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28 Most Inspiring Urban Agriculture Projects Around the World

Food

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

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.

Alternatives’ Feeding Citizenship

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.

Baltimore Urban Gardening with Students (BUGS)

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.

Camino Verde

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.

Canberra City Farm

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.

Compost Pedallers

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

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.

Ferme de Paris

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

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.

Green Machine Mobile Food Market

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

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

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.

Huerto Tlatelolco

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.

La Finca del Sur

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

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.

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Local Sprout

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 Urban Farm

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.

Mazingira Institute

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

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.

O’Hare International Airport Urban Garden

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.

Pasona O2

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.

The People’s Potato

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

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

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.

SoCal Urban Farms

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.

The Washington Youth Garden  (WYG)

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:

Check out The Good Stuff's video on urban farming:

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Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.

Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.

Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.

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"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.

It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.

Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.

In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.

The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).

"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.

The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.

"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.