History of urban agriculture
Community wastes were used in ancient Persia to feed urban farming. 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. Victory gardens sprouted during WWI, 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. Allotment gardens came up in Germany in the early 19th century as a response to poverty and food insecurity.
Urban agricultural facts
A tidy front yard flower and vegetable garden in Aretxabaleta, the Basque Country
50% of the world population lives in cities.
800 million people are involved in urban agriculture world-wide and contribute to feeding urban residents.
Low income urban dwellers spend between 40% and 60% of their income on food each year.
By 2015 about 26 cities in the world are expected to have a population of 10 million or more. To feed a city of this size at least 6000 tonnes of food must be imported each day.
Perspectives on urban agriculture
A vegetable garden in the square in front of the train station in Ezhou, China
Resource and economic
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has defined urban agriculture as:
[A]n industry that produces, processes and markets food and fuel, largely in response to the daily demand of consumers within a town, city, or metropolis, on land and water dispersed throughout the urban and peri-urban area, applying intensive production methods, using and reusing natural resources and urban wastes to yield a diversity of crops and livestock.
The definition of urban agriculture as an industry that responds to the nutritional demands of a city, from within that city, with the use and reuse of that city resources while acknowledging economic and resource use does not reconcile aspects of regional health, food security, and application of grassroots organizations.
(This definition is based on the work of Luc Mougeot of the International Development Research Centre and used in technical and training publications by UN-HABITAT Urban Management Programme , FAO Special Programme for Food Security, and international agricultural research centres, such as CIRAD.)
The Council on Agriculture, Science and Technology, (CAST) is an international consortium of scientific and professional societies based in Ames Iowa that compiles and communicates credible science-based information to policy makers, media, private sector, and the public. CAST defines urban agriculture to include aspects of environmental health, remediation, and recreation,
rban 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.13]
Modern planning and design initiatives are 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.
Access to nutritious food 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. Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) defines food security as,
ll persons in a community having access to culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate food through local, non-emergency sources at all times.
The emerging importance of urban agriculture
UPA (urban and peri-urban agriculture) expands the economic base of the city through production, processing, packaging, and marketing of consumable products. This results in an increase in entrepreneurial activities and the creation of job opportunities, as well as in food costs reduction and products of better quality.
UPA represents an important opportunity for women to be part of the informal economy of a city. Farming and selling activities can be combined more easily with household tasks and child care.
UPA provides employment, income, and access to food for urban populations, which together contributes to relieve chronic and emergency food insecurity. Chronic food insecurity refers to less affordable food and growing urban poverty, while emergency food insecurity relates to breakdowns in the chain of food distribution. UPA plays an important role in making food more affordable and in providing emergency supplies of food. Research into market values for produce grown in urban gardens has attributed to a community garden plot a median yield value of between approximately $200 and $500 (US, adjusted for inflation). In a community gardening program as well-established as Seattle's P-Patches, this can account for up to 1.25 million dollars of produce cultivated annually.
The needs of urban landscaping can be combined with those of suburban livestock farmers. (Kstovo, Russia)
Social benefits that have emerged from urban agricultural practices are; better health and nutrition, increased income, employment, food security within the household, and community social life. UPA can be seen as a means of improving the livelihood of people living in and around cities. Taking part in such practices is seen mostly as informal activity, but in many cities where inadequate, unreliable, and irregular access to food is an occurring problem, urban agriculture has been a positive response to tackling food concerns. Households and small communities take advantage of vacant land and contribute not only to their household food needs but also the needs of their resident city. The CFSC states that,
ommunity and residential gardening, as well as small-scale farming, save household food dollars. They promote nutrition and free cash for non-garden foods and other items21]
This allows families to generate larger incomes selling to local grocers or to local outdoor markets, while supplying their household with proper nutrition of fresh and nutritional produce.
Some community urban farms can be quite efficient and help women find work, who in some cases are marginalized from finding employment in the formal economy. Studies have shown that participation from women have a higher production rate, therefore producing the adequate amount for household consumption while supplying more for market sale.
