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