Urban Agriculture

Urban agriculture

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An urban farm in Chicago

Urban agriculture is the practice of cultivating, processing and distributing food in, or around (peri-urban), a village, town or city.[1]. Urban agriculture in addition can also involve animal husbandry, aquaculture, agro-forestry and horticulture. These activities also occur in peri-urban areas as well. [2]

Urban farming is generally practiced for income-earning or food-producing activities though in some communities the main impetus is recreation and relaxation[3]. Urban agriculture contributes to food security and food safety in two ways: first, it increases the amount of food available to people living in cities, and, second, it allows fresh vegetables and fruits and meat products to be made available to urban consumers. A common and efficient form of urban agriculture is the biointensive method. Because urban agriculture promotes energy-saving local food production, urban and peri-urban agriculture are generally seen as sustainable practices.

Rice Field2.jpg
Agriculture

The recognition of environmental degradation within cities through the relocation of resources to serve urban populations[4] has inspired the implementation of different schemes of urban agriculture across the developed and developing world. From historic models such as Machu Picchu to designs for new productive urban farms, the idea of locating agriculture in the city takes on many characteristics.

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[edit] History of urban agriculture

Community wastes were used in ancient Persia to feed urban farming.[5] In Machu Picchu water was conserved and reused as part of the stepped architecture of the city and vegetable beds were designed to gather sun in order to prolong the growing season.[6] Victory gardens sprouted during WWI, WWII and were fruit, vegetable, and herb gardens in US, Canada, and UK. This effort was undertaken by citizens to reduce pressure on food production that was to support the war effort. Community gardening in most communities are open to the public and provide space for citizens to cultivate plants for food or recreation. A community gardening program that is well-established is Seattle’s P-Patch. Allotment gardens came up in Germany in the early 19th century as a response to poverty and food insecurity[7].

[edit] Urban agricultural facts

A tidy front yard flower and vegetable garden in Aretxabaleta, the Basque Country

  • 50% of the world’s population lives in cities.[8]
  • 800 million people are involved in urban agriculture world-wide and contribute to feeding urban residents.[9]
  • Low income urban dwellers spend between 40% and 60% of their income on food each year.[10]
  • By 2015 about 26 cities in the world are expected to have a population of 10 million or more. To feed a city of this size – at least 6000 tonnes of food must be imported each day.[11]

[edit] Perspectives on urban agriculture

A vegetable garden in the square in front of the train station in Ezhou, China

[edit] Resource and economic

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has defined urban agriculture as:

“ [A]n industry that produces, processes and markets food and fuel, largely in response to the daily demand of consumers within a town, city, or metropolis, on land and water dispersed throughout the urban and peri-urban area, applying intensive production methods, using and reusing natural resources and urban wastes to yield a diversity of crops and livestock.” [12]

The definition of urban agriculture as an industry that responds to the nutritional demands of a city, from within that city, with the use and reuse of that city’s resources while acknowledging economic and resource use does not reconcile aspects of regional health, food security, and application of grassroots organizations.

(This definition is based on the work of Luc Mougeot of the International Development Research Centre and used in technical and training publications by UN-HABITAT’s Urban Management Programme , FAO’s Special Programme for Food Security, and international agricultural research centres, such as CIRAD.)

[edit] Environmental

The Council on Agriculture, Science and Technology, (CAST) is an international consortium of scientific and professional societies based in Ames Iowa that compiles and communicates credible science-based information to policy makers, media, private sector, and the public. CAST defines urban agriculture to include aspects of environmental health, remediation, and recreation,

“Urban agriculture is a complex system encompassing a spectrum of interests, from a traditional core of activities associated with the production, processing, marketing, distribution, and consumption, to a multiplicity of other benefits and services that are less widely acknowledged and documented. These include recreation and leisure; economic vitality and business entrepreneurship, individual health and well-being; community health and well being; landscape beautification; and environmental restoration and remediation.”[13]

