Urban agriculture has grown significantly over the past few years. Urban farming projects are being developed in several cities in the United States. In Los Angeles we are seeing urban farming projects being develop in diverse communities where families do not have easy access to healthy groceries stores and in New York City roof top gardening has been growing to provide a healthier food options to residents. When the COVID pandemic hit the country everything changed. Schools started to close, people started to work at home, and business started closed every month. There was one good that came out of this crisis which was the growth of urban agriculture.
In an article from World Economic Forum on the growth of urban farming during the coronavirus lockdowns it explains how urban agriculture has expanded during the pandemic. There are two reasons why urban farming as increased during the pandemic according to the article, the first reason was the influences of residents growing their own fruit and vegetables in their homes as a hobby or to reduce stress. The second reason that lead to an increase of urban farming was panic buying in supermarkets. People started to grow their own food to avoid crowds and shortage of food in these markets. Urban agriculture can be a solution to many problem especially to low income communities that are suffering right now during this pandemic.
Urban communities have already been suffering from food deserts before the COVID pandemic. Food deserts are areas where the availability to buy or acquire healthy fresh food is difficult to get. According to the USDA food desert affects mainly low-income families in urban areas. With the pandemic low-income family are suffering more because of unemployment. Most of these families now relay on food banks as their primary food source. People had to camp outside the food bank to be first in line to receive food for their families. The expansion of urban agriculture can help low income communities to have better access to healthy foods..
There are several forms of urban agricultures, in an article published by Food Print titled “Urban Agriculture” explains the different types of variations of urban farming. These types of urban agriculture can help low income families have access to health food in their neighborhoods or home. The forms of urban agriculture are community gardens, roof top farming, and vertical farming.
Community gardens is a form of urban agriculture that is well recognized as lot farm and backyard farming. Lot farming is a garden fill with agricultural crops in on abandoned lots in urban neighborhood. This type of community garden is usually open to the public to plant and harvest food at no charge. This provides easy access to healthier food options to community members that have difficulties of traveling to food banks. Another form of community garden is backyard farming, this type of community garden has become very popular during the pandemic. Homeowners used their back yards space to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. This provides an easy access to healthy food source.
Roof top farming is mainly located in areas where urban space is limited because of city buildings. These sites use the rooftop of residential building as a farming zone. This type of farm has several garden beds where residents can grow low maintenance plants. Roof top gardens provides fresh vegetables to communities that do not have access to grocery stores with fresh food.
Vertical farming are indoor and outdoor gardening systems that can grow several small vegetables crops. The designs of vertical farms are like towards, they can either be big or small. Plants are grown in pockets of the towards and has an irrigation system distributes water from top to bottom. This type of farming is ideal for families that live in apartment or small space areas.
The growth of urban agriculture during the pandemic has shown how it can be the solution to reduce the effects of food desert in low income urban communities. People have seen and struggled trying to find food during this pandemic. Having to rely on food banks for food can be stressful. Urban agriculture can help urban communities to have access to fruits and vegetable though community gardens, roof top farms, and vertical farming systems. Apart from feeding people urban agriculture it is also a great stress relief activity that can help people mentally. This pandemic has brought a lot of negative effects, but it did help spread the growth of urban agriculture.
Mapping Food Deserts in the United States. (2011, December 1). Retrieved November 4, 2020, from https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2011/december/data-feature-mapping-food-deserts-in-the-us/
Chandran R., Grow your own: Urban farming is flourishing during the coronavirus lockdowns. (2020, April 9). Retrieved November 4, 2020
Urban Agriculture. (2020, August 11). Retrieved November 04, 2020, from https://foodprint.org/issues/urban-agriculture/
Bridges M., Growing Interest in Urban Agriculture. (2018, September). Retrieved November 04, 2020, from https://www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/growing-interest-in-urban-agriculture.aspx
2 thoughts on “Expansion of Urban Agriculture During a Pandemic”
“Urban Agriculture Combats Food Insecurity, Builds Community”
By: Douglas J. McCauley Associate Professor at UC Santa Barbara.
The article, provided above, is relevant to this conversation as it addresses some of the issues relating to food insecurity that we are witnessing during the Covid-19 pandemic and how urban farms are attempting to shift their practices in order to help their communities.
Some of the food security issues the article touches on that are being exacerbated due to the pandemic are relating to food deserts, in which people have to travel farther to gain access to grocery stores with fresh and nutritious food options. Pre-pandemic this difficult/limited access was already an issue but now as people need to limit their potential exposure to Covid-19 and limit trips out of the home, traveling far and on public transport is made more difficult. Carrying many groceries on public transport is extremely difficult and some stores are experiencing limited supplies and many grocery stores in these food deserts already have to serve a large population, leading to shortages.
This article also covers how many urban farms and other organizations are shifting their practices due to the pandemic. One of these shifts is the move to food boxes. Food boxes are similar to CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes but instead of requiring a subscription in which you pay weeks or months ahead of receiving your produce, you often pay one time and receive one box. Many farms are also working with volunteers to donate boxes to community members most in need. This article notes that CSA subscriptions have increased due to the pandemic showing a need for alternative sources of food as many around the country experienced food shortages or are looking for food sources that require less human-to-human contact than grocery stores.
One critique I have of this article is the fact that McCauley touches on how some urban farms rely on hosting events like private parties, community events, concerts, etc, in order to acquire enough money to fund their farms operation, but does not speak to the effects some of these farms may be feeling due to the pandemic. This would be something I would like to hear more about as I have come across a number of urban farms that rely somewhat on money made from events as they do not produce a large amount of crops.
This article briefly discusses a Urban Farm in Seattle adjusting to the Pandemic. This farm previously made 85-90% of its sales to tourism but with the lockdown, it needed to find new strategies to adjust to continue to stay in production.