Urban agriculture, urban farming, or urban gardening is the practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around urban areas. In both scenarios, more direct access to fresh vegetables, fruits, and meat products through urban agriculture can improve food security and food safety.
Urban farming is more than just a sustainable food trend or a way to organize your harvest. Urban agriculture offers the opportunity to provide fresh, local food to urban communities. However, urban agriculture can only be successfully embedded in urban areas if consumers perceive urban farming positively and accept urban farms in their community. The success of urban agriculture is rooted in the positive perception of those living close by, and the perception strongly affects acceptance of farming within individuals’ direct proximity.
At present, the number of people living in urban areas worldwide is over three billion, or 55% of the world population, and it is projected that 68% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas by 2050 (United Nations, 2018).
Food produced in urban and peri-urban communities has various implications. For example, for small- to mid-size farmers, the profitability of urban farmers can be dependent on producing local foods that can be (exclusively) sold through direct channels, such as farmers' markets. Urban agriculture also has an effect on societal health. Direct access to local produce through direct-to-consumer marketing channels affects the dietary quality and diversity of food choices of urban consumers.
Types of Urban Agriculture
1. Backyard Gardens
This is the growing of food on home property. Its produce is mostly shared among friends, family, and neighbors as it typically leads to a surplus in the harvest. The food can also be stored and preserved. Backyard gardens are beneficial to communities as neighbors can share each other’s backyard and employ different methods of farming leading to better yields.
2. Tactical Gardens
This involves using the limited space available to practice agriculture without having to incur hefty expenses. For instance, an urban dweller could easily make a keyhole garden to cover a space that was intended for car parking in the street. This puts to good use land that could have potentially have gone to waste and instead creates an activity that can be done for leisure or to make more food.
3. Street landscaping
This is the landscaping of streets for different uses such as community gardens, which are tended to by the people in the neighborhood. They not only make the streets look beautiful but also purify the air creating a clean environment. Since they are primarily located along the street, their added advantage is their capability of reducing urban stormwater runoff.
4. Forest gardening
It pertains to the practice of having gardens grown within an urban forest. Forest gardening is achieved by having different crops, vegetables, and fruits grown within urban settings. Forests usually create an environment that is favorable for crop development and for this reason, they help in ensuring that forests are protected and can make deforestation a nonfactor in urban settings. Forest gardening can also be part of afforestation efforts, which encourage the planting of trees as a step towards the fight against global warming in urban areas.
It involves the practice of agriculture in residential, commercial, and communal urban spaces in greenhouses. They require a substantial size of land to set up depending on the crops being planted. Greenhouses give farmers the ability to grow a crop all year round as they provide a controlled environment where the crops can be subjected to specific conditions required for their growth.
6. Rooftop gardens
Since urban areas have limited space, it does not mean agriculture cannot be practiced. This is where rooftop spaces come in as they can easily be utilized for cropping vegetables, fruits, and herbs. The advantage of rooftop gardens is that they can aid in reducing urban heat island as well as improving the air quality. Aside from these, rooftop gardens can be used to beautify recreational facilities.
7. Green walls
The green wall encompasses the growing of vegetation or food crops on the external or internal space of a wall. It does not use up a lot of space as the mechanism used helps to supply the food with adequate water and it uses soil present on the walls. It is a good method for reducing stormwater runoff.
8. Vertical farms
This involves potentially farming upwards to reduce the agricultural land footprint. Green walls can be used as a method for vertical farms as it also uses minimal space and is practiced on the sides of vertical walls.
9. Animal husbandry
This is the practice of rearing animals for food in urban settings. An urban dweller can choose a location suitable for keeping different types of animals or focus on specific animals such as poultries, goats, rabbits, or sheep. Some cities limit the number of animals one can keep and also the type of animals that can be kept.
This entails the practice of rearing aquatic animals like fish in urban areas. It involves the use of a system that captures stormwater from within the city and then creates a self-sustaining recirculating system in tanks or artificial fish ponds. It is an efficient way of rearing crops and a protein alternative.
Here are five benefits of urban farming:
- Increases food security. Food security is having access to and being able to afford nutritious, safe food—and enough of it.
- Creates a sense of belonging.
- Produces healthy food you can respect.
- Provides a learning opportunity.
- Makes efficient use of land
Urban farming is changing the landscape and giving housing project residents another view of community life in the city. It is hard to live in the city, it is even harder to get space and grow the garden that you want. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can use urban gardening techniques to grow food even with the limited space that you have.
Now that you know the benefits of urban farming, it’s time to get started to grow your own food because urban gardening is worth the time and effort.