Urban Agriculture in the USA, Farming Practices

Introduction to Urban Agriculture in the USA: What is urban agriculture? Urban agriculture, or urban agriculture, can be defined as the growth of plants and the raising of animals in cities, towns, and urban environments. Until recently, farming was largely a rural activity. However with the development of technology, the need to find more sustainable ways of production and consumption has led to the adoption of farming techniques in a more constructed environment. Urban agriculture is about producing food within city limits. It has challenges, but it also offers many benefits such as increased food security, reduced waste, community involvement, and more.

Urban farms play an important role in our cities. There are many different types of urban farms in different parts of the world. They can include commercial city farms, community gardens, community gardens, indoor vertical farms, hydroponic greenhouses, rooftop gardens, urban aquaponics farms (or fish farms), urban bee farms, and small-scale home farms. They produce a range of goods for local consumption or retail, such as cereals, vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, fish, herbs, and dairy products.

A Guide to Urban Agriculture in the USA, Farming Practices

In recent years farms have spread to both developed and developing countries, each of which generally serves slightly different purposes. Farms in rich industrialized countries are largely responding to the challenge of moving to local economies as well as finding more sustainable ways of agricultural production. In poorer countries, they have come through multi-partner efforts to tackle food insecurity and hunger.

Numerous resources for urban agriculture, including;

  • Office of Urban Agriculture and Modern Production to promote urban, domestic, and emerging agricultural practices;
  • Urban Agriculture and Modern Production Advisory Committee;
  • USDA Grant Authority to support the development of urban agriculture and modern production;
  • And pilot projects for high concentrations of urban or suburban farms.

How urban agriculture can improve food security in American cities?

In the United States, urban agriculture is growing as a result of the increasing availability of unused land and modern development. The development of farms improves the ability of community members to cope with social and climate change effects. Urban agriculture plays only a small role in improving the food security of an area. Lack of space and lack of economic incentives increase crop yields.

Urban agricultural production is a major part of the total food supply in developing cities. Urban farms increase the availability of nutritious food to the urban poor.

Urban crop production and protection in developing countries are limited by the illegal and polluting effects of urban farming, which reduces crop production. Because of urban sprawl on agricultural land, the future levels of production and the security of urban agriculture are uncertain. Urban farms can be the front lines of the food system.

Urban agriculture refers to agricultural practices that involve horticulture; animal husbandry, aquaculture, and the preparation of fresh food or other agricultural products and other methods are included. There are many different methods for urban agriculture, including surface farming, rooftop farming, hydroponics, greenhouses, and other new technologies. It has the potential to produce food for local use, especially perishable and high-value horticultural crops. There is a growing interest in the commercial cultivation of non-food crops in urban areas. Urban agriculture plays a key role in food security and is found in smart cities, which are deeply connected to urban economies, culture, science, and technology. It indicates that the city’s economic growth has reached a high level.

Urban agriculture includes;

  • Crop production, animal husbandry as well as fish farming in and around cities.
  • Food production as well as non-food production (flowers, trees, pot plants, for example) food
  • Processing and marketing of food and non-food products grown in and around urban areas.  
  • Uses compost and (untreated or untreated) urban wastewater as resources.
  • Can occur on open lands in the city as well as in the backyard or on the roofs.

Urban agriculture refers to the cultivation, processing, and distribution of agricultural products in urban environments that include vertical production, warehouse farms, community gardens, roof farms, hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponics facilities, and other innovations. Urban farmers and gardeners work among diverse populations to increase access to nutritious food, promote community involvement, provide jobs, and educate communities about farming, and green spaces can be expanded. It is part of a local food system where food is prepared in urban regions and marketed to consumers in the area.

Urban farming includes beekeeping, animal husbandry includes raising and raising livestock, aquaculture (e.g., fish farming), and aquaponics (e.g., integrating fish farming and agriculture). Citizens can also contribute to the rehabilitation of abandoned or used urban land, social and economic benefits to urban communities, and beneficial effects on urban landscaping.

