Enabling Urban Social Farming: the need for radical green infrastructure in the city

LM Mitchell*, Lawrence Houston, Micheal Hardman, Michelle Howarth, Penny Cook, John Kwame Boatend (Guest editor)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


With the global population projected to continue growing, there are concerns that health services are beginning to be stretched beyond working limits, particularly in the Global North, where many nations face ageing populations and similar obstacles. One suggested radical method to tackle these issues would be to provide access to Green Infrastructure (GI) interventions, including the development of social farms, particularly within urban areas and across deprived communities; enabling conventional health services to be supplemented by nature-based therapy. Social farms incapsulate this ideology, by enabling spaces for farming practices to also be used for therapeutic outcomes: providing care, rehabilitation, and even educational programmes. This focuses around the concept of social prescribing, with activities within social farms, amongst other spaces, such as community gardens and urban farms, acting as non-medical approaches to aid people with mental health or related conditions. Currently, research across social farming and social prescribing is relatively novel and therefore tends to be based in Scandinavian countries or the USA, in which these spaces are more readily available. This paper focuses on the concept of social farming, which has received increased attention in the UK context, particularly within the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) recent 25-year Environment Plan. The paper argues that there is a need for development of this practice within urban settings, with findings showing an agglomeration of sites in the rural context. In addition, we discuss tools for development and barriers, to illustrate opportunities for the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1976481
JournalCogent Social Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusFirst published - 27 Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • care farming
  • green infrastructure
  • health geographies
  • social farming
  • social prescribing
  • urbanisation


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