Farming the Cities: An Excerpt from Nourished Planet

Posted on Oct 22 2018 - 6:18pm by UOG

“By 2050, 70 percent of the world’s people are expected to live in urban areas, and if we’re going to feed all those people, we’ll need to continue to make cities and towns into centers of food production as well as consumption. Worldwide, there are nearly a billion urban farmers, and many are having the greatest impact in communities where hunger and poverty are most acute. For example, the Kibera Slum in Nairobi, Kenya, is believed to be the largest slum in sub-Saharan Africa, with somewhere between 700,000 and a million people. In Kibera, urban farmers have developed what they call vertical gardens, growing vegetables, such as kale or spinach, in tall empty rice and maize sacks, growing different crops on different levels of the bags. At harvest time they sell part of their produce to their neighbors and keep the rest for themselves.

The value of these sacks shouldn’t be underestimated. During the riots that occurred in Nairobi in 2007 and 2008, when the normal flow of food into Kibera was interrupted, these urban “sack” farmers were credited with helping to keep thousands of women, men, and children from starving.

The role urban farmers played in saving lives in Kibera is probably only a precursor of things to come. In large parts of the less developed world, as much as 80 percent of a family’s income can be spent on food. In countries where wars and instability can disrupt the food system and where the cost of food can skyrocket overnight, urban agriculture can play a fundamental role in helping prevent food riots and large-scale hunger. In that respect, promoting urban agriculture isn’t only morally right or environmentally smart, it’s necessary for regional stability.”