The Urban Farming Renaissance. ~ Matt Mellen

Via on Aug 16, 2012

Urban Growth

An urban farming renaissance is budding green shoots in the most lifeless backwaters of the world’s metropolises and the result is happier and healthier residents and more desirable city environments.

As the gravel, concrete and asphalt foundations of modern cities spread in earnest following the industrial revolution they covered and effectively sterilized the land below. Ground that may have once sustained forests, fields or farm animals became lifeless and devoid of ecological function. The immediate impact for residents was that supplies had to be hauled into town along the network of arteries that connect the heart of the city with the land beyond that sustains it.

As donkey carts gave way to internal combustion engines the distance this biological matter traveled grew steadily larger, ultimately encompassing the entire planet. Asparagus from Peru, lamb from New Zealand and cod from the Arctic can now all be purchased in many city centers. In shops selling to the green dollar, the food miles may be stamped on the petroleum-based, plastic packaging. In others, it is left unmentioned.

Today these vast trains of food are kept rolling with the steady flow of oil pumped from distant lands secured with guns and stained with the blood of those that resisted. The spiraling costs and scarcity of this fuel and the commodities it moves is contributing to shifting attitudes. Local food can contribute to cities becoming more resilient and less dependent upon oil and foreign imports. It can also be fresher, cheaper and more enriching in myriad ways.

Interestingly however, today’s resurgence in do-it-yourself agriculture is not being driven by government edicts despite the major strategic benefits it brings. Swathes of grass roots enthusiasts are filling tubs with earth, composting their food waste, collecting rainwater and growing lettuce, tomatoes and herbs on balconies, terraces and any other available space because it satisfies primeval urges that the globalized economy fails to. For the impoverished, this is the urge to eat and for those better off it satisfies a desire to connect with nature, interact meaningfully with food and to create flourishing times and places.

In the favelas of São Paulo, an organization called Cities Without Hunger uses urban agriculture to reduce hunger and unemployment. Its network now includes 700 gardeners supplying food to 4,000 community residents. In Detroit the collapse of the U.S. car industry left a poor, largely non-white population adrift in a vast sea of lifeless tarmac. Their determined transformation of this back into farmland has not just provided them with good food, they also have achieved a quality of life that can rival and even surpass that of the heady years of peak automobile productivity.

In developed cities, hipsters mingle with families, environmentalists and retired people at seed swaps, city farms and shared space all united in the desire to plant a seed and watch it grow. In London, Hackney City Farm has, since 1984, given youngsters and local people who may rarely get to the countryside, the opportunity to experience farming.

In New York, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is resplendent atop a 6,000 square foot warehouse. In season the farmers supply an onsite farm market and bicycle fresh produce to local restaurants. Nearby, professor Martin P. Schreibman and his colleagues, students and assistants from Brooklyn College are intensively producing animal protein in the basements of buildings.

The Brooklyn Fish Farm may both revolutionize food production easing food shortages and ease pressure on heavily overfished wild stocks. The Urban Fish Farm may become a vital component of futuristic vertical farms, which intensively stack different agricultural layers into a dense space providing local food and employment and sparing ecological capacity elsewhere.

Overall, the blossoming interest in horticulture can be seen as part of a broader trend of people becoming less interested in lifestyles of consumption and more concerned with quality time with friends, family and in our communities. Bill McKibben describes modernity as “the liberation from family, from community and, at base, from the soil.” Reestablishing these complex, organic and enriching relationships seems to offer city dwellers something that was missing.

The community spirit that comes about through chatting at the communal compost heap is a foundation upon which capacity can be built to do more complex tasks locally. As neighbors become less dependent on the supermarket, high street and on goods imported from overseas they become more dependent on their shared local intelligence and calloused hands.

Realizing and feeling the interdependency and connectedness that binds us to each other and to the land that supports us seems to be the primeval magic driving this new boom. It is from this earthy base that the good life grows.

The new breed of urban farmer stands shoulder to shoulder with the independent minded: menders, craftspeople, creatives and rebels who reject the role thrust upon them to function solely as workers and consumers. Their radical and disruptive idea is that they can live their lives without depending on a manic, mainstream market place, which increasingly dulls the mind and saps the soul. They are living beings and deep down…and they want to grow.

Matt Mellen is a communicator and strategist specializing in creative ecological campaigns. He founded, edits and regularly writes for EcoHustler (


Editor: Seychelles Pitton

Like elephant Green on Facebook!

About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of Questions? info elephantjournal com


45 Responses to “The Urban Farming Renaissance. ~ Matt Mellen”

  1. […] cities spread in earnest following the industrial revolution they covered and effectively […] Source RELATED NEWSReading for when the party is overThe NAB vs The Farmers – Update June 2012"OE" […]

  2. Great article, Matt. I find this very exciting, especially since one of the pioneers of urban farming is right here in Milwaukee:

    Bob W. Associate Publisher
    facebook, twitter, linkedIn

  3. Carol Horton carolhortonbooks says:

    I think that this is an incredibly important movement. It combines so many important things – work, jobs, connecting with nature, democratic initiative, community, creativity, healthy living, green, biodiversity, etc. etc. I have a community garden plot and love it. We also have an incredible initiative in my neighborhood in Chicago where churches grow food on their lawns to donate to their food kitchens.

  4. […] back in NYC in early April of this year, I was ready to start my internship. I had been up to the rooftop garden once before, a few weeks earlier when I flew in for a working interview. During that trip, I […]

  5. paolo chisco says:

    Cuáles son las ventajas de beber agua para nuestro cuerpo y que beneficios nos brinda tomar un litro de agua mineral o agua del grifo.

