Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Factors Contributing To the Need for Urban Agriculture by Roksena Nikolova

Since the world population is increasing urban quarters have turned out to be an essential new leading edge for food production. The city expansion and degradation contribute towards the crucial need for urban agricultural development. The economic and health problems resulting from malnutrition have caused great concern amongst planners and decision-makers.

A case study of an Ethiopian urban agriculture consultant, Yilma Getachew argues that “…organic agriculture is a valid strategy for both stimulating economic growth and developing markets…” and that he could verify this by his experience in supporting urban agriculture in three towns in Ethiopia. “Families in one town keep dairy cows either to supplement their meager salaries, or are totally dependent on milk and dung sales as their sole source of family income. In the other two towns, the main income source is the production of Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes together with a small amount of assorted vegetables not only selling to local markets but also to markets within a 200 kilometer radius. In this way, organic agriculture in an urban setting can both be a tool for community building (health and vitality) and development (income generation and marketing of scarce nutritious food).”

Guatemala City Problem and Solution
One of Guatemala's most alarming issues is the lack of access by all of its residents to a clean, safe water supply.Like other developing country cities, Guatemala City grew very quickly during the 1980s. Its population almost doubled in under 40 years, from 477,000 in 1955 to 946,000 in 1995, and the metropolitan region is even larger, comprising approximately 3 million people.

A large portion of the residents live in precarious and illegal squatter settlements.The residents of the squatter settlements have no legal rights to the land, pay no taxes, and receive no city services.Because of poor living conditions, including the lack of clean water and the consumption of contaminated water, people in these settlements suffer many health problems.

Two different models for improved water supply were developed: the single-source tank and the well. Both required active community involvement, outside technical help, and the institutional support of COINAP.

In Chinautla (one neighbourhood of Guatemala City), residents asked the city to install the single-source water tank. Such units are usually installed only on a temporary basis at construction sites. From this single source, the community created a supply network to reach individual residences. UNICEF provided the funds for the pipes and other materials, and each family provided its own home connection. The local community association receives the bill from the water company, and it collects payment from residents for the water they have used.

Roksena Nikolova


1) Getachew, Yilma."The Living Garden".  (accessed November 01, 2009).

2) UNESCO. "Water Supply - Guatemala City, Guatemala." 1995-2009. Learning Journal. (accessed November 01, 2009).

Skyland: vertical farm designed in Italy

City Farming by Amina Lalor

With the constant expansion of cities and the reduction of rural landscapes, agriculture is becoming a major concern in urban communities. As city populations continue to grow, agricultural demands within cities become more difficult to meet and the idea of incorporating agriculture into the urban landscape is becoming increasingly relevant.

City farming is one solution which relies on very simple technique combining agriculture with city structures and can adapt to various environmental conditions. In Mumbai, India for example, one of the densest cities in the world, a man named Dr. R.T. Doshi has developed the idea of city farming and created a method that allows individuals to grow their own food in any available space (usually terraces and balconies) using as few resources as possible. These methods developed in response to Dr. Doshi's agricultural concerns including the high cost of farming in rural areas to provide for the cities, the cost of food subject to inflation in urban areas, the poor quality of many agricultural products, and the common usage of toxic chemical pesticides. His methods either resolve or avoid these concerns. Also, obtaining land in an urban setting is difficult as most land is more profitable if used for real estate development as opposed to vegetable gardens. Using Dr. Doshi's methods, however does not require land to achieve a thriving garden. It works simply with the city's structures as they stand.

This method requires only four basic materials: sugar cane waste from nearby juice vendors, used polyethylene bags originally for packing cement or fertilizer, compost, and a small amount of soil. All of these materials are either free or inexpensive allowing people of any financial situation to participate. The polyethylene bags are used as the growing container and are layered with shredded sugar cane stalks for support and drainage, compost, and then soil. After being soaked with water two or three times and allowed to dry out, the bags are then ready to support plant life. Dr. Doshi himself devotes 1200 sq ft. of terrace space to growing several fruit trees, vegetables, and cereals, proving that his method is in fact quite successful.

