into hobby or even professional farmers by introducing the concept that food and vegetables can be grown in urban areas. This is a happy development for those of us who live in big cities but still crave elements of a more rural lifestyle or simply want to grow our own herbs!
Here are 10 interesting facts about urban agriculture that will convince you to pick up the nearest spade and start sowing¹,²,³:
- Urban farms supply food to about 700 million city dwellers — this is one-quarter of the world’s urban population.
- Hunger is still an issue even in developed countries, for example in Europe, there are 30 million undernourished people. Urban agriculture provides an inexpensive source of nutritious food with a lot of urban agriculture plots managed by communities.
- Urban agriculture usually yields a more diverse set of crops as urban gardeners often tend to cultivate less common crops and plants, promoting in this way agricultural diversity.
- Garden plots can be up to 15 times more productive than rural holdings. An area of just one square metre can provide 20 kg of food each year.
- Producers can cut out the middleman, as most food produce from urban agriculture is consumed either by the producer or sold at local food markets by the producer. This means that producers can get a better deal compared to traditional food system structures.
- Food grown in our back yard means less transport and refrigeration costs and emissions which is good news for the environment but should also make food grown in urban farms more competitive in many cases.
- It creates less food waste as food from urban farm reaches the consumer faster and therefore lasts longer after having been purchased.
- Urban agriculture is also usually organic which means the produce is more nutritious compared to products grown in large-scale farms which use pesticides.
- Urban agriculture is not just about planting – it can involve animal husbandry, aquaculture, agroforestry and horticulture!
There are certainly many reasons why people support urban agriculture and are keen to convert spaces to make room for growing. Urban agriculture can benefit our health, help restore impoverished urban centres as well as help protect our environment. There is a further social dimension in that studies report a decrease in crime rates in areas where urban farming is practised whereas cultivating a relationship with the land helps develop a certain respect towards the earth.
Many great projects are taking place across the globe from the bee hives in New York terraces and the vertical urban farms in London to India’s city gardens in Mumbai. The limitations of growing in an urban environment have led to the clever utilisation of what space is available, for example growing on terraces and balconies, or forward-looking innovation techniques such as hydroponic (soil-less) gardening⁴.
Urban agriculture has most certainly made a come-back and it can deliver numerous benefits to those living in urban areas. This is a space to watch out for as more urban farming enthusiasts put their skills to the test by growing their own food and expanding their agricultural ventures. After all who doesn’t enjoy the idea of reaping the fruits of their own labour?