Modern planning and design initiatives are more responsive to this model of urban agriculture because it fits within the current scope of sustainable design. The definition allows for a multitude of interpretations across cultures and time. Frequently it is tied to policy decisions to build sustainable cities.[14]

[edit] Food security

Access to nutritious food is another perspective in the effort to locate food and livestock production in cities. With the tremendous influx of world population to urban areas, the need for fresh and safe food is increased. Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) defines food security as,

“all persons in a community having access to culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate food through local, non-emergency sources at all times.” [15]

[edit] The emerging importance of urban agriculture

[edit] Economic

• UPA (urban and peri-urban agriculture) expands the economic base of the city through production, processing, packaging, and marketing of consumable products. This results in an increase in entrepreneurial activities and the creation of job opportunities, as well as in food costs reduction and products of better quality.[16]
• UPA represents an important opportunity for women to be part of the informal economy of a city. Farming and selling activities can be combined more easily with household tasks and child care.[17]
• UPA provides employment, income, and access to food for urban populations, which together contributes to relieve chronic and emergency food insecurity. Chronic food insecurity refers to less affordable food and growing urban poverty, while emergency food insecurity relates to breakdowns in the chain of food distribution. UPA plays an important role in making food more affordable and in providing emergency supplies of food.[18] Research into market values for produce grown in urban gardens has attributed to a community garden plot a median yield value of between approximately $200 and $500 (US, adjusted for inflation).[19] In a community gardening program as well-established as Seattle’s P-Patches, this can account for up to 1.25 million dollars of produce cultivated annually.

[edit] Social

The needs of urban landscaping can be combined with those of suburban livestock farmers. (Kstovo, Russia)

Social benefits that have emerged from urban agricultural practices are; better health and nutrition, increased income, employment, food security within the household, and community social life. UPA can be seen as a means of improving the livelihood of people living in and around cities. Taking part in such practices is seen mostly as informal activity, but in many cities where inadequate, unreliable, and irregular access to food is an occurring problem, urban agriculture has been a positive response to tackling food concerns. Households and small communities take advantage of vacant land and contribute not only to their household food needs but also the needs of their resident city.[20] The CFSC states that,

“Community and residential gardening, as well as small-scale farming, save household food dollars. They promote nutrition and free cash for non-garden foods and other items”[21]

This allows families to generate larger incomes selling to local grocers or to local outdoor markets, while supplying their household with proper nutrition of fresh and nutritional produce.

Some community urban farms can be quite efficient and help women find work, who in some cases are marginalized from finding employment in the formal economy.[22] Studies have shown that participation from women have a higher production rate, therefore producing the adequate amount for household consumption while supplying more for market sale.[23]

Due to the fact that most UA activities are conducted on vacant municipal land, there have been rising concerns about the allocation of land and property rights. The IDRC and the FAO have published the Guidelines for Municipal Policymaking on Urban Agriculture, and are working with municipal governments to create successful policy measures that can be incorporated in urban planning.[24] Including UA in local plans and as proper land use will continue to help impoverished communities gain a better well-being while fighting urban poverty.

Localized food production in urban and peri-urban areas contributes to local economies by creating jobs and producing valuable products. Some researchers indicate that unemployed populations in large cities and suburban towns would decrease if put to work by local food movements. Schools have foreseen the asset of local food production and are beginning to incorporate agricultural sections in their curricula and present it as a career opportunity. Urban agricultural projects are beginning to open a new labor market in areas that have been negatively affected by industrial outsourcing of jobs.

[edit] Energy efficiency

The current industrial agriculture system is accountable for high energy costs for the transportation of foodstuffs. The average conventional produce item travels 1,500 miles[25], using, if shipped by tractor-trailer, one gallon of fossil fuel per hundred pounds[26]. The energy used to transport food is decreased when urban agriculture can provide cities with locally-grown food.

