• Blaze Horn

Can urban agriculture reduce the carbon footprint of our food?

Updated: Nov 14, 2021

The global urban population is set to rise to 68% by 2050, and how we will feed this future population is a growing concern amongst scientists, governments, and businesses.

Considering that approximately 30% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are produced by the agricultural sector, innovative solutions that produce more food, using less energy, and less pollution are seriously needed if we are going to be able to create a sustainable future.

In recent years, the concept of urban agriculture has gained momentum, with both developed and developing countries working to integrate it into their cities.

What is Urban Agriculture?

Urban agriculture or urban farming is “the cultivation of food within metropolitan cores as opposed to that in more peri-urban and rural areas.”

Urban farms can come in the form of rooftop gardens, wall-gardens, community gardens, and forest gardens.

Many different food items can be grown here, but the most common tend to include vegetables and fruits like; lettuce, spring onions, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and strawberries.

There are many benefits with urban farming:

  1. Increased food security - less need to rely on imports.

  2. Health - healthy food, produced close by, without the need for pesticides.

  3. Reduced climate impact - no need for the food to travel large distances to get to you, as well as, less plastic packaging.

  4. Education - learning by doing, and getting in touch with nature.

  5. Social inclusion - meeting neighbours and feeling more at home in your community.

  6. Biodiversity - bringing nature to the city!

  7. And on the slightly more light-hearted side...a great photo opportunity!

And, of course, there are a few challenges:

  1. Maintenance and Organisation - it can be difficult to decide who is in charge and responsible.

  2. Pollution - urban areas can be polluted and not suitable for growing food. Checks must be completed to make sure it is safe.

  3. Accessibility - socio-economic barriers can exist which prevent certain segments of the population from participating. Efforts must be made to reduce this.

  4. Infrastructure capacity - not all buildings are suitable for rooftop gardens.

Check out the video below, which gives an example of the use of rooftop gardens in New York City!

Several studies have been conducted to test the impact of an increase in urban agriculture. One study, conducted by Puigdueta et al. (2021), in Madrid, Spain, found that through including urban agriculture activities in the city, over a five year period, every person could reduce their carbon footprint by roughly 200kg CO2e per year. See the source link below to read more!

Urban gardening is a simple, yet highly effective idea, and here at Floop we can't wait to see how it develops and impacts the food we eat!

Our Sources:

  1. Fogelquist et al. (2020). Urban Gardening and Sustainable Consumption: Loudden, The Stockholm Royal Seaport. Stockholm University, Department of Physical Geography.

  2. Mohareb et al. (2017). Considerations for reducing food system energy demand while scaling up urban agriculture. Environmental Research Letters 12.

  3. Puigdueta et al. (2021). Urban agriculture may change food consumption towards low carbon diets. Global Food Security 28.

  4. United Nations. (2018). 68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, says UN..