Urban agriculture, it sounds so wonky. I think better terms for growing edible stuff in a city are either gardening or farming, depending on what someone hopes to get out of it. Those people like me and the wife who have a small plot of dirt with some tomato plants, green beans, potatoes, et cetera, we’re gardeners. Those who live in a city limits and grow food or raise animals to sell to others, they’re farmers. They’re just as much farmers as the people who work thousands of acres of corn and soybeans.
The reason urban agriculture has become part of our lexicon is more of a result of two things: 1) the Great Recession and 2) a local food movement. The first stems from a bunch of industry in the U.S. shutting down and a bunch of people who just left their houses when they realized they couldn’t make the mortgage. At the same time as all this now cheap property is becoming available, more and more people want food that is locally grown by a person(s) they can put a name and a face with, not some sterile, fluorescent lit super mega mart.
As time has passed there are more and more studies coming out regarding the new gardening and farming movement. Global Green USA, an organization that is pushing for a “sustainable and secure future” just came out with a fascinating study of farming in cities.
The basic takeaway? Farming on a small scale can be profitable. And most of these farms studied are in poor neighborhoods that have watched crime go up as property values go down and people leave. A farm that takes up a few blocks brings jobs and nutrition to some of the people who need it most.
While there are numerous technical and financial issues to be addressed, the potential benefits of (a) … farm to the neighborhood, the city … and the broader movement to revitalize transitioning cities are substantial.
I highly recommend reading the report, especially if you’ve ever thought to yourself “gee, I’d like to starting farming, but love being able to walk to the local watering hole.”