Importance Of Urban Farming In Promoting Sustainability And Food Security

While it’s still viewed as a relatively new trend, urban farming has been going on for quite some time now. In the past few years, urban farming has become a hot topic for agricultural sustainability as it provides a new pathway towards positive change.

In fact, statistics show that the sector is growing by 2.7% year-by-year and is projected to achieve a market size of USD 261.1 Million by 2032.

But how does urban farming work?

It may sound confusing how agriculture can thrive in areas with skyscrapers and highways. But with some effort, you can achieve considerable results in a reasonable timeframe. Options such as rooftop gardens, vertical gardening on balconies, and community gardens become more popular and thus easily available in most developed cities.

Urban agriculture is known to improve food security. By increasing the availability of urban farms in highly populated areas, communities can ensure a consistent supply of fresh food for every urban resident. On top of that, gardening has a great potential to reduce stress.

Urban Farmer Carrying Crates Of Potatoes

The rise of urban farming

Urban farming is not an unfamiliar concept—it is merely a response to various societal pressures. People often build these small-scale urban farms as a response to mass-produced agriculture products, which include chemical fertilizers, high costs, and negative environmental effects.

Urban farming allows for growing plants and even raising animals in and around cities and towns. Although we know of farming as a rural activity, with the latest technological developments, there are new ways to produce and consume food sustainably. 

As a concept, urban farming became popular in the past 10-15 years and was rapidly driven by the urbanization of the developing world. Urban farming is now seen as a way to combat poverty, food insecurity, and the fast rates of industrialization. 

Things To Consider Before Setting Up Your Urban Farm

Firstly, assessing available space is paramount; whether it’s a rooftop, balcony, or community garden plot, understanding the limitations and opportunities of the chosen area is crucial. 

Additionally, evaluating factors such as sunlight exposure, access to water sources, and drainage capabilities will significantly impact plant growth and overall productivity.

Understanding soil quality through testing pH levels and nutrient content is essential for cultivating healthy crops.

Moreover, considering local regulations, potential pest and disease challenges, and community engagement opportunities are vital aspects to contemplate before embarking on your urban farming journey.

By addressing these factors proactively, urban farmers can lay a strong foundation for sustainable and thriving agricultural practices within city limits.

Choosing the perfect spot

Finding the perfect spot for your urban farm can be challenging since success mostly relies on the right location. Consider these factors to get the best outcome:

  • Sunlight: Ensure your chosen spot receives adequate sunlight throughout the day. Most crops need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. This will also depend on the type of crop and the country you live in, considering the local weather. 
  • Space: Evaluate the available space and choose crops that fit. Vertical gardening and container gardening can maximize space utilization. Consider that you’ll need a place to store your tools. If a backyard is available, you can maximize the limited space by installing a portable garden shed that can be moved if you need that space for other ideas later on.

Selecting Suitable Crops

When choosing your preferred crops, learn more about the geographic factor that considers local climate, severe weather, and the crop’s production requirements.

Choosing the right crop and pairing it with the right climate and surroundings is essential. Crop selection should be your priority when you decide to develop your urban farm, as it can make a huge difference in the final results before harvesting. 

Importance of soil quality for plant health

Possibly one of the most important factors when building your urban garden is the foundation—a healthy soil. To maintain healthy soil, you need to do:

  • Soil Testing includes checking the nutrient and Ph-levels of the soil and allows you to decide what kind of fertilizer you can use.
  • Composting can help enrich the soil with healthy nutrients, and you can simply start by recycling your kitchen scraps and yard waste. 

Healthy soil helps your crops get clean air and water, buffer certain pollutants, and provide stability and sustainability. 

Watering and Irrigation

Having a proper watering and irrigation system is critical to farming success. The key is to water your plants consistently and regularly and you can do that by installing a drip irrigation system which makes all this so much more convenient.

Also, a good way to use excess rainwater is to set up rain barrels and store the rainwater for further irrigation. 

Pest and Disease Management

If you want your crops to have a long life, you must protect them from pests and diseases. You can use natural pest control options like planting herbs that deter pests.

Another way to keep an eye on your crops is to regularly inspect the plants for any signs of damage or disease and be able to take quick action. 

Harvesting and Storage

Knowing when the crops reach their peak and are ready to be harvested ensures high nutritional value, not to mention incredible flavor. Once harvested, crops need to be properly handled to minimize damage and prolong shelf life.

Depending on the type of produce, you can store some fruits or vegetables in breathable containers or bins to maintain freshness. If you have excess produce, you can freeze or air-dry some to extend their usability and reduce waste.

By considering storage buildings and effective harvesting methods, urban farmers can maximize crop yields and enjoy their homegrown produce for a long time.

Community Engagement and Education

Urban farming has a vast and positive social impact. As we’ve mentioned, it improves food security and helps to reduce poverty among poor communities by providing cheaper and easily accessible food.

Also, urban farms improve social inclusion as they open the door for new job opportunities and community projects and help bring communities closer. 

Many schools and kindergartens in the world already have their own urban farms in their schoolyards, where children learn about how food is produced and how they should care for the environment. 

Conclusion

Urban farming provides locally grown, healthy, and fresh produce and in most cases, in underserved locations. These farms have a massive outreach element and allow people to learn more about how food grows and how to prepare food while minimizing waste. 

Many people are increasingly taking to urban farming in a bid to lower grocery bills and eat healthier. Urban farms bring many benefits, which is why they are becoming increasingly popular worldwide.