28 Most Inspiring Urban Agriculture Projects Around the World
Around 15 percent of the world's food is now grown in urban areas. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), urban farms already supply food to about 700 million residents of cities, representing about a quarter of the world’s urban population. By 2030, 60 percent of people in developing countries will likely live in cities.
The Green Machine Mobile Food Market uses a bus to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to almost 400 customers in the food deserts of South Memphis. Photo credit: Green Machine Mobile Food Market
At Food Tank, we are amazed by the efforts of hundreds of urban farms and gardens to grow organic produce, cultivate food justice and equity in their communities and revitalize urban land. Urban agriculture not only contributes to food security, but also to environmental stewardship and a cultural reconnection with the land through education.
The Urban Food Policy Pact (UFPP), signed on World Food Day, addresses the potential of cities to contribute to food security through urban agriculture. A technical team of 10 members organized physical and virtual workshops with many of the 45 cities participating in the pact, and drafted a framework for action that includes 37 provisions covering the themes of governance, food supply and distribution, sustainable diets and nutrition, poverty alleviation, food production, and food and nutrient recovery.
“The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize the importance of building sustainable cities,” says Maurizio Baruffi, Chief of Staff of the Mayor of Milan, Italy. “The City of Milan is partnering with urban areas around the world to embark on this journey, starting from food.”
Do you want to discover urban agriculture projects in your own city or are you interested in visiting farms during your travels to new urban areas? Check out these inspiring projects, and find even more links to urban agriculture projects below.
Abalimi is an urban agriculture and environmental action group located outside of Capetown, South Africa. The organization supports and assists groups and individuals looking to improve their livelihoods through organic farming.
A nonprofit that promotes social and environmental justice in Montreal, Canada, Alternatives’ Feeding Citizenship is growing healthy food to fuel healthy communities. The project engages the community through horticultural training programs while supporting school and neighborhood gardens.
An after-school and summer program, BUGS provides children from low-income neighborhoods in Baltimore, Maryland with a safe place for learning. Kids can garden, visit local farms and try new foods while improving math and reading skills as well as exploring creative entrepreneurial projects.
Located in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, Camino Verde’s mission is to plant trees and encourage environmental stewardship through educational programs and public awareness. The project’s Living Seed Bank acts as a botanical garden with over 250 tree species and protects endangered varieties. Camino Verde has planted over 70 different fruit trees, 40 flowering species, and enough trees to cover seven hectares of land.
Serving communities in Canberra, Australia, Canberra City Farms is dedicated to establishing learning hubs where people can collaborate and share their knowledge of sustainable and environmentally responsible food production.
A 100 percent bike-powered compost recycling project in Austin, Texas, Compost Pedallers strives to reduce waste, strengthen the local food system and connect the community with farms. Residents can sign up to redirect organic waste to local farms and gardens through the bicycle-powered network.
Detroit Dirt is a compost company that helps complete the “circle of life” in food production by regenerating waste into resources. Through partnerships with community coffee houses and local businesses, the organization is hoping to instill a self-sustaining culture of recycling organic waste and provide a valuable resource to urban farms and gardens in Detroit.
A municipal organic farm nestled in an expansive park, Ferme de Paris provides the public with vegetable gardens, orchards, medicinal plant gardens and a number of farm animals housed in sustainably-constructed buildings. City residents can even stay to volunteer if they want to.
Fresh & Local is looking to use urban agriculture to improve the health and well-being of Mumbai. The organization takes underutilized spaces and transforms them into places of community empowered food production.
Frisch vom Dach (Fresh from the Roof)
An aquaponics project starting on the rooftop of a former malt factory in Berlin, Germany, Frisch vom Dach uses nutrients from aquaculture to irrigate plants in a mostly closed loop.
A collaborative project among a number of organizations in Memphis, Tennessee, the Green Machine Mobile Food Market uses a bus to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to almost 400 customers in the food deserts of South Memphis.
Grignon Energie Positive, located in Paris, France, is an experimental farm run by the AgroParisTech program for sustainable development. The farm is working to reduce energy inputs by developing techniques that minimize its carbon footprint while growing enough organic food to feed between 5,500 and 8,000 people annually.
Grow City is a nonprofit in San Francisco, California that works to amend the way people consider the division between urban and rural to build a “more secure, sustainable, and fair” food system.
An edible forest in Mexico City, Mexico with 45 tree varieties, a seed bank, and a large section of bio-intensive gardening, Huerto Tlatelolco was created with the objective of building the local community.
A nonprofit farming cooperative in the South Bronx, New York, La Finca del Sur is led by Latina and black women. By empowering minority women through economic and food stability, the project is contributing to social and political equity in an underserved area.
The Last Organic Outpost is a research farm that teaches sustainable agriculture techniques to residents of Houston, Texas. The project targets underserved areas and supports local farmers so they can develop a safe, healthy local food economy.
An urban farm in San Antonio, Texas, Local Sprout grows fresh fruits and vegetables year-round using a hydroponic growing system. The project aims to contribute to food security, provide education and reduce environmental impact.