Different types of urban agriculture

Backyard Gardens – It is cultivating food in the homeland. Its produce is mostly distributed among friends, family, and neighbors as it usually leads to harvest. Food can also be safe and secure. Backyard gardens use different methods to get better crop yields. An easy way to turn a lawn into a garden is with a sheet mulch technique. Cut the grass and then cover it with a layer of cardboard. Make sure the pieces overlap to prevent sunlight from reaching the lawn. After that, cover with at least 4 inches of mulch. Backyard gardens can range from a traditional vegetable garden to a small backyard berry or fruit orchard.

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Backyard Hydroponics (Image source: pixabay)

Street landscaping – It is the landscaping of roads for various purposes, such as community gardens, which locals like to use. Not only do they beautify the streets but they also clean the air and create a cleaner environment. Since they are mainly located on the side of the road, their added advantage is that they can reduce urban flow from stormwater.

Community Gardens – A community garden is a piece of land that has been gardened collectively by a group of people. In some neighborhoods, housing complexes, or even on city rooftops, community gardens can be planted by people who live and work nearby. These gardens help clean the air, absorb carbon emissions, and then provide healthy and fresh food for participants. Such efforts are usually carried out by volunteers who participate in the production of the garden. Community gardening is defined by its common nature. Gardeners work collectively to manage the garden for the common good.

Community gardens are plots of land that individuals or groups rent out for the benefit of private gardens or gardeners. Community gardens provide people with a place to work together to create a beautiful, productive space. Local gardeners say that by joining community gardens, spend more time with neighbors, meet new friends, and experience better mental and physical health.

Forest gardening – Forest Garden is a designed agricultural system based on trees, shrubs, and perennials. They combine to mimic the structure of a natural forest – the most stable and sustainable ecosystem in this climate. Choose an open, sunny spot for your forest garden. It has to do with the tradition of growing orchards in urban forests. In the urban environment, tree planting is completed by the production of various crops, vegetables, and fruits. Forests generally provide a favorable environment for crop production and for this purpose, they help to preserve forests and can make deforestation an integral part of the urban environment. Deforestation can also be part of deforestation activities, enabling the planting of trees in urban areas.

Greenhouses – This agricultural practice is done in residential, industrial, and public urban areas. They need enough land to rely on their crops. Greenhouses provide farmers with the opportunity to grow crops year-round because they provide a regular environment in which crops can be exposed to the different conditions required for production.

In case if you miss this: Future Trends In Agriculture.

Greenhouse Farming (Pic source: pixabay)

Hydroponics – Hydroponics is defined as the system for growing plants without soil. Instead, nutrients are added to the water in which the plants are immersed, or which is washed regularly at the roots of the plants. Gravel, perlite, or other materials can be used to provide more physical support to the plants.

Rooftop gardens – Just because urban areas have limited space does not mean they cannot practice agriculture. This is where the roof space comes in because it can be easily used to grow vegetables, fruits, and herbs. The downside of rooftop gardens is that they help reduce the island’s urban heat and increase air quality. In addition, rooftop gardens can be used to beautify recreational facilities.

Green walls – The green wall includes plants or food crops that grow on the outside or inside of the wall. It doesn’t take up much space because the system used helps provide enough water for the food and it uses the dirt on the walls. This is a good way to reduce the flow of stormwater.

Vertical farms – It theoretically consists of planting upwards to reduce the impression of agricultural property. Green walls can be used as a tool for vertical fields as they often use limited space and are done around the vertical wall. Vertical farming involves growing crops in layers that are standing vertically. It can be obtained by mounting it on shelves, or against specially modified pallets against fences or walls. It is usually combined with other modern techniques such as aquaponics or hydroponics in a climate-controlled environment.

How about this: How To Start Vegetable Farming In Australia.

Vertical Hydroponics
Vertical Hydroponics (Image source: pixabay)

Animal husbandry – For the urban environment, this is a way to rear animals for food. An urban dweller can choose a suitable place to catch different types of animals or focus on specific animals such as chickens, goats, rabbits, or sheep. Many towns limit the number of animals you can keep and even the type of animals you can keep.

Urban beekeeping – This is a possibility but comes with a lot of local government restrictions and regulations depending on the location and town. That said, beekeeping needs may vary from city to city. However, if done, it has many benefits for the local community. Bees are important to the ecosystem because they not only produce honey but also act as pollinators and promote biodiversity.