Overall, city farming effectively improves the urban environment by using underused spaces in the city, recycles organic waste, and increases economic activity.

In addition to simple city farming, the incorporation of agriculture in our city includes methods on much larger scales using more technologically advanced methods. This can include anything from rooftop farms to the complex vertical farms. Rooftop farming uses rooftop space for growing and is effective in yielding large quantities of food and is beneficial to the building as it acts as a thermal insulator. This method, however, poses the problem of installing a proper irrigation system. Another take on solving the issue of urban agriculture is the concept of the vertical farm which proposes creating farms within multistory building. These topics are further discussed in the blog entries Vertical Farming and Metropolitan Farmville.

In contrast to these methods, basic city farming, although on a much smaller scale, is much more universal as it is simple, inexpensive, and does not require elaborate irrigation system and technology to be effective.

Amina Lalor

-"Economic Advantages," Greenroofs. (accessed November 3, 2009)
-"Green Emirates," City Farming. (accessed November 3, 2009)
-"What is Urban Agriculture?," RUAF Foundation. (accessed November 3, 2009)

Urban Space Reclamation by Stefan Berry

   Throughout many urban communities in the world there are spaces which are undeveloped, unused or vacant. Techniques and concepts are being developed to reclaim these spaces for transformation into areas where food production can take place. Spaces like open pavement lots, vacant warehouses and empty floor space in buildings are just a few examples of areas that people are reclaiming and applying technologies such as hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaculture water systems, and Lighting and temperature control methods to create urban farms. In developed and developing countries there are many urban spaces that could be transformed through agricultural reclamation, and it is through testing and developing methods of how best to adapt to existing structures and infrastructure that will be most effective.

    Pasona O2 is a project located in the heart of the busy downtown business district of Tokyo,Japan. Even though it is not a commercial crop industry, it has highlighted the technology and ability to create farm production within the urban environment. Pasona O2 project has reclaimed the vault space in the basement of a former bank and has turned it into a underground farm environment. It is an area spanning a space of about 1,000 square meters and comprised of six rooms that grow rice, tomatoes, herbs, vegetables, lettuce and flowers . The facility showcases the different concepts and technologies that are being used to grow food produce in a controlled indoor environment. Light-emitting diodes (LED), metal halide lamps, and high-pressure sodium vapor lamps, hydroponics, and temperature management regulate how the crops are grown.

Its location within a dense urban centre was formed with the idea of also providing agriculture training to young people having trouble finding work and middle-aged people looking for a second career. It is a place for people to come and learn about growing techniques and practices, with the hope that they will be able to take the ideas home and apply them to their own gardening practices.

Sweet Water Organics is a similar project that is situated in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Once an abandoned factory space and slum, the project's organisers have transformed the interior of the factory into a fully functional urban farm. Not only are they growing vegetables, but they are showing that it is capable of farming fish in the same complex, this is done by a aquaculture system, a three-tiered, aquaponic, bio-intensive fish-vegetable garden. A cycle is created between the plants and the fish, as water used from the tanks is filtered back through the tiers of plants naturally fertilizing them.The water slowy makes its way back down into the tanks completing the cycle. The transformation of this site has allowed for local food, such as a variety of vegetables along with perch and tilapia fish, to be produced and sold to the immediate consumers in the area. This helps to reduce the cost of the food, and because of its farm-like nature it has produced food in a controlled all year round place that can continuously produce.

   These two projects showcase that it is possible to take existing space and redevelop it to benefit the agriculture presence within the urban environment. Components from projects like this can be adapted to help with growing food needs in developed and developing countries and could lead to the creation of new developments for urban farm designs such as vertical farming.

