Food for Thought: The Promise and Disappointment of Urban Agriculture in Low-Income Communities
“The cold hard fact is that nowhere in the United States are there any self-sustaining profitable urban farms void of subsidy from philanthropic or corporate entities.”
The sober reality is that most urban agriculture projects are underfunded, understaffed, and confronted with difficult management challenges. Urban agriculture is not seen as the “highest and best use” of vacant land by most local government policy officials who would like to attract “better” tax paying uses on this land. The conventional view is that food production is something that takes place and belongs on rural land and requires a lot of it to create a profitable enterprise.
The hopeful reality is the economically successful urban agriculture can take shape in alternative forms – using less land and overhead and serving as a “higher and better use” of vacant land. Agritourism and rooftop farming may prove to be more successful than traditional urban agriculture ventures. There are other innovative ways to create sustainable business models for urban farming being discussed in classrooms and boardrooms throughout the county. I’m hopeful the aspiring young African American farmers are engaged in these conversations.