Influence of social housing models in the development of urban agriculture in Mexico

Ana Nadal*, Beatriz Rodríguez-Labajos, Eva Cuerva, Alejandro Josa, Joan Rieradevall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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This study examines urbanization patterns linked to social housing units and the way in which such patterns influence the practice of urban agriculture (UA) in Mexico. Due to the transformations that take place over time in Mexican social-housing units, impervious surfaces tend to increase at the expense of greenspace and UA possibilities. The research aims to identify the negative impact of social housing transformations on UA and suggest a policy framework for sustainable housing development in Mexico. The empirical analysis distinguishes four social housing typologies within two emblematic neighborhoods in the city of Merida, Mexico: Las Magnolias and Ampliación Tixcacal-Opichén. A survey of 157 housing units combines quantitative metrics and qualitative descriptors to unveil the detrimental impact of development on UA. The results show that UA takes place within the building lots and around the housing units, rather than in public urban areas. 60% of the sampled units practiced UA, with traditional backyard gardens being the most common modality. The research findings point to a systematic expansion of impervious surfaces, limitation of both cultivation choices and crop variety, and major restrictions on UA practices. Social housing represents the bulk of residential developments in Mexico (42.7% out of 35.5 million housing units). Left unregulated, the types of social housing transformations that have been empirically verified in this study endanger the availability of green space as the primary resource for UA. This research sheds light on critical policy changes and formulations that are required to enhance UA practices and to establish greener cities and more sustainable housing development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106391
JournalLand use policy (Print)
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Latin America
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Sustainable cities
  • Urban farming
  • Urban gardening
  • Urban green spaces


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