Introduction to urban agriculture in Australia and farming practices: Urban agriculture (UA) is also known as urban farming. It can be highly productive in terms of production per unit area, but production capacity is limited by available land. The main purpose of urban farming is to produce food within a city, but we also want to focus more on other resources available from the urban farming system. In Australia, urban planning plays an important role in ensuring the future sustainability of Australian cities.
Urban agriculture is becoming increasingly a topic of discussion in Australia regarding food security. More than 90% of Australia’s population lives in urban centers and relies on declining agricultural manpower to meet growing food demand. Long food supply chains, although economically efficient, lead to malnutrition and environmental consequences for society. The re-localization of food production will support and enhance Australia’s food system and has the potential to increase access to nutritious, affordable food for the extremely vulnerable.
A step-by-step guide to urban agriculture in Australia and farming practices
Urban agriculture manifests itself in different forms, often with different functions. However, within each category, the social ecosystem embedded in the urban system can vary considerably as a result of specific characteristics and factors. This has a profound effect on the feasibility and other farm practices when extended to the urban food system as a whole.
What is urban agriculture?
Urban agriculture is the process of planting crops and livestock in cities and towns. The purpose of urban farming is to provide food to the people living in these towns and cities, to make food accessible to the people, and to reduce the effects of carbon in long-distance transportation. By reducing the time and distance from farms, it can provide fresh produce to city dwellers without the need for extreme resource transport and storage facilities. Being a laborer, will also provide jobs and become a source of income and thus contribute to the alleviation of poverty. It focuses more on selling produce, as opposed to being grown for personal production or sharing.
Urban farming can contribute to the well-being of individuals and communities in many ways. They are, for providing fresh produce to communities, creating a sense of belonging to the community, creating jobs, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Australia is one of the most civilized societies in the world. In Australia’s cities, continued population growth is putting increasing pressure on infrastructure in urban environments.
Urban farming involves a wide range of food production projects and activities. And with the recent revival of farming in and around cities, people are reconnecting with agriculture by increasing their food and going to farmers’ markets. This rapidly growing trend has the potential to nurture communities and create economic opportunities.
Urban agriculture is popular for many reasons. In Australia, urban planning is done at every level of government. However, the federal government is increasingly contributing to the policy as part of the overall response to the development of climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. The local government has also been working with the community to make decisions on the design of urban planning that helps promote social cohesion. Urban agriculture and urban food production can include;
- Growing vegetables and fruits
- Raising livestock, especially poultry
- Beekeeping, aquaculture, hydroponics, and aquaponics
- Value-adding (e.g. preserving)
Urban agriculture and urban food production can be available in many forms and on different sites such as;
- Private gardens
- Land owned by private entities/businesses, including roofs and vertical gardens.
- Privately owned land, including vacant lots awaiting growth
- Ownership of public / public-private utilities
- Publicly owned land, including nature strips/edges, and street boxes.
Urban farming has been especially helpful for poor women in urban areas as it provides a means of meeting the nutritional needs of their families and earning some income while working close to home. The UA has an important role to play in urban environmental management as it can counteract the effects of the island of urban heat and act as an urban lung in addition to providing visual appeal. The Food and Agriculture Organization has long recognized urban agriculture as a key element in food security strategies. However, for the UA to be formally recognized and integrated into the urban planning process, it must be successful.
Urban agriculture has been identified as a solution with the potential to minimize these effects and provide several benefits in addition to food production. Urban agriculture can contribute to the well-being of individuals and communities in many ways: promoting local food systems, contributing to food security, promoting economic growth, strengthening social inclusion, and promoting urban biodiversity and environmental health.
Benefits of urban agriculture in Australia
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- Urban farms are grown in city centers and other densely populated areas, so they are closer to their customers than field farms.
- Urban farms can help low-income communities increase food security by providing affordable and fresh produce.
- Some important examples of urban farms include indoor farms, rooftop greenhouses, vertical farms, and community gardens, etc.
- Urban farm reduces the need to buy and build new land by rebuilding indoor and outdoor spaces. They can be run by one person, one family, or even an entire community, creating jobs and volunteering opportunities that help people build new skills.
