Urban Farms: The Way Forward

It is no lie- agriculture is a fundamental pillar of human dominance and survival. However, rural populations are declining as producers migrate away from the industry and into the city. Production, therefore, must continue, if not increase as global populations skyrocket. This unbalance could accelerate the collapse of the very pillars which were forged many millennia ago to provide food for all. The almost obvious conclusion is for the agricultural sector to undergo an innovative and modern transition into previously-charted territory.

Growing food at home has several tiers, ranging from the small- somewhat neglected- kitchen garden to the organic enthusiast, market gardeners and subsistence farmers dependent entirely on their land and labour. It is this notion that has the potential to feed a 9-billion strong global population, whilst drawing communities away from poverty and into an equally-nourished world. Producing the food a community requires within the community is the goal of urban farming. Whether growing in vacant blocks of land, neighbours’ backyards or community gardens, the practice is gaining traction as consumers demand transparency between the paddock and plate.

The benefit of walking down the street, or into your backyard to harvest lunch is self-explanatory. This practice fosters community involvement, as curiosity spreads rapidly and more families become interested in their food and its origins, whilst simultaneously suppressing the food insecurity associated with fragile industrial agriculture systems. The development of permaculture and the lessons of World War I & II victory gardens has enabled urban agriculture to cement itself within the community and it is believed that small farms are the way of the future as they reduce the burden of rural monocultural enterprises and redefine a focus on fresh food for the community. Such principles are a reflection of the early 1900’s as people traded goods with each other, developing a strong, localised network of producers and consumers.

Whilst appealing, there are downsides to urban farming, including soil contamination resulting from heavy metals, the rising expenses of land and water and the major risk of establishing a top-heavy system as exports dwindle and economic relations deteriorate. It will only come to fruition over time as such systems, alongside aquaponics, are developed and tested to determine their contribution to an ever-rising demand for food.