Commentary: Urban farming topic strikes a chord
A little over two weeks ago, AgProfessional posted an editorial from Maurice Hladik, who claimed that urban farming is an urban myth. This editorial garnered several responses from people debating the need for urban farming vs. the greed of giant agribusinesses.
The responses were varied and yet many brought up the same issues again and again. To read the original commentary, click here. A synopsis of the comments AgProfessional received are listed below. My response to the comments are in italics.
1. Anyone who speaks against urban farming as the potential to feed the world is either misguided or misinformed or both.
Not everyone is going to agree with the merits of urban farming, but that is why this is a free country and people have the choice to farm or not. People who choose to farm in the city are not superior to farmers in the country. This elitist attitude will not garner the spirit of cooperation needed to truly feed the world.
2. The burden of feeding the world is not solely the job of agribusiness. It is the job of every person. Big Ag cannot feed the world alone. Urban farming is part of the solution.
Agribusiness is in the best position to offer large amounts of healthy, nutritious food to the world. If these companies had not pioneered methods and products to help farmers improve the way they farm, all of us would not be free to choose jobs other than farming. Not everyone wants to farm. Thanks goes to large farming operations and agribusiness because not everyone has to devote their entire lives to producing their own food to survive. Although there is a place for urban farming, until the culture of the United States changes, most people will not be returning to a mostly agrarian lifestyle.
3. Everyone should emulate various models of urban farming, including Russia, where 51 percent of the nation’s food supply is produced by small family farms; the Growing power model; Occupy the Dirt; and other movements.
People in Russia had to have small family farms because under their government’s regime, there was not enough food to go around. They had to have these farms or they starved. Romanticizing their efforts is misguided. Multiple models of getting “off the grid” and growing one’s own food so as not to be reliant upon others are easy to find, but hard to implement without a significant change in lifestyle, which most in the United States are not ready or prepared for.
4. Urban ag feeds the hungry, educates urban populations about where their food comes from, examines and changes food policy and offers environmental remediation. It promotes local agriculture.