- Urban farming allows you to start small using your space. This is a huge advantage because it is expensive to buy land or buildings for large-scale operations.
- It helps to build a strong community by mobilizing the economy and providing mutually beneficial experiences.
- Urban agriculture teaches you that you don’t need much space to grow your food. It helps you make the best use of space while growing all the food you want.
- Urban farms can be made multifaceted by providing space for social gatherings, which strengthens relationships between community members.
- Urban agriculture helps you to grow food wherever you have space, such as container gardening, hydroponic gardening, and rooftop gardening. This means you can control where you grow food, and worry less about environmental conditions such as drought or cold weather.
With the growing demand for food for a growing urban population, as well as the inherent dangers of relying on the global food system, many city governments are developing planning strategies for implementing urban agriculture in a variety of ways. Appearing in different forms, often with different functions, urban agriculture has the potential to contribute more than food to urban dwellers, but also to meet different social, economic, and environmental needs.
Different types of urban agriculture are generally grouped by character (e.g., community gardens, urban farms, edible school gardens, and rooftop hydroponic systems). However, within each category, Embedding can vary greatly as a result of special features and actors. Using the concept of urban food systems, this paper assists in experimental, quality research on urban farmers’ access to resources through social networks in the context of Sydney, Australia, to maintain and implement commercial urban agriculture. It is a more flexible urban food system to better understand the potential drivers and problems.
Urban agriculture has helped communities in both developed and developing countries deal with food insecurity, ensuring local availability of nutrition and affordable food. However, more cooperation is needed from federal, state, and local governments to ensure that benefits are reaped in Australian cities.
Site selection for urban agriculture
Site selection for urban agriculture must be based on some factors like;
- The availability and availability of suitable land with a length of time;
- Soil quality, drainage, and history of land use;
- Noncontiguous lots;
- Water access to growing;
- Location in a growing area – An extremely visible and strong neighborhood with proximity to public transport;
- Strong neighborhood support;
- Low levels of traffic congestion;
- Support traffic Low traffic congestion;
- Adequate hours of full sunlight.
Most importantly, the built-in and natural environment must be considered, and hence the role of planning is necessary. The plan will require some tough decisions and compromises between overlapping needs and wants within disputed urban land space. Urban farming is just a way to keep in touch with neighbors and keep green spaces safe. It encourages the community to know where the food comes from, how it grows, and to connect with the people who grow it.
Importance of urban agriculture in Australia
Urban agriculture is also called urban farming. In general, it refers to growing plants and raising animals that produce food in a city or town. This includes processing and then distribution that is produced throughout the city. You can grow food where it was previously difficult or almost impossible. Future fields can be designed in different ways, but most of them are rows of racks attached to plants that are attached to nutrient-rich soil, water, or just air.
High housing prices and volatile food prices are leaving a growing number of households in need of help from organizations such as the Foodbank. The re-localization of food production, processing, and consumption is hotly debated as a solution to the high cost of long, complex supply chains. It offers an opportunity to support domestic food security. The safety of agriculture and the risks of soil pollution can be effectively reduced through better regulation and training. Regular networking and knowledge transfer are required including rural and urban farmers. This will ensure coordinated, timely, and effective responses to biosecurity threats.
The Urban Food System in Australia
The urban food system is largely dependent on the geographical footprint (local to global), resources (land, seeds, labor), and cultural conditions.
As the growing population in urban areas demands more food supplies, as well as the need to create urban migration and livelihood options, there has been an increase in urban agriculture worldwide.
Urban agriculture uses urban resources, for example, land, labor, civic organic waste, and water, for civic citizens, is severely affected by civic conditions, such as policies, land values, urban markets, and prices, and affects the urban food security and impacts on poverty, environment and health impacts.
The location of urban agriculture mainly includes greenbelts, vacant or under-utilized city lots, community gardens, fish farms, and greenhouses. Urban fringe is a uniquely dynamic location that typically moves farther away from the urban core as the city moves outward, but it is always within the city’s sphere of influence.
Planning tools and legal framework for urban agriculture in Australia
The two main planning tools for managing land use and development in Australia are strategic land use planning and land use control. Strategic land-use plans cover large land-use allotments for the future and are managed by the respective state governments. In addition, each local council controls land use in its area through zoning, identifying land suitable for development, and setting a standard for controlling its use.
