Urban Farming Techniques; Types; Ideas; Benefits

Profitable urban farming Techniques

Today’s topic is Urban Farming Techniques, Urban Farming Benefits, Urban Farming Types, and Urban Farming Ideas.

Urban farming is a location where farming or gardening occurs within a city or urban setting. Urban farming is also known as urban agriculture, or urban gardening. There are many challenges unique to urban farming that does not exist with conventional, rural agriculture. Space is the primary one, along with pollutants unique to the city and the partial amount of natural lighting.

The main purpose of urban farming or urban gardening is the practice of cultivating, processing and distributing food in or around urban areas. Urban farming can be described as any form of food and non-food growing or processing of produce that is sold to consumers both within and on the margins of an urban area.

Urban farming essentially refers to growing plants and keeping animals that produce food within a city. It may encompass processing and then distributing that food throughout the city. It may or may not be organic, but most instances of urban or city farming can at the least be classified as ‘sustainable’. Now let’s get into details of urban farming techniques.

Types of urban agriculture:

Types of urban agriculture include;

Allotment gardens: An allotment garden is a plot or parcel of urban or suburban land made available for individual, non-commercial gardening or food growing and recreation. This kind of garden can consist of a few or up to several hundred individuals cultivated allotment plots which are used by individuals or families as part of an allotment site and are a very important feature in the urban landscape. Allotment gardens combine utility, recreational benefits, social meaning, aesthetic beauty, and numerous ecosystem services.

Community gardens: Community gardens are an emerging form of urban farming. They often arise from self-organized, bottom-up and “guerilla gardening” movements in response to social crises or economic crises. Such gardens can vary in size, from single plots on a vacant lot in a neighborhood with bigger projects. These types of gardens are often used to experiment with combining agricultural and social practices. They are increasing recognition for enhancing social inclusion and strengthening social networks in cities.

Community Garden.
Community Garden.

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Community farms: These community farms tend to be communal growing spaces that engage the surrounding community in small-scale food production. While these are generally open to all community members to participate in and enjoy, the farm management decisions, regarding the choice of crops and harvesting times, are handled by experienced farmers. Community farms can assist in improving the quality and quantity of food obtainable locally while reducing the environmental impact of food production.

Institutional farms and gardens: These gardens are associated with an institution such as a company, church, school, etc. whose main purpose is not necessarily food production, but who may share the same health, ecological and social goals that urban agriculture supports.

Commercial urban farms: As farmlands become increasingly marginalized, there is a need to explore urban agriculture on a more commercial scale. Commercial farmers try to intensify crop productivity in order to get profitability but may contribute to the health and ecological goals of the broader urban farming community if they execute sustainable farming practices that are sensitive to the local ecology.

Maximum yield explains urban farming:

An urban farm can contain rooftop agriculture or the cultivation of vacant lots. In almost all cases of urban agriculture in some form of intensive or vertical gardening should be utilized due to space limitations. Greenhouses are a  popular form of urban farming.

Most urban farms produce, perennial plants, although others create more specialized plants such as poinsettias or orchids under carefully controlled environmental conditions. Some plants that need vast stretches of acreage like corn or grains just are not practical for the constraints of an urban farm. Due to space limitations, horticulturalists should be creative when designing for rooftop intensive gardening in raised beds or vertical gardening in the small spaces between buildings.

Vertical farming is a common process of urban farming and often takes place in an interior environment with carefully controlled conditions and lighting. Some vertical farms with conditions related to greenhouses use natural light and solar heating. Other vertical farms are totally indoors and use artificial lighting, and humidity and heating equipment.

Urban farming techniques in India

Urban Farming in Greenhouse.
Urban Farming in Greenhouse.

In India, most urban farming or urban agriculture is carried out on private land for private consumption. The trend worldwide is however different. Public as good as private land is used, and produce is generally sold in nearby markets. While the idea does not seem particular or unique, especially for those already practicing roof-top or kitchen gardening, the importance of urban farming has been recognized as a sustainable and desirable practice worldwide for various reasons.

Besides producing food, urban agriculture is also a job and income generating and enables food safety and food security for its growers as well as consumers. In addition, consumers get fresh and quality produces on a regular basis, generally perishables like fruits and vegetables. Since the product does not want long-distance transportation, it is also energy-saving. In countries such as Cuba, urban agriculture has not just been a success but is extremely important for both food securities in the city as well as in providing employment.

The importance and requirement for urban farming will only grow over the coming years as transportation costs and distances keep increasing. With the corresponding increase in produce age, food quality will steadily reduce. The requirement for urban agriculture to succeed in India is freeing up land that can be used for cultivation.