Stefan Berry

- "Pasona O2; Tokyo's Underground Farm" December 12, 2008.
- "Sweet Water Organics" September 10, 2009. (accessed October 31, 2009)
- "Abandoned Milwaukee Factory Becomes a Fish Farm" July 31, 2009
- "Sweet Water Organics" 2009 (accessed November 2, 2009)
- "Pasona O2: Urban Underground Farm" May 24, 2008
-"Water and Urban Agriculture" 2009 (accessed October 31, 2009)

Vertical Farming by Brian Liu

With the ever growing population of the earth and the migration of people into cities, the issue of nourishing and sheltering these people becomes more and more prominent.  A recent innovation is the concept of vertical farming.  Architects along with farmers, engineers and city planners have designed whole skyscrapers in which farms are incorporated into the building.  The basic notion of vertical farming is the creation of space to grow plants using hydroponics inside a skyscraper which has many advantages over traditional agriculture and many benefits to the surrounding population. (see Caelin's post for more information on hydroponics)

Advantages of Vertical Farming:
  • Year-round crop production; 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, depending upon the crop (e.g., strawberries: 1 indoor acre = 30 outdoor acres)
  • No weather-related crop failures due to droughts, floods, pests
  • All food grown in vertical farms is grown organically meaning no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers
  • Vertical farms virtually eliminates agricultural runoff by recycling black water
  • Converts black and gray water into potable water by collecting the water of evapotranspiration
  • Vertical farms add energy back to the grid via methane generation from compositing non-edible parts of plants and animals
  • Vertical farms dramatically reduce fossil fuel use that would be used in traditional agriculture like tractors, plow and shipping.
  • Converts urban plots into food production centers
  • Vertical farms are highly sustainable environments
  • Creates employment
  • Farm lands are returned back to nature, restoring ecosystem functions and services
  • Transport, packaging and storing costs are cut and will therefore reduce the price of food


A design for a vertical farm, which is to be built in the middle of downtown Toronto named Skyfarm, has been completed by one of our very own University of Waterloo Masters students, Gordon Graff.  This 59 story building will grow multiple vegetables inlcuding carrots, lettuce, spinach and soybeans to name a few and even raise chickens.  The food production is estimated to be able to produce enough for 50,000 people a year.  There are of course problems that come with growing plants in a skyscraper.  The energy used by lighting for the crops to grow will be up to 82 million kwH per year and the system of growing crops hydroponically will require large amounts of water.  Designers however have implemented gas plants able to produce methane from the produced waste of the building into energy for the building and the water issue can be solved by filtrating waste water from sewage.

Center for Urban Agriculture

An even more amazing solution to many of the problems of growing urban areas is a design for a vertical farm by Mithun.  Their design for the “Center for Urban Agriculture” (CUA) not only includes growing vegetables and chicken farms but also incorporates apartments.  Mithun has transformed this downtown Seattle .72 acre site into a building which will have 1.35 acres of flora and 318 apartments. The CUA is zero net energy and net water usage building.  Grey water and rain is collected via the structure’s 31,000 + sq. ft. rooftop rainwater collection area and treated on site.  The building is also equipped with 34,000 + square footage of photovoltaic cells which would collect energy that would be stored in hydrogen tanks when needed.  The building is composed mostly of glass and steel which allows ample amount of sunlight into the building for the plants.  This building goes above and beyond as the water collected is 20 times its own discharge potential which means it can distribute water to the surrounding area along with its produce which is served in the in-house restaurant and cafĂ© below.

Imagining a future where all apartments were self-sufficient, zero net energy use and zero net water consumption is no longer too far off.
Brian Liu


Metropolitan Farmville by Jessie Croll

The modern metropolis was built on the flawed conception that the import of resources would always be able to sustain and expand the urban core. With a higher percentage of the world's population gravitating towards densely populated cities each year, resources dwindling, and peak oil close on the horizon, the need for self-sustaining cities has become crucial. The re-evaluation of cities is crucial, beginning with rethinking the means of obtaining the most basic resource for living: food. In addition to the increasing demand for food due to population increase, the import of agricultural products to urban centers will become expensive and impractical once fuel prices increase with the approach of peak oil, leaving no alternative but to incorporate agricultural practices into the metropolis itself. Unfortunately, the delicate nature of farming brings higher demands for space and water to the already strained urban infrastructure. Using the same principles for capitalizing on space as skyscrapers, tall buildings are being used to increase the area of farmable land. These buildings, referred to as "vertical farms", contain layers of controlled farming environments for various agricultural practices. The plan is to make these buildings self-sustaining with respects to water and energy, utilizing grey water recycling systems for irrigation and photovoltaic technology for energy. As idealistic as the buildings may appear to the public, the costly price of constructing and maintaining such establishments during a time of economic crisis pushes the success of that particular agricultural practice too far into the future to be of much help to the present time. Perhaps the only affordable hope lies in improving on the developments that we have already created.

