Monday, 24 September 2012

Green living: What do you think about urban agriculture?

Enthusiasm for urban agriculture seems to be sweeping the country. For many people, this is an idea for which time has finally come. Urban agriculture involves growing, processing and distributing food in towns and cities.

Supporters of urban agriculture see it as a way to combat many of the ills that they perceive in our modern food systems. For people in towns and cities, this is the ultimate way to produce food locally. Using the land to grow food may be seen as the ultimate best use of that land. During the harvest season, urban farms provide the freshest foods possible. Urban agriculture combats food deserts and improves food security.

Beyond those aspects of urban agriculture that relate directly to the food it produces, there are many other potential benefits for a community. The people involved find the joy of seeing the fruits of their efforts, and many people see it as a form of recreation. There is a community building aspect to these endeavors. There are potential economic benefits and opportunities for entrepreneurship. From a landscape perspective, food-producing gardens can add beauty and diversity plus environmental benefits.

It’s a great thing to see people becoming more conscious of their food supply and enthused about producing some of their own food. As long as there is a commercial food supply that still provides the bulk of people’s dietary needs, urban agriculture seems like a great way to supplement and diversify our food systems.

However, there are some additional considerations.

Production of vegetables is fairly straightforward and may lead naturally into the next step of the urban agriculture scheme: animal production. However, at this point, things get much more complicated. It may seem wonderful to have a few chickens that produce the ultimate fresh eggs. But it’s worth considering some of the downside risks that virtually all farm families live with on a daily basis.

Do those who champion introducing production animals into urban settings really consider the less wonderful sides of agricultural production? Beyond the standard concerns about protecting the animals from predators such as foxes, skunks and dogs, do people consider animal and human health concerns? There are many such concerns, and they should be carefully thought through before a community commits to charging farther down the road with urban food production.
Original Article Here

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