Historical – City Farming

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Historical: Originally Published on positiveimpactmagazine.com on August 4, 2016

By: Anne Odiboh

Agriculture has a long and rich history, traceable to ancient civilizations as far back as 9500 BCE. Over time, as civilization has evolved, agricultural practices have changed and become more sophisticated. With rapid global urbanization, access to farmland by most of the population has reached near nonexistent levels. People have adapted numerous farming methods for utilization in urban areas.


One way that crops can be grown in urban areas is through the installment of green roofs on buildings. A green roof consists of multiple layers with vegetation planted in a “lightweight growing medium” as the top layer. In addition to the agricultural opportunities, green roofs also offer educational opportunities, local job creation, and increased energy efficiency. Cities all over the world have embraced the benefits of green roofs, including New York and Chicago, where over 500 green roofs have been installed. More information about green roofs can be found at http://www.greenroofs.org/


Perhaps the most closely related to traditional farming is truck farming.  Also called market farming, truck farming involves the growth of flowers, fruits, and vegetables as cash crops. The difference between truck farming and traditional farming is the amount of land upon which the crops are grown and the variety of crops grown:  usually about 20 varieties of crops on no more than a few acres of land and sometimes areas as small as greenhouses. After cultivation, the crops are distributed to local restaurants and consumers.

Window Farm1

Although these methods of city farming are both useful, many city-dwellers who want to grow crops do not have the financial means to employ them. Luckily for these people, the development of window farming creates an opportunity for anyone with a window to get in on the agricultural action. Using recycled water bottles, clay pellets, plastic tubing and fish tank air pumps, window farmers can create hanging farms right in their windows. Although this method does not work for root vegetables like carrots, herbs, peppers and cherry tomatoes grow nicely. Instructions on creating a window farm can be found HERE

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