Boerende stedelingen of verstedelijkte boeren : een verkennend onderzoek naar urban farming in vroegmodern Antwerpen
Faculty of Arts. History
University of Antwerp
Farming urbanites or urbanized farmers? A tentative study on urban farming in early modern Antwerp This contribution sheds light on the importance of the production and retailing of local food by townsmen. Recent studies on food and the city have neglected this aspect of early modern food provisioning. By looking at individual households and the corporation of the gardeners guild, this article glimpses the strategies of urban market gardeners. At first sight, urban farming could be considered a rather marginal phenomenon. Eighteenth-century records mention only a few farmers within the city walls, but this study suggests a more widespread phenomenon. Members of the gardeners guild had a retail function rather than a role in the production of food. Guild members living within the walls were particularly active in retailing. Those who lived outside the walls were mostly producers. The gardeners guild organized and controlled the influx of food, mostly fruit, vegetables, and to a lesser extent grain, but by no means had a monopoly on local food production. Urban farming, however, was not limited to the gardeners guild. Probate inventories show a broad variety of households active in agriculture, without being members of the guild. Future research has to tackle this phenomenon in a comparative analysis.