[edit] Quality of food

Although the taste of locally grown food is subjective, many participants in the urban agriculture movement report that they prefer the taste of local agricultural products, or organic food, to that of industrial food production.[citation needed] Also, urban agriculture supports a more sustainable production of the food that tries to decrease the use of harmful pesticides that result in agricultural runoff. Urban and local farmers also eliminate the need for preservatives, as their products do not need to travel long distances. Soil contamination is a potential problem in urban environments, particularly lead. The soil should be tested; if lead is present, increasing the pH can alleviate the problem. Lead can also be removed through phytoremediation with Indian mustard or spinach.[27]

[edit] Economy of scale

Using high-density urban farming, as for instance with vertical farms or stacked greenhouses, many environmental benefits can be achieved on a city-wide scale that would be impossible otherwise. These systems do not only provide food, but also produce potable water from waste water, and can recycle organic waste back to energy and nutrients[28]. At the same time, they can reduce food-related transportation to a minimum while providing fresh food for large communities in almost any climate.

[edit] Implementation of urban agriculture

[edit] Community-based infrastructure

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This section includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. Please improve this article by introducing more precise citations where appropriate. (August 2008)

Creating a community-based infrastructure for urban agriculture means establishing local systems to grow and process food and transfer it from farmer (producer) to consumer.

To facilitate food production, cities have established community-based farming projects. Some projects have collectively-tended community farms on common land, much like that of eighteenth-century Boston Common. One such community farm is the Collingwood Children’s Farm in Melbourne, Australia. Other community garden projects use the allotment garden model, in which gardeners care for individual plots in a larger gardening area, often sharing a tool shed and other amenities. Seattle’s P-Patch gardens use this model, as did the South Central Farm in Los Angeles. Independent urban gardeners also grow food in individual yards and on roofs. Garden sharing projects seek to pair producers with land, typically, residential yard space. Roof gardens allow for urban dwellers to maintain green spaces in the city without having to set aside a tract of undeveloped land. There are a growing number of projects worldwide that seek to enable cities to become ‘continuous productive landscapes’ through the networked cultivation of vacant urban land and temporary or permanent ‘kitchen gardens’.

Food processing on a community level has been accommodated by centralizing resources in community tool sheds and processing facilities for farmers to share. The Garden Resource Program Collaborative based in Detroit has cluster tool banks. Different areas of the city have toolbanks where resources like tools, compost, mulch, tomato stakes, seeds, and education can be shared and distributed with the gardeners in that cluster. Detroit’s Garden Resource Program Collaborative also strengthens their gardening community by providing to their members transplants; education on gardening, policy, and food issues; and by building connectivity between gardeners through workgroups, potlucks, tours, field trips, and cluster workdays.

Farmers’ markets, such as the farmers’ market in Los Angeles, provide a common land where farmers can sell their product to consumers. Large cities tend to open their farmers markets on the weekends and one day in the middle of the week. For example, the farmers’ market of Boulevard Richard-Lenoir in Paris, France, is open on Sundays and Thursdays. However, to create a consumer dependency on urban agriculture and to introduce local food production as a sustainable career for farmers, markets would have to be open regularly. For example, the Los Angeles Farmers’ Market is open seven days a week and has linked several local grocers together to provide different food products. The market’s central location in downtown Los Angeles provides the perfect interaction for a diverse group of sellers to access their consumers.

[edit] Cairo, Egypt

In the meantime in Egypt, population explosion and the tendency to build on agricultural land have acted to limit the resources of city families and their access to healthy products. With a little effort and money, rooftops can contribute in improving the families quality of life and provide them with healthy food and raise their income, this is besides the environmental and aesthetic role it plays. While it is not new, the notion of planting rooftops in Egypt has only recently been implemented. In the early 1990s at Ain Shams University, a group of agriculture professors developed an initiative of growing organic vegetables to suit densely populated cities of Egypt. The initiative was applied on a small scale; until it was officially adopted in 2001, by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

[edit] Havana, Cuba

Main article: Organopónicos

Due to the shortage of fuel and therefore severe deficiencies in the transportation sector a growing percentage of the agricultural production takes place in the so-called urban agriculture. In 2002, 35,000 acres (140 km²) of urban gardens produced 3.4 million tons of food. In Havana, 90% of the city’s fresh produce come from local urban farms and gardens. In 2003, more than 200,000 Cubans worked in the expanding urban agriculture sector [29].

