Historical Urban Agriculture : Food Production and Access to Land in Swedish Towns before 1900

Abstract: This doctoral thesis analyses the role of historical urban agriculture in a long-time perspective, through a combination of overarching surveys of Swedish towns and detailed studies of one town – Uppsala in east-central Sweden. The study shows how agricultural land – town land – of various sizes was donated to towns repeatedly during medieval times and in the 16th and 17th centuries. The study examines urban food production at three points in time, and concludes that grain production and, later, potato production as well was substantial in many towns, indicating high levels of urban self-sufficiency. This allows new perspectives concerning the interpretation of urban food provision, as urban dependency on countryside food production might have varied considerably between towns. In addition, the study shows how urban agriculture was connected to social welfare systems, in particular aiming at supporting urban widows. The results in this thesis provide an historical context to the increasing discussions about present-day urban agriculture globally, and identify a number of factors that may create or counteract opportunities for urban agriculture.  

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