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Urban agriculture uses of resources in cities that would otherwise go to waste. Gardens can be built in an empty lots, on top of buildings, on steep slopes and river banks, all examples of spaces that would otherwise be unproductive. These gardens can use waste water to water their crops, therefore doing away with the issue of waste water treatment. The urban farm could use compost from food scraps in kitchens all over the city, these food scraps might otherwise be thrown away, wasting valuable nutrients. City farms use resources that would have been wasted to produce new resources for the community. They produce food, jobs, and a variety of less quantifiable benefits, many of which are listed below.
The Science Barge, part of New York Sun Works, moored at Pier 84 in New York City’s Hudson River. It’s growing veggies with recirculated water and no pesticides and is intended as a model, along with green rooftop growing, for sustainable urban agriculture.
Below I’ve outlined some benefits of urban agriculture and given some examples of these benefits and real cities around the country.
- Helps bring families and communities together by working toward a common goal that will be beneficial for all
- Gives direct links to food production
- Creates better living environment by greening up the city and making it more productive
- Makes people stronger by putting their food security into their own hands, making them more independent and empowered
- Teaches people life skills such as how to be more self sufficient
- Creates jobs, income, and food
- Helps combat hunger
- Educate people, who have been increasingly removed from food production, to participate in, and respect, its generation (Hamm 1999)
- Greens up the city
- Can help to clean air and rain water
- Helps to stop erosion and topsoil removal
- increases the amount of food grown and bought locally, decreasing carbon footprint
- Facilitates reuse of wastes for food production
- Has direct impacts on urban ecology
- Creates jobs and income from otherwise completely unproductive space
- Can be beneficial to people of any income
- Creates a better local economy that does not rely on food from far away
- Makes use of valuable resources, such as compost, that would otherwise go to waste in a city
Note: VC, vermicomposting; MSW, municipal solid waste; WRUA, waste reuse in urban agriculture.
Use the links below to help navigate through your city farming adventure!
- Urban agriculture in developing countries
- Urban agriculture in the US and other developed countries
- What are the methods of urban agriculture?
- Who farms the city?
- Benefits of urban agriculture
- Problems with urban agriculture
- Urban agriculture programs in US cities
- History of urban agriculture
Hamm, Michael W; Baron, Monique (1999). “Developing an integrated, sustainable urban food system: the case of New Jersey, United States“. In: For hunger- proof cities: sustainable urban food systems / Mustafa Koc, Rod MacRae, Luc JA Mougeot and Jennifer Welsh (eds), p. 54-59. International Development Research Center (IDRC), PO Box 8500, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1G 3H9