Urban agriculture has become an activity that people living in urban food desserts can use to produce an adequate amount of healthy and nutritious food for their family. The ability to produce an adequate amount of healthy and nutritious food has given several communities with a low socioeconomic status the ability to develop a sense of food security while at the same time developing a greater understanding of the different processes involved in growing food. Although the introduction of various urban agriculture methods such as community supported agriculture, urban farming, and community gardens has helped to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, there are various safety issues associated with the production of food.
Food safety is a discipline that describes the handling, preparation, and storage of food in a manner that prevents the development of various foodborne illnesses. Many individuals who desire to grow food in the form of either a type of communal agriculture or a home garden seek to understand the various sanitation practices associated with urban agriculture. Some questions that an urban farmer might ask include what are good agricultural practices? How many days should I wait to harvest crops from the time of manure application? How can I sanitize sensitive crops and herbs without damaging them, and what kids of solutions should I be using to sanitize food?
In areas like Los Angeles County, there have been a variety of urban agriculture projects that have allowed growers to reduce their carbon footprint while at the same time working with nature to adapt to ever changing weather conditions. An example urban agriculture project that is located in Los Angeles County is Local Roots. Local Roots is an indoor farming company that is based in Vernon California that transforms forty foot long shipping containers and turns them into “terra farms” that produce the same amount of food as five acres of farmland. In each container, climate control technology and calibrated LED lights to create ideal growing conditions to grow leafy greens from seed to harvest using hydroponic methods. Due to their small size and high levels of mobility, terra farms can be customized to grow anything anywhere and can be brought closer to consumers and thus allowing produce to be harvested at the peak of ripeness and nutrition.
Another urban agriculture project that is based in Los Angeles County is Farm LA that was found in 2014 and rescues vacant urban plots of land in Los Angeles and turns them into urban farms. In the years since 2018, Farm LA has managed to gather a group of community volunteers from various parts of Los Angeles to help with various tasks on the farm such as maintaining the aesthetic appearance of the space to harvesting the farms drought resistant crops. During the harvest period, a portion of the harvest is donated to food banks, senior homes, and community food share projects. On the legal side, Farm LA has worked with the LA Food Policy Council to advocate for the passage of the Urban Agricultural Zone Act. The act encouraged Los Angeles residents to convert their unused pieces of land into an urban garden in exchange for a reduction in property taxes.
There are more issues to consider when deciding on what kinds of plants and animals an urban farmer will have on their property and whether or not they will sell their products. Aside from product regulations, there are also regulations for the types of animals a person can have on their farm, zoning laws and regulations, public health, animal health and welfare, disagreements with neighbors, etc… If these laws and regulations are not adhered to there are chances of fines and citations and the possibility of the animals being removed from the farm. With the rise of urban farming people are slowly changing roles from being consumers to becoming community members and engaging in the production process and asserting responsibility for the maintenance of the environment.