“Urban ag is part of building the three pillars and partnerships of a new food system, the private sector, the government, and civil society sectors.”
By Wayne Roberts
Nov 24, 2017
There are many agendas that can be linked to urban agriculture.
One is a human agenda. I used to tend my own big gardens in my undergraduate days, and when I was in the Basque country. I think it’s about a lot more than a practical and low-cost way to get food to eat.
Growing food is the most basic, primordial way humans connect to nature. We work with soil, seeds and plants in co-production with Nature. Food is not just any old product. It becomes part of our body, so we become one, as in you are what you eat, in a very ontological sense. That’s why food and gardening are so often linked to spirituality, and seen as so essential to the meaning of life.
For me, urban ag is about connection to the land. The city is about a built environment that is separate from Nature, and urban agriculture is a way to bring the rural connection with nature into the urban built environment, and rediscover that part of ourselves.
I don’t see urban agriculture as solving the production problem of feeding the world. Urban ag is more about social, cultural and educational relationships than production. It’s about consumers wanting to be engaged.
Urban ag can also be seen as part of the localization movement to overcome the huge distances that food travels to get to the city. We need to reorganize food more territorially, so food can be grown closer to the city, including in the city.