Urban Agriculture and Vegetation: A Foundation of Sustainability
The problem: a city without agriculture and vegetation
A community without an urban agriculture and integrated vegetation strategy has much to be concerned about. Without a plan, the community faces vanishing natural resources and excess consumption resulting in ongoing challenges in the following areas:
- Increased greenhouse gas emissions
- Diminishing water supply
- Decreased presence of biodiversity
- Lowered health and productivity of its residents
- Poor urban air quality
- Increased dependence on external food supply
The community will continue to experience negative outcomes, especially in the social stability that gives a city its character. The absence of urban agriculture and integrated vegetation results in one missed opportunity after another in which the community could benefit from physical and mental well-being and economic prosperity. Communities all across North America are facing the stark realization that the urban sprawl, traffic congestion, lack of access to fresh food and natural resources are destroying their residents’ quality of life one neighborhood at a time. If this sounds familiar in your community then it’s time to take action and do your part to reverse the damage that’s been done.
The solution: start with urban agriculture.
Urban Agriculture as a Community-Wide Goal
At PowerHouse Growers, we constantly reinforce the value that local food production and integrated urban vegetation hold for the entire community in question. Reducing pollution and crime rates, increasing employment opportunities, and securing natural resource availability are all important reasons to green your cities.
The first step is to make integrated urban agriculture and vegetation a primary goal and focus of the entire community. Once the vision has been communicated, those affected by the outcome have a clear understanding of what they must work towards. Generally, people will begin to feel responsible for their community and for themselves. This sense of buy-in will lead to greater impact a lot sooner than without a clear plan.
Cities offering incentives and rebates to land-owners, businesses, and homeowners have done a great job of encouraging community stakeholders to be environmentally and socially responsible. Community gardens, green roofs, farmers’ markets, rooftop gardens, and community supported agriculture programs revitalize the city landscape, invigorate social connectivity, and offer creative solutions to chronic urban challenges.
Sustainable Communities: The Bigger Picture
At the heart of a truly sustainable city is an integrated urban agriculture and vegetation plan. By definition, a “sustainable” community is one that does not use up or deplete its resources and can thus, last for a long time. A sustainable community is one that develops over time by ensuring that its growth will produce greater social and environmental results along the way. To be completely successful, this sustainability will be achieved while still yielding the desired economic prosperity.
The State of Michigan has overcome many challenges economically but despite its ongoing obstacles has used innovation to create new business opportunities by sticking to local agriculture distribution networks that benefit the state’s farmers. Implementing a wide variety of farming styles across the region, they’ve been able to act resourcefully and have seen positive results throughout their rebuilding phase.
Overcoming Management Challenges
In a time when our resources are vanishing, urban planners and city officials must apply proper management techniques to evaluate the types of urban agriculture and integrated vegetation practices that will best serve the city. Analyzing the relationships between the distribution of vegetation and the particular climate is necessary to ensure the longevity of these practices. Some cities have found it beneficial to designate urban agriculture zones which can be based on a number of factors. Having a clear understanding of the city’s unique environment and native plant assortment is crucial to allergen factors and maintenance requirements.
The State of Missouri recently implemented their Urban Agriculture Act after realizing the state-wide dependence on outsourced food meant there were improvements to make in promoting sustainability. The Act incentivizes residents to turn empty lots into food producing plots. Thanks to Senator Jason Holsman, the state now has a clear vision of its future and Missouri residents have opportunities they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Setting sustainability goals for a city is the best way to achieve amazing results. Starting with a local food production and integrated vegetation strategy will lead to a mindset where clean energy and proper water conservation techniques are equally important factors in maintaining plant growth.
What urban agriculture practices does your city have? Send us your success stories to inspire other cities to do the same.