Could Urban Farming Have The Potential To Answer Food Insecurities In The U.S.?

Community kitchen garden. Raised garden beds with plants in vegetable community garden. Lessons of gardening for kids.

By Anthony McLennan / Truth Theory

Urban farming, including community gardens and rooftop crops, has been taking off in the United States during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

One thing the coronavirus outbreak has done is to force people to not to take things for granted, such as our food supplies.

The very way in which we live – with our food coming from mass-produced factory farms, has brought into sharp focus our relationship with the environment, and what we put into our bodies.

Other challenges Covid-19 has placed on our food chains include price spikes and supply chain issues.

As Miguel Altieri, Professor of Agroecology at the University of California, Berkeley, explains, feeding large urban populations takes huge logistics – all putting more strain on the environment.

“Feeding the cities of the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, with a total population of some 7 million involves importing 2.5 to 3 million tons of food per day over an average distance of 500 to 1,000 miles,” he stated.

“This system requires enormous amounts of energy and generates significant greenhouse gas emissions.”

It really is win-win with urban farming

For people out of work, it’s cheaper to produce one’s own food, and there are also the emotional benefits of being outdoors in the sun, exercising, getting one’s hands in the earth.

With urban farming, there is also the benefit of community interaction, which has been a big positive for many people forced to remain home during lockdowns.

Included in a new wave of urban farmers are New Yorkers who have been growing fruit and veg on rooftops around the city.

“We wanted another place to hang out and something to do outside,” said Patrick Meagher, a New York resident. “So it seemed like a perfect time to do a roof garden at this time when we can’t really travel around too much.”

Community gardening is happening more and more across America, and New Orleans resident Ann Herren is another one excited about it:

“It’s offered a lot more. It’s been good for our mental health and it’s been really good as far as connecting with people,” she enthused.

Even before the pandemic, urban farming had been on the rise – in the past 30 years it has shot up by 30% in the United States. 

Global seed sales have also grown exponentially in what has been one of the few positive spin-offs from the pandemic.


Image Credit: Maria Sbytova

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