Due to the fact that most UA activities are conducted on vacant municipal land, there have been rising concerns about the allocation of land and property rights. The IDRC and the FAO have published the Guidelines for Municipal Policymaking on Urban Agriculture, and are working with municipal governments to create successful policy measures that can be incorporated in urban planning. Including UA in local plans and as proper land use will continue to help impoverished communities gain a better well-being while fighting urban poverty.
Localized food production in urban and peri-urban areas contributes to local economies by creating jobs and producing valuable products. Some researchers indicate that unemployed populations in large cities and suburban towns would decrease if put to work by local food movements. Schools have foreseen the asset of local food production and are beginning to incorporate agricultural sections in their curricula and present it as a career opportunity. Urban agricultural projects are beginning to open a new labor market in areas that have been negatively affected by industrial outsourcing of jobs.
The current industrial agriculture system is accountable for high energy costs for the transportation of foodstuffs. The average conventional produce item travels 1,500 miles, using, if shipped by tractor-trailer, one gallon of fossil fuel per hundred pounds. The energy used to transport food is decreased when urban agriculture can provide cities with locally-grown food.
Quality of food
Although the taste of locally grown food is subjective, many participants in the urban agriculture movement report that they prefer the taste of local agricultural products, or organic food, to that of industrial food production. Also, urban agriculture supports a more sustainable production of the food that tries to decrease the use of harmful pesticides that result in agricultural runoff. Urban and local farmers also eliminate the need for preservatives, as their products do not need to travel long distances. Soil contamination is a potential problem in urban environments, particularly lead. The soil should be tested; if lead is present, increasing the pH can alleviate the problem. Lead can also be removed through phytoremediation with Indian mustard or spinach.
Economy of scale
Using high-density urban farming, as for instance with vertical farms or stacked greenhouses, many environmental benefits can be achieved on a city-wide scale that would be impossible otherwise. These systems do not only provide food, but also produce potable water from waste water, and can recycle organic waste back to energy and nutrients. At the same time, they can reduce food-related transportation to a minimum while providing fresh food for large communities in almost any climate.
Implementation of urban agriculture
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Creating a community-based infrastructure for urban agriculture means establishing local systems to grow and process food and transfer it from farmer (producer) to consumer.
To facilitate food production, cities have established community-based farming projects. Some projects have collectively-tended community farms on common land, much like that of eighteenth-century Boston Common. One such community farm is the Collingwood Children's Farm in Melbourne, Australia. Other community garden projects use the allotment garden model, in which gardeners care for individual plots in a larger gardening area, often sharing a tool shed and other amenities. Seattle's P-Patch gardens use this model, as did the South Central Farm in Los Angeles. Independent urban gardeners also grow food in individual yards and on roofs. Garden sharing projects seek to pair producers with land, typically, residential yard space. Roof gardens allow for urban dwellers to maintain green spaces in the city without having to set aside a tract of undeveloped land. There are a growing number of projects worldwide that seek to enable cities to become 'continuous productive landscapes' through the networked cultivation of vacant urban land and temporary or permanent 'kitchen gardens'.
Food processing on a community level has been accommodated by centralizing resources in community tool sheds and processing facilities for farmers to share. The Garden Resource Program Collaborative based in Detroit has cluster tool banks. Different areas of the city have toolbanks where resources like tools, compost, mulch, tomato stakes, seeds, and education can be shared and distributed with the gardeners in that cluster. Detroit's Garden Resource Program Collaborative also strengthens their gardening community by providing to their members transplants; education on gardening, policy, and food issues; and by building connectivity between gardeners through workgroups, potlucks, tours, field trips, and cluster workdays.
Farmers' markets, such as the farmers' market in Los Angeles, provide a common land where farmers can sell their product to consumers. Large cities tend to open their farmers markets on the weekends and one day in the middle of the week. For example, the farmers' market of Boulevard Richard-Lenoir in Paris, France, is open on Sundays and Thursdays. However, to create a consumer dependency on urban agriculture and to introduce local food production as a sustainable career for farmers, markets would have to be open regularly. For example, the Los Angeles Farmers' Market is open seven days a week and has linked several local grocers together to provide different food products. The market central location in downtown Los Angeles provides the perfect interaction for a diverse group of sellers to access their consumers.
