Urban farming can be an effective solution to many modern issues regarding food production and the environment. Urban farms make food less expensive to produce, and more eco-friendly transport and deliver. They could also help to lift many urban families out of poverty.
This is especially true in California, where all of these problems are most noticeable. There is more need for minority youth to find involvement in community projects, and a greater need for food security due to overpopulation and drought issues.
The Growing Experience is an urban farm in Los Angeles, founded during a major drought in 2008. The farm covers seven acres and is located within Camelitos public housing development, in Long Beach. One of its main goals is to use water in a responsible way.
The farm raises only plants that are native to California, using permaculture design that covers the ground in seven layers of vegetation, made to mimic a natural eco-system. For instance, crops that cannot stand the heat are planted under the shade of larger trees.
Growing Experience is also known for its aquaponic greenhouse. It is connected to a a fish tank, and they supply each other with nutrients.
FARM LA was founded in 2014 with the goal to rescue underutilized land in the city, turning it into something profitable and useful instead. This began with small projects such as creating mini farms along the sidewalks of the city.
A full-scale farm was founded in 2018, by a community of dedicated volunteers and workers. It is focused on producing drought resistant crops, and the food produced on the farm is sold the local community exclusively. Portions of the food are also donated to local food banks, homes of the elderly, and community fruit shares.
Aeroponic technology refers to the method of growing food in the air as opposed to the water or soil. This is how Lettuce Grow of La creates their produce. The goal is to promote and install these systems in farms and home gardens throughout LA.
At Lettuce Grow HQ, ideas of aeroponic technology are put into practice, growing as much as 100 different crops with the method. No soil is used, and the plants are instead grown in a substance known as rockwool.
As a result, there are also no pest issues, as most crop pests are found in the soil. This in turn eliminates the need for pesticides.
Step Up On A Vine is an NGO based in Hollywood. Their public works began with the aim to provide safe shelter for the local homeless population. These days, they are moving into new areas of work as they continue to aid the homeless.
Shelter buildings are multipurposed as aeroponic farms, using the roofs to grow plants without the use of soil. These tower farms are becoming a trend in California, particularly in urban areas where space is limited. This also means that the farms add much needed greenery. It’s a way to cool large urban areas, mitigating the problems with heat that are so prevalent in California.
Local Roots is an indoor farming operation in California, based in 40-foot long shipping containers that are used to produce “terra farms”. This method produces as much yield as five acres of traditional farmland.
Each container features state of the art technology for climate control, as well as calibrated LED lights to aid the growth of leafy greens. This high-tech approach to agriculture isn’t yet popular since it can be rather pricey to establish, but this farm proves that it can be done.
California is leading the way in terms of agricultural change, providing unique services designed to change the way we think about farming.