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A community garden (CG) can generally be defined as a piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people that grow their produce on shared lots that have been divided into smaller plots. Some gardens are grown collectively, are divided into different plots for individual and family use; CGs are usually located in urban or peri-urban areas. As a growing portion of the urban open space network, CGs are contributing to land preservation, access to open space, and sustainable re-use of vacant land. They promote healthy communities and provide food security for many. In this context, the object of the study are the municipal community gardens (MCGs), a specific typology of CGs provided for land-use planning legislation and practice as an urban service with social function, made available to the community by the municipalities and assigned to be cultivated to citizens (usually seniors/retired people). In particular, the study aimed: i) to evaluate the presence of MCGs in the città metropolitana di Milano (the former province of Milano); and ii) to define criteria for new MCGs settlement, using existing geo-database and geographical information system to make it replicable in other settings. For the first topic the 133 municipalities of the former province of Milano (excluded the city of Milano) were analysed. Only 59 municipalities had presence of MCGs. The average area per capita of MCGs is 0.68 sq.m/inhab. (if we exclude Rodano, an outlier with 35 sq.m/inhab.). An overlay with land use map has permitted to define the relationships between the MCGs and their surrounding territory. The major part of MCGs are included in urban or suburban areas. For the second goal, the land area to be allocated for new MCGs was assessed for each municipality, comparing area of existing MCGs and a minimum required area (calculated on the basis of the inhabitants number). Finally a method was proposed to locate the new MCGs areas. Criteria used to identify suitable areas for new MCGs were: proximity to the road network inside residential areas, suitable land use, not high land capability. In this way it has been defined for each municipality the number of MCGs to be realized and their area, and located the potentially suitable sites. Choosing between the identified suitable areas, the new MCGs were homogeneously located on the territory of each municipality in order to ensure adequate coverage of residential areas; the degree of coverage has been verified through a service area analysis. The proposed method seems to be useful for the MCGs settlement at metropolitan/provincial level.
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