Urban agriculture has been steadily taking off in our city over the last number of years, and new and awesome projects seem to be popping up in every corner. The term Urban Agriculture generally refers to the cultivation of food in urban and suburban areas, but often also encompasses other green/food initiatives such as farmers markets, or the reclamation of unused space for growing flowers or vegetables. There are many positive effects of urban agriculture, such as an increase in green space, community involvement in local projects, not to mention readily accessible fresh produce.
Cities with well established urban agriculture sectors have often developed this industry due to necessity. Some international examples of well-regarded urban agriculture can be found in Havana, Berlin, and Detroit. Havana developed intensive urban farming practices in response to their lack of fuel. The cost of transporting food from rural to urban areas is expensive and mostly dependant on oil, so the Cuban government and people responded by cultivating edible crops in urban areas. Berlin developed a massive network of urban gardens during World War II (as did many European cities), again to avoid transporting food over long, potentially dangerous distances in the countryside. Their gardens are fewer in number today than 60 years ago, but still extensive. Detroit is a slightly different case. With an extremely depressed inner city, space is in excess and crime is high. Expanding gardens have turned urban blight into community space.
Toronto’s industry is not quite so developed, but urban agriculture initiatives are really starting to take off in three major areas:
the public sector: the city is allowing for the cultivation of some public lands;
the private sector: a rise in the cultivation of food in private yards;
and the non-profit sector: new community development organizations that are centred around the production of food and community gardening.
City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America – Laura J. Lawson.
City Farmer – Lorraine Johnson
Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer - Novella Carpenter
Month-by-month in the Community Garden – FoodShare’s guide to Starting a Community Garden
“Making space for agriculture”, Gary Wilkins, The Edible City: Toronto’s Food from Farm to Fork, Christina Palassio and Lana Wilcox (eds)
Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs, and Sustainable Cities - Jac Smit, et al. (read online!)
“Urban Agriculture and Community Food Security in the United States: Farming from the City Centre to the Urban Fringe” – Community Food Security Coalition
Edible City - Watch Online! Faces of the Food Revolution in America
The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil – Watch Online! Cubans share how they transitioned from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens.
we are always looking for more great food issues links to include, so please send any recommendations to emily (at) tyfpc.ca!