The advancement of urban farming is accelerating rapidly. Individual consumers, broad based community groups like Village Vancouver and other Transition Town initiatives, and even local governments are showing increasing interest in urban farming.
In the United States, metropolitan areas contain 33% or 696,000 of the estimated 2 million farms in 1991. These farms, which operate on 16% of farmland, account for 35% of all crops and livestock sales (Heimlich and Barnard 1993). Approximately 25% of all household are involved in urban agriculture. An estimated $38 million dollars worth of food is produced from urban plots. There are over a thousand municipal greening projects.
New York City has over 1000 community gardens; Boston 400; and San Francisco 100. Philadelphia’s “Green” Program, which spread to Canada, has an impressive record in urban agriculture. Montreal has 10,000 allotments. Toronto has nearly the same number. Vancouver’s “City Farmer” Program has been running for 20 years.
There has been a marked increase in interest in local and urban farming over the last few years. In cities like Detroit, there are now over 800 urban farms operating where less than 10 years ago, there were none. The publication of the “The 100 Mile Diet” challenged people to only purchase food produced within a 100 miles of where they live, and the publicity that these ideasreceived has contributed toexplosive growth in demand for local food. According to the IEA (International Energy Association), world conventional oil production probably peaked in 2006 and this has significantly increased input costs for large scale industrial agriculture with its heavy dependence on fertilizers and pesticides derived primarily from crude oil and natural gas, on refrigeration, energy intensive processing and transportation. The cost of food is likely to increase substantially over the coming years, greatly increasing the motivation of most individuals to find more affordable access to food and to fresh produce.
By making it accessible, easy and affordable for Vancouver families who lack access to land for growing food, to grow food in and around their homes, Home Harvest Farms support the City of Vancouver’s food security goals.
The city of Vancouver, for example, is seeking to become the greenest city in North America by 2020. Our Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP – talkgreenvancouver.ca) embraces 10 key strategies to “green” our city. The tenth strategy is local food with the objective “to become a global leader in urban food systems.”