Marathon Restaurants, a small, sustainably minded chain in Philadelphia, now sources its fresh, organic produce from Marathon Urban Farm. The farm is revitalizing urban land and providing workshops on cooking and composting.
The Mazingira Institute provides training and support for urban farmers in Nairobi, Kenya. The NGO has trained about 3,000 urban farmers and organized youth and women’s hubs.
Natural Sound Agriculture and Craft Education is a private enterprise that offers educational opportunities about agriculture and food crafts to increase knowledge about urban gardening, sustainable agriculture and traditional skills like beekeeping, mushroom growing and brick-making.
At the Rotunda Building of O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, 26 vertical, aeroponic towers house herbs, greens, and tomatoes. The project also raises animals that mow the property’s lawn.
An urban farm in Tokyo that grows over 100 types of produce indoors, underground and on the exterior walls of the nine-story office-style building, Pasona O2 has been described as technologically intensive.
Located in Montreal, Canada, The People’s Potato is a neighborhood collective providing garden and greenhouse space for community members. Volunteers grow and distribute organic produce to the surrounding community and distribute vegan meals through a food bank. The People’s Potato maintains an educational program in the form of monthly workshops and an affordable Good Food Box program.
ReVision Urban Farm is a community-based urban agriculture project that grows nutritious, culturally appropriate food for residents of its family home and the Boston community. The project also teaches locals about healthy eating and offers job training for youth and the homeless in the area.
Roosevelt Row Growhouse is a revitalization initiative from two artists that transformed a vacant, dilapidated property into a learning center for urban desert vegetable farming, sustainable living, healthy eating and edible landscaping in Phoenix, Arizona.
An urban farm and San Diego-based company that creates and distributes small-scale vertical gardens, SoCal Urban Farms aims to help anyone produce sustainable and healthy food, even with minimal space and poor soil.
Urban Farms of Central Ohio (UFCO)
A nonprofit organization formed by the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, UFCO transforms vacant or under-utilized land into community gardens to generate a sustainable source of food stability for underserved communities.
WYG is a community garden that teaches science, environmental stewardship and nutrition to youth in Washington, D.C. through hands-on gardening experience.
These are just a few examples from a cornucopia of urban agriculture projects happening in these cities. To learn more, read the full lists here:
- Mexico City
- New York City
- San Antonio
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- Washington DC
Check out The Good Stuff's video on urban farming:
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- Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria that are vital for keeping you healthy.
- Some of these microbes help to regulate the immune system.
- New research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, shows the presence of certain bacteria in the gut may reveal which people are more vulnerable to a more severe case of COVID-19.
You may not know it, but you have an army of microbes living inside of you that are essential for fighting off threats, including the virus that causes COVID-19.
How Do Resident Bacteria Keep You Healthy?<p>Our immune defense is part of a complex biological response against harmful pathogens, such as viruses or bacteria. However, because our bodies are inhabited by trillions of mostly beneficial bacteria, virus and fungi, activation of our immune response is tightly regulated to distinguish between harmful and helpful microbes.</p><p>Our bacteria are spectacular companions diligently helping prime our immune system defenses to combat infections. A seminal study found that mice treated with antibiotics that eliminate bacteria in the gut exhibited an impaired immune response. These animals had low counts of virus-fighting white blood cells, weak antibody responses and poor production of a protein that is vital for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1019378108" target="_blank">combating viral infection and modulating the immune response</a>.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184976" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In another study</a>, mice were fed <em>Lactobacillus</em> bacteria, commonly used as probiotic in fermented food. These microbes reduced the severity of influenza infection. The <em>Lactobacillus</em>-treated mice did not lose weight and had only mild lung damage compared with untreated mice. Similarly, others have found that treatment of mice with <em>Lactobacillus</em> protects against different <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/srep04638" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">subtypes of</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-17487-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">influenza</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008072" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">virus</a> and human respiratory syncytial virus – the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-39602-7" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">major cause of viral bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children</a>.</p>
Chronic Disease and Microbes<p>Patients with chronic illnesses including Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease exhibit a hyperactive immune system that fails to recognize a harmless stimulus and is linked to an altered gut microbiome.</p><p>In these chronic diseases, the gut microbiome lacks bacteria that activate <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1198469" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">immune cells</a> that block the response against harmless bacteria in our guts. Such alteration of the gut microbiome is also observed in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1002601107" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">babies delivered by cesarean section</a>, individuals consuming a poor <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12820" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">diet</a> and the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11053" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elderly</a>.</p><p>In the U.S., 117 million individuals – about half the adult population – <a href="https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">suffer from Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease or a combination of them</a>. That suggests that half of American adults carry a faulty microbiome army.</p><p>Research in my laboratory focuses on identifying gut bacteria that are critical for creating a balanced immune system, which fights life-threatening bacterial and viral infections, while tolerating the beneficial bacteria in and on us.</p><p>Given that diet affects the diversity of bacteria in the gut, <a href="https://www.umassmed.edu/nutrition/melody-trial-info/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">my lab studies show how diet can be used</a> as a therapy for chronic diseases. Using different foods, people can shift their gut microbiome to one that boosts a healthy immune response.