In this guest post, Blue Planet Consulting summer intern Ben Mickel responds to this recent article critcizing urban agriculture: What’s the REAL Problem with Urban Agriculture by Harkyo Hutri Baskoro
Before trying to answer what the problems with urban agriculture might be, lets first define what exactly urban ag is: Urban agriculture is the practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around a village, town, or city. (Bailkey, M., and J. Nasr. 2000. From Brownfields to Greenfields: Producing Food in North American Cities. Community Food SECURITY News. Fall 1999/Winter 2000:6)
This is a complex industry that exists at the intersection of Horticulture, Technology, Urban Planning and Food Security. There is so much positive support coming from the community and an influx of capital is driving the expansion of high tech urban agriculture around the world and sometimes its difficult to know if its all just “hype” or really part of the future of cities.
Growing Food in the Middle of the City is only Half the Story
Let’s address some of the cons Baskoro raised about Urban Ag. The first issue Baskoro addresses is whether or not it is “worth it to farm in the middle of the city” despite the fact that still most urban agriculture occurs not in the heart of most cities but in the peri-urban areas. In fact, some of the greatest opportunities for urban agriculture lie on the edge of the city where the land is cheaper but access to infrastructure and customers is still high. Lets stop thinking about urban agriculture simply as picturesque farms in the city and start determining how we can feed more of the city from nearby sustainable farms.