Urban Farming Today

What is Urban Farming?

The first thing that normally comes to mind when we think of farming is probably rolling hills and mountains of lush greenery and rich vegetation in expansive farmlands. Farming is almost synonymous with large estates of land. However, thanks to new farming methods and technology, you can now adapt farming on a small scale at your city dwelling. Farming is no longer a rural activity but has entered the urban landscape is what is today called urban farming or urban agriculture.

This activity has gained ground in most cities across the world today. It provides city farmers with a perfect opportunity to enjoy gardening and a semblance of real farming from their backyards, condominium balconies, abandoned lots or even in parks..

So what exactly is urban agriculture? Is it a farm in the city? In simple terms, it’s the practice of growing and producing food in a town, municipality, or other heavily populated urban environments. This type of agriculture should not be confused with the conventional community gardening, homesteading or rural subsistence farming.

Unlike the usual subsistence farming methods found in small rural communities, urban farming is practiced in towns and cities and often assumes a commercial level. The food grown in an urban farm can be sold for profit besides being used for personal consumption. This type of farming is a more practical way of growing your own food than community gardening.

Photos of urban agriculture

Typical Location of Urban Farms

Urban agriculture can be practiced either in an intra-urban (within the city) or peri-urban area. It can be done on your own plot where you stay or on another lot beside your homestead. You can also do it on a leased piece of land or with the right permissions on public land such as parks, conservation areas, along railways, streams, and roads. Some people even practice this type of city agriculture on schoolyards and hospitals. Just make sure you have the right permissions to use the land for agricultural purposes. The city of Vancouver has some excellent info on the rules and regulations for growing food in that city. Why not read what applies to you and be better prepared when you you go to your local officials.

Unlike regular farming done on tracts of land, an urban farm can be created on a balcony, backyard, and even on a flat rooftop. It is also practiced on vacant lots within the urban setting. Most urban farms have some form of vertical style of gardening used because of space limitation. Greenhouses have also become a popular form of farming in the urban environment. Due to the limitation of land in urban dwellings, city and town farmers have devised clever ways to make good use of the available space in their little farmlands. Some design intensive rooftop gardens with raised beds or simply create vertical gardens in the small areas between buildings.

A vertical farm is one of the most popular forms of city farming techniques. Some vertical farms can be found in an interior environment with controlled lighting and other conditions necessary for plant growth. Most of them are like greenhouses that use a combination of natural light and solar heating. Vertical farms that are completely indoors are artificially controlled by lighting, humidity and heating equipment.

Types of Food Grown by Urban Farmers

Most urban farmers focus on growing perennial plants or specialized crops such as orchids and poinsettias in specially controlled environment. Grains such as corn and rice that require large acreage of land cannot be practically grown in an urban farm. Other types of food products grown in urban agriculture farms include root crops, vegetables such as spinach and kales, mushroom, some types of fruits, and non-food products such as aromatic and medicinal herbs, tree products, or medicinal cannabis where allowed by the law. There are other farmers who use these spaces to rear poultry and other small livestock animals such as chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, and fish among others.   

Benefits of Urban Agriculture

This type of farming has many benefits to the farmer and the community at large. It saves you the hassle of traveling to a farm to get fresh produce and is also known to be therapeutic to your wellbeing. Working on your small farm is an effective way of releasing stress and relaxing. It also puts you in harmony with nature in a predominantly concrete environment that makes up most of our cities today. Watching and tending to your plants as they grow and flourish is such a beautiful feeling. You can also make money from your farming efforts by selling your excess produce to your neighbors or the local grocery. Urban farming is not only a hobby but an enjoyable leisure activity as well.    

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