Balancing Urban Forestry and Urban Agriculture

Project Summary

Growing the urban forest, a stated goal of many municipalities, often occurs through programs targeting the planting and protection of trees on private residential property. At the same time, backyard agriculture is gaining in popularity, with the support of municipalities, NGOs, community groups, and widespread media attention. While an extensive tree canopy has numerous ecological, social and economic benefits, it also has the potential to shade-out other forms of vegetation, most particularly sun loving vegetables and fruit trees.  This project will explore the tensions between urban forest and backyard agricultural movements at the household-level in the Greater Toronto Area by:

1. Documenting urban residents’ yard management, focusing on tree and food crops planting;

2. Examining peoples’ goals (growing food, providing play space, minimizing work, etc.) and constraints (space, time, money, knowledge, etc.) that influence tree and vegetable planting.  

3. Mapping yard-level locations of trees, vegetables, other vegetation, etc. and linking this data to large-scale patterns using high resolution imagery to understand how small scale decisions are related to broader patterns.


Conway, T.M. and K. Brannen. 2014. Who is tending their garden? edible gardens as a residential landscaping choice. CATE: Cities and the Environment 7(2): art. 10

Conway, T.M. 2015. Motivations and Barriers to Home-based Edible Gardening. Working Paper, House Lab.

Related Presentation

2011 AAG Presentation: Tomatoes or Trees: Meeting Urban Agriculture and Urban Forestry Goals in the Same Backyard

Student Research

Kyle Brannen (undergraduate thesis) Home-Based Edible Gardening In Mississauga, AY 2011-2012.