Given the extent to which urban areas are developing with building and infrastructure erected to accommodate the ever-streaming population, one creative and viable way to make use of the limited land space is to practice urban farming.
Urban farming sees to the cultivation, procession, and distribution of food in cities. Urban farming has several methods like gardening, aquaponics, aeroponics, and hydroponics, all of which are explained over here.
Where can urban farming occur? Urban farming can occur in places with large infrastructure and high population density otherwise known as urban areas and the surrounding regions [peri-urban areas]
What Are The Aspects of Urban Farming?
Urban farming is done on different scales ranging from small to large. Given the limited space associated with inhabited urban areas, urban farming has to be very creative, in that the farmers try to manage the limited space they have and come up with innovative ways to maximize the available space.
So you see styles like vertical gardening in little spaces between houses and rooftop intensive farming. You also get to see a variety of crops planted in limited space by a house, or between buildings.
Some families engage in gardening in their compounds to grow pepper, tomatoes, okra, maize, cassava, etc. In his TED talk, a South Central Los Angeles urban gardener, Ron Finley, said gardening is the ‘most therapeutic and defiant act you can do’.
It saves money and improves the quality and quantity of food consumed by these families. Aside from gardening, urban farming is practiced in different forms like hydroponics, aeroponics, and aquaponics.
Hydroponics farming involves growing plants underwater with no soil, rather with mineral nutrients solution. Profitable plants for hydroponics include Dill, Mint, Cilantro, Basil, Bay leaves, Chives, Tarragon, etc.
Aquaponics is an integrated system where you can fertilize plants with nutrients from fish-inhabited water. Plants such as spinach, lettuce, basil (which can be used to make pesto and pizza), cherry tomatoes, dill, mushrooms, Cilantro, and Chives are very profitable for aquaponics.
Aeroponics involves growing plants in the air without using soil or an aggregate medium, but with the help of a moist environment. Aeroponics is eco-friendly and the system is water-efficient. The plants grow fast and sterilizing the growing equipment keep pest and diseases at bay.
What Are The Development of Urban Farming Over The Years?
The practice of urban agriculture has been in existence for years. It has been used to combat food shortage and famine in times of war and depression. In Germany during the 19th century, people were assigned ‘allotment gardens’ to help them address food insecurity and poverty.
Hazen S. Pingree, in 1893 during the depression, asked the citizens of Detroit to grow vegetables in any vacant lot to supply food and generate income. The potato patches were called Pingree’s Potato Patches.
During World War 1 and World War 2, several vegetables, herb and fruit gardens were sited in public parks and private residences in Canada, the US, UK, Germany, and Australia to boost food supply.
During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson obliged Americans to grow food in their available land spaces to provide food for the US and possibly other countries.
By 1919, over 5 million food-growing plots were flourishing and food products were way above 500 million pounds. Over the years, urban farming has developed in leaps and bounds. In some cities, community spaces are allotted for farming to boost the economy of the region.
In this age of technology, urban farming has become versatile in that it is now practiced in different methods. Judging from the past and the present, urban farming will flourish more in time to come.
What Are The Importance of Urban Farming?
Urban farming is important because it helps to improve the food quantity and quality in the cities and even rural areas.
The high population density of urban areas requires a larger quantity of food production. In cases where all the food is being supplied from rural areas, there is bound to be a shortage of supply.
In this situation, urban farming helps to bridge the gap. This consequently impacts on the health of the masses.
Urban farming provides employment opportunities for many people. In cities plagued by general poverty and hunger, agricultural practices are usually in large scale, most times in community spaces.
People are employed to assist in the different stages of farming. Some people do volunteer and get to learn the nuances of different types of farming.
When such people get to establish themselves, they become self-employed. Urban farming also helps in growing the economy of the cities by way of generating revenue.
Income is also circulated in the city or region as the people buy from themselves. The farmers may also sell at cheaper rates considering that there is no complex distribution method.
They harvest their crops and sell to the people around them making for a somewhat stress-free procedure. The practice of urban farming is eco-friendly because there’s a reduced amount of carbon emission involved in transporting goods from distances.
Foods produced in the city are close to the consumer market. Urban farming engenders sustainable development. It does not feed today at the expense of tomorrow.
A lot of people take interest in what they eat and how it is produced but not getting to know agricultural procedures properly.
Today, being a city dweller is not a restriction. Urban farming is on the rise and many urban dwellers are taking the advantage to grow their food and even sell to others.
Urban farming has been a long time coming, but so many people are now aware of its advantages and buying into this great deal. People who have land spaces are going into gardening.
Some community offers large spaces to citizens for farming. People with minimal land spaces or no space at all are going into hydroponics, aquaponics, aeroponics and the likes.