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Comparison of Farm Structures, Success Factors, Obstacles, Clients’ Expectations and Policy Wishes of Urban Farming’s Main Business Models in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Listed author(s):
  • Bernd Pölling


    (Department of Agriculture, South Westphalia University of Applied Sciences, 59494 Soest, Germany)

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    Low-cost specialization, differentiation, and diversification are common business models of urban farms in developed countries. Similarities and differences between them as well as detailed insights into specific farm characteristics are widely absent in scientific discourses. This paper compares farm structures, success factors, obstacles, clients’ expectations, and policy wishes between specialized, differentiated, and diversified farms as well as diversifiers into agriculture. A standardized questionnaire was used for 21 personal in-depth farm interviews located in metropolitan areas of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Being located in a metropolitan area is the most often named Unique Selling Proposition (USP). This is also mentioned as most important success factor followed by sociability and personal contact to clients, which both underpin the importance of direct producer-consumer linkages in urban settings. Additionally, it is assumed that a single food criterion is not sufficient to be successful, but several have to be merged to meet clients’ expectations. In terms of marketing, differentiated and diversified farmers prefer a multi-channel approach, while specialized farmers and diversifiers into agriculture focus mainly on one specific channel. While both specialized farmers and diversifiers into agriculture cultivate smaller areas of farmland, the latter one offers the greatest number of jobs including those outside agricultural production. The findings obtained are expected to support farms and agricultural advisory services in individual decision making of future business development strategies and increase knowledge of urban farming’s main business models.

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    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 8 (2016)
    Issue (Month): 5 (May)
    Pages: 1-23

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:5:p:446-:d:69503
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    1. Bailey, A. & Williams, N. & Palmer, M. & Geering, R., 2000. "The farmer as service provider: the demand for agricultural commodities and equine services," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 191-204, December.
    2. Audric Beauchesne, 1999. "Agriculture and Innovation in the Urban Fringe: The Case of Organic Farming in Quebec, Canada," Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG, vol. 90(3), pages 320-328, August.
    3. Sarah Taylor Lovell, 2010. "Multifunctional Urban Agriculture for Sustainable Land Use Planning in the United States," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(8), pages 1-24, August.
    4. Heimlich, Ralph E. & Barnard, Charles H., 1992. "Agricultural Adaptation To Urbanization: Farm Types In Northeast Metropolitan Areas," Northeastern Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 21(1), April.
    5. Gardner, Bruce L., 1994. "Commercial Agriculture in Metropolitan Areas: Economics and Regulatory Issues," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(01), pages 100-109, April.
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