Urban planning policy in Australia has paid little attention to supporting urban agriculture. Urban agriculture is introduced in Australian cities in the form of suburban food production. However, many regulatory measures have recently been taken to curb potential agricultural land development in urban areas. At the local level, the inclusion of agriculturally sensitive urban designs has begun. Melbourne’s planning strategy, for example, emphasizes the need to protect high-quality agricultural land with and without backward urban land for food production in and around the city. The Queensland city of Brisbane has taken the lead in facilitating access to fresh food in urban environments, establishing community gardens, providing space for farmers’ markets, and protecting agricultural land for food production.
Urban agriculture consists of multi-functional activities, including food production, transportation, processing, and sales, as well as waste use and management. Because of this multiplicity, urban agriculture can be done through a variety of land uses, such as community gardening, rooftop gardening, animal husbandry, composting, and farmers’ markets.
Land-use planning can strengthen, encourage, regulate or prevent such urban farming practices. Cities can directly or indirectly influence these different urban practices through policies, zoning arrangements, and programs. Local councils can use planning rules to manage both public and private land to promote urban agriculture. They have the right to use public land that can be licensed or leased and through zoning, they can order how any land can be used. In most countries, urban agriculture is not recognized as an independent category of land use in municipal zoning projects. Zoning is the main driving force behind city planning, and through it, the local government controls how its ‘built environment’ develops. In this case, the planning law can be applied to control proper zoning and development on private land, which mandates the allocation of space for local food production in existing and new urban areas.
Food security support for urban farming in Australia
Food insecurity in developed countries is most experienced by low-income households who struggle to overcome economic barriers to buying fresh, nutritious food. Urban agriculture has proven to be affordable and improves access to food, but urban farming initiatives often need help to stay active. Urban agriculture as a viable career can also provide the added benefit of generating growing public interest in agriculture, by creating more extensive knowledge and interest in food production. Australia is facing a shortage of qualified professionals in the agricultural sector. This is expected to harm the future status of food security in Australia. This lack of interest is linked, among other factors, to increased contact between people and food production due to the development of citizens.
Urban agriculture can support the Australian Government’s goal of bridging the gap and promoting agriculture as a career choice. Interest in urban agriculture is growing in Australia. This is linked to the growing awareness of the food production system, the ‘food mails’ and ‘local buying’ campaigns, and the growing concern about the freshness, quality, and nutrition of the food eaten.
Community gardens are places that are open to the community to grow food for their personal use. These gardens are often planted on vacant blocks, undeveloped land, and in some cases on public parks and terraces. It is difficult to calculate the exact number of community gardens in urban centers, as there is no unified network of community gardens. Through the community gardens directory, the informal Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network (ACFCGN) are mapping the Australian Community Gardens. Community gardens in Melbourne can be found on the DHS (Department of Human Services). Four community gardens are managed by DHS, while 21 public housing community gardens are supported by a “Cultivating Community”, a community organization contracted by the DHS (Department of Human Services).
Integrating urban agriculture in Australia
As a profession, agriculture planning aims to improve the health and well-being of communities and individuals through the rational management of resources, facilities, and land. Integrating agriculture has become a burning issue in developing countries around the world. Urban planners can play a key role in planning to increase access to quality fresh food by changing urban agricultural characteristics to address current issues and future challenges such as protection of agricultural land within city limits, zoning, and land use, incorporating local food activities into economic development and address the environmental impacts of the food system as a whole.
Urban agriculture planning and policy development
State governments are responsible for urban planning in their areas. The state strategy has begun to incorporate more ‘agriculturally sensitive’ urban designs. However, research has shown that this action is being taken mostly at the local level, rather than the state and federal governments. The metropolitan planning strategy reflects the growing focus on food production in urban areas.
In addition to food production, urban agriculture has the potential to serve a wide range of ecosystems, which play a significant role in green/blue infrastructure work and mitigate climate change. However, to maximize the many benefits of urban food production, urban agriculture must adopt sustainable farming methods (e.g. organic farming, use of agricultural methods), active integration into the urban fabric, and protecting important areas of biodiversity.
