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Urban Agriculture: Community, Food, and the Environment

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Presentation on theme: "Urban Agriculture: Community, Food, and the Environment"— Presentation transcript:

1 Urban Agriculture: Community, Food, and the Environment

2 Can You Farm in the City? Yes!
It is common around the world to see food being grown in and around cities. In the United States, people’s perceptions about farm locations are changing.

3 Aquaponics allows more food to be grown in less space, uses less water, produces less pollution and can be done virtually anywhere. Urban farming can also be soil based either in the ground or in raised beds and can revitalize vacant lots.

4 Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) is indoor farming which can repurpose vacant buildings or be added to active buildings as rooftop greenhouses. The size of farms in the city can vary greatly from home gardens to community gardens to commercial operations.

5 Why Urban Agriculture? By 2050, 70% of world’s population could live in cities, and we will need to grow about 70% more food than we do today. Urban agriculture provides local healthier food choices, creates jobs and allows us to grow the food where the people are.

6 Benefits of Urban Agriculture
There are many benefits to Urban Agriculture including social, economic and ecological advantages. Urban Agriculture helps to create sustainability in cities. It also reconnects individuals to their food, creates jobs, and mitigates negative effects of urbanization on the environment. Benefits of Urban Agriculture

7 Environmental Benefits of Urban Agriculture
Environmental benefits of Urban Agriculture include reducing the heat island effect, reducing storm runoff and water pollution, conserving water through rainwater catchment and energy conservation.

8 Environmental Benefits of Urban Agriculture: Heat Island
According to the EPA, “The term "heat island" describes built up areas that are hotter than nearby rural areas…Heat islands can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and water quality.” Urban agriculture can help to reduce the heat island effect. Rooftop gardens and urban farms reduce heat absorption by pavement, rooftops and other impermeable surfaces which is a main cause of the increased temperature in urban areas. Thermal (top) and vegetation (bottom) locations around New York City via infrared satellite imagery. A comparison of the images shows that where vegetation is dense, temperatures are cooler.

9 Environmental Benefits of Urban Agriculture: Storm Runoff
Through the use of rooftop gardens and farms, rain barrels, rain gardens and conversion of vacant lots, urban agriculture can help to prevent the problems caused by excess storm water runoff. According to a fact sheet by the EPA, “The most recent National Water Quality Inventory reports that runoff from urbanized areas is the leading source of water quality impairments to surveyed estuaries and the third-largest source of impairments to surveyed lakes.” Runoff also leads to stream bank erosion, flooding, health concerns and degradation of aquatic habitats.

10 Environmental Benefits of Urban Agriculture: Rooftop Farms
Rooftop farms increase the energy efficiency of both the building below and the farm above. Rooftop farms and gardens help to reduce the heat island effect, reduce runoff water and provide an outlet for collected rainwater which further reduces runoff and pollution. Rooftop farms can be large or small, outdoors or in a greenhouse, and soil or water based.

11 Environmental Benefits of Urban Agriculture: Green Roofs
The green roof project at the Monroe Building converted approximately 5,200 square feet of roof top surface to a vegetative roof system comprised of a sedum and chive mixture.  This roof is expected to capture at least one inch of precipitation in a given storm or sequence of storms, preventing it from entering the sewer. “Green roofs are used for stormwater management and energy savings, as well as for aesthetic benefits. Green roofs absorb stormwater and release it back into the atmosphere through evaporation and plant transpiration, while reducing urban temperatures by limiting the amount of heat retaining structures. The vegetation on the roofs also absorb a great deal of the pollutants in the water before it is released into the atmosphere.”

12 Environmental Benefits of Urban Agriculture: Rainwater Harvesting
“A rain barrel is a water tank used to collect and store rain water, typically from rooftops via rain gutters. The use of a rain barrel reduces the amount of stormwater from roofs that runs off of lawns and into sewer systems. Because combined sewers in Syracuse can overflow during wet weather, the use of rain barrels can help reduce the amount of pollutants going into Onondaga Lake and its tributaries. The water collected in a rain barrel can be used for watering lawns and gardens, washing cars, agriculture, or for the other multitude of needs for water in the home. Rain barrels help to conserve water which save money and natural resources.”

13 Environmental Benefits of Urban Agriculture: Rain Gardens
Onondaga Earth Corps posing after completing a rain garden demonstration project “A rain garden is a sunken garden designed to absorb rainwater from impervious areas such as roofs, driveways, walkways, and compacted lawn areas. Rain gardens reduce runoff by allowing stormwater to soak into the ground, as opposed to flowing into storm drains and surface waters, which can cause erosion, water pollution, flooding, and diminished groundwater.”

14 Environmental Benefits of Urban Agriculture: Converting Vacant Lots
“The Vacant Lot Oswego Street Project was the first vacant lot completed in the Save the Rain campaign. The vision of the Vacant Lot program is to convert City-owned empty lot properties into useable spaces for public benefit. This vision also provides the opportunity for stormwater management and capture at vacant lot sites. ” Vacant lots, besides being a non-point source of water pollution caused by potentially toxic dumping and remnant materials from demolished buildings, they often have poor quality soils with little drainage capacity which leads to excess runoff. (Kniznhik, 2012)

15 Economic Benefits of Urban Agriculture
Urban Agriculture has economic benefits for everyone from the home gardener or urban farmer to the city government. Home and community gardens can reduce the amount of money spent on food. Supporting local urban farms supports the local economy, stimulating spending and potentially creating jobs. Urban farms, like controlled environment agriculture greenhouses, can provide year round employment. Urban Agriculture lowers the cost of dealing with environmental impacts of urbanization, like runoff and heat island effects. Converting vacant lots can also help prevent a decrease in property values and loss of tax revenue. For example, Philadelphia has 40,000 vacant lots that lead to a loss in property value estimated at $3.6 billion (Econsult Corporation, 2010).

