Urban farming is “often confused with community gardening, homesteading or subsistence farming. We’re happy to be thought of in such fine company but the fact is that they are very different animals. What distinguishes us is that urban agriculture assumes a level of commerce, the growing of product to be sold as opposed to being grown for personal consumption or sharing. In community gardening, there is no such commercial activity.” ~greensgrow.org
I came across this breakdown of what’s involved with Urban farming that I thought would help others out there who doesn’t know or haven’t head of Urban agriculture/farming before. All information below was taken from the Ruaf Foundation.
Types of actors involved
Large part of the people involved in urban agriculture is the urban poor. Contrary to general belief they are often not recent immigrants from rural areas (since the urban farmer needs time to get access to urban land, water and other productive resources). In many cities, one will often also find lower and mid-level government officials, school teachers and the like involved in agriculture, as well as richer people who are seeking a good investment for their capital.
Women constitute an important part of urban farmers, since agriculture and related processing and selling activities, among others, can often be more easily combined with their other tasks in the household. It is however more difficult to combine it with urban jobs that require travelling to the town centre, industrial areas or to the houses of the rich.
Types of location
Urban agriculture may take place in locations inside the cities (intra-urban) or in the peri-urban areas. The activities may take place on the homestead (on-plot) or on land away from the residence (off-plot), on private land (owned, leased) or on public land (parks, conservation areas, along roads, streams and railways), or semi-public land (schoolyards, grounds of schools and hospitals).
Types of products grown
Urban agriculture includes food products, from different types of crops (grains, root crops, vegetables, mushrooms, fruits) and animals (poultry, rabbits, goats, sheep, cattle, pigs, guinea pigs, fish, etc.) as well as non-food products (like aromatic and medicinal herbs, ornamental plants, tree products, etc.) or combinations of these. Often the more perishable and relatively high-valued vegetables and animal products and by-products are favoured.
Production units in urban agriculture in general tend to be more specialized than rural enterprises, and exchanges are taking place across production units.
Types of economic activities
Urban agriculture includes agricultural production activities as well as related processing and marketing activities as well as inputs (e.g. compost) and services delivery (e.g. animal health services) by specialised micro-enterprises or NGOs, etc.
In urban agriculture, production and marketing tend to be more closely interrelated in terms of time and space than for rural agriculture, thanks to greater geographic proximity and quicker resource flow.
Product destination / degree of market orientation
In most cities in developing countries, an important part of urban agricultural production is for self-consumption, with surpluses being traded. However, the importance of the market-oriented urban agriculture, both in volume and economic value, should not be underestimated (as will be shown later). Products are sold at the farm gate, by cart in the same or other neighborhoods, in local shops, on local (farmers) markets or to intermediaries and supermarkets. Mainly fresh products are sold, but part of it is processed for own use, cooked and sold on the streets, or processed and packaged for sale to one of the outlets mentioned above.
Scales of production and technology used
In the city, we may encounter individual or family farms, group or cooperative farms and commercial enterprises at various scales ranging from micro- and small farms (the majority) to medium-sized and some large-scale enterprises.
The technological level of the majority of urban agriculture enterprises in developing countries is still rather low. However, the tendency is towards more technically advanced and intensive agriculture and various examples of such can be found in all cities.
After researching this, I couldn’t happier that there are places within the US, that are taking their health and the health of the poor seriously, and doing something about it. That these programs have ways of putting funding back to them, through their own sales of what they harvest. How fantastic is that? Where I live, we just started doing a community garden, which is solely to supplement the local food bank, which never had any fruits or veggies. This should have been done years ago, but better late then never. My local program is run by one employee and the rest are volunteers. As we move forwards, I’m happy that more and more places are able to reap what they sow, especially in the cities, where land often lacks. That the innovations of others are giving people chances to eat fresh fruits & veggies, raising their own meats, & even so trying out their own seafood farms. It’s fantastic to see others getting back to their roots, in order to help & nourish their families.
Have you heard of urban agriculture/farming before? What do you think about this? Are there any similar programs where you live?
Today marks the 21st day of a month-long challenge that I’m taking part in called Blogging A to Z. If you’re looking me up on the list, I am #1100. My theme for this month is simple living. Are you doing the challenge? Leave me a comment so I can follow along. Feel free to share with me any ideas, thoughts, or topics of interest you would like me to cover. Join me each day for my Living Intentionally Simple A to Z.