URBAN FARMING 6
Advantagesand Disadvantages of Urban Farming
Urbanfarming, also known as urban agriculture, involves the cultivation,processing as well as distribution of food in cities (Smit,Ratta & Nasr,2001). It can be practiced in various forms including aquaculture,beekeeping, animal husbandry, and horticulture among others. Suchactivities are also practiced in peri-urban areas.
Accordingto studies, urban farming reflects varying degree of social andeconomic development (Rojas-Valencia, Orta de Velasquez & Franco,2011). In the international arena, especially in the north, itgenerally involves social movement with the intention of formingsustainable communities. It entails the formation of social networksby locavores and organic growers based on common philosophy ofcommunity holism. In other regions such as the developing south, theneed for income generation, nutrition as well as food security aremajor motivations towards urban farming (Smit,Ratta & Nasr,2001). Additionally, it provides fresh supply of foods such asfruits, vegetables and meat.
Althoughthe aspect of urban farming has gained popularity in the recent time,it has also been linked to various issues including the usage ofcontaminated soils and waste waters, toxic chemicals among others. Inview of this, the current paper discusses the advantages anddisadvantages of urban farming.
Urbanfarming has social, economic and environmental benefits. To startwith, it has been shown that, in most urban areas around the globe,customers using high-end restaurants prefer quality food, which isboth fresh and flavorful. As a result, owners of such restaurantshave gone a step further looking closer in their neighborhoods withintention of obtaining locally produced foods in order to satisfytheir visitors (André Viljoen, Bohn & Howe, 2005). Urban farmingis therefore seen as a practice of improving food safety by providingfresh and healthy produce that is readily accessible.
Secondly,urban farming is usually done on formerly unused land or sacks, andthis amplifies the attractiveness and value of the environs. Itachieves this by adding greenery to cities, boosts shading thuscountering obnoxious heat island impact, and reduces harmful runoff(André Viljoen, Bohn & Howe, 2005). This is true consideringthat most cities are characterized by many buildings, therefore, inaddition to the aforementioned practicing urban farming couldencourage the circulation of fresh air owing to the fact that plantsproduce oxygen and take in carbon dioxide. Green spaces enhance thecirculation of air and lessen summer storms and temperatures.
Additionally,through urban farming, city dwellers can create additional sources ofincome. Certainly, most of them grow food to enable them feedthemselves, and sells the surplus to their neighbors and othercustomers (Rojas-Valencia, Orta de Velasquez & Franco, 2011). Itis also a way of empowering individuals to have superior foodpurchasing powers. This means that the money previously used topurchase vegetables, fruits and eggs among other produce can be usedto buy other commodities or can be saved. Therefore, through urbanfarming, urban dwellers and empowered financially.
Moreover,through urban farming, people are encouraged to eat in and out ofseason. This is linked with the fact that they can grow what theywant in their own homes, thus providing constant supply of foodswhile reducing the distance linked with food transportation. The mostinteresting thing is that, such products can be grown organicallywithout the use of chemicals including pesticides and herbicides orthe application of synthetic fertilizers. This enhances nutritiouscity food production through the provision of micronutrient richvegetables that are free of chemicals (André Viljoen, Bohn &Howe, 2005). This development comes at a time when the use ofchemicals to grow crops is associated with hazardous diseasesincluding cancer, heart problems and kidney failure among others.
Anotherbenefit of urban farming is that it utilizes resources that couldotherwise be idle and go unutilized (Smit,Ratta & Nasr,2001). For instance, gardens are built on top of buildings, riverbanks and empty lots. In most cases, such gardens are made in sacks,and this entails filling sacks with a mixture of soil and manure andensuring that at the center, there is a column of stones that permitswater supply to the entire sack. Crops are then planted at the topand sides, therefore maximizing usage. Watering is done through theuse of waste water and this addresses the problem of waste watermanagement (Rojas-Valencia, Orta de Velasquez & Franco, 2011).Gardens could also utilize kitchen remains as compost, thus saving oncost to purchase manure and at the same time, keeping the city clean.Generally, urban farms employ waste and underutilized resourceswithin the cities to generate new resources.
Mostremarkably, farming in the cities could result in household foodsecurity (Smit,Ratta & Nasr,2001). In the recent time, most governments across the world have putappropriate measures in place in order to address the issue of foodinsecurity both at the state and household level. According tostudies, urban farming could be a key solution to the issue. Inaddition to that, other benefits encompass employment creation,combating hunger, promote self-sufficiency and have positive effectson urban ecology.
Inspite of its many benefits, urban farming also has it disadvantages.One key disadvantage is contamination of urban soil. According toresearch, urban soil contains numerous contaminants, and the mostapparent is lead (McClintock, 2012). When plants take up lead, thiscan be hazardous. Besides, using waste water could also be dangerousas such water may contain contaminants. As aforementioned, it canresult in various diseases such as cancer, kidney and heart problems.
Anotherobstacle is water availability. In cities, finding safe and reliablesources of water is hard. This is based on the fact that farmingnecessitates the usage of large amount of water that is not availablein cities. In most cases, such usage may lead to high water costswhere individuals are required to pay both for their consumption andfarming. In some cases, this may not be cost effective (Wortman &Lovell, 2013).
Furthermore,modifications in climate as well as atmospheric conditions in urbanareas could also pose a major hindrance to urban farming (Wortman &Lovell, 2013). This encompasses vapor pressure and temperaturedeficits, which are usually high in such locales compared to ruralareas. Higher temperatures during daytime may hamper photosynthesisand reduce yields. Similarly, increased vapor pressure deficitsimplies that plants must be watered often and this create moisturestress and decreases photosynthesis (McClintock, 2012). Lastly, urbanfarming may encourage people to break laws by using vacant lots forplanting crops.
Byand large, it is clear that the benefits of urban farming outdo thedisadvantages. Certainly, urban gardens are bolstering at a high ratein most countries. However, in order to become extensive andprofitable, the stated challenges must be addressed as required.
AndréViljoen, Bohn, K. & Howe, J. (2005). Continuousproductive urban landscapes: Designing urban agriculture forsustainable cities.Oxford: Architectural Press.
McClintock,N. (2012). Assessing lead contamination at multiple scales inOakland, California: Implications for urban agriculture andenvironmental justice. AppliedGeography,35: 460–473.
Rojas-Valencia,M. N., Orta de Velasquez, M. T. & Franco, V. (2011). Urbanagriculture, using sustainable practices that involve the reuse ofwastewater and solid waste. AgriculturalWater Management,98 (9): 1388–1394.
Smit,J., Ratta, A. & Nasr, J. (2001). UrbanAgriculture: Food, Jobs, and Sustainable Cities.TheUrban Agriculture Network, Inc., New York, NY.
Wortman,S. E. & Lovell, S. T. (2013). EnvironmentalChallenges Threatening the Growth of Urban Agriculture in the UnitedStates.Journalof Environment Quality,42 (5): 1283.