Eco-Efficiency Assessment and Food Security Potential of Home Gardening: A Case Study in Padua, Italy


Figure 1. Case study specifications: (a) Location of Padua (Italy) and aerial image of the home garden (©Google Earth); (b) Design and dimensions of the garden and the plots; (c) Calendar of experimental crops, including crop cycle (days).

The practices recommended to improve the eco-efficiency of home gardens should focus on minimization of the use of chemicals, promotion of renewable and endogenous resources (e.g., rainwater, home-made compost), diffusion of nursing, and integrated pest management.

By Esther Sanyé-Mengual , OrcID, Daniela Gasperi, Nicola Michelon, Francesco Orsini 1OrcID, Giorgio Ponchia and Giorgio Gianquinto
Sustainability 2018, 10(7
Published: 21 June 2018


In the expanding urban agriculture phenomenon in Europe, home gardens are a traditional form that have kept agriculture within cities, even becoming crucial in certain historical periods (e.g., war periods). However, horticultural practices in home gardens can also have negative consequences. The goal of this paper is to assess the eco-efficiency of home gardens as a type of urban agriculture. To do so, a case study in Padua (Italy) was evaluated following life cycle assessment and life cycle costing methods. A home garden of 30.6 m2 and 21 crop cycles were evaluated.

The functional unit of the assessment was 1 kg of harvested fresh vegetable at the consumption point, and the ReCiPe method was employed for impact assessment. Environmental assessment indicated that organic fertilization, use of tap water, mineral fertilization and pesticides were the most contributing elements of the entire life cycle. Furthermore, the relevance of garden design and crop selection was a determinant in the eco-efficiency results. The assessed home garden could satisfy the food requirements of between 1 and 2 members of the household. Crop management and design recommendations are provided to improve eco-efficiency and food security potential of home gardens.

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