Urban agriculture, simply defined, is the process of growing produce and livestock in cities and other urban areas. It is a way of bringing food from the countryside to the cities. The most distinct feature of this method is its utilization of resources like home-made compost and waste water. The objective is to promote the growth of agricultural products in the unique environment of urban areas.
In the past 10 years, efforts have been taken to promote this method to city dwellers to encourage their participation in the producing healthy food for their own communities. Will Allen, a former basketball player, has been awarded for his implementation of low-cost technologies in the cultivation, production and delivery of healthy food to the urban poor. Farm to fork, germination tray to the plate, this is a new and sustainable food landscape. Some factors that differentiate this type of food production from the conventional methods include:
• Location: This poses a challenge because the available planting areas in most cities are strictly limited. To solve this concern, the agricultural activity is done in any available plot of land like a homestead, a private land, parks, along roads and railways, and school or hospital yards.
• Types of produce: The types of food that are grown include different types of grain, vegetables, root crops, herbs and fruits. Raising livestock can also be done as long as it coincides with the prevailing regulations on urban living. Because of the limitations, the farming of food products in urban areas are more dedicated to specific crops compared to rural agriculture. Sprouts and microgreens good choices because they are fairly easy to grow, highly nutritious, and do not require much space.
• Process: The entire course of food production in cities from the planting, marketing and delivery of supplies are often handled by special business organizations. They involve a faster turn-around time because of the smaller geographical area and prompt transfer of resources compared to rural farming.
• Consumer: The major beneficiary of urban farming is the farmer himself. Often, the crops that are harvested are for self consumption. Any excess is exchanged with other farmers or are sold within the neighborhood in small groceries, delis or local shops. The bulk of the products though are harvested and processed for the grower’s personal use.
• Size of Production: While traditional agricultural groups work in small farms or clusters, urban growers covers individuals, small groups, cooperatives and business enterprises. Some form communities to share trade secrets and offer support to each other by discussing technical methods that are useful when taking care of crops in the city.