URBAN FARMINGDo you live in a city or urban area? You can still lead the life of a farmer using urban agriculture. Many different types of urban farming exist, including:
- Vertical Farming: Vertical farming involves growing crops in layers that are stacked vertically, lessening the horizontal "footprint" or size of any farming enterprise. Vertical farming utilizes free-standing shelving structures or specially-modified pallets against fences or walls. Stacking three or four shelves of plants on top of each other greatly increases the number of plants being grown compared to conventially farmed plants fitting into the same amount of ground space. Vertical farming can be either an indoor or outdoor farming strategy. Sometimes, vertical farming is combined with traditional farming methods, such as the addition of vertically farmed strawberries or peas to a traditional vegetable plot.
- Hydroponics: Hydroponics is any system for growing plants without soil, using aerated and nutrient infused water as the growth medium. Lettuces, tomatoes, spinach, kale, and cucumbers are among the crops that do well grown hydroponically.
- Aquaponics: Aquaponics is a specialized form of hydroponics that combines growing fish and plants together within the same environment. The waste produced by the fish feed the hydroponically grown plants. This combined growth cycle is considered to be a sustainable process. Tilapia is one of the most common fish utilized.
- Shipping Container Farms: Containers provide a covenient controlled growing environment, especially useful where the weather outside isn’t conducive to growing. In addition, containers often provide a more stable pest-free environment for growing and do not take up a great amount of space, plus can have lighting and climate-controls added. Veritical shelving can increase the growing space.
- Rooftop Farming: Building roofs are often large, underutilized spaces. Raised beds, and even greenhouses or animals like chickens have been placed on rooftops when building owners and local regulations allow.
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms are a highly productive crop for urban farming, and well-fitted to vertical farming indoors.
- Microgreens: Microgreens are the tiny sprouts of vegetables and their use for urban farmers recognizes both the year-round possibilities for a harvest that is usually every two weeks, rather than the traditional several months growing time for most crops
- Backyard Gardens: With the right urban farming techniques, famers can actually make a full-time income on a space as small as 1/3rd or 1/4 of an acre. Backyard farms are also referred to as market gardens.
Urban Agriculture recognizes that many important small agricultural operator now are moving from start-ups to commercial enterprises. Whether you are raising backyard chickens for your family or growing flowers in a greenhouse within your urban area, you are an urban farmer, and we are here to encourage and help you.
One of the best free resources can be found on the University of California's website: https://ucanr.edu/sites/UrbanAg/
Addtional useful resources include:
USDA Urban Agriculture Grants & Opportunities
USDA Urban Agriculture Getting Started