Urban Farming Defined
Yours truly has started writing for an online magazine, Growers and Grocers, part of the Well Fed Network. Below is an excerpt from my inagural article….
Urban Farming: Why It’s Not an Oxymoron
With all the recent promotion in the produce aisle for buying local and buying fresh, even city dwellers can get in on the sustainable food choices movement. Over the past decade, a growing number of urban agriculture projects (let’s just call them farms) have sprung up in America’s major cities. Typically not more than an acre or two, these farms are redefining cultivation practices and communities alike.
So what is an urban farm? Since city farms are typically the size of large gardens, let’s first define the difference between a farm and a garden. According to Webster, a farm is “a tract of land…on which crops and often livestock are raised for livelihood.” A garden, on the other hand, is “a plot of ground…where flowers, shrubs, vegetables, fruits, or herbs are cultivated.” While one is a tract and the other a plot, the real difference between a farm and a garden is the expectation of turning a profit from the produce being grown. Thus, an urban farm can be loosely defined as an agricultural pursuit taking place within the boundaries of a city with the intent to sell what it harvests. Still thinking the idea of a farm in the middle of the city is a little contradictory? While urban agriculture has required some unconventional/creative methods, it really isn’t that unusual. Urban agriculture has been used by the United Nations in many developing countries to encourage a healthy food chain and generate jobs in the poorest parts of the urban world. Conversely, a few enterprising Canadian urbanites started farming their backyard and their neighbors’ backyards some 20 years ago with the mission of reconnecting North Americans to sustainable farming methods. Since then, new methods for intensive planting/harvesting in order to generate much greater yields from small plots of land (SPIN farming) have been developed to make farming in the city profitable…
…If you live in a city, there’s a good chance a farm exists near you. A good starting point for finding one is through the directory on www.localharvest.org. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to visit one of these urban oases. If so, you’ll be inspired by the intimacy and beauty to be had when you get so involved with the origins of your food. Not to mention, you’ll be amazed at how good heirloom tomatoes taste!
Read the full article and discuss your ideas for defining urban agriculture by clicking here.
Entry filed under: Extra Credit.