</p><p>A fraction of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, develop severe complications that require hospitalization in intensive care units. What do many of those patients have in common? <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e2.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Old age</a> and chronic diet-related diseases like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.</p><p><a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2008.12.019" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Black and Latinx people are disproportionately affected by obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease</a>, all of which are linked to poor nutrition. Thus, it is not a coincidence that <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6933e1.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these groups have suffered more deaths from COVID-19</a> compared with whites. This is the case not only in the U.S. but also <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/blacks-in-britain-are-four-times-as-likely-to-die-of-coronavirus-as-whites-data-show/2020/05/07/2dc76710-9067-11ea-9322-a29e75effc93_story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">in Britain</a>.</p>
Discovering Microbes That Predict COVID-19 Severity<p>The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired me to shift my research and explore the role of the gut microbiome in the overly aggressive immune response against SARS-CoV-2 infection.</p><p>My colleagues and I have hypothesized that critically ill SARS-CoV-2 patients with conditions like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease exhibit an altered gut microbiome that aggravates <a href="https://theconversation.com/exercise-may-help-reduce-risk-of-deadly-covid-19-complication-ards-136922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">acute respiratory distress syndrome</a>.</p><p>Acute respiratory distress syndrome, a life-threatening lung injury, in SARS-CoV-2 patients is thought to develop from a <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cytogfr.2020.05.003" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">fatal overreaction of the immune response</a> called a <a href="https://theconversation.com/blocking-the-deadly-cytokine-storm-is-a-vital-weapon-for-treating-covid-19-137690" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cytokine storm</a> <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30216-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">that causes an uncontrolled flood</a> <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30216-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">of immune cells into the lungs</a>. In these patients, their own uncontrolled inflammatory immune response, rather than the virus itself, causes the <a href="http://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-020-05991-x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">severe lung injury and multiorgan failures</a> that lead to death.</p><p>Several studies <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2020.08.004" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">described in one recent review</a> have identified an altered gut microbiome in patients with COVID-19. However, identification of specific bacteria within the microbiome that could predict COVID-19 severity is lacking.</p><p>To address this question, my colleagues and I recruited COVID-19 hospitalized patients with severe and moderate symptoms. We collected stool and saliva samples to determine whether bacteria within the gut and oral microbiome could predict COVID-19 severity. The identification of microbiome markers that can predict the clinical outcomes of COVID-19 disease is key to help prioritize patients needing urgent treatment.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.01.05.20249061" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">We demonstrated</a>, in a paper which has not yet been peer reviewed, that the composition of the gut microbiome is the strongest predictor of COVID-19 severity compared to patient's clinical characteristics commonly used to do so. Specifically, we identified that the presence of a bacterium in the stool – called <em>Enterococcus faecalis</em>– was a robust predictor of COVID-19 severity. Not surprisingly, <em>Enterococcus faecalis</em> has been associated with <a href="https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2011.05.035" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">chronic</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-9440(10)61172-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">inflammation</a>.</p><p><em>Enterococcus faecalis</em> collected from feces can be grown outside of the body in clinical laboratories. Thus, an <em>E. faecalis</em> test might be a cost-effective, rapid and relatively easy way to identify patients who are likely to require more supportive care and therapeutic interventions to improve their chances of survival.</p><p>But it is not yet clear from our research what is the contribution of the altered microbiome in the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. A recent study has shown that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.12.11.416180" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">SARS-CoV-2 infection triggers an imbalance in immune cells</a> called <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/imr.12170" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">T regulatory cells that are critical to immune balance</a>.</p><p>Bacteria from the gut microbiome are responsible for the <a href="https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.30916.001" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">proper activation</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1198469" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">of those T-regulatory</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nri.2016.36" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cells</a>. Thus, researchers like me need to take repeated patient stool, saliva and blood samples over a longer time frame to learn how the altered microbiome observed in COVID-19 patients can modulate COVID-19 disease severity, perhaps by altering the development of the T-regulatory cells.</p><p>As a Latina scientist investigating interactions between diet, microbiome and immunity, I must stress the importance of better policies to improve access to healthy foods, which lead to a healthier microbiome. It is also important to design culturally sensitive dietary interventions for Black and Latinx communities. While a good-quality diet might not prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, it can treat the underlying conditions related to its severity.</p><p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ana-maldonado-contreras-1152969" target="_blank">Ana Maldonado-Contreras</a> is an assistant professor of Microbiology and Physiological Systems at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.</em></p><p><em>Disclosure statement: Ana Maldonado-Contreras receives funding from The Helmsley Charitable Trust and her work has been supported by the American Gastroenterological Association. She received The Charles A. King Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. She is also member of the Diversity Committee of the American Gastroenterological Association.</em></p><p><em style="">Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-healthy-microbiome-builds-a-strong-immune-system-that-could-help-defeat-covid-19-145668" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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