A particularly promising project already taking place is rooftop farming. Looking at a satellite view of New York City, a scarce amount of green squares stand out among the vast majority of grey rectangles of unused rooftop space. One of these green rectangles is Eagle Street's Rooftop Farms. Chris and Lisa Goode, Ben Flanner and Annie Novak began the project in December of 2008 and it already boasts 30 varieties of vegetables and is incorporating a plan for raising chickens. The farm began with the empty 6000 square foot roof of an industrial warehouse, a rented crane, and 150 000 tons of soil. A multitude of volunteers and the presence of rain in the forecast were the farm’s keys to success. To raise money for maintenance and new seeds, the rooftop farm sells its produce to the public on Sundays and provides a variety of vegetables to nearby restaurants.


Rooftop Farms serves as a model for urban agriculture that can be easily reproduced. Many buildings could serve as suitable sites for rooftop farms by simply reinforcing the existing structure to support the added weight of soil and water. The ideal site for the rooftop farming would be atop apartment buildings where the residents could volunteer to help maintain the crops and use the produce, bridging the gap between the place of shelter and the place of food and reducing the dependence on the city's transportation. With the addition of irrigation systems, rooftop farming could be established in drier climates as well. The combination of the self-sustaining nature of irrigation systems found in vertical farms and the use of pre-existing buildings as a site, exhibited by rooftop farming methods, yields promise for an accessible and sustainable source of agricultural products for the present-day and future metropolis.

Jessie Croll

Image Sources 
1. "Sky Farm Proposed for Downtown Toronto." June 14, 2007. (accessed November 2, 2009).

2. "Organic Rooftop Urban Farm Overlooks Manhattan." July 13, 2009. (accessed November 3, 2009).

Video Sources

"A Farm Grows in Brooklyn...on a Rooftop!." October 31, 2009.  (accessed November 1, 2009).

Information Sources
1."Center for Urban Agriculture." 2007. (accessed November 1, 2009).

2. Erway, Cathy. "A Rooftop Farm for the Future." May 27, 2009. (accessed November 2, 2009).

Hydroponics by Caelin Schneider

Hydroponics is the technique of growing plants and crops using only mineral nutrient solutions, therefore without soil. When the required mineral nutrients are introduced into a plant's water supply artificially, soil is no longer required for the plant to live. Most terrestrial plants are able to grow using hydroponics.  This would help conserve land, and if aggregate hydroponics are used it would also conserve water.  Using hydroponics makes it possible to easily grow plants for consumption in a city and indoors.  The two hydroponic systems are, aggregate hydroponics and liquid hydroponics.  Aggregate hydroponic systems have a solid medium of support such as sand, sawdust or peat-moss.  Where as liquid hydroponic systems have no other supporting medium for the plant roots, other than the water they sit in.

Hydroponics is also an important technology because it is one of the leading technologies that is being looked at to grow crops in the proposals for vertical farms.  
It also becomes possible to grow small personal farms very easily using simplified hydroponics, which is based on minimal inputs, requires no pumps, energy, or expensive equipment. The small scale farms or gardens are built with recycled or discarded containers, and are hand watered once a day with a hydroponic nutrient that can be bought off the shelf.

In 1985, in a small Columbian town of Jerusalen, a hydroponic project was established by the United Nations Development Project (UNDP).   The project used hydroponic growers, made of small containers and discarded wood pallets, these were than placed on rooftops, balconies, stairs, and any available space that was in the sun.
The people who participated in the project (around 130 families) ended up earning as much as three times more than they would have earned in semi-skilled jobs, and were also able to provide food for their families from overripe or less than perfect crops. They produced 30 types of vegetables in their hydroponic gardens.

