Introduction to Urban Agriculture

Introduction to Urban Agriculture

Community garden. Urban farm. Rooftop greenhouse. School garden. Across America, city residents are growing food in spaces with many names. Their gardens are in lots large and small, in cities densely packed and those with acres of vacant land.

For individuals and families, urban agriculture can provide a source of fresh, healthy food; a chance to enjoy working in the dirt outside; and a connection with their neighbors and community.

But for cities as a whole, the value of urban agriculture lies not in the number of people it can feed, but rather in how many people it can educate. City gardens and farms provide places where urban dwellers can gain an appreciation of the food system: what fresh food truly tastes like, how much work it takes to grow it, and its seasonality. Urban agriculture projects also provide greenspace, ecological benefits, and, in some cases, jobs or job training.

For decades, cities pushed food production outside of city limits. But the tide is now turning and urban farmers and gardeners have begun the process of reclaiming urban land. Just as we have realized the value of parks both inside and outside the city, so too have we begun to appreciate the importance of agriculture inside and outside the city. The projects highlighted here show that the diversity of urban agriculture is as great, if not greater, than its rural counterpart. To cultivate a generation of food-literate consumers and voters, we need agriculture in both places.