Urban agriculture is a growing trend that involves growing food in an urban setting. Urban agriculture can occur on any scale: from a single balcony to an entire city block. It has many benefits, including reducing the carbon footprint of cities and providing access to fresh produce for people who live in food deserts. Urban agriculture also provides employment opportunities and boosts local economies. However, there are environmental and social factors that need to be considered by municipalities before they decide whether or not they will allow this practice within their borders.
Urban Agriculture 101
Urban agriculture is the practice of growing crops and raising animals in cities. It differs from traditional agriculture in that it often takes place on small plots rather than large tracts and relies heavily on aquaponics instead of soil-based farming.
Urban agriculture has been around since the beginning of civilization, but its prevalence has ebbed and flowed over time. In ancient China, for example, many farmers practiced fishpond-style aquaculture to supplement their soil-based harvests. Similarly, medieval Europeans relied heavily on urban chickens to supplement their diets. During winter, when fresh produce wasn’t available locally (or at all), they could supplement their diet with eggs from their coop or meat from butchered birds.
The Process of Urban Food Production
Urban agriculture is a process of food production that occurs in cities. Urban agriculture can be consumed by those living in the city or sold to consumers outside the city. Urban agriculture can be a viable option for food security and sovereignty, as it offers an alternative food source when traditional agricultural methods are unavailable due to location or resources.
Urban agriculture focuses on producing crops within urban areas. This includes growing crops using unconventional spaces such as rooftops, abandoned lots, and community gardens. The practice had grown since its conception during World War II when many people did not have enough land to grow their produce on a larger scale because they were living in cities like London and New York City, where industrialization had caused pollution problems such as smoggy skies.
Benefits of Urban Agriculture
Urban agriculture can provide a number of benefits for communities:
- Local food security – Urban agriculture provides local access to fresh, healthy produce. It also means that farmers can sell directly to customers, which allows them to make a higher profit than they would be selling through supermarkets.
- Reduced transportation costs – By purchasing foods produced in your neighborhood, you are reducing the money spent on transporting them from far-away farms. This can be especially useful for consumers with limited incomes who find it difficult to buy fresh fruits and vegetables regularly.
- Increased community cohesion – Growing and selling food within your community creates opportunities for social interaction that might not exist in the same way (for example, sharing tips about growing techniques). Also, someone always wants something done with their yard when it comes time for harvest – so many hands make light work!
Challenges of Urban Agriculture
Several major challenges must be overcome before urban agriculture can be used as viable food security and environmental sustainability option. These include:
- Opposition from residents. Many people do not want to see farming occurring in their neighborhoods because they associate it with negative images of dirty, smelly livestock and other agricultural practices.
- Space restrictions. Urban farms take up valuable space that could be used for other purposes, such as housing or recreation. This is especially true in cities where land is scarce, and property values are high. Lack of space can also be a problem since climbing with your Massey Ferguson combine harvester to the rooftop is hard.
- Cost of land. The cost of purchasing or leasing property suitable for farming can be prohibitively high if enough space is needed to grow crops on a large scale (for example, an acre or more). Some municipalities have been able to create programs that offer affordable land leases to small farmers to try out urban agriculture without spending too much money upfront. However, most potential urban farmers cannot afford these programs because they do not fit into the categories eligible for assistance (elderly/disabled individuals who cannot work full-time off-farm).
So, Is Urban Agriculture a Viable Option?
Urban agriculture is a viable option but not a panacea. Urban farmers are right to be enthusiastic about the potential of urban farming: it can help create food security in cities, reduce environmental impact, and provide jobs and economic opportunity. But urban agriculture is not a silver bullet for all of our food system problems.
Urban agriculture has many benefits that make it an important tool in creating food security in cities—but it isn’t going to solve all our problems concerning how we produce or distribute our food.
Urban agriculture is an essential and growing field that has the potential to contribute to food security in cities. There are many challenges to overcome before this becomes a viable option, but it is something we should be looking at more closely. It’s important for urban planners, governments, and citizens alike to consider how we can make this farming more accessible for people who live in densely populated areas with little land available for farming purposes.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for DigitalStrategyOne.