4 Reasons Why Urban Farming is Good for Our Future

Urban farming: The future city inspired? Featured image was developed using AI. Pretty, right?

With a population of 7 billion people, it is no secret that more needs to be done to ensure the population has food to eat. It is becoming more difficult to feed both people in urban and rural areas. This has made it crucial to supplement traditional agriculture in order to cater to the growing demand. According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one of the keys to enhancing urban food security is the improvement of food supply and distribution chain. Fortunately, the emergence of urban farming has been a step in the right direction.

Urban farming is said to be beneficial for our future for various reasons. This includes the growth of communities, enhancement of food security, proper use of land and environmental sustainability.

Regardless of where you live, we can agree that global warming has played a major role in the reduction of food supply. A post by New York Times delves into how climate change continues to threaten the global food supply through floods, drought and storms.Also, a large number of people are relocating to urban centers. By 2018, 55% of the world’s population was recorded to live in urban areas by the United Nations. This has increased the level of consumption in such areas.

It has, therefore, become necessary to turn urban residents into producers and not mere consumers. This mode of farming is beneficial for communities both socially and economically. 

What are the Benefits of Urban Farming?

Food security

The narrative of eating healthy foods has been reiterated over and over again, yet somehow the increase of an unhealthy society remains. It begs the question, isn’t there adequate healthy foods? Is the access to instant meals and fast foods higher than the access to healthier choices?

Research shows that many homes experience food insecurity as they lack the financial capability to cater to such needs. About 697 million people in the world lack food security. With the increase in population, there has been a strain on supply in households both in towns and the suburbs. As the urban  population grows , the more food desert areas emerge.In fact, malnutrition, obesity and food insecurity are quickly developing into urban issues.

Fortunately, urban farming has opened a gateway that supports urban residents. First, producing their own food and growing their own crops on land that is undeveloped allows them to earn an income. They are then able to purchase healthy commodities that boosts their immunity. Additionally, they are at liberty to consume the surplus of their produce.

Growing communities

With the busy schedule of urban residents, community interaction tends to be minimal. During their spare time, most people prefer individuality over socializing with neighbours. Such routines promote isolation which can prove detrimental to their health. This causes mistrust and at times depression. According to Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychology professor, “Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need—crucial to both well-being and survival.”

Urban farming can help in bringing women, children, neighbours, friends and families together. The individuals develop a sense of belonging by participating in this type of activity. Through their involvement, residents learn about the contents of their food and improve their nutrition. The previous disconnect that was there between individuals, and where their food was produced is eliminated.

Additionally, by involving the youth in these programs they are equipped with urban farming skills and hands on experience that is transferable to their children. Also, urban farming promotes local economic growth which in turn promotes the growth of a community.

Proper Use of Land

As the population continues to grow, and urbanization becomes massive, the available fertile land equally diminishes. According to research, by 2030 global croplands will experience a 1.8-2.4% loss due to urbanization.This minimizes the land available land for cultivation. It makes coming up with alternative innovative farming strategies crucial. Opting for vertical farms and rooftops of apartment buildings becomes a viable solution.

Vertical farms mean growing your crops upwards, while utilizing minimal amount of space. It involves stacking crops over each other. Provided your system works efficiently, you can plant as high as possible. Rooftops are an underused resource that  can be used for greenhouses, raised beds or animals. Provided your local laws and your landlord are on board, these are efficient alternatives to the diminishing fertile lands.

Environmental sustainability

To ensure agriculture is sustainable, it’s vital that land and water is used efficiently. This will assist in minimizing the negative environmental impact and support the fight against climate change. It’s impossible to achieve food security within the globe without preserving the ecosystem. The idea is to improve productivity and livelihoods while minimizing environmental impact.

Urban farming is one great way to support environmental sustainability. It supports the growth of a greener future, particularly in urban areas where industrialization tends to be high. Additionally, by growing food that is consumed locally, it eliminates the need for long distance transportation. Consequently, the ecological footprint is reduced. A research by Arizona State University established that if Phoenix used 5% of its urban spaces, urban farming could reduce negative environmental impact.

Challenges Facing Urban Agriculture

The benefits provided by urban farming is indisputable. However, just like any other venture, the growers and producers face challenges. For the world to enjoy the output of urban farming, these challenges need to be identified, understood and addressed. These obstacles include availability of water,changes in atmospheric conditions, and climate and soil contaminants.

When it comes to soil contaminants, lead provides the greatest threat in urban areas. High intake or exposure to lead is known to cause kidney damage and anaemia among other illnesses. Fortunately, according to research, plants’ uptake of lead is very low. This minimizes the threat posed. In fact, it is likely that direct consumption of the lead would be more detrimental to one’s health.

Striving to constantly provide clean water to millions of individuals is hard in itself. With an ever increasing population, and more urban farms cropping up, the task becomes even harder. This has pushed farmers to consider alternative options such as drip irrigation. Additionally, the use of waste water and rain water has been incorporated. However, these sources may contain harmful contaminants, therefore, need to be monitored.

