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The Future of Food – Is Urban Agriculture A Solution?

V. Y. Wilankar in her terrace garden in densely populated urban India.

With bursting populations and high food prices, the food security of urban dwellers is approaching a crossroads

By Nisha Kumar Kulkarni
Beyond Profit
May 19, 2011


Sustainability, however, remains a challenge for urban agriculture, as does its scalability.

“People throw around the word ‘sustainable’ a lot in our field,” says Peters. “Urban agriculture is absolutely sustainable in the sense that it does not require the inputs of fossil fuels or chemical fertilizers.”

But Peters goes on to acknowledge the constraints of the model. “It is unlikely that urban agriculture can ‘sustain’ an entire city population like Mumbai’s. We do the majority of our urban gardening on rooftops and terraces. Other cities that have more land mass may be able to pull it off. Ninety percent of Havana’s fresh produce comes from local urban farms and gardens, for example.”

“People in Mumbai have been extremely receptive to the urban gardening movement,” says Peters. “We want to work with a cross-section of Mumbai residents. We want every window grate to be growing something edible. We want people to think of growing food before they think of growing ornamental plants. We want to look out and see green, edible landscapes.” To date, Fresh & Local is working towards that goal steadily: in less than a year, it has held numerous workshops at the Bombay Hub for more than 180 people interested in urban agriculture and gardening.

Read the complete article here.


1 Cal { 05.21.11 at 9:24 pm }

I don’t know if I totally agree with the fact that urban farming couldn’t support an entire city. We are just in the infancy of the urban farming movement. New ideas and technology keep pushing the limits of production. We are just scratching the surface of what we can do.

2 Chris Ripps { 05.22.11 at 2:47 pm }

I agree with the previous post. When necessity requires innovation, new modes of thinking and organizing, we could reasonably provide the needed calories from fruits and vegetables for many communities. Protein consumption in the form of food based sources, i.e. cattle, chicken, fish, etc. will require more complex structures however. Aquaculture suited to this purpose is now in it’s infancy and will only mature over time.

Starting our transition to a world independent upon fossil fuels now is paramount. Transitions of this magnitude are notoriously painful, difficult and tumultuous.