Urban farming involves cultivating, processing, and distributing food in urban areas. It is a complex but diverse mix of food production including animal husbandry, aquaculture, beekeeping, and horticulture. Urban farming reflects different levels of economic and social development.
In Australia, land use planning and land use control are the two main planning tools for managing land use and development. Urban farming in Australian cities is done in the form of suburban food production. Several regulatory measures have been taken in urban areas off late to control potential agricultural land development. The inclusion of agriculturally sensitive urban designs has begun at the local level. Urban agriculture comprises multi-functional activities like food production, transportation, processing, and sales, and waste use and management. Due to this multiplicity, urban agriculture is done through different land uses like community gardening, rooftop gardening, animal husbandry, composting, and farmers’ market research. At the same time, land use planning strengthens, encourages, regulates and prevents such urban farming practices where cities can directly or indirectly influence these urban practices through policies, zoning arrangements, and programs.
Urban farming or food production in Australia includes:
- Growing crops, vegetables, and food
- Raising livestock, especially poultry
- Beekeeping, aquaculture, hydroponics, and aquaponics
In this blog, we have discussed what makes urban farming beneficial. But first, let us discuss-
What are the Types of Urban Farming?
Primarily, there are two types of urban farming:
- Gardens: Community gardening is usually accessible to the public. It provides space for citizens to cultivate plants for food, recreation, and education. People can learn about horticulture through trial and error, and get a better understanding of the food production process.
- Farms: These are the agricultural lands in urban areas where people work with animals and plants to produce food. Farms are mostly community-run gardens that focus on enhancing community relationships and offer agricultural awareness to people residing in urban areas. These are essential food security sources for several communities across the globe.
These are sub-categorised into:
- Private gardens
- Land owned by private businesses like roofs and vertical gardens
- Privately owned land such as vacant land awaiting growth
- Owning public or private/public utilities
- Publicly owned land like nature stripes/edges, and street boxes
Benefits of Urban Farming
- Healthier Diets: Through urban farming, you can get access to an extremely healthy and low-cost food source. The leafy vegetables are packed with fibre, and vitamins (A, B, C, and E) that provide protection against chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and obesity. Fruits and vegetable intake is higher among urban farmers and involvement in urban farming activities enhances fruit and vegetable intake.
- Minimise Food Miles: Food miles is the distance that food travels from farm to consumer and is one of the means to measure the environmental impact of foods we consume. Urban farming minimises the food miles significantly as food is cultivated in close proximity, reducing carbon emissions from imports.
- Local Employment: Urban farming supports communities through meaningful employment. Cultivating food for an entire community is a crucial task since food is an essential part of life, connecting an entire community. Through urban farming, several opportunities for employment open up for city people to be involved in farming practices in Australia. At the same time, getting local people from the communities involved in urban farming, jobs and money generated stay local, which is an investment in the long-term health of a community.
- Using underutilised Land: Since farming practices are mostly done within the city premises, farmers can utilise underutilised land for food cultivation.
- Reduce Food Waste: According to the United Nations, “about 14 per cent of food produced is lost before it even hits the shelves of a grocery store”. The quantity of lost or wasted food accounts for about 38% of the total energy used in the global food system. Growing food locally aligns demand and affordable supply, helping reduce food waste and spoilage from large chains.
Is Urban Farming Beneficial in Australia?
- Since urban farming is practised within the city premises and other densely populated areas, the produce is closer to the customers than field farms.
- The low-income communities can increase food security by providing affordable and fresh produce.
- Urban farming minimises the need to purchase new land or infrastructure by rebuilding indoor and outdoor spaces. Since these can be run by one person, family or even an entire community, several job opportunities get created, helping people develop new skills.
- Through urban farming, farmers can build a strong community by mobilising the economy and providing mutually beneficial experiences.
- Regardless of the space you have, urban farming helps you grow food, for example, container gardening, hydroponic gardening, and rooftop gardening. As a farmer, you can control where you grow food and worry less about environmental conditions like drought or cold weather.
The exponential demand for food to sustain the growing urban population, the Australian government is constantly formulating planning strategies for implementing urban farming in different ways. Urban farming offers different potentials to contribute more than food to urban dwellers and to meet several social, economic, and environmental needs.
Urban farming has benefitted communities in both developed and developing countries dealing with food insecurity that ensures the availability of nutrition locally and inexpensive food supply.
To gain deeper insight into urban farming in Australia, browse through the KG2 Australia website or contact us. We have Australia’s largest independent farmer database that would enable the farmers and industry to leverage the country’s most comprehensive database.