Introduction to sustainable urban agriculture: Growing food and non-food crops in and around cities help engage residents in healthy communities in work and recreation, which in turn improves individual and public well-being. Urban agriculture combines some functions in densely populated areas that offer alternative land use. In addition to food production, urban agriculture offers a wide range of other functions such as energy conservation, waste management, biodiversity, nutrient cycling, microclimate control, urban greenery, economic rehabilitation, community building, human health, preservation of cultural heritage, and education.
Sustainability is the key to our future, and as urbanization continues to grow, the key to increasing global sustainability must be found in cities and how they are used and resources are provided. There is a lot of excitement about urban agriculture in the area, which we will describe here for our purposes as food production from homes or community gardens to large-scale cities and nearby. Sustainable urban agriculture plays an important role in solving the city’s problems in modern ways. Through urban agriculture efforts in green cities, environmental responsibility is enhanced. When inner-city residents can grow and market their food through farmers’ markets, which provide opportunities for businesses and commercial farmers, it leads to economic growth and community revitalization. Through access to and greater control of the food system, the social well-being of urban dwellers is improved by improving individual health and a sense of empowerment.
A step-by-step guide to sustainable urban agriculture, types, objectives, principles, and benefits
Urban agribusinesses have a relatively high priority on community building, environmental sustainability, and food sovereignty. They participate in the city’s formal governance systems and see governance as an opportunity to codify common principles. Achieving sustainable urban agriculture depends on policies and regulations, as well as social norms and rules, which collectively shape the city’s urban government. Urban community gardens have a positive impact on our communities, providing easy access to food for all while bringing people closer to the essence of agriculture. Modern urban farming also uses temporary structures that can produce food in small steps, including LEDs with fully enclosed hydroponic systems, moisture and heating systems for growing leafy vegetables.
What is sustainable urban agriculture?
Sustainable urban agriculture is the production of food and fiber products in urban environments using new, emerging, and traditional methods. To make production sustainable, it is essential;
- Environmental protection;
- include the humane treatment of animals;
- conserve natural resources and
- improve the quality of life.
Sustainable urban farming practices to improve environmental resilience and meet immediate food needs. Sustainable agriculture focuses on rural and traditional development solutions. As modernity embraces both the developed and developing world, it is important to pay attention to the importance of urban agriculture. It suggests that future priorities for research should be guided by;
- strategically identifying principles of sustainable urban agriculture that help policymakers design flexible cities, such as food and employment. To use flood-prone areas, and
- to test modern institutional mechanisms in practice, such as sustainable urban agriculture or payment of environmental services provided by urban agriculture, such as various land taxes for carbon sequestration.
Urban farming plays an important role in sustainable urban development. As more and more people live in cities, urban agriculture is emerging as an attractive source of food for citizens. At the same time, urban farming is an important strategy for reducing hunger and poverty, improving residential health, and mitigating and adapting to climate change. As the urban population grows rapidly and food security concerns grow, interest in urban agriculture has renewed in both developed and developing countries. The production of sustainable urban crops examines the growth and development of plants used for food, as well as factors affecting productivity. Production methods necessary to enhance food sustainability in a normal or challenging urban environment will be highlighted along with tools, techniques, and methods for growing productive urban crops.
Urban agriculture is seen as an alternative agricultural movement that advocates significant changes toward more environmentally sustainable agriculture than the traditional model of large-scale, highly industrial agriculture.
Goals of sustainable urban agriculture
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- Increase the environmental flexibility, sustainability, and economic viability of urban / pre-urban farming systems.
- Improve the metropolitan food distribution system to reduce food wastage on farms and meet the fresh produce needs of low-income urban consumers.
- Help realign the East Bay food system to achieve food justice.
Urban agriculture considers the important role of culture and values in agriculture and their relationship to sustainability. Urban agriculture improves access to fresh, nutritious food, helps fight childhood obesity, nutrition found in many urban communities, and poor nutrition, access to rare foods that are part of the cultural heritage of immigrant communities. Supports, and provides social benefits by improving racial relations.