The gardens were built out of donated or recycled materials.  The costs of setting up each square meter of hydroponic garden was less than $5.00.
Wood pallets were set flat in the space and plastic sheeting rice bran surrounded by plastic sheeting was placed inside of the pallets.  The hydroponic nutrients come at a cost of about $9.00 per year. 
Surplus produce was sold to a supermarket cooperative for cash.
The Jerusalen project was a successful example of hydroponic farming in a developing country in a urban setting.  If it can be achieved in this situation it would be even easier to use this technology on a single family scale or in a indoor farm in any north american metropolis struggling for space.

Hydroponics, can be used inside, or outside, and is productive in small spaces regardless of soil or water.  These small barren or indoor spaces, will be the only spaces left for agriculture after the impending mass urbanization and expansion of our cities.  Hydroponics works in the scale of a fully functioning farm, yet unlike technologies like vertical farms it is also affordable to the individual person and even becomes possible for poor people living in developing countries to produce quality food and a source of income.

Caelin Schneider

-Jenson, Merle. H. "Hydroponics." October, 1997.
-Bradley, Peggy. "Simplified Hydroponics in Urban Agriculture." March 23, 2000.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cuba: Pioneer in Urban Agriculture by Tegan Maccari

In 1989 Cuba’s aid and trade were drastically cut by the Soviets – this lead to a food scarcity problem that concerned both the government and the people. In 1991 Cuba’s government began promoting the idea of urban food production in hopes that Cuba would be able to become more independent in terms of providing food for their people. Little by little urban farming was woven into the fabric of Cuba’s cities, such as Havana. It began with private and communal vegetable growing in cities and later on they began developing new growing systems. They inserted market gardens into industrial, residential and empty land, and because of this, Cuba fed its people.

In less than 10 years, the production of vegetables that Cuba, specifically Havana, produced on its own went from 21,000 tonnes to 272,000 tonnes. There are over 26,000 self provision gardens (gardens cultivated on private land or land of the state which gardeners are able to use for free) which help those who either don’t own enough land to farm on or can’t afford to farm. Many people however, have plots adjacent to their homes or have smaller plots in their home if they own a larger plot further away; this brings together the idea of shelter and food. Bringing food production close to one’s home makes it easier for people to take initiative into farming instead of making the trek to a further away plot. It is because of this that Cuba has become a flagship for similar projects to be undertaken worldwide.

Projects such as Carrot City, from students and faculty at Ryerson University, are heavily influenced by Cuba’s urban agriculture. The proposed ideas in Carrot City’s exhibition touch on new technologies such as water management which is crucial in maintaining agriculture. Water needs to be sustainably used in order to allow for the idea of an agricultural city to flourish. Green roofs employ great water sustainability techniques; see Jessie's post on "Metropolitan Farmville" to learn more about green roofs. Food production is also seen as an integral part of alternative housing. Agriculture in urban spaces allows the designers to re-imagine the buildings and spaces within the city enticing them to create exciting and new proposals. Brain's post "Vertical Farming" explores ways to bridge the gap between shelter and agriculture. 

Underused spaces such as high-rise towers, public parks, schoolyards, and even laneways can become locations where food is locally produced. Architects will be important in the future of urban agriculture. It is their duties to ensure that they research possible techniques and encorporate them into their designs. Urban cities operate on a continuous delivery of food supplies. What would happen if this transportation infrastructure were to shut down? It is important for urban cities to begin implementing urban agricultrual programs into their city planning, architecture and landscape design so that over a period of time urban cities can become largely self-sufficient aiding in the rising population of the city.

Tegan Maccari


-"Carrot City; A recent exhibition at Toronto's Design Exchange presented a cross-section of current ideas associated with urban agriculture." Canadian Architect, 2009.
-Koot, Sinan. "The Urban Agriculture of Havana." Monthly Review, 2009.
Ryerson University. Carrot City: designing for urban agriculture. 2008. (accessed Oct 27, 2009).
-Whitfield, John. "Seeds of an edible city architecture." Nature, 2009.