[edit] Mumbai, India

Economic development in Mumbai brought a growth in population caused mainly by the migration of laborers from other regions of the country. The number of residents in the city increased more than twelve times in the last century. Greater Mumbai, formed by City Island and Salsette Island, is the largest city in India with a population of 16.4 million, according to data collected by the census of 2001. Mumbai is one of the densest cities in the world, 48,215 persons per km² and 16,082 per km² in suburban areas. In a scenario like this, urban agriculture seems unlikely to put in practice since it must compete with real estate developers for the access and use of vacant lots. Alternative farming methods have emerged as a response to scarcity of land, water, and economic resources employed in UPA.

Dr. Doshi’s innovative techniques on farming:
Dr. Doshi’s city garden methods are revolutionary for being appropriate to apply in reduced spaces as terraces and balconies, even on civil construction walls, and for not requiring big investments in capital or long hours of work. His farming practice is purely organic and is mainly directed to domestic consumption. His gardening tools are composed of materials available in the local environment: sugarcane waste, polyethylene bags, tires, containers and cylinders, and soil. The containers and bags (open at both ends) are filled with the sugarcane stalks, compost, and garden soil, which make possible the use of minimal quantity of water if compared to open fields. Dr. Doshi states that solar energy can replace soil in cities. He also recommends the idea of chainplanting, or growing plants in intervals and in small quantities rather than at once and in large amounts. He has grown different types of fruit such as mangos, figs, guavas, bananas, and sugarcane stalks in his terrace of 1,200 sq ft (110 m2) in Bandra. The concept of city farming developed by Dr. Doshi consumes the entire household’s organic waste. He subsequently makes the household self-sufficient in the provision of food: 5 kg of fruits and vegetables are produced daily for 300 days a year.

City farm at Rosary High School, Dockyard Road Mumbai:
The main objectives of this pilot project were to promote economic support for street children, beautify the city landscape, supply locally produced organic food to urban dwellers (mainly those residing in slums), and to manage organic waste in a sustainable city. The project was conducted in the Rosary School, in Mumbai, with the participation of street children during 2004. A city farm was created in a terrace area of 400 sq ft (37 m2). The participants were trained in urban farming techniques. The farm produced vegetables, fruits, and flowers. The idea was spread the concept of city farm to other schools in the city.

Mumbai Port Trust (MBPT):

The central kitchen distributes food to approximately 3,000 employees daily, generating important amounts of organic disposal. A terrace garden created by the staff recycles ninety percent of this waste in the production of vegetables and fruits. Preeti Patil, who is the catering officer at the MBPT explains the purpose of the enterprise:

“Mumbai Port Trust has developed an organic farm on the terrace of its central kitchen, which is an area of approximately 3,000 sq ft (280 m2). The activity of city farming was started initially to dispose of kitchen organic waste in an ecofriendly way. Staff members, after their daily work in the kitchen, tend the garden, which has about 150 plants.” [30]

[edit] Bangkok, Thailand

In early 2000, urban gardens were started under the direction of the NGO, Thailand Environment Institute (TEI), to help achieve the Bangkok Metropolitan Administrations (BMA) priority to ‘green’ Thailand. With a population of 12 million and 39% of the land in the city vacant due to rapid expansion of the 1960’s-80’s Bangkok is a test bed for urban gardens centered on community involvement[31]. The two urban gardens initiated by TEI are in Bangkok Noi and Bangkapi and the main tasks were stated as:

  • Teach members of the communities the benefits of urban green space.
  • Create the social framework to plan, implement, and maintain the urban green space.
  • Create a process of method to balance the needs of the community with the needs of the larger environmental concerns.

