Urban Agriculture

Urban Agriculture and Food Security: Across North America, town and city dwellers are gaining access to a variety of foods raised in several types of urban sites. Urban agriculture defined in simple terms is the growing, processing, and distribution of food and other products through intensive plant cultivation and animal husbandry in and around cities. It includes green belts around cities, farming at the city’s edge, vegetable plots in community gardens, and food production in thousands of vacant inner-city lots. Urban agriculture comprises fish farms, farm animals at public housing sites, municipal compost facilities, schoolyard greenhouses, restaurant-supported salad gardens, backyard orchards, rooftop gardens and beehives, window box gardens, and much more. The potential for food production in cities is great, and dozens of model projects are demonstrating successfully that urban agriculture is both necessary and viable. Health and nutrition advocates are joining with community gardeners, university professionals, Cooperative Extension, emergency food providers, and faith communities in city-wide coalitions and food policy councils to maintain and expand urban food security. Community economic development organizers, city planners, and environmentalists concerned with urban waste reduction and recycling, see the potential of urban farming. A growing consumer demand for fresh, local, and often organic food in its turn creates new markets for urban food production. Many of these efforts specifically address the needs of urban residents who are living in poverty, and consequently experience poor nutrition, hunger, and anxiety about not having enough to eat. This primer provides an introduction to urban agriculture with a special emphasis on its ability to combat food insecurity in United States cities. Through profiles and information, the reader will be able to gain access to the many resources available to expand urban agriculture in their area.

Brown, Katherine and Anne Carter. 2003. "Urban Agriculture and Community Food Security in the United States: Farming From the City Center to the Urban Fringe." A Primer Prepared by the Community Food Security Coalition - North American Urban Agriculture Committee.

Urban Agriculture and Sustainable Cities: Urban agglomerations and their resource uses are becoming the dominant feature of the human presence on earth, profoundly changing humanity’s relationship to its host planet and its ecosystems. The cities of the 21st century are where human destiny will be played out, and where the future of the biosphere will be determined. It is unlikely that the planet will be able to accommodate an urbanised humanity that continues to draw upon resources from ever more distant hinterlands, or which uses the biosphere, the oceans, and the atmosphere as a sink for its wastes at the current accelerating rates. The challenge faced is whether cities can transform themselves into self-regulating, sustainable systems - not only in their internal functioning, but also in their relationships to the outside world. Is it possible to make a world of cities viable in the long term – socially, economically, as well as environmentally? The answer to this question is critical to the future well-being of the planet, as well as of humanity. There can be no sustainable world without sustainable cities.

Boggs, Grace Lee. 2003. "Living for Change: Urban AgriCulture in Detroit." Michigan Citizen. XXV(42): B8.

Deelstra, Tjeerd and Herbert Girardet. "Urban Agriculture and Sustainable Cities." Thematic Paper, Leusden: Resource Center on Urban Agriculture and Forestry.

Hair, Marty. 2002. "Harvest of Hopes: Capuchin Friar Rick Samyn Grows Ideals as Well as Produce in His Garden." Detroit Free Press.

Hynes, Patricia. 1996. A Patch of Eden. White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Merritt, Layla J.2004. "Urban Gardens Revitalize Detroit Communities." Michigan Citizen. XXVI(38): B1.

Rhea, Shawn. 2003. "Detroit Renaissance." Yes! Magazine.

Shurmann, Franz. June 1996. "Can Cities Feed Themselves?: Worldwide Turn to Urban Gardening Signals Hope." Pacific News Service. This article features commentary highlighting the proceedings of the Second UN Conference on Human Settlement (Habitat II). The main focus of the article is future population growth in cities, food production concerns, and the role of urban agriculture in the developed and developing world.

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