In India, there are two starkly contrasting varieties of urban farming. They are;

Urban farmers by choice: A relatively recent crop of startups and small companies catering to eco-conscious and organic-friendly urbanites who want to produce their own rooftop fruits and vegetables. Plentiful sunlight and relatively friendly year-round weather mean that growing number Indian city-dwellers have effectively taken to rooftop farming.

Urban farmers by default: Small-holder farmers that subsist (and sometimes operate successful businesses) on patches of agriculture-zoned land that have regularly been enveloped by urban development.

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Policy perspectives on urban agriculture:

It is useful to distinguish three major policy perspectives on urban agriculture each associated with different types of urban agriculture.

Social perspective: The social perspective is mainly associated with subsistence oriented types of urban farming that form part of the livelihood strategies of urban low-income households with a focus on creating food and medicinal plants for home consumption. In addition, the family expenses on food and medicines are reduced and cash is generated from sales of surpluses. These households seek out multiple added income sources for their survival. Examples contain home gardening, community gardening, institutional gardens at schools and hospitals, and open field farming at microscale with low levels of investment. These systems explain little direct profitability but have important social impacts such as enhanced food security, social inclusion, poverty alleviation, community development, etc.

Economic perspective: The economic perspective is mainly related to market-oriented types of urban agriculture. Activities generally involve small-scale family-based enterprises and sometimes larger scale entrepreneurial farms run by private investors or producer associations. The activities did not include food production (example; irrigated vegetable production, stall-fed dairy production) but also non-food products (e.g. medicinal and aromatic herbs, flowers, ornamental plants). These commercial farms are associated with small-scale enterprises and larger enterprises involved in the delivery of inputs (such as seed, compost, fodder, agro-chemicals) and the processing and marketing of agricultural products. These types of urban farming have a more pronounced economic impact and higher profitability, but their externalities for the city and urban populations, particularly those of the intensive larger scale enterprises, tend to be higher particularly through risk of water and soil contamination due to intensive use of agrochemicals, health risks from use of contaminated water for irrigation and risks of animal-human disease transfers (zoonosis).

Ecological perspective: The ecological perspective refers mainly to types of urban agriculture that have a multifunctional character. Besides the provision of food and generating income, they can play a function in environmental management for example, through nutrient recycling via decentralized composting and reuse of organic wastes and wastewater. They can provide other services demanded by urban citizens. Urban greening, development of the urban climate, keeping buffer zones and flood plains free from construction, provision of opportunities for leisure and recreational activities, stormwater storage and flood prevention, etcetera. In order to enable such a grouping of functions, urban and peri-urban agriculture will have to adopt agro-ecological production methods, link up with eco-sanitation and decentralized sustainable waste management systems, as well as becoming component of the planning and management of parks, nature reserves, and recreational services.

Benefits of urban farming

Some of the benefits of urban farming are explained below;

Land regeneration: In several cities worldwide there are parks and open spaces that are vastly under-utilized. The successful Chicago urban farmer discussed earlier is one example of what is possible in spaces waiting to be developed or even in under-utilized sections of public space. Urban agriculture can create positive activity within these spaces and contribute to the reduced maintenance expense and has implications for the decrease of crime and increased personal safety.

Income generation: The main factor that will be addressed in detail in a later section is the income generation potential of urban agriculture. Many less developed countries have well developed urban farming as an integral part of their cities, but as the earlier discussion has suggested, for quite different reasons commercial urban farming remains under-developed in “western” cities.

Reduce carbon emissions: By localizing produce, urban farms cut down on the major amount of fossil fuel consumption necessary to transport, package, and sell food. Urban farming helps consumers reduce their “foodprint” by providing them the opportunity to purchase food that was grown within their community.

Innovative techniques: As city spaces lack the wide-open fertile grounds of traditional farming techniques, urban farmers are tasked with finding creative solutions to dealing with challenges like waste, space, resources, and energy. Because of this, more efficient innovations are created to develop the quality and quantity of food that can be produced with the least amount of resources. (For example, the vertical aquaponic systems of the growing experience in long beach produce 3 to 4 times as much produce as traditional farming methods and use significantly less water.)

Increases Food Security: Good-for-you organic produce at grocers is not cheap; in fact, many families can’t afford. In other words, they lack food security. Food security is having access to and being capable to afford nutritious, safe food and enough of it. This is the main concern for many families all over the world. Fortunately, urban farming contributes to greater food security.

That’s all folks about urban farming techniques, benefits and ideas.

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