Vacant urban land and landuse contracts

Published: 13 November 2017
Last edited: 20 March 2019

Vacant urban land is the essential building block required for the implementation of a community garden. The urban sprawl offers spaces where such gardens can be created. Areas include land below electricity lines, near oil pipelines, city-owned land, or private properties. 


Cities Without Hunger makes contracts with land owners on the use of the respective area. The land is given to the NGO for free. In turn, land owners can be certain that their land is going to be used as a community garden, avoiding the misuse of areas as dumping sites, and helping prevent wilful damage of infrastructures such as electricity lines or oil pipelines. On such areas, other landuses such as housing are prohibited. That way, landuse conflicts do not occur. 


Land use contractors include e. g. the energy supplier Petrobras, Transpetro, or Eletropaulo. 


With a growing number of community gardens and strong media presence within São Paulo and beyond, Cities Without Hunger earned a reputation as an NGO with who private and public land proprietors want to collaborate. Hence, getting access to new areas is usually unproblematic. 


Alliance and partnership development
Co-management building
Communication, outreach and awareness building
Legal and policy frameworks, policy advocacy
Management planning
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution
Planning phase
Inception phase
Documentation and dissemination of results

Enabling factors

  • vacant urban land
  • land proprietors willing to sign a landuse contract with Cities Without Hunger 
  • trust in Cities Without Hunger: a good reputation as reliable partner through strong media presence and word-of-mouth both within citizens' circles and the corporate and public realm

Lessons learned

  • Due to soil contamination, not all areas within the city can be used for plant cultivation. Hence, it is necessary to take soil samples and have them tested in a laboratory before starting a garden. Gardens will not be built on soil which does not meet the requirements.
  • Public relations work with the media, primarily television and newspapers, matters: It helped and still supports the NGO's good reputation.