Given the sensitive nature of agriculture, urban growers feel the effect of changes in climatic conditions. These effects have been felt and are expected to increase in the years to come. With temperatures rising, the growing season has been seen to take longer. Also, photosynthesis has been inhibited with the changes in temperature during the day and night. Whether the impacts are direct or indirect, such situations threaten the production numbers and profitability.

Final Thoughts

As seen above, urban farming is beneficial to communities at present and in the future. Community members get to engage, their physical landscape is improved, and the issue of food insecurity is curbed. Urban farming programs entails more than feeding the population, it provides a safe environment for the urban residents. 

Urban Farming FAQ

Why is Urban Farming Such a Popular trend? 

The popularity of urban farming is attributed to the benefits it offers. The sustainable farming method ensures people consume fresh produce. Also, it ensures that land, water and power is efficiently utilized. Lastly, it is due to the general awareness by the population regarding pesticide use and high food costs.

How can Urban Farming Help Communities? 

Whereas the urban population consists of individuals who prefer solitude, urban gardening encourages community interaction. Neighbors get together to learn and collaborate in gardening. Through this, community cohesion is built through the strengthening bond. Additionally, growing fresh food assists in curbing food insecurity for the urban poor, and improves their nutrition through health eating.

Is Urban Farming Profitable? 

Yes, urban farming can be profitable. To ensure this, however, a couple of factors should be taken into consideration. This includes the level of investment you’re ready to put in, finding out the crop your potential market is willing to highly pay for, the cost of resources and labor, and crops that would sell easily without requiring storage.  

What urban farming techniques are available? 

The common techniques include vertical farming, aquaponics, and rooftop farming. Other farmers opt for shipping containers. This is conducive when the outdoor environment is unfavorable. It also offers a stable environment that is pest free. Lastly, there is hydroponics. This technique doesn’t utilize soil. Instead, the plants are placed in water with added nutrients

How does aquaponics work?

Aquaponics involves combining hydroponic and growth of fish. This system works symbiotically in that the waste and discharge of the fish is fed to the plants. Beneficial bacteria equally plays a major role by ensuring the fish water is clean and by turning the fish’s waste into usable nutrients to be used by the plants. Fresh water fish and plants such as radishes, mints, okras and kales can be grown in this system.

Article Sources

  1. Brad Plumer,The Real Value of Urban Farming,Vox, https://www.vox.com/2016/5/15/11660304/urban-farming-benefits,Accessed 16th April 2021
  2. Christopher Flavelle, Climate Change Threatens The World Food Supply, United Nation Warns, New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/08/climate/climate-change-food-supply.html#:~:text=Higher%20concentrations%20of%20carbon%20dioxide,the%20agriculture%20industry%20to%20adapt. Accessed 16th April 2021
  3. United Nations, https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/2018-revision-of-world-urbanization-prospects.html#:~:text=News-,68%25%20of%20the%20world%20population%20projected%20to%20live%20in,areas%20by%202050%2C%20says%20UN&text=Today%2C%2055%25%20of%20the%20world’s,increase%20to%2068%25%20by%202050. Accessed 16th April 2021
  4. Gerardo Fortuna, Bad Eating Generates Huge Costs to Society Experts Warn, Euractiv,https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/bad-eating-generates-huge-costs-to-society-experts-warn/ Accessed 16th April 2021 
  5. Cecilia Tacoli, Urban Food Security and Malnutrition are More than Just Food, International Institute for Environment and Development, https://www.iied.org/urban-food-insecurity-malnutrition-are-about-more-just-food, Accessed 16th April 2021
  6. Amy Novotney, The Risks of Social Isolation, American Psychological Association, https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/05/ce-corner-isolation Accessed 16th April 2021
  7. Sarah Elmeshad, Urban Living is Starving the Fertile Land, Nature Middle East, https://www.natureasia.com/en/nmiddleeast/article/10.1038/nmiddleeast.2017.30#:~:text=Food%20is%20no%20longer%20abundant,occur%20in%20Asia%20and%20Africa. Accessed 16th April 2021
  8. Arizona State University, Urban Agriculture can Push the Sustainability, Scienc Daily,https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190930082300.htm Accessed 16th April 2021
  9. Marzieh Rezaei Ghaleh, Ecological Social and Economic Benefits of Urban Agriculture, Tehran Times, https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/438142/Ecological-Social-and-Economic-Benefits-of-Urban-Agriculture Accessed 16th April 2021 
  10. Chris De Vida, 3 Reasons Why Urban Farming is the Future of Agriculture, Farmly Place, https://farmlyplace.com/food-blog-en/3-reasons-why-urban-farming-is-the-future-of-agriculture/#:~:text=The%20future%20of%20agriculture%3A%20Urban%20Farming&text=In%20addition%2C%20urban%20farming%20also,to%20%24%20160%20billion%20every%20year.Accessed 16th April 2021

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