Why Urban Farms are the Future of Food Productions
With almost eight billion people to feed, traditional agriculture is taking a toll on the planet. Luckily, new technologies in urban farming are changing the game. Now, food can be grown locally in places where it was previously impossible, without soil or light.
It’s no secret that some agricultural practices have a detrimental impact on the Earth. From the colossal amount of water needed, pollution caused, energy use, and destruction of natural habitats, it’s clear we need some new solutions.
By 2050, the world’s population is set to increase to 10 billion from the current 7.6 billion. On top of that, it’s estimated that two-thirds of the world’s population will be city dwellers. Cities attract humans like magnets, and humans need to eat.
With so many more mouths to feed agricultural yields are going to have to catch up. This combined with problems like water shortages and decreasing fossil fuels is a recipe for global starvation.
When we think of cities, we imagine every inch packed densely — high-rises that block out the light, smoggy air thick with exhaust fumes. When compared to farm-fresh rural living, cities appear environmentally irresponsible, unhealthy, and polluted. However, these ideas have been shaken up by forward-thinking concepts like urban farming.
The urban farming movement continues to grow and evolve as social entrepreneurs develop new technologies that enable food to be grown in the most unlikely places. Vertical farms are springing up everywhere from rooftops to office lobbies to World War II air raid shelters.
Here we take a look at why and how local agriculture is becoming an integral part of urban living.
What are the Benefits of Urban Farming?
Urban farming and vertical farming are innovative solutions that are starting to gain traction all over the world.
City farming enables more people to eat as “local” as possible. By growing food closer to those who will eat it, “food miles”, or the long distance transportation needed, is substantially decreased. When food doesn’t need to be transported, a lot of plastic packaging can be cut out of the equation, too.
Urban farming also makes it easier for urban populations to get the freshest food possible and encourages us to eat in season. An apple that is in season and grown locally offers us the healthiest version with the most nutrients. Urban farming also nourishes local economies rather than multinationals and corporate giants.
An added bonus is that in cities where it’s unlikely that you’ll know your neighbors, urban farming harnesses community interaction and connections.
Urban farms add much-needed greenery to our concrete jungles. Plants act as natural air-filters in our fume-filled cities. More plants mean better air quality and decreased ozone levels.
Interacting with nature also helps people to reconnect to the Earth. Numerous studies have shown that being exposed to plants can have a positive effect on our mental health. As hippy-dippy as it sounds, when people have a greater appreciation for nature and understand where their food comes from, they are more likely to want to safeguard the environment. Urban farming helps to eliminate the disconnect that comes with having access to a supermarket where you can get everything from quinoa to dragon fruits at any given time of the year.
Urban Farm Tech Overcomes Problems
Before I declare urban farming a food revolution, let’s address the countless problems that are probably swirling around in the back of your mind.
Land in cities is usually expensive and limited. How could there possibly be space for a ten-acre cabbage farm in Manhattan when most people can hardly find a square meter of living space?
Then there’s the fact that with skyscrapers comes shade. How can plants photosynthesize without sunlight?
With the right technology in place, these key concerns for urban farming can be overcome.
How Do Urban Farms and Vertical Farms Work?
Urban farms can be as simple as a small community vegetable patch or roof garden or as complex as an indoor vertical farm.
Vertical farms were developed especially for urban settings. They are planned out to maximize three-dimensional space for growing as many crops as possible.
These futuristic farms usually contain rows tined with plants rooted in soil, nutrient-enriched water, or even air. These rows are stacked up high and each tier is equipped with UV lighting that simulates real sunlight. These innovations allow farmers to bypass all the issues unpredictable weather causes and tailor conditions to maximize crop yield.