Urban agriculture is a great solution for vacant and less-used spaces in cities, and many projects make effective use of roof space. Community gardens and high beds instantly transform spaces into more vibrant and edible landscapes, giving individuals the opportunity to take responsibility for shared land and become more involved in their communities.
The future of urban agriculture in Australia
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Urban farming reduces the carbon footprint of mass production. This concept provides healthy food that is affordable and accessible to those who need it. The future of urban agriculture will be utilized to improve automation in internal urban development, save valuable resources, improve sustainability, and address growing urban food insecurity.
Urban farms can be simple. These complex, futuristic fields can be arranged in many ways, but most of them consist of rows with nutrient-rich plants, nutrient-rich water, or air. Each level is equipped with UV lighting to mimic the effects of the sun. Unlike the unpredictable season of outdoor farming, growing indoors allows farmers to adapt to the conditions for maximum growth.
Urban agriculture offers a wide range of social and environmental benefits, from the productive use of vacant urban spaces to absorbing stormwater as community space that would otherwise be discharged into nearby waterways. The most common threat to growing food in the city is soil, which is contaminated with lead and other heavy metals. However most agricultural colleges offer low-cost soil testing, and if pollution is a problem, building high beds is an easy solution. Urbanization is destroying the rural areas of the world’s farmers.
Urban agriculture can help cities achieve higher levels of competence. As the world becomes more urbanized, the demand for food will come mainly from the urban population, while fewer rural farmers will produce food on less land with less water. In addition, poverty is likely to shift from rural to urban areas. Urban areas may have a major role to play in food security. But it requires supportive activists, such as new farming methods and technologies, new thinking and policies from policymakers, politicians, and consumers to embrace new types of food and unconventional food production methods. Urban agriculture is the growth of plants and animals within cities. It is estimated that it currently accounts for 5 to 20% of the world’s food needs. Developed countries have seen significant growth in urban agriculture in recent years, thanks to high value-added agriculture, promoting the ‘Garden City’, expanding community gardens and rooftop planting, and promoting environmental sustainability. Pollution from particulate air pollution is still not a problem in the cities concerned because of selected locations or discharge technologies such as “plant factories”.
Barriers and challenges to funding for urban agriculture in Australia
Funding cuts were obtained from AUSVEG (Australian vegetable), Australia’s largest industry representing Australian vegetable and potato growers, which claimed that community gardens posed a threat to biosecurity. However, the risk is very high. By the Bureau of Rural Sciences found that smallholder farmers in Peri-Urban Australia are not at greater risk of biosecurity than any other segment of the population. The risks of contamination of urban food farming can be combined with the perception of food production in open cities, food safety, and the risk of contamination in food products. There are three main threats to horticulture in cities and urban environments: soil, water, and air pollution. There are three types of air pollution are;
(1) Not accumulated in plants,
(2) Transport vectors of pollution, and
(3) Pollutants that are collected in plants. Within a city, there are many sources of pollution: such as traffic, industries, and heating.
Biosecurity risks arising from urban agriculture and can be managed through permits, which will only be issued to urban farmers who have received the necessary training to prevent biosecurity risks. The health risks associated with contaminated soil can also be minimized by ensuring that soil is tested before permitting. Policymakers need to focus on developing strategies that will reduce the barriers for urban farmers to receive the necessary training in biosecurity and provide easy access to consulting and soil testing services. This should be facilitated through partnerships and meetings between regulatory bodies, such as the Department of Agriculture and Research, and representatives of urban and rural agriculture, to ensure that biosecurity risk mitigation is coordinated, timely, and effective. The establishment of an integrated body representing the Urban Agriculture and Community Gardens Network in Australia is necessary to make this process possible.
The rapid population growth and the horizontal trend, rather than the vertical city expansion in Australia, are leading to the use of more land in and around cities. Urban planners need to consider food productivity an integral part of urban development planning and a way to help build a more flexible urban food system. In addition, investing in alternative farming methods, such as green roofs and vertical farming, will be important in ensuring that adequate amounts of fresh, affordable, and locally prepared food are available for densely populated urban areas in the future.
If you live in Australia and plan to start Urban Agriculture/Urban Farming, this article may help you to understand the process of Urban Agriculture in Australia.
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