Food brings people together. Eating a delicious meal with family and friends is one of the best ways to spend quality time. Nourishing your body with a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and nutrients is an essential type of self-care.
Food extends to more than just bare survival. Our minds and bodies need food to flourish as well. Unfortunately, the food industry today has other goals in mind. The global food system is responsible for approximately 30% of all GHG emissions into the environment.
Urban farming is a powerful way to make a difference and get in touch with nature no matter where you live.
What Is Urban Farming?
Urban farming is a type of farming performed in the city for industrial purposes. Urban farming is different from typical community gardening, homesteading, or subsistence farming. Where these types of farming involve growing your own food for personal consumption, urban farming is grown to sell to others in the city and nearby neighborhoods.
Urban farming turns a gardening hobby into a business plan. It’s a more sustainable spin on the food industry today and allows residents to introduce nature to urban areas.
Urban farming isn't just fruit and vegetables. It can include gardening, raising livestock, growing herbs, and even pollinators like bees.
The Food Industry Today
In order to understand the importance and role of urban farming, we must discuss the food industry today. The food system has a serious impact on the planet, climate, and environmental health. The food industry is massive, making its impact even larger.
There are many ways the food industry is falling short. Let’s explore a few of the food industry’s shortcomings below.
First, the food industry is destroying our future ability to grow food. Slowly but surely, traditional agriculture is depleting soil up to 100 times faster than it is renewing soil. Fast waste and slow renewing are problems for much of the industry. The repercussions are severe. If soil erosion is left unaddressed, many areas will be without fertile soil in a decade, resulting in massive food insecurity.
Another negative impact the food industry has on the planet involves trees. Industrial agriculture destroys five million acres of forests each year. Trees are being lost much faster than they’re being replanted. This renewable resource is slowly being drained by an industry that’s profiting billions off excess food production.
The top meat and dairy corporations in the world are responsible for the same amount of greenhouse gasses as ExxonMobile. This leads to faster and more intense environmental harm.
The dairy industry alone produces so much milk waste that it takes the prize for the highest contribution to GHG emissions compared to all other foods.
Urban agriculture can have a big influence in a lot less space than classic farms.
How Urban Farming Can Help
Urban farming is a response to the modern food industry, and it’s becoming increasingly popular. Urban farming looks for ways to grow, harvest, and produce food inside city limits.
When you participate in urban farming, you decrease production and transport waste. Urban farming helps cut down on various types of waste, including food waste, material waste, and wasting trees and resources. When you get started with urban farming, you pay careful attention to what you grow, what materials you use, and how you farm.
Instead of cutting down millions of trees to clear out space for a farm, you’re able to keep a farm right in your backyard. You won’t need to deplete natural trees or soil to do this.
Another way you can help reduce waste is by reducing food waste. The food industry tends to waste much of its food on feeding animals. It’s important to note that these corporations are stuffing their livestock to create a fattier product rather than providing healthy food for the animal. This waste type can include food, water runoff, and resources.
It’s easy to think that small impacts won’t be noticed in the grand scheme of things, but this simply isn’t true. One family wastest an average of 31.9% of its food each year. With urban farming, we can help cultivate mindfulness in what we eat and what others eat.
Here at Olivers, we’re passionate about decreasing waste. That’s why we use recycled cotton in many of our fabrics. Make sure you’re ready to start urban farming with the perfect eco-conscious tee. Available in a long sleeve and a short sleeve option, you can enjoy flexibility and comfort.
The food industry is responsible for a significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions. Urban farmers are able to help reduce these emissions by supporting more sustainable and environmentally friendly efforts.
Real Produce Without the “Other Stuff”
It’s no secret that pesticides, fertilizers, genetic modification, and antibiotics aren’t the best for your body. They’re harmful to the planet, too. Pesticides and other chemicals used in farming contaminate soil, water, and plants.
Urban farming provides an excellent remedy to this. Instead of mass-producing foods at such a large scale that they have to use pesticides and other chemicals to generate billions in profit, urban farmers can use natural resources to support their farms and livestock.
This is not only sustainable and healthy for the planet, but it’s also healthy for you. By growing organic food, you can avoid synthetic fertilizers, GMOs, antibiotics, growth hormones, preservatives, and other chemicals. Organic farming gives you complete control over what goes into your body and what goes into those in your community.
The urban farming industry is popular in many cities for this reason alone. The ability to purchase locally grown and sourced ingredients free of all the “other stuff” is reason enough to support urban farming.
Community Involvement & Benefit
When you start an urban farm, there are many ways your community can get involved and benefit from it.
The first and most obvious benefit for the community is that they’re able to eat and enjoy your food. Locally sourced foods are preferred by many as they’re organic and real.
The members of your community can also pitch in to help or have jobs on your urban farm. Depending on how large you create your farm, others may want to get involved and help. From getting exercise to learning the valuable skill of growing food, there are many benefits to volunteering.
Participating in an activity like urban farming together brings communities and local producers closer together.
Urban farming helps others get in touch with nature. For urban populations who live deep in the city, nature can seem far away. Even if you have a park nearby, you may still lack exposure to mountains, oceans, rivers, woods, and nature.
Urban farming is a way to bring the beauty and refreshing aspects of nature into the city. Even on a concrete island, green spaces can transform lives — and vacant lots.
Lastly, urban farming provides farmers with food security. The food industry has largely eliminated the need to grow or provide your own food. Many don’t learn how to grow or farm because they simply don’t need to.
Urban farmers not only have food security in that they’ll be able to live off their farms if necessary, but they also build valuable skills that are critical for survival if necessary.
Getting In Touch With Nature: The Fruits of Your Labor
The following are easy ways to start urban farming where you are. Every location has different laws concerning farms. Be sure to check with local legislation and regulations about what you’re allowed to do.
Vertical Farming: To save space, many urban farmers practice vertical farming. This involves stacking crops one on top of the other in vertical layers. You can use shelving, racks, or pallets against walls.
Start a vertical farm in your home, garage, basement, backyard, storage space, or even in shipping containers. You can get creative as this allows you to grow three to four times as many plants in the space where you would normally only fit a few.
Hydroponics & Aquaponics: Hydroponic and aquaponic facilities involve farming without soil. Hydroponics can use nutrients to wash over the roots of the plants and perlite or gravel to provide support instead of soil. This helps save soil and water and allows for farming in places where you may not have access to soil. Aquaponics is similar, but it involves building a symbiotic relationship between plants and fish. No fertilizer necessary.
Shipping Container Farms: Grab a shipping container for sale and refurbish the inside to create a farm. Use lighting, climate control, and other factors to make the perfect environment for a garden. Small farmers can grow mushrooms, microgreens, or leafy greens as these don’t take up too much space.
Rooftop Farming: Have a rooftop in your building? Consider farming up there. Use raised beds, greenhouses, or whatever your local landlord or city legislation will allow.
Backyard Gardens: In the case that you do have a yard, whether a backyard, front yard, or side yard, ask your landlord if you can start a garden. This helps utilize space that would otherwise sit dormant.
A Growing Movement
Urban farming has taken root in New York City, Los Angeles, Detroit, and many more. However, these aren't new innovations. This type of farming can be traced back to the Victory Gardens of World War I and WWII.
During that time, American citizens transformed their small spaces into gardens to help combat shortages from rationing and ensure resources wouldn't go to waste. When we look to the past, we can influence urban planning and planet health in the future.