Environmental sustainability in agriculture means good management of natural systems and resources that depend on farms. Among other things, it involves;
- building and maintaining healthy soil,
- managing water wisely,
- reducing water and air pollution, and
- promoting biodiversity.
Main objectives of sustainable urban agriculture
- Evaluate existing urban/peri-urban food access and food distribution systems and assess their effectiveness in meeting the food needs of low-income, food-insecure communities.
- Evaluate urban agriculture policies across the country that support a flexible urban farming system to identify effective policies.
- Research soil health and soil pollution to improve quality, safety, water retention, and urban soil productivity.
- Estimate how urban landscape structure harms or promotes beneficial insects and their habitats that contribute to urban pest control due to limited use of chemical control.
- Translate research findings into policy briefs, extensions, and educational materials and disseminate them widely to decision-makers, community advocates, and urban food producers and distributors.
Urban agricultural production techniques
Various urban agricultural products include many different plant crops (vegetables, cereals, tree fruits, ornaments, spices, seedlings, and plants, and flowers) and livestock products (milk, pigs, poultry, livestock, and aquaculture).
Four areas are particularly relevant for public support for urban agriculture;
- Integration into urban planning;
- Financial assistance;
- Research and extension for more profitable and sustainable deep commercial vegetable and animal systems; and
- Modern marketing, including quality labeling.
The municipality has an important role to play in coordinating such cooperation with national and international programs.
Sustainable urban agriculture certification
The Sustainable Urban Agriculture Certification Program is a 12-session in-depth training and field study farm tour that uses sustainable agricultural practices. In this program, participants will learn the techniques and strategies needed to grow fresh fruits, vegetables, and animals sustainably in an urban environment. Participants learn to work within city government ordinances and guidelines and to mobilize others within the community around the agricultural policy. Participants also learn to recycle available resources and waste items to promote healthy lifestyles and communities.
Basic principles of sustainable urban agriculture
Sustainability factors urban agriculture combines three basic principles of sustainability;
Environmental Health – Sustainable urban agriculture is conducive to environmental mental health as it requires less water input and less use of fertilizers and pesticides.
Economic Profitability – Sustainable urban agriculture reduces the cost of transporting local producers to local markets.
Social wellness – Sustainable urban agriculture provides opportunities for social interaction and individual recreation.
Theory and Principles of Sustainable Urban Agriculture – The principles of sustainable urban agriculture focus on the development of a healthy environment in an urban context. Find many ways to get a sustainable farming system, whether it’s a backyard, a rooftop garden, or a small farm that can help build a community that is safe from local food. There has been a fundamental change in the way we think about food today. The consumer is always more interested in how and where our food comes from. It is important to recognize that the way we grow food is linked to our sources of water, the air we all breathe, and what we eat. Potential crops, market opportunities, and business development strategies are explored.
Impacts and benefits of sustainable urban agriculture
Pollution – Urban planting helps clean air and water and creates a resilient aquatic environment Reduces heat and noise in urban areas, and reduces urban waste recycles and uses as a nutrient for plants.
Biodiversity – Protecting and improving the biodiversity of urban areas and increasing the resilience of the ecosystem
Climate change – Reduces global warming and improves microclimate and carbon sequestration.
Creating avenues – creates employment opportunities and expands business and expands the urban economy.
On-farm beneﬁts – higher yields and reduced return from land and food miles.
Community engagement – Community development / social capital building, awareness, education and youth development, and recreational opportunities, increased food security and access, and land access
Health Benefits – good health and fitness, good food and health literacy, overall well-being (mental health and physical activity)
Types of sustainable urban agriculture systems
Urban agricultural production in three scales;
(1) Micro-commercial scale (green roofs, green walls, courtyards, backyards, and street verges);
(2) Meso commercial scale (community gardens and allotment, urban parks) and
(3) Macro commercial scale
Types of Sustainable Urban Agriculture are;
1. The whole building refers to the practice of sustainable urban agriculture indoors in buildings. Buildings can be unused buildings that have been redesigned primarily for commercial use to grow sustainable urban agricultural products under artificial and/or natural light conditions.
2. Rooftop refers to the production of sustainable urban agriculture on structurally suitable and accessible roofs in urban areas.
