Google Earth Helps Track Chicago Gardens

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Google Urban Gardens

Though urban agriculture has sprouted as a popular trend in recent years, tracking its growth has proven difficult.

Researchers at the University of Illinois have broken through this challenge, developing a methodology used to quantify urban agriculture in Chicago by using a surprising tool: Google Earth.

The researchers used the geographical information program to examine urban gardening spots in the Windy City. They were able to narrow down which gardens actually produced food through the program-documented sites. The final estimate, published in October 2012, revealed 4,648 urban agriculture sites, with a production area of 264,181 square meters (2.85 million square feet).

The findings also show that garden concentration varied by neighborhoods, and the crops grown varied depending on the cultural groups in that area. Ultimately, the study suggested that both backyard gardens and vacant lot gardens contribute to Chicago’s total food production.

For more information on the study, visit

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