City-Region Food Systems and Second Tier Cities: From Garden Cities to Garden Regions

K.H. van der Gaast*, E.S. van Leeuwen, S.C.O. Wertheim-Heck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Theory and practice show that second-tier cities can play an important role in linking the urban and the rural. Second-tier cities are the middle ground of the urban system. The smaller spatial scale of second-tier cities, and their often-stronger connections with the rural hinterland can potentially enable a more sustainable food system. In this paper, we argue that the extent to which the benefits ascribed to the re-localisation of food can be achieved greatly depends on the contextual specifics of the second-tier city and the region in which it is embedded. Furthermore, we argue that to reach resilient, healthy and environmentally friendly city region food systems, three contextual elements need to be considered in their mutual coherence: (1) the historical development of the second-tier city and the region; (2) the proximity of food production to the second-tier city; (3) the scale and reach of the city region’s food system. We use the case-study of the Dutch city Almere to show how (a controlled) growth of cities can be combined with maintaining (or even increasing) the strength of adjacent rural areas. Such cities can play a role in creating Garden Regions: regions that foster healthy, sustainable and resilient food systems and that do not just connect urban and rural regions, but also connect city region food systems to national and global markets.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2532
Number of pages14
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2020


  • city-region food systems
  • second tier cities
  • Garden Regions
  • Almere


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