Urban Agriculture is simply the production of food within the boundaries of a city. Urban agriculture could be an organized program, a community garden, or simply a small plot in your own backyard. Urban agriculture can mean growing your own herbs, vegetables, corn, fruit trees, or even having your own chickens or bee boxes for honey.
In our globalized economy, food production is specialized and responds to the global market. Because of this we get corn and soybeans from Iowa, vegetables from the Central Valley of California, fish from Alaska, and during the winter we get peaches from Chile. Which foods are in season locally has very little to do with what you find in the supermarket, and that food has been transported hundreds and often thousands of miles to arrive there. This transportation, as well as the mechanized farming that produces the food, is using up our fossil fuel stores as well as adding to our global warming factors. The conventional agricultural system has an enormous ecological footprint, and by participating in it, so do we.
In light of this, local agriculture has emerged as a cause around which to rally. Farmer’s markets are popping up everywhere and their popularity is continually increasing. However, with 80% of the US population living in cities and suburbs, there is still a substantial distance that needs to be traveled in order to get food into the city. Los Angeles has over 4 million people in the city limits alone, and the entire Los Angeles metropolitan area (as designated by the US Census Bureau) has nearly 13 million people. Imagine the number of farmer’s markets, not to mention the small farms themselves that would be needed to feed that many people locally. Even now, with food regularly being brought in from long distances, the inner city and poorer, densely populated urban areas regularly have little access to fresh produce. This is what we call a lack of food security in our cities. For more information about food security, visit www.fao.org.
The bottom line is that even with increases in relatively local food consumption and production, our cities are not being fed adequately or sustainably. There is, however, enormous potential to provide better nutrition and create a truly local food system through urban agriculture.
In Los Angeles we have a year round growing system and countless acres of usable space: front lawns, back yards, patios, empty lots, courtyards, that could be growing our food right under our noses rather than thousands of miles away. Growing our own food puts us in control of our health, nutrition, and cultural food needs while reducing the environmental impact of our food system. If you would like to be part of the Urban Agriculture movement, contact us!