July 30th, 2011 by Chris Keenan
One of the most prized things anyone can have and enjoy is food. Food arguably is more valuable than all the gold in the world. It is necessary to survive on, but it also gives a special living experience when one takes pleasure in their food. In ancient times, it was common to have the food sources near where everyone lived. Over time though, thanks to the invention of roads and better vehicles for transport, food production was pushed further and further outside of the city. But increased population density and demand for food are not suited food being far away. There are a number of benefits to bringing food production back into our cities.
Urban agriculture grows the food right where it is needed the most. Farm lands get overused, so lots of chemicals and carbon go into making food a factory product. Many of us are aware of these issues, so we try to buy food that comes from places that use good practices for their food production such as no artificial fertilizers.
But the way to sustainability is to get food from the most local source possible. This ensures that the least amount of fuel is used to transport the food, and few to no chemicals are used to preserve the food.
Chefs and food experts are big advocates of inner city agriculture for other reasons; taste and variety. The great thing about buying local food is that the food adapts to the conditions around it. Some varieties of produce, called heirlooms, were specially cultivated in ancient times and are not sold to the mass market. The heirloom plants are often more nutritious and often more beautiful than the varieties we are most familiar with. Many chefs proclaim these to be far superior in taste than the mass produced varieties grown on industrial farms.
There’s another reason to practice inner city agriculture, one that’s even more necessary in today’s economic recession; job creation. Several inner city agriculture areas are in places that once were economically depressed. Projects such as the GrowHaus in Denver have taken urban agriculture to a new level by placing the urban farms in spaces that show a positive effect on the surrounding communities. Work and food are placed right near where people live; they need only walk out their garage door and they are but a few blocks from the local farm.
The GrowHaus and other project have stepped it up a bit by not just growing produce, but raising tilapia and other fish to fertilize the plants and using chickens to control pests. The eggs from the chickens and meat from the fish help to make complete meals. With new innovations such as vertical farms, the inner cities have everything to gain from such projects.
Food is one thing everyone takes pleasure in whether it is growing it, preparing it, or especially eating it. Inner city agriculture can help make this common thread more possible for everyone.
Image Source: Wikipedia
Keep up to date with all the most interesting green news on the planet by subscribing to our (free) Planetsave newsletter.