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Urban Farming

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Urban agriculture

An urban farm in Chicago
Urban agriculture, urban farming or urban gardening is the practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around a village, town, or city.[1] Urban agriculture can also involve animal husbandry, aquaculture, agroforestry, urban beekeeping, and horticulture. These activities occur in peri-urban areas as well, and peri-urban agriculture may have different characteristics.[2]

Urban agriculture can reflect varying levels of economic and social development. In the global north, it often takes the form of a social movement for sustainable communities, where organic growers, ‘foodies,’ and ‘locavores’ form social networks founded on a shared ethos of nature and community holism. These networks can evolve when receiving formal institutional support, becoming integrated into local town planning as a ‘transition town’ movement for sustainable urban development. In the developing south, food security, nutrition, and income generation are key motivations for the practice. In either case, more direct access to fresh vegetables, fruits, and meat products through urban agriculture can improve food security and food safety.

History Edit

Huerto (vegetable garden or orchard) Romita, organization dedicated to urban agriculture located in the La Romita section of Colonia Roma, Mexico City
Community wastes were used in ancient Egypt to feed urban farming.[3] In Machu Picchu, water was conserved and reused as part of the stepped architecture of the city, and vegetable beds were designed to gather sun in order to prolong the growing season.[3] Allotment gardens came up in Germany in the early 19th century as a response to poverty and food insecurity.[4] Victory gardens sprouted during WWI and WWII and were fruit, vegetable, and herb gardens in US, Canada, and UK. This effort was undertaken by citizens to reduce pressure on food production that was to support the war effort. Community gardening in most communities are open to the public and provide space for citizens to cultivate plants for food or recreation. A community gardening program that is well-established is Seattle's P-Patch. The grass roots permaculture movement has been hugely influential in the renaissance of urban agriculture throughout the world. The Severn Project in Bristol was started in 2010 for £2500 and provides 34 tons of produce per year, employing people from disadvantaged backgrounds

The idea of supplemental food production beyond rural farming operations and distant imports is not new and has been used during war times and the Great Depression when food shortage issues arose. As early as 1893, citizens of a depression-struck Detroit were asked to use any vacant lots to grow vegetables. They were nicknamed Pingree's Potato Patches after the mayor, Hazen S. Pingree, who came up with the idea. He intended for these gardens to produce income, food supply, and even boost independence during times of hardship.[5]

During the first World War, president Woodrow Wilson called upon all American citizens to utilize any available open space for food growth, seeing this as a way to pull them out of a potentially damaging situation. Because most of Europe was consumed with war, they were unable to produce sufficient food supplies to be shipped to the U.S., and a new plan was implemented with the intent to feed the U.S. and even supply a surplus to other countries in need. By the year 1919, over 5 million plots were growing food and over 500 million pounds of produce was harvested. A very similar practice came into use during the Great Depression that provided a purpose, a job, and food to those who would otherwise be without anything during such harsh times. In this case, these efforts helped to raise spirits socially as well as to boost economic growth. Over 2.8 million dollars worth of food was produced from the subsistence gardens during the Depression. By the time of the Second World War, the War/Food Administration set up a National Victory Garden Program that set out to systematically establish functioning agriculture within cities. With this new plan in action, as many as 5.5 million Americans took part in the victory garden movement and over 9 million pounds of fruit and vegetables were grown a year, accounting for 44% of U.S.-grown produce throughout that time.[citation needed]

In 2010, New York City saw the building and opening of the world's largest privately owned and operated rooftop farm, followed by an even larger location in 2012.[6] Both were a result of municipal programs such as The Green Roof Tax Abatement Program.[7] and Green Infrastructure Grant Program[8]

With its past success in mind and with modern technology, urban agriculture today can be something to help both developed and developing nations.

A tidy front yard flower and vegetable garden in Aretxabaleta, Spain
Perspectives Edit

A vegetable garden in the square in front of the train station in Ezhou, China
Resource and economic Edit
The Urban Agriculture Network has defined urban agriculture as:[9]

[A]n industry that produces, processes, and markets food, fuel, and other outputs, largely in response to the daily demand of consumers within a town, city, or metropolis, on many types of privately and publicly held land and water bodies found throughout intra-urban and peri-urban areas. Typically urban agriculture applies intensive production methods, frequently using and reusing natural resources and urban wastes, to yield a diverse array of land-, water-, and air-based fauna and flora, contributing to the food security, health, livelihood, and environment of the individual, household, and community.

Environmental Edit
The Council on Agriculture, Science and Technology (CAST) defines urban agriculture to include aspects of environmental health, remediation, and recreation:[10]

Urban agriculture is a complex system encompassing a spectrum of interests, from a traditional core of activities associated with the production, processing, marketing, distribution, and consumption, to a multiplicity of other benefits and services that are less widely acknowledged and documented. These include recreation and leisure; economic vitality and business entrepreneurship, individual health and well-being; community health and well being; landscape beautification; and environmental restoration and remediation.

Modern planning and design initiatives are often more responsive to this model of urban agriculture because it fits within the current scope of sustainable design. The definition allows for a multitude of interpretations across cultures and time. Frequently it is tied to policy decisions to build sustainable cities.[11]

Food security Edit
Main article: food security
Access to nutritious food, both economically and geographically, is another perspective in the effort to locate food and livestock production in cities. With the tremendous influx of world population to urban areas, the need for fresh and safe food is increased. The Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) defines food security as:

All persons in a community having access to culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate food through local, non-emergency sources at all times.

Areas faced with food security issues have limited choices, often relying on highly processed fast food or convenience store foods that are high in calories

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