While the goals of the NGO are important in a global context, the community goals are being met through the work of forming the urban gardens themselves. In this sense the creation, implementation, and maintenance of urban gardens is highly determined by the desires of the communities involved. However, the criteria by which TEI measured their success illustrates the scope of benefits to a community which practices urban agriculture. TEI’s success indicators were:

  • Establishing an Urban Green Plan
  • Community Capacity Building
  • Poverty Reduction
  • Links with Government
  • Developing a Model for Other Communities

Evan D.J. Fraser wrote in the article Urban Ecology in Bangkok Thailand that although the project was initiated to serve the environmental needs of the city it quickly illustrated the positive side effects of urban agriculture.

“In many ways, the urban environment became a lens through which communities re-evaluated their own relationship with the city, the impact of urbanization in a global context, and how small groups can exert some control over the shape of their neighbourhoods.”

[edit] Beijing, China

Beijing’s increase in land area from 4,822 km² in 1956 to 16,808 km² in 1958 led to the increased adoption of peri-urban agriculture. Such “suburban agriculture” led to more than 70% of non-staple food in Beijing, mainly consisting of vegetables and milk, to be produced by the city itself in the 1960s and 1970s. Recently, with relative food security in China, periurban agriculture has led to improvements in the quality of the food available, as opposed to quantity. One of the more recent experiments in urban agriculture is the Modern Agricultural Science Demonstration Park in Xiaotangshan.[32]

[edit] Shenzhen, China

Traditionally Chinese cities have been known to mix agricultural activities within the urban setting. Shenzhen, what was once a small farming community is now a fast growing metropolis due to the Chinese government designation as an open economic zone. Due to large and growing population in China, the government supports urban self-sufficiency in food production. Shenzhen’s village structure, sustainable methods, and new agricultural advancements initiated by the government have been strategically configured to supply food for this growing city.[33]

Village Structure, Methods, and New Advancements
• The city farms are located about 10 km from city center in a two-tier system. The first tier approached from city center produces perishable items. Located just outside these farms, hardier vegetables are grown such as potatoes, carrots, and onions. This system allows produce to be sold in city markets just a few short hours after picking.

• Another impressive method used within Chinese agriculture and aquaculture practice is the mulberry-dyke fish-pond system, which is a response to waste recycling and soil fertility. This system can be described as,

“mulberry trees are grown to feed silkworms and the silkworm waste is fed to the fish in ponds. The fish also feed on waste from other animals, such as pigs, poultry, and buffalo. The animals in turn are given crops that have been fertilized by mud from the ponds. This is a sophisticated system as a continuous cycle of water, waste and food…with man built into the picture”[34]

• As population grows and industry advances the city tries to incorporate potential agricultural growth by experimenting in new agricultural methods. The Fong Lau Chee Experimental Farm in Dongguan, Guangdong has worked with new agricultural advancements in lychee production. This farm was established with aspirations of producing large quantities and high quality lychees, by constantly monitoring sugar content, and their seeds. This research, conducted by local agricultural universities allows for new methods to be used with hopes of reaching the needs of city consumers.[35]

Government Involvement
• However due to increased levels of economic growth and pollution some urban farms have become threatened. The government has been trying to step in and create new technological advancements within the agricultural field to sustain levels of urban agriculture.

