Thoughts for urban food: A social practice perspective on urban planning for agriculture in Almere, the Netherlands

Jansma, J.E.; Wertheim-Heck, S.C.O.


A growing group of cities feels responsible to feed urban populations sustainably. This has stimulated cities to embrace urban agriculture as an alternative in their food system orientation. However, while urban agriculture in all its diversity has arrived in the urban fabric and at planners’ desks, it largely remains an outsider to urban planning practices of peri-urban zones. How could city’s planning practices transform into practices that include urban agriculture in peri-urban zones? This paper reflects at this question with the analyses of the becoming of planning practices of the Dutch city of Almere that fully integrate urban agriculture in a new urban area: Oosterwold.
Using a social practice perspective, our study unpacks the shifting position of agriculture in the planning practices of Almere over a 55-year period. The paper describes the historical reconstruction by examining the meanings, materials and competences in four periods of the urban planning practices. Our analysis reveals that the integration of agriculture into the city’s planning is not just a sign of the times. Agriculture has always been an element of planning from the city’s inception. Nevertheless, it took 55 years to emerge as hybrid urban-rural planning practices that fully integrate agriculture in urbanisation. Furthermore, the case demonstrates how this integration of agriculture stretches the professional domain of urban planning as it required interdisciplinary and unconventional operation as well as leadership to organise.