INTERACT 2013 Workshop: Urban Agriculture: A Growing Field of Research (Sep 2013, Cape Town, South Africa)

Date: 3 September 2013
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Deadline for submission: UPDATED 19 May 2013

Growing food presents diverse challenges and opportunities within the urban environment. As cities develop, population density rises, land prices rise, and the opportunity to use land for traditional farming and gardening diminishes. Counter to this trend there are a growing number of both community gardens, city farms, ‘guerilla gardening’, effective use of rooftop gardens, pot plants, windowsill herbs and backyard gardens cropping up in different cities, all with a purpose to produce local food, supplemented in part by food co-op organisations. This workshop brings together practitioners and researchers in the field of urban agriculture and HCI to explore the different forms of growing practice and the sustainable impact of locally grown produce.


There is a growing interest in exploring design opportunities for urban agriculture in the domain of HCI. Until now the focus has typically been on the more general food and technology experience, where this workshop hopes to move forward the domain of the specifics of growing food and growing communities. The area of urban agriculture presents challenges and opportunities in space and place, safeguards for public health, and environmental stress. Technology has many opportunities to play in the different aspects of growing, and HCI innovations are well positioned to understand and respond to the challenges of the environment in which people grow food.


We invite position papers up to four pages in Springer LNCS format that address one of the three themes described below. Submissions outside these areas will be considered depending on their relevant contribution to the fields of urban agriculture, HCI, and design.

Individual Growth – Focused on the scale of an individual or household, gardening and food production is often limited to a backyard or windowsill. Individuals and households may engage with different information sources or communities to learn and understand the practice of urban agriculture, but they may lack the ability to distinguish the quality of the information sources.

Communities – Urban agriculture often relies upon cooperation. In many cases with city farms or community gardens there is a dependence on volunteer participation, and resources are often very limited. This provides a challenge for urban designers and technologists to contribute to the resilience of these urban agriculture communities, and support the longevity of their practice. Additionally, it provides a challenge to service designers to help setting and organizing the communities that manage the gardens.

Environmental Sustainability – Food miles present a significant environmental issue. While large scale remote farming has some advantages, food subject to traveling large distances, time in transit and multiple levels of processing and packaging, may suffer from reduced freshness, reduced vitality and lack of local variation. Local growing and gardening encourages more plant life within urban boundaries, and represents an effective use of available space. As local growing serves to remove dependency on crops grown elsewhere, it provides a level of food security to the urbanites.


We invite position papers up to four pages in Springer LNCS format.
Please send your submissions to workshop chairs Peter Lyle ( and Jaz Hee-jeong Choi ( by May 12th.

Authors will be notified of acceptance by May 22nd.

Accepted submissions will be published on the workshop’s webpage (
In addition we are reviewing options for a special issue on the topic of Urban Agriculture and HCI (to be discussed at the workshop).


Peter Lyle (1), Jaz Choi (1), Shaun Lawson (2), Christopher Lueg (3), Alan Chamberlain (4), Marcus Foth (1), Anna Meroni (5), Margot Brereton (1)

(1) Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
(2) Lincoln University, Lincoln, UK
(3) University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia
(4) Nottingham University, Nottingham, UK
(5) Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy


More details to be found on the workshop website:
For any further information on the workshop please contact: Peter Lyle (

About Fil Salustri
I'm a design methodologist and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Adjectives that describe me include: secular humanist, meritocrat, and long-winded. Some people call me a positivist too, as if that were a bad thing. Go figure. My real home page is

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