As our cities continue to grow and face the pressures from a changing climate, building resilient cities has never been more important. Urban agriculture has proven to be a robust practice, and we know that it makes for healthier living in our cities and urban landscapes.
If you are new to urban agriculture, check out our previous blog post covering the topic here.
But the benefits of growing our own food goes far beyond making home-grown salads and utilizing small spaces. There are a range of growing concerns and pressures felt in cities, such as extreme weather, flooding, overcrowding, waste, traffic, and the waning mental (and physical) wellbeing of its citizens. However, there are many ways that urban gardening can help to combat these issues and create more resilient communities.
7 Ways Urban Agriculture Attributes to Cities Resiliency (besides cleaning the air we breathe)
Reduces Heat Island Effect
Gardens help to reduce the extreme heat that many cities face in warmer months. Additionally, when planted, green roofs help to significantly cool buildings and reduce energy costs.
Reduces Supply Chain Demand
Local production reduces the demand on out of city producers (creating food security) and therefore the rate of city traffic. Local production also helps reduce waste through eliminating the packaging usually required in delivery and in-store.
Green spaces, especially when planted with native species, provide for an array of birds, bats and insects that call our city home. Gardens also provide for key species like pollinators, such as native bees.
For more on pollinators and Urban Beekeeping check out our previous Podcast!
As we know, parks provide a great place to relax and unwind amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. Gardens do the same – with the added benefit that you can grab some groceries.
Mitigates Stormwater Run-off
As extreme wet-weather events continue to rise, urban agriculture (and specifically rain gardens -although any garden will do) protect our cities from flooding. With most cityscapes being built out of non-permeable materials, the inclusion of urban gardening allows for natural infiltration which many cities lack.
Teaches Food Literacy
Urban gardens are also an amazing and free education tool. As much of our world moves online, it's important for us (and particularly our youth) to understand our connection to food and nature. Indoor gardens for cities like Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York also allow for this connection to be maintained year-round.
Gardening often promotes or is incorporated into communal spaces which encourages conversation and interaction between locals. In short, it encourages you to get to know your neighbors.
There are of course many other ways that urban agriculture contributes to the vibrancy of our cities; however, the community that gardens foster should not be overlooked. Getting to know our community members and the benefits ascertained through being able to provide and share the security of food is enormous.
As we look to the future many planners (and city-builders of all kinds) are looking to integrate gardens into buildings as part of their infrastructure. Asset-Based Community Development (known as the ABCD method) focuses and orients development plans based on the strengths of the given community, and often includes spaces (usually a green roof or a community garden) for members to grow their own food – which is amazing.
If everyone had their own garden, our cities and their people would be all the more resilient.
For more on the ABCD method check out ABCD Canada!