Innovations in Urban Farming Feeding the future of cities

Urban Farming? Why Do we care?

This concept of Urban Farming has been driven by the challenges that cities and the global communities face. As the UN (2004) predicted, the world population will surpass 9 billion in 2050. This will result in drastic demographic changes, for the first time in history more than half of the world population will live in cities (FAO,2009). This unavoidable urbanization required new means for insuring food security. Those needs are the most prominent in large cities which consume two-thirds of the world’s energy (The World Bank,2016), and are responsible for more than 70% of overall CO2 emissions (UN Habitat,2011).
works of Graff (2011) combines spatial structures with agronomic factors. The bases of innovation is then on the level of control over production operations within the spatial structures available. This range of opportunities for innovation, along with the demand for food closer to consumer created interrelated dimensions for UA, Renting (2016) defines them as the following: Confined landscape, urban metabolism,organization of production, participation in urban landscape.

The diagram above explains that the core/traditional activities of Urban farming include “production, processing, marketing, distribution and consumption”, yet they its sphere of influence goes beyond its core activities into benefiting society in various ways. This includes, initiatives such as landscape beautification introduced by The Greening of Detroit where abandoned lots were turned into farming areas where wildflowers, shrubs, and trees were sold. Other benefits include education, most of community held UF’s also include teaching their neighborhoods about the art of farming, and simultaneously in the process simultaneously promotes community spirit and personal well-being.

Direct Value Creation

Today’s consumer demands locality, and the agricultural industry is in general experiencing a return to traditional ways of purchasing. A study conducted in the US by Rushing & Ruehle (2013) shows that people are willing to pay premium prices for local foods, across cultures and social status. This “local food movement” shows that there has been a growing interest in buying directly from the farmers. Furthermore, as the world is becoming increasingly globalized, and people have easier access to travelling, many individuals expect exotic produce with the best quality. (International Markets Bureau,2011). Urban farming creates value through targeting the needs discussed above.

In agriculture, the direct production of premium quality is synonym of the maturity of the product at consumption. Nowadays, in the industrialized agricultural system their supply chain works in the way that they harvest their products before they ripe in order to keep as much nutrients as possible before they reach its consumer(Lamikanra,2002).

On average, food travels 1500 miles before it gets finally eaten (Worldwatch Institute) During distribution, the fruits mature to a minimum level which will attract the consumer at the point of sale. However, with UF it will enable the supply chain to decrease immensely, and in the process make it easier to distribute fruits that ripe in matter of days rather than weeks. This will create more value in the consumer, and more benefits to the society by increasing the mineral and nutrient value of produce. (Midmore&Jansen,2013). Furthermore, as (Mattson 2003) claimed, positive sensory attribute will depend on three aspects. Those include the conditions where the product was grown, the variety grown, and how they are managed before harvested. For non-climacteric fruits (most of the leafy greens), even after harvest they keep breathing and therefore burn carbohydrates to create energy and in the process loses its water to the environment(Hedin,2015). The loss of water contributes in a decrease of enjoyable texture and feel during consumption. Throughout this process, lipids, acids, and carbohydrates are lost to create energy. This loss is what contributes the aroma, appearance, color, and taste of fruits and legumes, therefore the more time it takes after harvest before it gets eaten, the less premium quality it will have.

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Chadine Alj
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