Aquaponics – It tells the tradition of rearing marine animals such as fish in urban areas. This requires the use of a device that collects stormwater from inside the city and then builds a self-contained circulating network in tanks or artificial fish ponds. It is an effective crop growth and alternative protein.

Benefits of urban agriculture in the USA

Urban agriculture can have a positive impact on communities in many ways. It can improve access to healthy food and promote community development. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego are California cities that have recently updated their municipal policies to facilitate urban agriculture.

Generally, urban agriculture accounts for 15 to 20% of the world’s food supply. It refers to the production of both food and non-food in urban and peri-urban areas. The urban population is more prone to food insecurity, as they rely on external sources for their food needs.

Urban areas can often become what are called food deserts, areas where it is difficult to buy good quality or cheap fresh food. If there are no grocery stores in your area and you do not have a car, the only source of food within walking distance may be a fast food restaurant and convenience store.

Nutrition – It improves access to healthy and culturally appropriate food sources. Having space for food development and sharing is especially important in non-investment and underwater neighborhoods, where finding cheap fruits and vegetables can be difficult. In addition, locally grown food and eating reduce the distance to our plates – which is good for our climate and our health, as food loses its nutritional value in transport.

Health – Although eating fresh food is beneficial in itself, increasing this diet also promotes physical and mental health. Working with plants – and putting our hands in the dirt – provides outdoor physical activity, relaxes, and reduces stress, anxiety, blood pressure, and muscle tension.

Environment – It improves environmental health and climate resilience in the face of increasing storms. Also, by expanding plant and tree enclosures, fields and orchards attract bee-like bees and keep the city’s neighborhood cool while minimizing the effects of the heat island.

Integrated Pest Management System – Urban agriculture requires less use of industrial chemicals, which limits the use of herbs, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides especially when you practice organic farming. Benefits vary in impact and depend on the type of agriculture and the methods of maintaining them.

Variety of fresh food available – Urban agriculture promises fresh food. The availability of fresh foods reduces dependence on processed foods, thus transforming into a healthier society and reducing the risk of lifestyle diseases such as cancer and obesity.

Urban farming has become popular in the last 10-15 years. In the developing world, this is largely due to the rapid urbanization of developing regions. The main drivers of urban development in these countries are the high birth rate and the influx of rural people trying to escape poverty. Unlike countries where industrialization has led to urbanization, in low-income areas it is often accompanied by poverty, unemployment, and food insecurity. Urban agriculture has been seen to address these three issues. In rich countries, the development of urban agriculture coincides with the return of localism, the development of local businesses, the beginning of social entrepreneurialism, and the moral mindset.

The growth of urban agriculture in the USA

Urban farming in the United States has grown by more than 30% in the past 30 years. Based on the survey 51 countries do not have enough urban area to meet the proposed nutritional target. It will need about 30% of the total urban area to meet the global demand for vegetables. Land issues and urban sprawl can make it difficult to free up so much land for food production.

It has the potential to improve the nutritional status of those who do not have access to nutritious food. People living in slums have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Consumption of food consists mainly of cheap, processed foods with low nutritional value. Even when fresh fruits and vegetables are available, they are often unaffordable. The urban poor spend 50 to 70% of their income on food. That’s double the cost to the villagers. Therefore, the poor are the biggest victims of rising food prices. When money is low, people will adjust their consumption of high-calorie foods with low-calorie nutrition.

The impacts of urban agriculture

Impact on businesses and the economy – Urban agriculture can have many positive effects in the USA. As well as providing opportunities for green finger traders to start new local businesses, it also creates employment opportunities for local people. In addition, farms can often provide cheap and fresh produce to local shops, supermarkets, and restaurants with positive effects.

Impact on the environment – Urban farming is a way to improve agro-environmental sustainability, but it can have positive and negative effects and is on the way to running and controlling farms. Farms can provide a more efficient way to meet local demand. If operated sustainably, it will have both the effects of agricultural energy (by eliminating the need for storage and transportation of imported products) and the effects of water (through sustainable irrigation and water recycling).