In the meantime in Egypt, population explosion and the tendency to build on agricultural land have acted to limit the resources of city families and their access to healthy products. With a little effort and money, rooftops can contribute in improving the families quality of life and provide them with healthy food and raise their income, this is besides the environmental and aesthetic role it plays. While it is not new, the notion of planting rooftops in Egypt has only recently been implemented. In the early 1990s at Ain Shams University, a group of agriculture professors developed an initiative of growing organic vegetables to suit densely populated cities of Egypt. The initiative was applied on a small scale; until it was officially adopted in 2001, by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Main article: Organopnicos
Due to the shortage of fuel and therefore severe deficiencies in the transportation sector a growing percentage of the agricultural production takes place in the so-called urban agriculture. In 2002, 35,000 acres (140km) of urban gardens produced 3.4 million tons of food. In Havana, 90% of the city's fresh produce come from local urban farms and gardens. In 2003, more than 200,000 Cubans worked in the expanding urban agriculture sector .
Economic development in Mumbai brought a growth in population caused mainly by the migration of laborers from other regions of the country. The number of residents in the city increased more than twelve times in the last century. Greater Mumbai, formed by City Island and Salsette Island, is the largest city in India with a population of 16.4 million, according to data collected by the census of 2001. Mumbai is one of the densest cities in the world, 48,215 persons per km and 16,082 per km in suburban areas. In a scenario like this, urban agriculture seems unlikely to put in practice since it must compete with real estate developers for the access and use of vacant lots. Alternative farming methods have emerged as a response to scarcity of land, water, and economic resources employed in UPA.
Dr. Doshi innovative techniques on farming:
Dr. Doshi city garden methods are revolutionary for being appropriate to apply in reduced spaces as terraces and balconies, even on civil construction walls, and for not requiring big investments in capital or long hours of work. His farming practice is purely organic and is mainly directed to domestic consumption. His gardening tools are composed of materials available in the local environment: sugarcane waste, polyethylene bags, tires, containers and cylinders, and soil. The containers and bags (open at both ends) are filled with the sugarcane stalks, compost, and garden soil, which make possible the use of minimal quantity of water if compared to open fields. Dr. Doshi states that solar energy can replace soil in cities. He also recommends the idea of chainplanting, or growing plants in intervals and in small quantities rather than at once and in large amounts. He has grown different types of fruit such as mangos, figs, guavas, bananas, and sugarcane stalks in his terrace of 1,200sqft (110m2) in Bandra. The concept of city farming developed by Dr. Doshi consumes the entire household organic waste. He subsequently makes the household self-sufficient in the provision of food: 5kg of fruits and vegetables are produced daily for 300 days a year.
City farm at Rosary High School, Dockyard Road Mumbai:
The main objectives of this pilot project were to promote economic support for street children, beautify the city landscape, supply locally produced organic food to urban dwellers (mainly those residing in slums), and to manage organic waste in a sustainable city. The project was conducted in the Rosary School, in Mumbai, with the participation of street children during 2004. A city farm was created in a terrace area of 400sqft (37m2). The participants were trained in urban farming techniques. The farm produced vegetables, fruits, and flowers. The idea was spread the concept of city farm to other schools in the city.
Mumbai Port Trust (MBPT):
The central kitchen distributes food to approximately 3,000 employees daily, generating important amounts of organic disposal. A terrace garden created by the staff recycles ninety percent of this waste in the production of vegetables and fruits. Preeti Patil, who is the catering officer at the MBPT explains the purpose of the enterprise:
umbai Port Trust has developed an organic farm on the terrace of its central kitchen, which is an area of approximately 3,000sqft (280m2). The activity of city farming was started initially to dispose of kitchen organic waste in an ecofriendly way. Staff members, after their daily work in the kitchen, tend the garden, which has about 150 plants.
In early 2000, urban gardens were started under the direction of the NGO, Thailand Environment Institute (TEI), to help achieve the Bangkok Metropolitan Administrations (BMA) priority to reen Thailand. With a population of 12 million and 39% of the land in the city vacant due to rapid expansion of the 1960-80 Bangkok is a test bed for urban gardens centered on community involvement. The two urban gardens initiated by TEI are i