Urban farming has become very popular in the last few years. Growing food in heavily populated municipalities is becoming mainstream. Large cities often boast several urban gardens and farms and some may also have community gardens.
What differentiates an urban farm from a community garden or urban garden?
The urban farm actually sells their produce either to local restaurants or at farmer’s markets while community gardens and those in the backyard of a city lot are for consumption of the people that keep the garden maintained. Urban farms can also grow food that will be given away to a soup kitchen or at a food pantry. The food is grown and exchanged in some form of commerce to another person or entity.
The idea behind gardening in urban settings may come from the World War era when citizens were encouraged to grow vegetables in vacant city lots. The first World War consumed Europe and not much farming was going on.
The food produced on city lots was shipped to troupes overseas so they had enough to eat. During the Great Depression, city lot gardens were developed to enhance economic growth and when World War II began, even more city lots were commissioned to grow food for citizens and soldiers. Almost 3 million dollars’ worth of food was produced from these Victory gardens.
Common Urban Farming Crops.
An urban garden can grow anything a regular garden can. Corn, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, beets and more are easily grown in the urban setting. Urban gardens can grow fruits like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries and they can also produce fruit from trees including apples, plums, peaches and more. Urban gardens are more suited to dwarf or columnar fruit trees. Growing food isn’t the only thing grown on urban farms. Bee hives can produce honey and some smaller animals can be raised for food as well.
Urban farming may have a few constraints that rural farms don’t have. Space is usually at a minimum, so crops must be grown closer together than they are on rural farms. New and innovated ways have been developed so that more vegetables and fruits are can be produced in a smaller space, like square foot gardening or lasagna gardening.
Once a crop is finished, another is planted to optimize crops. Organic gardening methods are often employed to keep crops healthy and keep insects away.
Every possible space and resource is considered including water. Water often comes in through an irrigation system or laundry and other mild waste water is used. Hydroponics and grow lights are often used to get every speck of energy and resources out of the tiny city lot.
Benefits of Urban Farming.
Obviously, fresh produce is available to those that live in the urban area and it is generally cheaper in price because it does not have to be shipped into the city. Urban farms do employ those that live in the city. It introduces healthy food into the diets of many urban dwellers that may not have fresh fruits and vegetables available to them on a regular basis.
Green areas within a city often help to clean the air from pollution and other air-born issues. Urban farms sometimes raise the probability of youth and young adults learning gardening methods that they can use in their own lives.
Many municipalities have or are instituting regulations on urban farms. Some of those regulations may include where a farm can operate, what can be grown or raised, size of the farm and more. Check with the municipality to find out what regulations there are. If any, before purchasing or asking permission to use the land. If leasing or just using the land, be sure to have written permission from the land owner.
Urban farms improve the landscape of a city, cut down on pollution and bring land values up. It is much nicer to see green things growing instead of a vacant lot. Urban farms provide education and food for the surrounding population and seem to be a win, win situation for more and more cities.