Urban agriculture is without a doubt an expanding phenomenon, or you might even say (pardon the pun) — a growing field. While the abundance of available land in post-industrial cities is great so to are the barriers to an urban harvest. Issues such as lead contamination and mitigation, property rights, and garden ownership can limit the harvests of projects with grand ambitions.
Luckily, the quantity of food produced is one of many benefits of community gardening, seen in tandem with community building and neighborhood beautification. It is perhaps, however, the defining aspect of urban agriculture. As urban projects scale up from garden to farm, production becomes increasingly important. A recent BBC article asks the question, Can City Farms Feed a Hungry World?. Citing vertical farming and hydroponic innovations, the article concludes optimistically that, “Urban agriculture has the potential to become so pervasive within our cities that by the year 2050 they may be able to provide its citizens with up to 50% of the food they consume.”
No one knows what the future will hold, but another recent, well-written article in Next City also caught my eye. Beyond Adorable, Creating An Urban Ag System Smart Enough to Matter does a great job of bridging potential and reality in it’s assessment of Cleveland’s urban agriculture system. The learning curve is steep but little by little we are learning to grow food in our human-made ecosystems.
A view of the Ohio City Farm. Credit: MMW Horticulture Group.