically, to the link between the expansion of peri-urban agriculture and the civic appropriation and negotiation of space in neglected peripheral areas. In this paper, we ask how a metropolitan sustainability fix is produced and contested both materially and discursively. We also explore how local residents involved in peri-urban agriculture claim the use of land for agricultural practices and in turn attempt to influence the urban agenda of the neoliberal city. Inquiring how competing visions of nature act as obstacles in this negotiation process, our analysis of the peri-urban Baix Llobregat Agricultural Park in Barcelona reveals that the imposition of official visions about how needs for food and agriculture should be fulfilled, which landscapes are esthetically acceptable, what nature is, and how land should be controlled and developed indicate why apparently “marginal” and informal urban agriculture in the periphery has come to be subordinated to the planning of the neoliberal city and of a metropolitan sustainability fix – a partial sustainability fix that is however progressively being questioned and renegotiated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-65
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Barcelona
  • Informal garden
  • Land negotiation
  • Sustainability fix
  • Urban agriculture
  • Urban fringe


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