• “The city plans to invest 8.82 billion yuan in 39 agricultural projects, including a safe agricultural base, an agricultural high-tech park, agricultural processing and distribution, forestry, eco-agricultural tourism, which will form an urban agriculture with typical Shenzhen characteristics” in conjunction with this program the city is expected to expand the Buji Farm Produce Wholesale Market.[36]
• According to the Municipal Bureau of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery the city will invest 600 million yuan on farms located around the city, with hopes of the farms to provide “60 percent of the meat, vegetables and aquatic products in the Shenzhen market”.[37]

• There has also been an emerging trend of going green and organic as a response to pollution and pesticides used in farming practices. Vegetable suppliers are required to pass certain inspections held by the city’s Agriculture Bureau before they can be sold as “green”.[38]

[edit] New York, NY

In New York City many low-income residents suffer from high rates of obesity and diabetes, limited sources of fresh produce and available, undeveloped land. The City and local nonprofit groups have been providing land, training and financial encouragement, but the impetus has in urban farming has really come from the farmers, who often volunteer when their regular work day is done.

Some urban gardeners have used empty lots to start community or urban garden. However, the soil must be tested for heavy contamination in city soil because of vehicle exhaust and remnants of old construction. However, studies have found that such ground can be cultivated as long as the pH is kept neutral. The City also has a composting program, which is available to gardeners and farmers. One group, GreenThumb, provides free seedlings. Another program, the City Farms project operated by the nonprofit Just Food, offers courses on growing and selling food.[39]

[edit] Pomona Valley, California

In response to the recession of 2008, a coalition of community based organizations, farmers and academic institutions in California’s Pomona Valley formed the Pomona Valley Urban Agriculture Initiative. The Pomona Valley is a nine city region straddling Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties and is home to nearly one million people. In the six southernmost cities (Pomona, Montclair, Ontario, Fontana, Chino and Rialto) nearly 60% of the population is Latino and another 10% African-American. The aggregate poverty rate of those six cities is 17%. Aggregate unemployment is 14%. (Demographic information is from the U.S. Census Bureau statistics: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06/0659451.html and unemployment information is taken from the California Employment Development Department: http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/?pageid=133)

After the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, cheap grain from the United States flooded Mexico,driving peasant farmers off of their land. Many immigrated into the Pomona Valley and found work in the construction industry. With the 2008 recession, the construction industry also suffered in the region. It is unlikely to regain its former strength because of severe water shortages in this desert region as well as ongoing weakness in the local economy.

These immigrants were dry land organic farmers in their home country by default since they did not have access to pesticides and petroleum based fertilizers. Now they found themselves on the border of two counties: Los Angeles County with a population of 10 million (http://quickfacts.census.gov)and almost no farmland, and San Bernardino County which has the worst access to healthy food in the state (http://www.publichealthadvocacy.org). In both counties there is a growing demand for locally grown organic produce.

In response to these conditions, Uncommon Good, a community based nonprofit organization that works with immigrant farmer families, convened a forum which became the Urban Farmers Association. The Urban Farmers Association is the first organization of its kind for poor immigrant farmers in the Pomona Valley. Its goal is to develop opportunities for its members to support themselves and their families through urban agriculture. With Uncommon Good, it is a founding member of the Pomona Valley Urban Agriculture Initiative (PVUAI).

The PVUAI is working with local colleges and universities to expand upon a food assessment survey that was done in the City of Pomona. (“Disparities in Access to Fresh Produce in Low-Income Neighborhoods in Los Angeles,” S. Algert, PhD, RD, A. Agrawal, MA, D. Lewis, PhD, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2006)The new survey will cover the entire Pomona Valley. It also is working with academics to study the markets and alternative business models for urban agriculture. In addition, it is working with local urban farmers to expand their capabilities so that they can hire more farmers and increase their yields. It also is exploring an educational model wherein urban farmers produce food for local school districts’ lunch programs, and the schools recycle the leftovers which then are returned to the land to replenish the soil, providing a whole “food cycle” for students to observe and in which they can participate.

[edit] Benefits of Urban Agriculture

The benefits that UPA brings along to cities that implement this practice are numerous. The transformation of cities from only consumers of food to generators of agricultural products contributes to sustainability, improved health, and poverty alleviation.

