The spotlight on urban agriculture is becoming increasingly important as it is recognized for its immense potential to contribute to global food production. By 2050, 86% of people in the developed world will live in cities, and 70% more food will be needed to meet the demands of an additional 3 billion people. It is essential now more than ever to find sustainable solutions to feeding these populations, one of which is the practice of urban farming.
The locality of the urban farm provides direct contact with food producers, which leads to fresher products, less food waste due to spoilage, and minimizes transportation mileage, decreasing carbon emissions. Furthermore, it offers considerable conservation of water and power, while providing a more efficient allocation of space, compared to traditional farming practices. It also contributes to food justice, as urban agriculture can serve as a tool to improve food access, and therefore food security in economically disadvantaged communities.
The main ways through which urban agriculture can be implemented are through vertical farms, rooftop farms, and community and backyard gardens. Vertical farms are tall structures with several levels of growing beds, usually lined with artificial light; the major benefits include reduced land footprint and ability to maximize square footage. This has the capacity to supply nearly ten times more growing area than traditional farms. Rooftop farms cultivate foods directly on roofs or in garden beds. The main proponents of rooftop farms are their ability to reduce urban heat island effect, improve air quality, and potential to be added to most existing buildings (perhaps as high as 95%). Overall, economies of scale, policy that promotes local food production, and social adoption are all necessary factors to broaden the implementation of urban gardening practices. One of the first and most impactful steps that can be made towards incorporating urban agriculture into communities is to engage other members and start visioning alternative methods of living with this home we call Earth.