Are you fascinated and convinced of urban farming? With the rise of urban farming, the face of agriculture is changing on a global basis. Consumers are increasingly embracing local as well as sustainable agriculture. New startups, producers, and buyers are realizing the benefits associated with unused spaces and transform them into community gardens.
US college launches certificate program ‘Sustainable Urban Agriculture’
Meanwhile, it is even possible to refresh and extend your knowledge in the field of urban farming with the degree and certificate program called Sustainable Urban Agriculture. The College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, offers the opportunity to gain practical experiences within the urban agriculture lab.
Around 800 million people worldwide are raising animals or growing vegetables or fruits in cities
“Urban agriculture is a large movement across the country and it continues to grow,” said Brian Clement, Horticulture program instructor. “Restaurants are installing rooftop gardens in order to grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables. Cities and municipalities now have green roofs and expanding urban farms, and Chicago has been a leader in this area for more than a decade. You can even become an entrepreneur and grow organic produce that can be sold at farmer’s markets.”
The following eight seminars were specially developed for the education program:
- Introduction to Sustainable Urban Agriculture
- Principles of Agroecology
- Local Foods
- Introduction to Composting
- Urban Agriculture Issues
- Sustainable Vegetable and Herb Production
- Business Principles of Sustainable Agriculture
- Hydroponic and Aquaponic Production Systems
According to the college, the program also aims to contribute to the achievement of better food and communities. Furthermore, the students shall be able to analyze historical and current food systems in order to develop individual and optimized solution concept. Amongst other things, the college’s urban farm features ten raised beds. Two of them are made for organic production.
The increasing level of urbanization at the present time comes in alliance with the increase in urban food insecurity and urban poverty. It has been predicted that by 2020, developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America will be the home of more than 75% or urban dwellers. In addition to this, around 85% of poor people living in Latin America and around 40-45% of poor people living in Asia and Africa will be concentrated within cities. Alongside this, according to a report issued by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, around 800 million people worldwide are raising animals or growing vegetables or fruits in cities.
Urban agriculture also promotes local economic development & social inclusion of poor in urban areas
Developing a sustainable urban agriculture policy plays a very important role in reducing urban food insecurity as the cost associated with the distribution and supply of food to urban areas is increasing and which is also not capable of satisfying increasing demands. In addition to this, urban agriculture also promotes local economic development, social inclusion of poor in urban areas especially women, poverty alleviation, making urban areas greener as well as productive reusing of urban wastes.
Sustainable urban agriculture comes in several models. The first model in this category was presented by the visionary Dickson Despommier, microbiologist at The Columbia University. He proposed the idea of vertical farms that are multi-story and carefully-controlled structures and are utilizing the latest technology in aquaponics (hydroponic plants and farming fish within an enclosed symbiotic system) as well as LED lighting.
Additional models of urban agriculture are low-tech models and are planting directly within their acreage like Common Good City Farm. There are farms that are utilizing outdoor and indoor container gardening, greenhouses and mostly rely on indoor lighting to rack seeds. Garden Labs have initiated this type of urban farming in Philadelphia and New York.
Many sustainable urban agriculture models mix complex and simple agricultural methods. The pioneer of urban agriculture, Will Allen, started Growing Power in the year 1993 in Milwaukee with the traditional greenhouse plant growing methods and now also holds 15,000 square feet of space where urban farming is undertaken.
Food that is grown in urban areas includes many benefits like in times of abundance they may even cost less as compared to food transported from rural areas and in times of emergency, they are able to fill up a vegetable void. The best thing about sustainable urban agriculture is that although, they are of relatively small size, their yields often surpasses those from rural areas. Urban agriculture does not sustain over sales nor do they have any paid employees. Rather, these farms rely on cheap or volunteered youth labor that is paid little or almost nothing.