  • UPA assists to close the open loop system in urban areas characterized by the importation of food from rural zones and the exportation of waste to regions outside the city or town.
  • Wastewater and organic solid waste can be transformed into resources for growing agriculture products: the former can be used for irrigation, the latter as fertilizer.
  • Vacant urban areas can be used for agriculture production.
  • Other natural resources can be conserved. The use of wastewater for irrigation increases the availability of freshwater for drinking and household consumption.
  • UPA can help to preserve bioregional ecologies from being transformed into cropland.
  • Urban agriculture saves energy (e.g. energy consumed in transporting food from rural to urban areas).
  • Local production of food also allows savings in transportation costs, storage, and in product loss, what results in food cost reduction.
  • UPA improves the quality of the urban environment through greening and thus, a reduction in pollution.

Health improvement:

  • Urban agriculture also makes of the city a healthier place to live by improving the quality of the environment.
  • UPA is a very efficient tool to fight against hunger and malnutrition since it facilitates the access to food by an impoverished sector of the urban population.

Poverty alleviation: It is known that a large part of the people involved in urban agriculture is the urban poor. In developing countries, the majority of urban agricultural production is for self-consumption, with surpluses being sold in the market. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), urban poor consumers spend between 60 and 80 percent of their income on food, making them very vulnerable to higher food prices.

  • UPA provides food and creates savings in household expenditure on consumables, thus increasing the amount of income allocated to other uses.
  • UPA surpluses can be sold in local markets, generating more income for the urban poor.[40]

Community centers and gardens educate the community to see agriculture as an integral part of urban life. The Florida House Institute for Sustainable Development in Sarasota, Florida, serves as a public community and education center in which innovators with sustainable, energy-saving ideas can implement and test them. Community centers like Florida House provide urban areas with a central location to learn about urban agriculture and to begin to integrate agriculture with the urban lifestyle.

Other examples of community centers are Greensgrow Farm in Philadelphia and Northey Street City Farm in Brisbane, Australia. Greensgrow uses an abandoned site as an urban farm to teach the community how food is grown and how to grow their own food. Northey Street City Farm hosts weekly community activities to educate and involve local residents in agricultural practices.

Urban farms also are a proven effective educational tool to teach kids about healthy eating and meaningful physical activity[41]. An example of educational urban agriculture is Full Circle Farm, an 11-acre farm located on a middle school campus in the heart of Silicon Valley. Like other educational agriculture centers, Full Circle Farm’s acreage is used as a “living campus” where students get real-world, hands-on agriculture experiences that cultivate both healthy habits and environmental leadership.

[edit] Difficulties of urban agriculture

  • The use of waste water for irrigation without careful treatment and monitoring can result in the spread of diseases among the population.
  • Cultivation on contaminated land also represents a health hazard for the consumers.
  • The practice of cultivating along roadsides facilitates the distribution of products to local markets, but it is also a risky practice since it exposes food to car pollution.
  • Agriculture and urbanization are considered to be incompatible activities, competing for the access and use of limited land. In reality, in urban areas there is important available space for agriculture use such as public and private vacant lots, and areas not suited for built-up uses (steep slopes and flood plains).
  • Legal restrictions and economic impediments to accessing land and resources (such as reasonably priced water) are among the most common problems confronted by urban agriculture.
  • Lack of security of tenure also acts as a preventive for farming due to the uncertainty in the use length of the land.[42]
  • Urban agriculture has been criticized by those who believe that industrial farm production can produce food at larger volumes more efficiently.
  • A major argument is whether urban farming alone – farming very intensively on small land areas – could replace land extensive production in rural areas which produce the bulk of our food products. Yet hunger persists in both urban and rural areas (see more on food security), despite a subsidized industrial agriculture. The degree to which urban agriculture can address these food needs systemically is undetermined, though there are indications in some communities that it is an important source of food.
  • Other opponents argue that localized food production and the introduction of common resources and common lands into the urban areas would produce a tragedy of the commons. Though, as referenced earlier, many urban farms and community gardens are managed privately or through other civil society organizations.

[edit] See also

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