FERN Asks Tough Questions About Urban Ag

In “Urban Farming Is Booming, But What Does It Really Yield?” reporter Elizabeth Royte explored whether community gardens and rooftop farms can really play a role in feeding our burgeoning population. With the help of leading researchers and growers across the country, she scrutinized the challenges facing both for- and non-profit urban farms as they try to take a “bite out of long-distance food chains.” The piece was published by Ensia in April 2015.

Worldwide, 15-20 percent of our food is currently grown in cities. In the U.S., Detroit produced nearly 400,000 pounds of food in 2014—enough to feed more than 600 people—with about 1,300 gardens. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, many urban farms also provide health-and-nutrition education, community building, and job training.

Royte notes that many urban farms are not interested in making money, but rather in fostering a larger cultural change: “Whether these gardens ultimately produce more food or more knowledge about food—where it comes from, what it takes to produce it, how to prepare and eat it—they still have enormous value as gathering places and classrooms, as conduits between people and nature.”

This piece also was published by Ensia partners GreenbizBusiness Insider, and Quartz, where it garnered more than 35,000 reads and almost 10,000 social media shares.

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