We believe in the transformative power of city farming to change how the world eats.

A Global Phenomenon…

Not only are today’s urban farmers following in the footsteps of their grandparents and great-grandparents but are also re-joining a global phenomenon that never really tapered off in the way it did in the United States and Canada.
Meet urban farmers from around the world…

Lisbon, Portugal

Small scale agriculture has historically been included in Portuguese urban planning, and today, vegetable patches called “hortas urbanas” remain an important characteristic of Lisbon.

In Portugal the tradition of green spaces in towns expresses itself more strongly since  the nineteenth century with the “quintas de recreio” that surrounded the city center, providing it with fresh vegetables and fruits; cereal fields, olive orchards, vineyards and the raising of small cattle completed the overall picture of peri-urban agriculture, with the  centers of production and consumption very close and well connected.

Today, ‘kitchen gardens by the door’ and municipally-organized urban agriculture spaces are on the rise.  In 2007, a green plan was incorporated into the existing municipal land use plan in order to consolidate urban agriculture areas and form green corridors throughout Lisbon.

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Bangalore, India

India’s population is largely agrarian, accounting for nearly 60% of the population’s livelihood, yet India is rapidly urbanizing, making urban agriculture ever more pertinent to urban-dwelling populations.  In Bangalore, urban and peri-urban agriculture is on the rise, including backyard, frontyard, balcony and container gardens.  The city at large is quite progressive in greening initiatives, and at present is a pilot city in the Cities Farming for the Future programme, which will contribute to urban poverty reduction and urban food security among other things.

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Amman, Jordan

Jordan is among the ten most water-scarce countries in the world, which means that access to and the cost of water is a limiting factor for urban gardeners.  However, in the capital city of Amman about one in six residents practice urban agriculture.  They grow olives, fruit, vegetables, and herbs or keep livestock on plots that average about one hundred square feet.  The contribution of urban agriculture to the household economy is substantial: in a country where the monthly income averages around $130 USD, the total value of food grown averages $70 USD per household.  Jordan is currently experimenting with different greywater recycling programs to enhance water and food security.

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Rosario, Argentina

Just under a decade ago, Rosario, a city about 300 km northwest of Buenos Aires, launched the Programa de Agricultura Urbana (PAU — urban agriculture program), with the intent of supplementing the city’s food donation programs to the poor, but with economic crisis in full swing, the PAU was ramped up to meet the demand by eager citizens, providing urban gardeners with supplies, tools, and weekly organic gardening classes.  With the support of a Canadian-funded research project, Rosario was able to craft a long-term urban agriculture strategy, with the ongoing objective of poverty reduction.  The city has created a factory for natural beauty products processed from urban produce, a vegetable processing room, as well as seven municipal markets specifically for urban farmers.

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Havana, Cuba

Perhaps the world’s best known and most successful example, Havana turned to urban agriculture as a self-sufficiency tactic following economic isolation and collapse in the early 1990s.  As a result of lack of petroleum inputs, agroecological principles were used to initiate urban gardens in close proximity to areas of high population density and today, Havana sports more than 26,000 gardens which produce 25,000 tons of food each year.  In addition to backyard gardens, Havana’s urban agriculture includes organopónicos, or raised beds filled with compost usually on paved lots, as well as cooperative agricultural production units which broke state farms into smaller units and by 1997.  Havana’s success has translated into greater environmental, community, and personal health for its citizens, as well as drastically increased food security and sovereignty.

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Chicago, USA

Chicago’s experiences in urban agriculture stem from a desire to address climate change in addition to urban poverty and food insecurity.  Chicago, with a population of nearly three million, boasts over 600 community gardens, as well as a government supportive of urban agriculture and green roofing programs.  With over 70,000 acres of vacant lots in the greater Chicago area (with a population of nearly 10 million), Will Allen of Milwaukee’s Growing Power, has partnered with Heifer International to create Growing Home, an urban farm managed by formerly homeless people, with produce going directly to shelters and soup kitchens throughout the city.  At the end of 2010, the mayor of Chicago introduced legislation to add community gardens and commercial urban farms to the city’s zoning ordinance, which, if adopted, would make gardens and farms legal land uses within the city limits.

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A big thank you to Hannah Renglich for her help with this section.