Urban farming also known as urban agriculture, refers to producing food by growing them in the city. It is known to have its share of benefits some of which are easy and affordable access to organic produce all year round and the efficient use of limited space.
Most organic food is expensive making it difficult for a typical wage earner to afford. In conventional farming techniques, organic crops are harder to produce hence its costly price. The reason why most traditional farmers are forced to use chemical pesticides is to lessen the harmful factors present in the environment in accordance to different weather conditions. With urban farming those factors are mitigated because it is done in a more controlled environment thus promoting a good yield of crops. Some urban farms are set up indoors, using water systems and artificial lighting techniques.
(Galvanized horse troughs are used to grow a wide array of vegetables on top of the Jonathan Club. (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles Times)
The beauty of urban farming is it makes efficient use of limited space or land since most farms are arranged vertically where plants are grown in shelves. It is surprising how much crops you can adequately produce with very minimal space. You can sustain your family with fresh and organic crops with just your rooftop as a farm.
With the help of technology urban farming is made relatively easy and popular because it does not require the farming skills necessary in traditional farming. Even those without a green thumb can easily grow and harvest food. Some urban farming systems are even controlled and maintained using apps to care for the plants.
(Our EcoQube AIR with phone app)
Urban farmers use several techniques to grow crops, among the popular methods, are through soil, hydroponics, and aeroponics.
(Hydroponic facilities at Archi’s Acres, a diverse farming operation in San Diego County.)
Healthy soil is fundamental in farms. Soil found in the city maybe more polluted than in rural areas. Therefore there is sometimes a need to improve soil quality by adding compost to make it more nutrient dense to foster healthy produce.
To ensure that plants receive optimal levels of nutrients other urban farmers prefer to use hydroponics to grow their crops. In hydroponics farmers do not use soil to grow plants but instead the roots are exposed in continuous running water containing mineral and nutrient solutions. Since roots are not buried underground it is exposed to more air thus promoting easier absorption of oxygen. The earliest precursor to the practice of hydroponics dates back to 600 BCE as seen in the “hanging gardens” of Babylon.
(A growing trend in Vietnamese architecture can be found in the green façades and hanging gardens)
Another commonly used technique in urban framing is the aeroponic system. It is done by spraying nutrient solutions to the roots of plants without the use of soil as a growing medium but instead, the roots are suspended in nutrient-dense mist. The aeroponic system claims to use less energy and water compared to conventional farming techniques. Since air is used as a growing medium for plants it is considerably easier to maintain. Plants also grow faster as compared to traditional farming methods.
(Vegetables cultivated by aeroponics )
Regardless of the method, you choose to set up and maintain your own urban garden it is best to remember that some areas depending on your locality, may have rules when it comes to urban agriculture. It is always best to check and research before investing your time and precious resources.