They can turn barren land into a productive green space and prevent it from becoming polluted. The majority of these sales come from farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture (CSA), and restaurants. According to aggregate sales figures, even 5% of urban farms cannot be considered. Most urban farms agree on the key challenges they face. Production costs, pest management, weed management, and climate. They also see profits, financing, and farm labor as major challenges in managing urban farms.

Cities in the USA for urban agriculture

New York City, USA

Low-income residents suffer from high rates of obesity and limited sources of fresh produce. City and local nonprofit groups have been providing land, training, and financial incentives in urban farming that have come from farmers, who often volunteer on their regular workday. In addition, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection offers a grant program for private property owners in New York City’s shared sewer areas.

Possible projects include green roofs, roof farms, and rainwater harvesting on private property in shared gutter areas. As a result of this grant program, New York City now has the largest rooftop farm in the world. Some urban gardeners have used the space to start a community or urban gardens. However, due to vehicle lanes and remnants of old structures, the soil must be tested for heavy contamination in the city’s soil.

NYC has long been an advocate of urban farming. Given the huge price of land and the scarcity of space, one would think that there are some farms in the city. Approximately, New York City has more than 550 community gardens on city property and more than 700 gardens in public housing development. The city pays close attention to education and reusing waste.


In California, farmers and educational institutions in Pomona Valley formed the Pomona Valley Urban Agriculture Initiative. Following the approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement, cheap grain from the United States flooded Mexico, driving farmers away from their land.


In West Oakland, urban agriculture has taken on a radical form that can be traced back to the community gardening initiatives that began in Berkeley and Auckland. The Oakland Housing Authority established housing schemes for blacks in West Oakland and whites in East Auckland. With contracts and redlining by banks, development capital was kept out of West Oakland, while the African-American population had limited opportunities to rent or buy homes outside West Oakland.

The Black Panther Party (BPP) played a role in the urbanization of urban agriculture in West Auckland. One of its social programs aims to improve access to healthy food for the city’s black population by providing breakfast in local schools, churches, and community centers.


Urban farming has spread rapidly in Detroit. Once home to about 2 million people, the city of Detroit has a population of less than 700,000. As a result of population loss, many places and properties became vacant. To get healthy food and beautify the neighborhood, residents began reclaiming land and urban farming. Small community gardens were transformed into large projects designed to address the problems of numerous non-profit food deserts and vacant properties.


Advocacy groups have led urban farming initiatives in the state of Illinois, including Chicago. In addition, municipalities and counties across the state, including Chicago, establish urban agriculture zones (UAZs), which help reduce financial incentives such as cheaper water rates, utility fees, and property taxes. In addition, the USDA has implemented outreach and technical assistance for the Socially Backward and Experienced Farmers and Farming Program transferred from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Challenges of urban agriculture

There are many challenges in urban agriculture. Urban farmers routinely face problems with zoning, soil, water access, and profitability. At the community level, noise and disturbance issues can come into play. This site aims to share research on both the benefits and challenges and the best ways to deal with them as farmers or local decision-makers.

Overcoming barriers to urban agriculture

Having such products in a test garden does not mean that it is viable for urban farmers in the Bay Area. Most urban farmers in California lack ecological gardening skills. They do not always improve crop density, and the University of California’s extension program cannot provide training about agricultural practices.

The biggest challenge is access to land. More than 79% of the state’s urban farmers do not own the property they cultivate. Another problem is that water is often unbearable. Citizens can deal with this by providing water to farmers at discounted rates, with the need to use efficient methods of irrigation. The ideal strategy to carry out land reforms like in Cuba, where the government provides about 32 acres to each farmer, just a few miles around the big cities that are interested in food production.

Cities have limited capacity to deal with food issues within their borders, and many food system issues need to be addressed nationally and internationally. However, city governments, local universities, and NGOs can do much to strengthen the food system, including agricultural training programs and policies for access to land and water. Make sure to raise public awareness of how urban farming can benefit modern cities in the USA.


If you plan to start agriculture in urban areas of the United States, this unique blog post might be helpful for good farming practices.


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