Is City the New Country? Urban Farms Take Over Metropolis

Urban farming

While the Obama Administration just announced plans to make major cuts affecting the nation’s farmers in the new deficit reduction proposal “Living Within Our Means and Investing in the Future,” farming is showing no signs of slowing down—especially in American cities.

Urban farming has become so popular that many cities are now working to change local zoning rules so that more—and larger—urban farms will succeed in providing urban Americans with fresh and healthy food.

USA Today highlighted several cities, including Chicago, Salt Lake City and Detroit—all of which are turning a focus towards hyperlocal foods grown within the city limits. Detroit, known as the destitute home of the automobile industry, is now seeing its hardest hit areas bloom with trees, fruits, vegetables and flowers. Rooftop gardens have taken over parts of Manhattan replete with beehives and fruit tree orchards; and in Brooklyn, urban farmers are even raising chickens and rabbits.

And these large-scale urban farm operations hold the potential to feed some of the estimated 13 million Americans living in ‘food deserts’—a new term mapped out by the USDA that describes areas without reasonably easy access to fresh fruits or vegetables. Eighty-two percent of food deserts are urban and, most often, residents are living at or below the poverty line with their food access being limited to nearby convenience stores and fast food restaurants. But urban farms could change that much in the same way Victory Gardens helped this nation rebuild and recover after World War II.

Urban farms also offer communities resiliency and decrease the need for excess transportation and dependence on fossil fuels to truck produce in from other states—or countries—especially as oil prices continue to climb.

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Image: David Barrie

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.