3. Wall structure refers to the structural outer or inner wall of sound that is suitable and available for growing agricultural climbing and potting plants, such as Tomatoes, Grapes, Peppers, and Vining Pea Plants.
4. Wall hangers refer to a system of plants in pots that are attached to the outer or inner walls and connected to a built irrigation/feeding pipe system.
5. Commercial or communal greenhouses are greenhouse production of sustainable agricultural products from a small communal to a large commercial scale. These structures can be made into houses with recycled materials for collective use or can be large-scale using prefab construction methods for commercial use.
6. Free-standing frame structure refers to a range of scales with vertical structures, some of which are made of reconstructed materials including PVC pipes, blank bars, fence posts, and scrap metal frames are welded together.
7. Patio pots refer to growing vegetables and fruits in small pots in limited areas for recreational and private use, such as patios.
Ways to make urban farming more sustainable
Urban farms are increasingly popular in cities around the world. Sustainable farming models are now being cultivated in a diverse range of urban spaces, from rooftops to high-rise, enclosed buildings. These innovative growing methods prioritize sustainability, which plays a key role in ensuring that our urban creations have the least negative impact on the environment. Here are different ways to maximize sustainability on your urban farm.
Rooftop farming – Rooftop farming is a ‘top’ trend in urban agriculture. This method makes careful use of an urban space that is generally unused and its positive environmental effects are appreciated. Roof farms provide additional insulation for buildings, maintaining low temperatures in summer and warmth in winter. These factors translate into less use of heating and cooling systems, which saves significant amounts of energy and money.
Rooftop plants get moisture in the air, which means that rooftop fields also help reduce the flow of stormwater, which can contaminate waterways and undermine sewage treatment facilities. Due to declining agricultural land, roof farming can be a viable option for urban agriculture, especially in Indian cities. Roofs offer ample, otherwise unused open space for growing vegetables, making rooftop farming an attractive solution for feeding the growing urban population in the future. The process of growing food on the roofs of buildings is sometimes also called rooftop farming.
The term roof garden is appropriate for roof spaces that provide entertainment, recreation, and additional outdoor living space for the occupants of the building. These include planters, plants, dining and lounging furniture, outdoor structures, and automatic irrigation and lighting systems. While they can provide aesthetic and recreational benefits, a green roof is not necessarily designed for this purpose. Green roofs cannot provide recreational space and emphasis can be placed on improving insulation or improving overall energy efficiency and reducing cooling and heating costs inside the building. Roof farming is gaining popularity in urban areas as it is easy to handle, economical, and has a range of health and environmental benefits. It makes the city greener, simplifies waste management, improves air quality, and provides unadulterated, fresh, and nutritious food products.
Roof farming in urban areas has emerged as a viable option to deal with this situation. Roof gardens provide nutritious food throughout the year, which is enough for both high-income and low-income households. A wide range of fruits and vegetables such as Spinach, Cucumber, Cabbage, Citrus, Tomato, Garlic, Onion, Guava, Strawberry, herbs, and spices can be grown on rooftops.
Roof farming involves a variety of techniques such as aeroponic farming (farming without soil in the air), hydroponic farming (farming in nutrient solutions without using soil), and traditional agriculture (farming in the soil). Plants can be placed in container pots, fish crates, drums, plastic jars, bottles, and plastic bags. In addition, the entire floor can be filled with mud to make the concrete roof waterproof and denser. For those who want more complex and well-managed roof gardens, tower gardens can be maintained.
2. Vertical Farming – Vertical farms produce crops in vertical layers in a controlled environment. Most vertical forms are built with long closed structures, maximizing growth using height. This innovative approach to urban farming can help maintain year-round crop yields without relying on climatic conditions, soil fertility, or excessive water use. The establishment of vertical farms in urban areas can ultimately help create a more sustainable environment with fewer abandoned buildings, a cleaner environment, better water conservation, and a positive impact on the health of surrounding communities.
One of the natural benefits of vertical farming is its ability to eliminate pest damage when it comes to being more profitable than conventional farming. As well as saving money by not buying pesticides, it also means more consistency in terms of production. Urban crops say that vertical farming yields more crops per square meter than conventional farming or greenhouses.
