Hyperlocal Food: Taking Urban Agriculture To The Next Level

As local food gains recognition and prestige through the sustainability field, more and more lifestyles and businesses will begin to apply sustainable principles. And it’s easier now than ever to understand why such a shift will occur. An emphasis on locally-based agriculture yields results like fresher food, reduced resource consumption, reduced energy costs, and many other benefits.
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Hydroponic Garden.  Image via progressivegardening.com.

A subset of local food, coined “hyperlocal” food is the next step that anyone interested in urban agriculture should investigate.  Hyperlocal “connotes having the character of being oriented around a well defined, community scale area with primary focus being directed towards the concerns of its residents”. Basically, the framework of hyperlocal is applied to local food production, providing benefits that cannot be obtained by any other form of sustainable food distribution. Hyperlocal food is a definitive next step in local food, and its embrace can expand the benefits of local food to a larger size of the population.

What “Hyperlocal” Food Means

Hyperlocal food at its heart is very similar to local food. In fact, it’s in many ways the same thing. The core remains: providing local food can help build communities, provide fresher food, and help promote sustainability and environmental consciousness. The difference between the two, however, is subtle yet important.
One major difference of hyperlocal food as compared to local food is the complete elimination of the need for any outside production sources, in order to focus entirely on growing the exact amount of food one would need. What’s also important is the ongoing benefits towards others. While there’s no set description of whom to help, using one’s own garden has incredible benefits if the resources being applied are also hyperlocal.
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Organic Strawberries.  Image via kqed.org.

What does it mean for the average citizen? Being able to grow your own food thanks to technology tailor-made for personal growing is become a reality for more people, and hyperlocal food production now makes this possible for individuals. Assuming one has the tools and the knowledge on how to grow their own food, the possibilities to grow your own food at home creates an unparalleled dietary advantage. This hyperlocal trend can help ensure that an individual has food that could, if grown correctly, be almost utopian in its perfection.  It also can help support community engagement, on a very intimate and minuscule level.
A new hyperlocal dining trend is the concept of having a restaurant in your own home. This concept could be applied to individuals who grow all of their organic food at home. A person growing food and serving others is definitely taking hyperlocal food to the next level. Such activities have the potential to build communities of like-minded individuals. Producing local food can also be an effective way to supplement your income, since such activities can make up to $50,000 a year.  Sites such as VoulezVousDiner and Feastly are helping connect these types of hyperlocal “restaurants” with other members of the community.

Hyperlocal Restaurants

Hyperlocal food is not just limited to the confines of one’s own dinner table. Hyperlocal food has now started to catch on within the restaurant industry. Hyperlocal restaurants are now a growing trend in the restaurant industry. Many restauranteurs are now growing food on the roofs of their restaurants’ roofs. Ideally, these restaurants can increase awareness about local food, provide sustainable benefits, serve as a business model, and give back to a community in the form of urban agriculture.

Here are two example restaurants which employ hyperlocal food production:

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Dining area of Rosemary’s. Image via rosemarysnyc.com.

  • The Local Root: Located in Chicago, Illinois, this restaurant serves Southern style food made from ingredients grown on the roof of the restaurant.  This restaurant aims to deliver hyperlocal food, and also shares the vision of community. Both owners believe in sustainability, and hope to engage with customers about the benefits of local food.
  • Rosemary’s Kitchen: Located in New York City, this Italian restaurant uses food from their own rooftop garden. By aiming their sites on providing hyperlocal food, the result is a healthier and more sustainable product. The restaurant does use outside resources, but they generally engage in hyperlocal food sourcing.
Of course, the number of hyperlocal restaurants is surely not limited to these few restaurants. One well thought-out Google search may be able to bring hyperlocal restaurants to the forefront; restaurants that would have gone unnoticed otherwise. If there are hyperlocal restaurants within or near one’s city, it would be worth tracking them down and supporting them.

About The Author

Alex Ageno earned his degree in Urban Planning in 2013 from Arizona State University. Alex's interests in Urban Planning include Urban Design, Sustainability, Form Based Codes, Zoning, and Environmental Planning. He resides in Arizona.