Urban Agriculture Claire Bongard


  • Arable: Land that is sustainable for farming. Usually the soil is fertile and the land is flat.
  • Fossil Fuels: A natural fuel, such as coal, formed from remains of organisms. Burning fossil fuels results in the destruction of the o zone.
  • Hydroponics: Growing crops with water, instead of soil.
  • Organic: Relating to, or deriving from living matter. Farmers recycle their soil, in order to save money and reduce waste, making the soil organic.
  • Commodity: Something that is bought and sold, and has some sort of value.
  • Produce: A food that has been grown, especially by farming.
  • Drip Tape: A tube with holes in order to drip water directly into the soil.

Is rural or urban farming more effective?

Urban farming can be more time, cost, and energy efficient than rural farming. Marc Oshima, marketing director and co-founder of AeroFarms, states, “Growing outdoors is more challenged than ever before, especially when you layer in the increasing volatility of weather and climate change and issues of food safety and pesticides. We need a new paradigm. Vertical farming gives us control over a lot of these variables.” Urban and vertical farming can be a smarter and safer method for producing crops. This is because a lot of money goes into funding a ranch, which is not always a smart choice when there are more cost efficient options. In fact, Ranchers and Farmers only get sixteen percent of every dollar that they make off their products, because they need to fund materials, marketing, transportation, and wages for their employees, if they can afford them. Urban and vertical farms provide a much safer and more efficient way to mass produce the exact same crop that would traditionally be grown on a flat-earth farm.

Where is urban farming used the most?

Urban farming is seen mostly in places that there is little land to have flat-earth farms, places that are overpopulated, or that have many natural disasters that could potentially destroy the land. Dickson Despommier, professor of public health and microbiology at Columbia University, says, “Commercial vertical farming expanded after the 2011 earthquake and tidal wave in Fukushima, Japan, destroyed a substantial amount of cropland. Japan has emerged as a leader in vertical farms.” Asian countries like Japan and Thailand are using urban farming methods, because natural disasters destroy the fertile farmland. Similar to Japan, China uses urban farming as a way to survive, because pollution spoils the land that would be used for farming. According to Cai Jianming, professor at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, “Surrounding farmland is being encroached, and pollution is a major public health problem. One-fifth of China’s arable land is contaminated.” This evidence shows that China has a harder time using rural farming methods, so they have turned towards urban farming.

What types of technology are used to mass produce crops?

Urban/vertical farming can also be called smart farming because of all the technology used to grow the crops efficiently. There is no need to use fertilizers, because the growing methods are so efficient. According to Tom Rogers, an almond farmer in Madera County, California, “Moisture sensors planted throughout the nut groves keep track of what is going on in the soil. They send their results to a computer in the cloud to be crunched. The results are passed back to the farm’s irrigation system—a grid of drip tapes that are filled by pumps.” Using technology to grow certain crops is a much more effective way to get the intended results. According to an article published by Athena Information Solutions, “All food crops are produced organically in vertical farms, as there is no need to use any pesticide. There are no pests first, and as it is the food production is so efficient, so there is actually no need to put any chemical pesticides and fertilizers.” Some people believe that urban farming is unnatural, but minimal chemicals, if any, are used to produce the same crops as on a flat-earth farm.

What foods are commonly grown?

Many different types of plants can be grown in an urban environment. According to Robin Horton, author at Urban Gardens, “The best vegetable for the urban garden is technically a fruit. The tomato is popular in many dishes around the world and used in a variety of sauces, from pizza sauce to salsa, and used in chili, soup, tacos, and even jelly-like preserves for spreading on bread.” Tomatoes are popular in urban agriculture because they can be used for a lot of different things, making them high in demand. As well as fruits, vegetables are important to urban farms. Kathy LaLiberte, founding employee of Gardener’s Supply, says, “Common vegetables for containers include, potatoes, chard, lettuce, peppers, eggplants, summer squash, Asian greens, pole beans, and don't forget herbs!” Growing fresh fruits and vegetables in cities is very important, because with all the fast food restaurants, they have the ability to influence people to eat healthier.

Can urban farming be a cure to famine?

Many people believe that urban & vertical farming can end world hunger if people are taught how to grow their own gardens. For example, students from Dakota Wesleyan University took a trip to Uganda to teach them how to farm, and support themselves. They used methods such as vertical farming and hydroponics to increase the rate that vegetables are able to grow. In Uganda, there are approximately 450 students to feed in a single school, so many students do not have access to a meal; the DWU students’ goal was to change that. If people are introduced to urban farming, they will be less likely to starve or be malnourished. In California, there is was a major drought, so most of the soil became infertile. According to Rachel A. Surls, sustainable food systems advisor, “Santa Clara County is among several California counties and cities now considering local implementation of AB 551, the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Act, which became state law in 2014. Once enacted at the local level, AB 551 offers a potential tax reduction for landowners who lease their land for urban farms and community gardens.” This means that many counties in California are turning towards urban agriculture, as a result of the soil being dry and infertile.

Works Cited

De Aenille, Conrad. “Farms That Rise to the Challenge.” The New York Times, 17 May 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/18/business/energy-environment/farms-that-rise-to-the-challenge.html. Accessed 30 Jan. 2017.

"The future of agriculture." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 11 May 2016. http://www.economist.com/technology-quarterly/2016-06-09/factory-fresh?scrlybrkr=9dfa2449. 30 Jan. 2017.

Bertsch, Sara. "Wesleyan students use winter break for trip to Uganda." The Daily Republic. The Daily Republic and Forum Communications Company, 16 Jan. 2017. http://www.mitchellrepublic.com/news/local/4200226-wesleyan-students-use-winter-break-trip-uganda. 30 Jan. 2017.

"Urban Farming." Congressional Digest 95.9 (2016): 13. MAS Ultra - School Edition. http://web.a.ebscohost.com/src_ic/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=6&sid=80f46b9b-08c7-4a72-8f3d-42f269d86f94%40sessionmgr4008&hid=4204 31 Jan. 2017.

"Using Vertical Farming to make Urban Areas a Farming Destination."ProQuest Newsstand, Oct 20 2015, https://search.proquest.com/docview/1723813780?accountid=42214. 31 Jan. 2017.

"Fast Facts About Agriculture." Fast Facts About Agriculture - The Voice of Agriculture - American Farm Bureau Federation. American Farm Bureau Federation, 2017, http://www.fb.org/newsroom/fast-facts. 22 Feb. 2017.

Jianming, Cai. "Urban agriculture makes China." China Dialogue. N.p., 26 June 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2017. <https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/7091-Urban-agriculture-makes-China-s-cities-more-liveable>.

Surls, Rachel A. "Urban Agriculture - Agriculture and Natural Resources Blogs." ANR Blogs. N.p., 9 Dec. 2016. Web. 22 Feb. 2017. http://ucanr.edu/blogs/urbanag/index.cfm?tagname=urban agriculture>.


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