  6. biodiesel says:

    Really liked this article

  7. We also have an incredible initiative in my neighborhood in Chicago where churches grow food on their lawns to donate to their food kitchens.

  8. Very interesting technique. Good job my friend

  9. Superb post Matt. This is so good, informative and unique.

  10. farming turns must also keep abreast of the times, such as urban farming, it is very interesting.

  11. Tom says:

    Urban farming is a great way to connect with nature. Thanks

  12. nice article…thanks

  13. nabhan says:

    nice and educate thank you

  14. official says:

    wonderful post.

  15. fotokopi says:

    I'm interested in the topic is Discussed. I think this has experienced a setback in various fields especially in agriculture. Indeed, technology is getting made progress but on the other hand It also makes a significant setback. Because farmed naturally better associated with natural.

  16. Ricky Holmes says:

    I'm interested and curious about Urban Farming and how does it work. Glad to be here! Thanks

  17. This is so amazing to know many wonderful thing like this. Urban farming. I think this the way to remain the environment, nature and the place where children can know the way we plant vegetables and trees.

  18. Just cant say how wonderful is it :) Keep moving forward and improve this technique, hope that everyone can use it and help them.

  19. Barbara says:

    Really interesting to me, look like it does a good job, isn't it ? Helping people a lot!
    Thank you!

  20. Really interesting to me, look like it does a good job, isn't it ? Helping people a lot!
    Thank you!

  21. Hodmans says:

    Urban farming is a great way to connect with nature. Thanks a lot! :)

  22. TOPITIDEAS says:

    This article creates much positive mind about urban farming renaissance. Anyway great post and I bookmarked your site for more futuristic article. Keep it up bro

  23. It could help farmer more if the article is publish on document sharing websites as well as social media.

  24. Sandy says:

    Urban Growth in Milan is really a serious problem. There is a housing development almost unstoppable! Everyone thinks only to build … build.. build! Without worrying about the irreparable damage to nature and to the little fauna that we still have in the city. We should focus more on renewable energy. We hope that the future will be better, but if you continue to build … it will be very difficult. Thank you Matt for sharing this. S.

  25. Everybody has to have a working computer when they are running their business. This is how they keep track of their records and will need to make sure that it is done accurately. Atlanta IT consulting company is going to be able to keep the equipment working properly and be able to provide the support that is necessary.

  26. online slots says:

    Very interesting technique. I just offer you if you a Online Casino lover we provide the new experience on online casino to know visit our website.

  27. A good Atlanta marketing company must also be licensed and authorized to engage in marketing services within your area of locality. When a firm is licensed, it means that it has conformed to all the regulations laid out by the State.
    atlanta IT company

  28. Network consultants are often hired for IT outsourcing efforts because a company doesn't have their own IT staff. At other times, the IT staff on hand doesn't have the equipment and the knowledge necessary to perform the duties.

    atlanta network consulting

  29. The business homes that area unit price acutely aware have used the best-of-breed information science telecommunication services likewise as merchandise to avail the
    advantages that they represent. With a dependence on the web, vox information science services are booming in delivering phone calls text chat, video streams likewise as pictures to the users on a worldwide scale in a very price economical manner. As a matter of truth, the VoIP solutions have gained a strategic advantage in today up
    to date market by simplifying, augmenting and unifying the various spheres of may be captured, compressed and streamed over a high speed information science network.
    The users area unit able to relish seamless communication as these solutions area unit supported the packet switch technique. Routing of calls or videos over web connections victimization the packet switch technique makes the information science solutions distinct from the standard PSTN services.

    atlanta IT support

  30. The focus of this article is to assist those just starting out in building a home based business that requires an online presence such as a website or blog. In it, I discuss the steps of getting a domain name, selecting a web-hoster to host your website, deciding on whether to host your site in a LINUX environment or a Microsoft Server environment, selecting your website template or theme, publishing your site to bring it live and how to enter your site's meta tags so search engines can find you.

    atlanta IT solutions

  31. Information Technology in Atlanta has expanded immensely, and the Indian Government's policy to boost the investment in Atlanta is the primary reason why this has happened.

    IT consultants atlanta

  32. Atlanta is known for many reasons. People settled here in Atlanta can avail several good things and several conveniences that make Atlanta a happy place to live in. The most important thing a person needs to have in his life his house.

    IT company in atlanta

  33. It combines so many important things – work, jobs, connecting with nature, democratic initiative, community, creativity, healthy living, green, biodiversity, etc. etc. I have a community garden plot and love it. We also have an incredible initiative in my neighborhood in Chicago where churches grow food on their lawns to donate to their food kitchens.

  34. iamhappy123 says:

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing. Really a good read.

  35. They know that a personal injury attorney will go to court. Therefore, the adjusters have to be more realistic in what they offer you as compensation for your personal injuries. Experienced lawyers have handled a number of cases and have a good idea of what most injuries are worth. Also, personal injury lawyer know what facts may increase or decrease the amount of compensation to which you are entitled. By virtue of the attorneys' experience, insurance adjusters and lawyers cannot BS or misrepresent the value of a personal injury claim. Click here for more information personal injury attorneys.

  36. send bams says:

    As long as you have a reliable vehicle with room for groceries, a cell phone and a personal computer for emails, the cost of starting a grocery shopping service is almost zero – just a few dollars for flyers and business cards to let potential customers know about your business.

  37. frog game says:

    Very enjoyable game, i enjoy this with game, please visit my site for frog game.
    Tag: frog game

  38. Marry Green says:

    Criminal cases, no matter how small or big, should not be taken for granted. Particularly, when you are falsely accused of a criminal activity that you didn’t commit and you feel the allegations against you are completely untrue.Please visit us for more details-

    los angeles criminal lawyer

Leave a Reply