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Vertical farming also uses less water, plants grow faster, and can be used year-round – not just in certain seasons. Facilities can also be built anywhere, in theory. Vertical farming in some cases allows ten times more crop yield per acre than conventional methods. Unlike conventional farming in non-tropical areas, indoor farming can produce year-round crops. All seasonal farming increases the productivity of the cultivated surface from 4 to 6 depending on the crop.
3. Shipping container farming – Recently, the use of shipping containers as urban farms has become increasingly popular. There are plenty of shipping containers that remain unused each year, free to use as indoor farms. These steel structures are durable, versatile, portable, and stackable: ready to be placed as container form on any site with a strong, surface finish. The potential of shipping containers provides many opportunities to create a closed ‘farm’ anywhere from your backyard to the corporate campus.
Compared to traditional fixed structures, container forms can be formed in a relatively short period. The key choices include which crop to grow, where to find the container form, how to price it, and how to advertise effectively to find the right consumers. These choices will affect the cost, but they mainly affect the revenue. Some of the most overlooked choices are the small daily decisions that are made to run the container farm successfully. The daily chores required to grow crops cannot be taken lightly. In some ways, shipping container farms have lower error margins than regular farms. When you are working with a lot of efficiencies, mistakes increase, but there are also rewards. Conversely, rapid growth times and year-round growing seasons mean you don’t have to wait a whole year for the next planting opportunity.
4. Hydroponic Systems – Modern emerging technologies have played a key role in the sustainability of urban farming. Hydroponics is the process of growing plants without soil, a technique commonly used in vertical farming. The controlled and closed environment of the hydroponic system generally eliminates the need for pesticides, i.e., less toxic chemicals on food and plants. Hydroponic systems can also recycle water and nutrients, putting less pressure on the water system. This sustainable way of growing has become a top choice for many large greenhouses. Hydroponics offers many benefits, especially a reduction in water use in agriculture. Hydroponic flowers, herbs, and vegetables are planted in inactive growing media and are provided with nutritious solutions, oxygen, and water. This system promotes rapid development, strong production, and high quality.
5. Aquaponic Systems – Aquaponics is one of the most sustainable methods of urban agriculture. Many farmers have adopted this approach to become more environmentally responsible and promote good health in their local communities. Many types of food can be grown without using too many resources. Only a few pieces of equipment need electricity in this process and in most systems, water circulates instead of being wasted after use. By using this method of indoor urban farming, you can eventually grow more food using less water, labor, and land.
Sustainable farming practices
During decades of science and practice, several important sustainable farming methods have emerged – for example;
Crop rotation and diversification -There are many benefits to planting a variety of crops, including healthy soil and better pest control. Crop diversification methods include intercropping (increasing crop mixing in the same area) and perennial crop rotations.
Planting core crops – Cover crops, such as three-branched or hairy wheat, are planted in non-seasonal times when the soil may otherwise be bare. These crops protect and build soil health by preventing erosion, replenishing soil nutrients, and reducing the need for weed control.
Reduce or eliminate tillage – Traditional plowing prepares the fields for planting and prevents weed problems, but can do great damage to the soil. No-till or reduced till methods, including inserting seeds directly into unprotected soil, can reduce erosion and improve soil health.
Implementing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – Several methods, including mechanical and biological control, can be systematically implemented to control insect populations while minimizing the use of chemical pesticides.
Integrating livestock and crops – Industrial agriculture separates plant and animal production, with animals living far from the areas where their food is grown and crops far from abundant fertilizers. A growing body of evidence suggests that a smart integration of crop and livestock production could be a recipe for more efficient, profitable farms.
Adopting agroforestry practices – By mixing trees and shrubs into their operations, farmers can provide shade and shelter to protect plants, animals, and water resources, while potentially offering additional income.
Managing the entire system and landscapes – Sustainable farms consider treating uncultivated or low-intensity areas, such as riparian buffers or prairie strips, to be an integral part of the field – to control erosion, reduce nutrients, and support pollinators and another biodiversity.
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