Urban Farming hits the mainstream

comments (0) November 30th, 2015

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SophieAndersen88 SophieAndersen88, member
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Today, human population consists of nearly 7 billion people. Now, take into consideration that, according to UN DESA's (Department of Economic and Social Affairs) evaluations, 54% of that population lives in urban areas (number which is expected to grow up to 66% by 2050), and you will see how the rise of mouths to feed coupled with receding rural population puts tremendous pressure on today's agriculture. In such circumstances urban farming and sustainable architecture are becoming less of a novelty (although the urban agriculture's modern resurgence is present ever since the World War II), and more and more a necessity.

The Appeal of Urban Farms

Of course, the simple need for putting more food on the table is not the only reason fueling the urban agriculture's rise in prominence.

  • First, it could be said, that presence of local food significantly decreases "food miles" usually associated with long distance transportation form the countryside. Products are therefore fresher and more affordable.

  • Second, urban farming adds greenery to the cities, and helps their inhabitants to reconnect with the nature, which makes it a perfect couple with recent strive for sustainability.

  • Finally, urban agriculture expands the economic base of cities with food production, and correlated processing, marketing, and packaging.

Another reason contributing to urban agriculture's appeal is certainly the fact that it consists of number of widely accessible elements.

  • Front and backyard gardening. The most widely spread element of urban farming and the basis of historical "Victory gardens".

  • Community gardens. Usually in the form of cooperatives, funded by the city.

  • Rooftop gardens. Common technique for producing the food for the restaurants situated bellow.

The Results of Urban Farming

All of these elements coupled with the appeal of urban farms ensured that, according to estimations urban population contributes to the overall food production with the share of 15-20%. Ironically, one of the best  for such development is none other than the "Motor City" itself, Detroit. Ever since the 1989 and the foundation of theGreening Detroitinitiative, the local farming community is thriving. In 2014, it produced more than 400.000 pounds of food (enough to feed at least 600 people). In 2006 citizens of Philadelphia grew 2 million pounds of vegetables and herbs.

Finally, we have to mention Baltimore, whose community gardens can serve as the prime examples of the city-sponsored agricultural activity. Namely, in 2013 its planning commission adopted the set of measures under the slogan "Grow local, buy local, eat local", aimed towards strengthening the local farming community.

The Marriage of Agriculture and Architecture

Without any intention to diminish these results, we still have to ask ourselves is the number of 20% of global food production sufficient, and how can it be improved. The simple answer can be found in green buildings, the perfect marriage of architecture and agriculture. Two of the numerous parties which saw the need of such joining, Curt Close and the Anaconda Production, released step-by-step guide (in the form of eBook and DVD) of how to build your own Greenhouse of the Future. Proposed building should be capable of producing the food year-round while using energy from renewable sources. Off Grid World presents similar project, this time combining shipping containers with an attached greenhouse.

Finally, there are also several projects using a shipping container as the "farm in a box", or in other words fully automated greenhouse, aimed toward urban farmers, and restaurants operating on a relatively small square footage. All of these ideas are making the prospect of urban population being able to fully sustain its food needs much more probable.


With all the things said, it is obvious that today's society is becoming increasingly aware of the need for sustainability and urban agriculture. It remains to be seen will the institutional support and individual initiatives be able to catch up with that need fast enough.

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posted in: greenhouses, farming, Urban Farming, Sustainability