11 Questions on Urban Farming
11 Questions on Urban Farming
How Cooperation between Big Cities and the Countryside creates a win-win-win: More than 80 percent of the world's food production is destined for consumption in cities, but almost 40 percent of this is lost due to excessively long transport distances.
Structured local and regional production not only reduces transport losses and emissions, but could bring food to our plates more cheaply, sustainably and freshly.
What does Urban Farming look like?
Urban food production makes use of vacant buildings, transforms rooftops into growing spaces, brings edible downtowns and community gardens to the cityscape, and new sources of protein to the menu. Examples include Brooklyn Grange Farms, Toronto Urban Growers, Brussels Aquaponic Farm or the Edible City of Kassel. What starts well thought out, like the CAIA project, can reach the scale of the Incredible Edible Network within a few years.
How to master …
Urban food production encompasses a wide range of cultivation options, but they all have one thing in common: plants live and thrive best under natural conditions that provide them with the appropriate microbiome and the necessary environmental influences. Whether indoor, outdoor or vertical farming – a sound knowledge of the basic processes of agriculture saves you from the worst mistakes; because all the theoretical knowledge of the city cannot replace the experiences of the land.
… The Challenges
Gardens under Glass in Cleveland had to be shut down after barely 4 years – why? The plants weakened under the artificial living conditions and aphids ate most of the crop. There was a lack of manpower and structure. Turning a large shopping mall into a multi-story greenhouse was easier said than done.
Other projects failed in advance due to the gigantic investment sums that have to be made for aquaponics or greenhouse technology – or they find that the regular control, maintenance and constant energy expenditure would make the vegetables unaffordable. Monstrous technology upgrades for the sake of sustainability, to make already existing infrastructure obsolete – this calculation may not add up.
Lettuce and radishes thrive in every front garden, but real food security grows out of long-term planning (for example Decade Trees of the city of Kassel) and short-term handling of unexpected (interim) results.
What can urban food security or even safety look like, in harmony with animal welfare, livelihood security and true sustainability?
We will ask you. 11 questions – 11 weeks.
11 questions and answers to make the magic happen
1. What foods are most important to grow in the city? What helps urban food to become more resilient?
2. Humus, soil organisms, nutrients – how do you maintain your soils, how do you build up?
3. Urban drinking water is not currently designed for urban agriculture – and in some regions should not be used for this purpose. How do you solve the irrigation issue?
4. Air emissions and contaminated soils are part of the cityscape. What possibilities are there to still produce healthy food with little effort?
5. What microbial and other biotic risk factors have you encountered, what have you learned about them? (Salmonella, aphids, rabbits and many more)
6. Which inputs are suitable for urban cultivation, which are not? Pesticides and artificial fertilizers in particular quickly end up in the air we breathe and water we drink, or endanger local flora and fauna. What alternatives are there?
7. Urban farming means integrating functioning small cycles into city life, otherwise the whole thing is taken ad absurdum. What can this look like, for example?
8. How can meat production be made as sustainable, species-appropriate and local as possible? In particular, how can the mistakes of industrial livestock farming (transnational transports for slaughter, the dangerous excess of antibiotics and mass killings in the event of outbreaks of unavoidable diseases in such environments) be prevented? How can animal welfare be ensured in urban farming? What alternatives are there to meat production?
9. How do you assess the dangers of livelihood threats in the rural population when production areas move to the cities? How could this be counteracted? Settlements, villages and small towns need infrastructure and quality of life, what synergies are conceivable? What is mostly missing in the village, so that people flee to the city?
10. What is the biggest obstacle to urban food production? Which political decisions are necessary to establish new concepts?
11. Which initiative has impressed you in recent years that works in the field of urban food production?