In cities across America, people are suffering. People in urban areas need for things economically, socially and politically. More importantly, as a result of all these factors, people suffer from hunger. If you were to walk through an inner city neighborhood in any state, you would notice one commonality. That commonality being the lack of access to healthy and nutritious food sources.
Throughout our history, we’ve structured our city neighborhoods in a way that makes them less favorable to large businesses. People living in these urban areas go without access to something we take for granted, grocery stores. The way we view these neighborhoods and the people that live in them remains unfair and without justification. The absence of adequate nutritious food sources for people living in inner cities is problematic. Urban farming initiatives provide marginalized people in our cities with the knowledge, materials, and spaces to ensure themselves with healthy and nutritious foods while also serving as an educational tool for people living these urban neighborhoods.
What is Urban Farming?
Urban farming is a broad term for the multitude of ways people can grow produce in small, urban spaces.Urban farming provides people in need with access to fresh food while promoting the importance of health and wellness and serving as an educational and economic opportunity for people living in urban areas. The mission of urban farming not only provides marginalized people with access to nutritious foods but also serves as a means of encouraging communities of people by delivering inspirational, educational and uplifting farming programs.
What Does Urban Farming look like?
Urban farming teaches people to use empty spaces, small spaces and build vertically while growing food for their communities. Urban agriculture does not include a one-size- fits-all approach. Urban farming looks like backyard beekeeping, rooftop gardens, community gardens, window box gardens, front yard gardens, vertical farming, and much more. Urban farmers learn to grow what they can, where they can and do so successfully.
Importance of Urban Farming
41.2 million people in the U.S live in households where they lack access to sufficient food to feed their families. 6.5 million U.S. children live in food-insecure households (Agriculture, 2017).
The consequences of food insecurity reach far beyond people just not having food to eat. A study completed by The Urban Institute found that food insecurity poses unique risks for adolescent populations.
The Urban Institute study found an increase in risky and or illegal behavior seen in teens from food insecure households (Susan J. Popkin, 2016). Hunger impacts a child’s growth and development significantly. Teens fearing food insecurity tend to engage in criminal behavior to obtain food forthemselves and their families. From shoplifting food to selling drugs to purchase food, this criminal act out of a need for food security has a lifelong impact on food insecure urban teens.
Urban farming enables communities to participate in the growing of their food which relieves food insecurity. Many urban residents lack groceries stores and transportation to stores outside of their communities. Urban farming provides lower cost access to produce while also allowing residents in urban areas to engage in the production of food.
Urban Farming Provides Economic Opportunities
Urban farming brings the power of local commerce to urban neighborhoods. The opportunity to grow and sell produce provides economic opportunities for urban residents through the exchange of the goods and services associated with urban farming. This microeconomy within neighborhoods centered on urban farming initiatives can stimulate economic growth for people within the neighborhood and that growth extends outside of the communities. Urban farming initiatives create job opportunities within the communities they are serving and uplifting.
Urban Farming Brings Communities Together
Urban farming requires organization and community collaboration. The educational, nutritional and social impact of urban agriculture gives struggling neighborhoods a common goal around which to organize the community. Urban farming benefits communities by creating a positive atmosphere where residents work together to improve the health and wellness of the community and its people.
Urban Farming Provides Educational Opportunities
Urban farming helps to address a joint problem within our food system. There is a systemic disconnect between the food on our tables and the awareness of how that food gets to our tables. Urban farming addresses this disconnect by educating community members on where their food comes from. Urban farming lifts up our entire food system one community after another. Urban farming provides food security, financial security, educational opportunities and avenues for economic and job growth. All opportunities which our urban communities need. Urban agriculture directly benefits people in the communities in which these farming spaces exist. Urban farming initiatives also help our food system as a whole. The most significant benefit of urban farming, however, is the social and economic impact on the people who desperately need and deserve these opportunities. Urban farming initiatives provide our communities in need with essential resources and the chance to have a positive far-reaching effect on our economy and our people.
Agriculture, U. S. (2017, October 4). Food Security Status of U.S. Households in 2016. Retrieved from: USDA Economic Research Service
Susan J. Popkin, M. M. (2016, September 11). Impossible Choices: Teens and Food Insecurity in America. Retrieved from Urban.org