We Need to Prioritize Urban Farming in City Planning

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The Green Tech Education and Employment Urban farm located in Historic Oak Park. (photo: Green Tech Education and Employment)

The new faces of farming — millennials, career changers, refugees — are all looking for opportunities, and many of them want to farm in urban places, next to their customers.

By Mary Kimball
Comstock
Jan 31, 2019

Excerpt:

Last November, I stood on the stage of the Meeting of the Minds Summit in Sacramento, sandwiched between a panel led by energetic Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs and his vision for economic prosperity, and a talk on the future of autonomous delivery vehicles. My talk? To encourage city planners, developers and urban architects to bring agriculture back to cities and urban spaces, and what this addition can do for the future of their communities’ resiliency, job creation, healthy citizens and carbon footprint.

Stay with me here. I know, agriculture is not “the new wave.” It’s not even close. I mean, we’re talking something that started about 10,000 years ago when eight of the Neolithic founder crops, like emmer wheat, hulled barley, lentils and chickpeas, were first cultivated. Fast forward to the late 1800s in the Sacramento Valley, when Yolo County was the largest producer of wheat in the entire United States.

Things have changed quite a bit since then. In 1900, 60 percent of the U.S. population consisted of farmers — so around 45 million — and most, if not all, lived and farmed in rural areas. Today, only 1.8 percent of our population is a farmer, or about 6 million. Today, we don’t just have fewer farmers than we did then (for a much larger population), we also have an age issue. The average age of the American farmer is just under 60. The only occupation with an older average age is truck drivers. A more critical statistic is the age distribution. For every farmer under the age of 25, there are five over the age of 75.

Read the complete article here.

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