16 Education and Urban Agriculture
Schools use soil-based gardens, hydroponics and aquaponics in their schools to illustrate various scientific principles and create experiential hands- on learning experiences for the kids. This teaches the children about where their food comes from and helps them to make healthier and more environmentally friendly choices.

17 Kids get to work at gardens/farms and raise food, learning valuable and employable skills while remaining engaged, active and productive. They can learn about giving back to and helping improve their community.

18 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet Elementary School and the Helping Hands Urban Farm Garden teaches children and young adults about Urban Agriculture. They learn about the local food system and problems caused by food deserts. The program aims to create the next generation of green ambassadors, preparing youth to make informed and healthy decisions about food and sustainability.

19 Sustainability and Urban Agriculture
Sustainability requires a holistic perspective Earth Life Environment Social Sustainable Ecologic Economic Three Pillars of Sustainability Sustainability incorporates social, economic and ecological responsibility. Many cities have sustainability plans that will help develop Urban Agriculture. Planning for the future needs to include planning for food production within cities. Local decentralized farms and gardens can provide fresh food to urban neighborhoods and help with the problems caused by food deserts.

20 Part of Syracuse’s sustainability plan is to increase Urban Agriculture in the city by reforming zoning laws to make it easier for urban farmers and by helping people get access to land for community gardens and urban farms. There are also plans to improve local food systems to help eliminate food deserts in the city.

21 What is Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA)?
Rendering by: Detroit Collaborative Design Center, University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture Developed for: RecoveryPark CEA is indoor farming which can repurpose vacant buildings or be added to active buildings as rooftop greenhouses. CEA uses technology and engineering to increase productivity and reduce environmental impact while allowing for year round farming. It is primarily done using soilless cultivation.

22 Benefits of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA)
CEA provides a stable, consistent growing environment. It reduces the amount of water and fertilizer needed to grow high quality, fresh, local produce. More food can be produced per acre year round. CEA is an ideal way to grow food in the city because it can be done on otherwise unusable land such as brownfields or rooftops.

23 Vertical Farming Vertical farming is a concept developed by Dr. Dickson Despommier, of the Department of Environmental Health Science of Columbia University and the originator of the modern concept of vertical farming. The idea is that where there is little horizontal space, or flat land, farmers should go up and use the vertical space.

24 Water Based Urban Agriculture
Water based agriculture includes hydroponics, aquaculture, and aquaponics. Hydroponics is growing plants without soil. Aquaponics combines hydroponics with aquaculture, or farming of any aquatic animal. Almost any type of hydroponic growing system can be converted to aquaponics just by adding an aquaculture system which replaces the hydroponic fertilizer. .

25 Soil Based Urban Agriculture
Simple structures covered with plastic can help protect the plants and improve the growing conditions. They can shield the plants from strong winds and rain, or they can increase the length of the growing season by allowing you to plant earlier in the spring or harvest later in the fall.

26 Many schools, churches, parks, hospitals and other businesses have unused space that could potentially be turned into a community garden or urban farm. Some cities have programs to help residents gain access to available land for community gardens and Urban Agriculture.

27 Raised beds are an excellent way to garden
Raised beds are an excellent way to garden. They can be very good for growing lots of food and they make it easier to garden too. Raised beds allow you to turn a parking lot, vacant lot or other space without good soil into a thriving food garden. In cities this is the best and safest way to grow food in soil, and you can use compost as fertilizer to enrich the soil.

28 Home gardens may be the most important form of Urban Agriculture
Home gardens may be the most important form of Urban Agriculture. In some cities, three times more space is utilized by home food gardens than all the community gardens combined. Growing your own food lets you supplement your regular diet with healthy and nutritious fresh vegetables.

29 What can you do? There are many ways to get involved with Urban Agriculture, from starting your own home garden to starting a commercial urban farm. Volunteering with a local community garden or starting a new one is a great way to build community and increase the availability of fresh produce in neighborhoods that might not have access to healthy and affordable food.

30 Grow your own vegetables or fruits. Plant a garden
Grow your own vegetables or fruits. Plant a garden. Even a small garden can have big benefits. Home gardens are a great way to increase the fresh produce in your family’s diet and save money in the process. Become active with a local community garden. If you can’t find a community garden in your neighborhood, start one!

31 Aquaponics is a great way to farm at home
Aquaponics is a great way to farm at home. It can be a wonderful family or community project. Interest in aquaponics is increasing rapidly, so access to information and materials is easier than ever. There are many online communities that share knowledge and ideas too. Indoor systems at home are a great way to keep farming through the winter and don’t take up much space either.

32 The best way to get fresh produce is to grow it
The best way to get fresh produce is to grow it. The next best way is shopping at a local farmers’ market or through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription. Buying a share or subscription in a CSA supports a local farm, providing you with fresh produce every week and can save money.

33 Volunteer for community groups working with youth and adults to produce locally grown food. Become active and involved in your local schools and government to encourage healthier food options and develop Urban Agriculture.

34 Additional Resources

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