Mini-Farming, Settlement and Water Supply Systems by Roksena Nikolova

The Biointensive Approach to Agriculture
It is an organic agricultural system which focuses on maximum yields from the minimum area of land, while simultaneously improving the soil. The goal of the method is long term sustainability on a closed system basis. It has also been used successfully on small scale commercial farms.  

Biointensive is frequently is referred to as mini-farming. It is not meant to be used on a large scale. The idea is people to grow their own food and retreat from large-scale farming. Monocropping is not good for the soil. Variation is vital. Biointensive farmers rarely use mechanized equipment, such as tractors. Not only does machinery use too much energy and leave the bare soil susceptible to erosion, but it also compacts the soil, counteracting the effect of double digging.Whole farming systems give emphasis to diversity and offer both a sufficient amount and quality food which generates profit to buy other provisions. It further provides the family with a year-round supply of food and income together with a year-round source of employment.

One major objective of biointensive farming is to improve the soil, which generally takes quite a few years to accomplish.

Benefits of Biointensive
- Possibility of 200-400% increase in caloric production per area
- Decreased water consumption
- Increased soil fertility  
- 99% reduction in energy used per area

  • In order to achieve greater productivity, the biointensive method uses double dug raised beds, intensive planting, and companion planting. 

    The biointensive method includes the raising of animals. A diet which incorporates animal products can be raised biointensively, without graze. Although this uses the land less efficiently than a vegan diet raised biointensively, it is more space efficient than typical methods of raising animals.

    Edible Boulevards
    The City of North Vancouver is considering an innovative plan proposed by the Green Skins Lab of the University of British Columbia to create edible boulevards. The idea is to combine commercial vegetable farms with social spaces within the city. Some features include biointensive farming, on-site energy generation and rainwater harvesting.

    Rainwater harvesting and conservation

    Rational use of water for watering the mini-farms.There are three major categories of activities aimed at the rational use of water. The first is harvesting water during the season of plenty, for use when water availability is being stretched - roof water harvesting, ponds and artificial lakes are some examples. The second is to conserve the available water (mulching, shading, precision planting, etc). The third is recycling water or reusing it for a second and third time depending on your previous use. 
    • Inexpensive
    • Sustainable
    • Especially beneficial for areas where there is no plumbing system or any sort of water system

    Water Wells are also a good resolution to the water harvesting and conservation issue.  
    There are three common types of wells: dug, bored and drilled.

    Dug and bored wells (60 – 120 cm/24 – 48 in. diameter) are commonly used to produce water from shallow surface aquifers (less than 15 m/50 ft. deep); and are prone to contamination from surface water infiltration and to water shortages (see Figure 1). An aquifer is an underground formation of permeable rock or loose material, which can produce useful quantities of water when tapped by a well. 

    Drilled wells (10 – 20 cm/4 – 8 in. diameter) are commonly used to penetrate deeper aquifers (15 to greater than 60 m/50 to greater than 200 ft. deep), are more costly to construct, but generally provide a safer source of drinking water.(5)

    Wells though, can be useful for watering the mini-farms only in the case where there is sufficient amount of water in the property. That is depending on the water table at the site. In a case of a too deep water table roof water harvesting, ponds and artificial lakes are a better solution to cheap or even free water supply.


    Derinkuyu Underground City
    Being the largest excavated underground city in Turkey, Derinkuyu is one of many of its kind. It is located in the region of Cappadocia and the first level was built by the Phrygians in the 8th–7th centuries B.C according to the Turkish Department of Culture,[2] the underground city at Derinkuyu was enlarged in the Byzantine era. The city could be closed from inside with large stone doors.
    With storerooms and wells that made long stays possible, the city had air shafts which are up to 100 feet (30 m) deep. The complex has a total 11 floors, though many floors have not been excavated. Each floor could be closed off separately. (6)
    The city was connected with other underground cities through miles of tunnels.
    The city could accommodate between 3,000 and 50,000 people.
    It was opened for visitors as of 1969 and to date, only ten percent of the underground city is accessible for tourists. (7)

    Its eight floors extend at a depth of approximately 85m.
    The water wells were systematically placed throughout the city in order to service everyone every few families.

