Urban agriculture has really made a comeback in the U.S. in recent years. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports that 800 million people worldwide grow fruits or vegetables or raise animals in cities, producing an impressive 15 to 20 percent of the world’s food. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization notes that while many city dwellers in the developing world grow food for subsistence, food production has been brought back to city centers in recent years in developed countries in a concerted effort to address sustainability issues in our food system.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t track numbers of urban farmers, but based on demand for its programs that fund education and infrastructure in support of urban agriculture projects, and on surveys of urban agriculture in select cities, it affirms that business is booming, according to GreenBiz.
We at EcoWatch have documented how cities around the world are developing and expanding their local food systems to create a more sustainable method of food production and distribution, which will become increasingly necessary as cities adapt to climate change. Urban farming is often criticized for not being scaleable.
While urban agriculture will probably never replace rural agriculture, these six urban farms show that urban agriculture can play a significant role in sustainable food production:
Gotham Greens has four state of the art greenhouses where its workers grow organic greens year round. Its flagship greenhouse, built in 2010, was the first commercial scale rooftop greenhouse in the U.S, according to the company. The rooftop greenhouse measures over 15,000 square feet and annually produces over 100 tons of fresh leafy greens.
Food Field, founded in 2011, is helping revitalize Detroit by producing “fresh, healthy, and delicious food while improving the neighborhood and creating economic opportunities.” Its founders, Noah Link and Alex Bryan, believe in using environmental and social goals to develop “a successful, community-based business [that meets] the need for local, affordable, and sustainably produced food.”
Farmed Here is the nation's largest indoor farm, pumping out roughly a million pounds per year of baby salad greens, basil and mint in its 90,000-square-foot warehouse on the industrial outskirts of Chicago, according to GreenBiz.
Brooklyn Grange operates the world’s largest rooftop soil farm out of two buildings in New York City, totaling 2.5 acres, according to National Geographic. The farm grows more than 50,000 pounds of organic produce each year, and distributes it through farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture networks, and wholesale to restaurants and catering companies.
Farmscape Gardens is California’s largest urban farming company, but unlike other companies on the list, this LA-based company's urban farms are dispersed throughout 400 locations, where its employees have installed and maintained sites at residences and businesses around the city.
Green City Growers Cooperative is a 3.25-acre leafy greens, hydroponic greenhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. The greenhouse, which opened in 2013, has 15,000 square feet of packinghouse and office space, and is currently producing Butterhead lettuce, Cleveland Crisp, Green leaf lettuce, gourmet lettuces and basil.
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It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
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