Characteristics and motivations of potential users of urban allotment gardens: The case of Vila Nova de Gaia municipal network of urban allotment gardens

Demand for urban allotment plots has recently increased in Portugal but little is known about the characteristics and motivations of the demanding population, and if and how its characteristics affect its motivations.

In this article, we use the Municipal Network of Urban Allotment Gardens (MNUAG)1 launched by the Portuguese municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia for an exploratory Case Study research. Based on the data collected in the MNUAG application forms submitted in the period 2012–2013, we describe the characteristics and the motivations of the population demanding for urban allotment gardens (UAG)2 and run a logit model to find if and how the motivations are influenced by the characteristics.

The population of applicants to the MNUAG is quite diverse. It has a balanced gender distribution and an average age of 47 years. Most of the applicants are between 25 and 64 years old, and belong to households with 2–4 members.

To supplement family budget, occupation of leisure times, and access to organic farming are its most important motivations, followed by environmental concerns, the practice of physical exercise, and education.

Motivations are influenced by the characteristics. This study has identified two groups of applicants with contrasting motivations. Food security is the only significant motivation for the unemployed and low-income applicants. Food safety, health concerns, environmental concerns, recreation, and education are common and frequent motivations among the upper and intermediate professional groups.

Results can have future implications on the MNUAG, namely on the UAG location and typology, plot number, and plot size. To meet the demand of all the types of applicants, while fostering social cohesion, the municipality should reinforce its current small UAG structure and add to the MNUAG one or two productive parks.

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