    Roksena Nikolova

    (1)   Yilma Getachew, "The Living Garden," April 2002, (Accessed November 4, 2009) 

    (2)  "Biointensive," Wikipedia, April 17, 2009, (Accessed November 4, 2009)  

    (3)  The Pennsylvania State University,  "Biointensive farming," Crop and Soil Sciences, 2005, (Accessed November 4, 2009)  

    (4)  Palmsundae, "North Vancouver and Edible Boulevards," Vancouver's Olympic Vegetable Garden, August 11, 2009,  (Accessed November 4, 2009) 

    (5) Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, "Buying a House with a Well and septic system," About Your House — General Series, July 2008,  (Accessed November 4, 2009)  

    (6)  "Derinkuyu Underground City," Wikipedia, September 14, 2009, (Accessed November 4, 2009)  

    (7)   "Derinkuyu Underground City", Capadocia, Turkey (Accessed November 4, 2009)

    Scales of Urban Agriculture by Timothy Baker

    Urban Agriculture is an old practice that started at the small scale. Gardens are the simplest form of growing food in the city, and have existed probably as long as towns and cities. Advancements in this are difficult as small scale production can only produce food for an individual or family. In New York examples exist of this turning in to a profitable activity with low income families selling food to there neighbors. This fresh produce has health benefits for people that often don't get fresh food but it isn't practical to feed all of New York city. Normally the soil in a city environment that has seen construction is viewed as unusable agriculturally, but some research has shown that if the pH level is kept neutral, by compensating for acid rain, it can be cultivated turning vacant lots or roof tops into productive land. Homes, balconies and roofs become more then just a shelter; the community becomes an ecosystem. Please see Urban space reclamation, City farming and Metropolitan farmville.


    To provide food for the growing urban population we need to move up the scale. Cuba has been extremely effective at the medium scale of urban agriculture. This local level of farming was part of Cuba's response to the increase in the cost of soviet oil. This revamp of their agricultural system lead to sustainable practices, water management and fertilizes in a local area. This highly sustainable practice, that's entirely organic, is only threatened by outside markets that would make the practice unprofitable in comparison to importing food. The limitations of this practice is that the level of distribution is only local. Please see Cuba: Pioneer in urban agriculture.

    Large scale urban farming is the new frontier introducing problems and considerations that are not inherent to the other two. Small and medium urban agriculture can squeeze in to the gaps sit, on the roofs, or hang off the walls. Large scale urban agriculture confronts architecture by being more then a surrounding feature of the landscape; this thing will take the form of a building and a colossal piece of infrastructure. Many such proposals exist take a look a these at available technology, and enough funding these proposals are reasonable. See the bellow PDF on materials that the structure could be made out of. Please see the blogs on Vertical farming.

    From what I have read large scale urban farming is the direction of urban agriculture in developed nations. It solves many of the issues that are caused by transportation and energy problems, having the advantage of local farming and distribution with industrial efficiency. But this is for the parts of the world that have the resources already. Poorer nations like Cuba are an excellent example of the successes of low tech solutions, tackling the infrastructure and water problems without resorting to expensive solutions. For the percentage of the population that will move and continue to move to slum cities the low tech solution may be the more practical one, dealing with the problem by absorbing it into the city that exists. While wealthy nations solve the problem with increasingly complex answers.

    Timothy Baker

    Except  see technology in 5th section and scales of urban architecture in the 3rd 
    -Vertical farming 
    -Materializing the Idea: Innovative Solutions for the Vertical Farm Leslie-Anne Fitzpatrick Rory Mauro Kathleen Roosevelt Athina Vassilakis
    -A structure called "Skyland" proposed in Italy
    -NY Times Urban Farming
    -Cuban Agriculture
    -Slum Cities
    -Water treatment process called