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Urban Agriculture, Revalorization, and Green Gentrification in Denver, Colorado

The Politics of Land

ISBN: 978-1-78756-428-2, eISBN: 978-1-78756-427-5

Publication date: 13 March 2019


As a sustainability initiative with the backing of civil society, business, or government interests, urban agriculture can drive green gentrification even when advocates of these initiatives have good intentions and are aware of their exclusionary potential for urban farmers and residents. I investigate this more general pattern with the case of how urban agriculture became used for green gentrification in Denver, Colorado. This is a city with many urban farmers that gained access to land after the Great Recession but faced the contradiction of being a force for displacement and at risk of displacement as the city adopted new sustainability and food system goals, the housing market recovered, and green gentrification spread. I argue that to understand this outcome, it is necessary to explain how political economy and cultural forces create neighborhood disinvestment and economic marginalization and compel the entrance of urban agriculture initiatives due to their low-profit mode of production and potential economic, environmental, and social benefits. Central to how urban agriculture initiatives contribute to green gentrification is the process of revalorization, which is how green growth machines repurpose such initiatives by drawing on their cultural cachet to exploit rent gaps. I conclude with a set of hypotheses to help other scholars test the conditions under which urban agriculture is more or less likely to contribute to green gentrification. Doing so may help nuance convictions about the benefits of urban agriculture within the context of entrenched inequalities in rapidly changing cities.




I want to extend my gratitude to all the people working in Denver to improve the local food system amid complex pressures, of which gentrification is quite pressing. Thank you for sharing your experiences and perspectives. I also want to express my appreciation for the thoughtful comments and suggestions of the two anonymous reviewers. You helped me discern a few key ways to strengthen this article. Obviously, any mistakes or oversights are my own.


Sbicca, J. (2019), "Urban Agriculture, Revalorization, and Green Gentrification in Denver, Colorado", The Politics of Land (Research in Political Sociology, Vol. 26), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 149-170.



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