Why urban farming is good for our future? With a population of 7 billion people, it is no secret that the Earth can’t feed us all. It is becoming more challenging to feed both people in urban and rural areas, so urban farming is good for our future.
The dire population issue has made it crucial to supplement traditional agriculture to cater to the growing demand. According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one of the keys to enhancing urban food security is improving the food supply and distribution chain. Increased urban farming will aid this crisis.
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. It includes the growth of communities, enhancement of food security, proper land use, and environmental sustainability.
Regardless of where you live, we can agree that global warming has played a significant role in reducing the 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 lived in urban areas, reported by the United Nations. It 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?
Repetitive narratives of eating healthy foods bombard our lives with information, 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 and the suburbs. As the urban population grows, more food desert areas emerge. 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 food and growing their crops on undeveloped land allows them to earn an income. They are then able to purchase healthy commodities that boost their immunity. Additionally, they are at liberty to consume the surplus of their produce.
With the busy schedule of urban residents, community interaction tends to be minimal. During their spare time, most people prefer individuality over socializing with neighbors. Such routines promote isolation which can prove detrimental to their health. It 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, neighbors, 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 process eliminates the previous disconnect that existed between individuals and where farmers produced their food.
Additionally, by involving the youth in these programs, they are equipped with urban farming skills and hands-on experience 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. It 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 a 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 we can use for greenhouses, raised beds, or animals. Provided your local laws and your landlord are on board, these are efficient alternatives to diminishing fertile lands.
In order to ensure agriculture is sustainable, we must use land and water efficiently. It 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, growing food consumed locally eliminates the need for long-distance transportation. Consequently resulting in a reduction of the ecological footprint. 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 are 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 the availability of water, changes in atmospheric conditions, and climate and soil contaminants.
When it comes to soil contaminants, lead provides the most significant threat in urban areas. High intake or exposure to lead is known to cause kidney damage and anemia, among other illnesses. Fortunately, according to research, plants’ uptake of lead is deficient. It minimizes the threat posed. Direct consumption of lead would likely be more detrimental to one’s health.
Striving to provide clean water to millions of individuals constantly is problematic in itself. With an ever-increasing population, and more urban farms cropping up, the task becomes even more challenging. It has pushed farmers to consider alternative options such as drip irrigation. Additionally, wastewater and rainwater are also water sourcing options that some have incorporated into their farming systems. However, these sources may contain harmful contaminants; therefore, they need monitoring.
Given the sensitive nature of agriculture, urban growers feel the effect of changes in climatic conditions. We’ve all noticed these effects, and their increase is assumed for the years to come. With temperatures rising, the growing season is taking longer. Also, photosynthesis inhibition occurs by the changes in temperature during the day and night. Whether the impacts are direct or indirect, such situations threaten production numbers and profitability.
Why is Urban Farming Such a Popular trend?
We might attribute the popularity of urban farming to the benefits it offers. The sustainable farming method ensures people consume fresh produce. Also, it ensures that land, water, and power are efficiently utilized, lastly, 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 increases through the strengthening bond. Additionally, growing fresh food assists in curbing food insecurity for the urban poor and improves their nutrition through healthy eating.
Is Urban Farming Profitable?
Yes, urban farming is profitable. To ensure this, however, you should take a couple of factors into consideration. It 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 quickly without requiring storage.
What are urban farming techniques available?
The standard techniques include vertical farming, aquaponics, and rooftop farming. Other farmers opt for shipping containers. It 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 thrive 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 feed the plants. Beneficial bacteria equally play a significant role by ensuring the fish water is clean and turning the fish’s waste into usable nutrients to be used by the plants. Freshwater fish and plants such as radishes, mints, okras, and kales can be grown in this system.
Final Thoughts On Urban Farming
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 food insecurity reduces. Urban farming programs entails more than feeding the population; it provides a safe environment for the urban residents.
- Brad Plumer, The Real Value of Urban Farming, Vox, https://www.vox.com/2016/5/15/11660304/urban-farming-benefits,Accessed 16th April 2021
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- 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
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- 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
- Amy Novotney, The Risks of Social Isolation, American Psychological Association, https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/05/ce-corner-isolation Accessed 16th April 2021
- 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
- Arizona State University, Urban Agriculture can Push the Sustainability, Science Daily,https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190930082300.htm Accessed 16th April 2021
- 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
- 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