Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Grow Your Own: Urban Farming is Flourishing During the Coronavirus Lockdowns

Food
A post office employee harvests vegetables on the rooftop garden of the postal sorting center in Paris, France, September 22, 2017. Reuters / Charles Platiau

By Rina Chandran

This story was originally published on Reuters on April 7, 2020. Data and statistics reflect numbers at that time.

Coronavirus lockdowns are pushing more city dwellers to grow fruit and vegetables in their homes, providing a potentially lasting boost to urban farming, architects and food experts said on Tuesday.


Confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, total more than 1.3 million, with about 74,000 deaths worldwide, according to a Reuters tally.

Panic buying in some countries during the crisis has led to empty supermarket shelves and an uptick in the purchase of seeds, according to media reports.

"More people are thinking about where their food comes from, how easily it can be disrupted, and how to reduce disruptions," said landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom, who designed Asia's largest urban rooftop farm in Bangkok.

"People, planners and governments should all be rethinking how land is used in cities. Urban farming can improve food security and nutrition, reduce climate change impacts, and lower stress," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

More than two-thirds of the world's population is forecast to live in cities by 2050, according to the United Nations.

Urban agriculture can be crucial to feeding them, potentially producing as much as 180 million tonnes of food a year - or about 10% of the global output of pulses and vegetables, according to a 2018 study published in the journal Earth's Future.

The coronavirus outbreak is not the first time that concerns about food security have led to more kitchen gardens.

During World War One, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson asked Americans to plant "Victory Gardens" to prevent food shortages.

The effort continued during World War Two, with vegetable gardens in backyards and schoolyards, on unused land, and even the front lawn of the White House.

In recent decades, the fast pace of urbanization in developing countries is causing urban malnutrition, the Food and Agriculture Organization said, calling on planners to become "nutrition partners" and pay attention to food security.

Despite pressure on land to build homes and roads, there is more than enough urban land available within UK cities to meet the fruit and vegetable requirements of its population, researchers at the Institute for Sustainable Food at Britain's University of Sheffield said in a study last month.

In tiny Singapore, one of the wealthiest nations in Asia that imports more than 90% of its food, urban farming including vertical and rooftop farms, is fast becoming popular.

The city-state, which ranks on top of the Economist Intelligence Unit's global food security index for 2019, aims to produce 30% of its nutritional needs by 2030, by increasing the local supply of fruits, vegetables and protein from meat and fish.

On Monday, Singapore lawmaker Ang Wei Neng said that during the coronavirus outbreak, "it would be wise for us to think of how to invest in homegrown food."

For Allan Lim, chief executive of ComCrop, a commercial urban farm in Singapore, the pandemic is a reminder that disruptions to food supplies can take place at any time.

"It has definitely sparked more interest in local produce. Urban farms can be a shock absorber during disruptions such as this," he said.

This story originally appeared in Reuters.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a White House Clean Energy Investment Summit on June 16, 2015 in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

With presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's climate platform becoming increasingly ambitious thanks to nonstop grassroots pressure, fossil fuel executives and lobbyists are pouring money into the coffers of President Donald Trump's reelection campaign in the hopes of keeping an outspoken and dedicated ally of dirty energy in the White House.

Read More Show Less
The Food and Drug Administration is now warning against more than 100 potentially dangerous hand sanitizers.
Antonio_Diaz / Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now warning against more than 100 potentially dangerous hand sanitizers.

Read More Show Less
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on July 1, 2020 in New York City. Byron Smith / Getty Images

While the nation overall struggles with rising COVID cases, New York State is seeing the opposite. After peaking in March and April and implementing strict shutdowns of businesses, the state has seen its number of positive cases steadily decline as it slowly reopens. From coast-to-coast, Governor Andrew Cuomo's response to the crisis has been hailed as an exemplar of how to handle a public health crisis.

Read More Show Less
A whale shark swims in the Egyptian Red Sea. Derek Keats / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Gavin Naylor

Sharks elicit outsized fear, even though the risk of a shark bite is infinitesimally small. As a marine biologist and director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, I oversee the International Shark Attack File – a global record of reported shark bites that has been maintained continuously since 1958.

Read More Show Less
A girl sits under a temporary shade made by joining two bed in Churu, Rajasthan on June 4, 2019. Temperatures in the Indian desert city hit 50 degrees C (122 F) for the second time in three days, sending residents scrambling for shade. MONEY SHARMA / AFP via Getty Images

Current efforts to curb an infectious disease show the potential we have for collective action. That action and more will be needed if we want to stem the coming wave of heat-related deaths that will surpass the number of people who die from all infectious diseases, according to a new study, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
America Pikas are found from the Sierra Nevada to the Rocky Mountains, and have been migrating to higher elevations. Jon LeVasseur / Flickr / Public Domain

By Jenny Morber

Caribbean corals sprout off Texas. Pacific salmon tour the Canadian Arctic. Peruvian lowland birds nest at higher elevations.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Biologists are studying the impact of climate change on the Nenets and their reindeer herds. Deutsche Welle

Biologist Egor Kirillin is on a special mission. Deep in the Siberian wilderness in the Russian Republic of Sakha, he waits on the Olenjok river until reindeer come thundering into the water.

Read More Show Less