An Overview of Urban Farming Activities in Cities


We all know that spending time in nature is good for us. We feel better when we experience the world around us, it brings us peace and takes us out of ourselves and lowers our stress levels. Nature is one of our best friends. As cities encourage and mandate ways to mitigate and adapt to climate change, adding green infrastructure that allows us to grow food is a critically important response. 

There are many forms of green infrastructure for food production. Scaling these up will be critical to slow down run-away climate change, for example, by reducing long haul transportation emissions associated with our current unsustainable food system.  

Here are some of the ways that cities are encouraging local food production through various technologies and approaches.

Green Roof Farms 

In 2009, the City of Toronto passed a bylaw requiring certain new buildings over a specific size to incorporate green roof technology into their finished designs. Since then, other large North American cities have followed suit – San Francisco, New York, Portland and Denver, for example. Several of these cities require green roofs on large new buildings while others have programs that provide financing for green roofs and rooftop farms on existing structures. 

Green roofs vary in type and purpose considerably – from pure aesthetics to food growing. Some cities, such as Brooklyn, New York, host sizable soil-based rooftop farms, such as the Brooklyn Grange series of rooftop farms. Collectively these three farms generate over 100,000 lbs of organically grown produce every year. Many types of food can be grown on rooftop farms, from cabbage, potatoes and carrots, to leafy green vegetables and micro greens. Several rooftop farms located in China have even been designed to support tea production. 

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