Agriculture has been a part of urban spaces since man began establishing towns and cities. However, as populations grew, agriculture needed to be outsourced to rural or urban spaces to meet the growing demand of urban citizens. While it may still be necessary to produce more calorie-dense and space-intensive crops, e.g. grains and trees, growing high value, nutrient-rich foods in urban spaces is a resource-saving endeavor that helps to improve urban food security. Beyond helping to produce more food, reducing the distance between producer and consumer, and providing valuable ecosystem services, urban agriculture provides an array of other benefits:
- Human stress levels are decreased and health outcomes are improved from exposure to vegetation and increased opportunities for recreational activities
- Opportunities for health education are presented
- Biodiversity is promoted
- Aesthetic values are improved
- Food transportation distances are reduced which can help to alleviate dependency on fossil fuels and prevent food loss and waste during shipping
- The need for continued land use conversion is diminished and the space needed for production can be downsized
- Air pollution is abated
- The above-mentioned factors can contribute to general gains in sustainability
- Property values increase
- Business opportunities are generated
- Green jobs are created
- Profit is generated/redistributed/captured by local communities
- New value chains are established
- Social networks are fostered
- Opportunities for youth and community educated are presented
- Urban renewal is promoted
- Alternative opportunities for urban planning opportunities can be introduced
- Self-sufficiency and empowerment are encouraged
- Humans can reconnect with their food production system
The benefits provided and general improvements to societal welfare is best disseminated via the participation of the various types of stakeholders, e.g. churches, community supported agriculture, schools, government agencies, parks departments, non-profit organizations, and community groups. Such gains are of particular importance for disaffected populations who are more often affected by issues of food access and poor environmental conditions.
- Draper, C. & Freedman, D. (2010). Review and Analysis of the Benefits, Purposes, and Motivations Associated with Community Gardening in the United States. Journal Of Community Practice, 18(4), 458-492.
- RUAF (n.d.) Urban Agriculture: what and why?
- Smit, J., Nasr, J., Ratta, N. (2001) Urban Agriculture: Yesterday and Today, in Urban Agriculture Food, Jobs and Sustainable Cities. The Urban Agricultural Network.
- Vitiello, D., & Wolf-Powers, L. (2014). Growing food to grow cities? The potential of agriculture foreconomic and community development in the urban United States. Community Development Journal, 49(4), 508-523.