How Howard University in Washington DC is Making Strides in Urban Farming

Urban farming at Howard University

Howard University and Urban Farming

What is Urban Farming?

The term urban farming or urban agriculture refers to all forms of production in agriculture which takes place in cities, or around cities. The National Agricultural Library states that urban farmers have exploited the power of technology leading to innovative products that help feed the urban residents. The library adds that urban farming policy making is viewed as a larger component of the local food system.

Contrary to what many people think, urban farming is not a new phenomenon. The American Society of Landscape Architects states that in around 3500 BC, the people of Mesopotamia would have plots in their growing towns and cities. 1500 years later, the residents of the towns of Persia would use aqueducts and mountain water in order to grow food. The narrative about urban farming has continued to be relevant down the years albeit in different forms.

Today, urban farming is growing in popularity in order to help the social, economic, and environmental needs of urban residents. As a matter of fact, urban farming has been seen as a matter of environmental advocacy as well as social justice.

Urban farming takes various forms, and these include the following:

-Urban gardens and farms on the ground

– aquaponic indoor production and hydroponic

-Farming on the rooftops

-Nursery business as well as landscaping

-Urban livestock

-Vacant lots


Notable Statistics and Trends

Matei Georgescu, a professor of Arizona State University, together with other researchers, stated that urban farming, if well implemented, could lead to 180 million metric tons of food every year. The study encouraged urban farmers to renew their commitment to urban farming.

There are a number of countries which have done very well when it comes to urban farming. These include the following 5 which are regarded as one of the best in urban farming:

Argentina: The municipal council of Rosario, Santa Fe started an urban farming initiative which aimed at establishing community gardens. This was a watershed moment for the people of Rosario who were recovering from an economic and social crisis which took place in 2001. The initiative has seen small farms popping up including in areas with garbage. With the example set by Rosario, it is hoped, the rest of the country will follow suit and set up such farms.

Seoul, South Korea: If there is a city which is experiencing a shrinking space, and a growing population, then that city is Seoul. The city has a population of about 10 million people. Feeding such a big population in a healthy way can be a daunting task. Seoul residents grow crops in tiny spaces, in the rooftops, and in balconies. This initiative has the blessings of the Agriculture ministry which wants to convert unused spaces and unused buildings into gardens. Seoul is particularly good in vertical gardening.

Netherlands: Netherlands is a country with limited technology but exploits the power of technology in urban farming. A lot of urban farming is done indoors including the growth of strawberries and cucumbers. For instance, a company known as RotterZwam does mushroom farming in Rotterdam. Dutch Minister of Agriculture accepts that urban agriculture cannot feed the country but can help in establishing the connection between the urban residents and planet earth. In addition to that, Netherlands is known for its social action and affirmative action. For instance, the disabled and the mentally challenged people are given an opportunity to take part in farming together with the others.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosnia and Herzegovina has experienced the scars of political instability and war for many years and the country is, ideally, in recovery. Therefore, getting reliable food is a matter of survival. In Sarajevo, urban farming is not spearheaded by the government. Rather, it is the initiative of NGOs, the Seeds of Peace for instance. The farming of pepper, onions, and carrots in urban areas brings people together and enhances a sense of unity. However, Sarajevo needs more help in realizing this objective and at least 2000 applicants are on the waiting list seeking urban farming opportunities.

Ghana: Accra, Ghana is at the forefront in having permaculture principles to practice. Urban farming in Accra plays a critical role in improving the socio-economic situation of the people, and at the same time, it plays an important role in improving the environment. Urban farming closes the gap between the lower class and the middle class as there is interaction between the two in selling of the food produced.

Rationale in Urban Farming

To state the obvious, food is essential in the day to day life. The problem, then, becomes how to feed a growing American population in a consistent and healthy way. Whereas some have advocated for allowing food imports in order to provide the US with food, importing has its challenges and weaknesses.

Importing food means, most likely, that one is going to use air transport. This is because most of the foods are perishable. Air transport is an expensive means of transport, and it has space limitations. Again, importing food means that the US is going to rely on other country for one thing or the other, and there is a possibility of disruption of the global supply chain.

Residents as well as policy makers have seen the need to implement policies which will lead to feeding the population in a healthy and sustainable way. It should be noted that engaging in urban farming could also be a creative way of spending free time, and engaging in group activities. Some state that urban farming can be a good way of landscaping and for the aesthetics of the environment.

However, if one is to do urban farming, one should be ready to face some challenges. For instance, the cost of land is very high in the urban areas. Again, most of the government services and technical assistance is geared towards the rural areas. This is because of the wrong assumption that farmers can only live in the rural areas. Most of the urban places live in isolation and rarely engage in communal activities. In engaging in urban farming, there is enhancement of communal activities. It should be noted that farm labor is scarce in urban areas, and it could be more expensive.

There are many economic benefits of urban farming. Unfortunately, the rate of inflation is so high that urban residents look for any way through which they can reduce the day to day expenses. Some urban farmers are so successful that they produce enough for their family, and they are able to earn a steady income from the same. Other urban farmers have gone online in order to document what they do, and they use this information in order to educate others who have the same aspirations. Others have viewed their urban farming projects as entrepreneurship incubators where they learn from experience about agri-business.

Urban farming carries the benefits of what is termed as eco-system services. These include reducing the heat-island effect. The US Environmental Protection Agency defines heat islands as urban areas, which, due to a plethora of factors, experience higher temperatures than other areas. This is because urban structures, roads and buildings for instance, emit more heat than natural landscapes.

Howard University and Urban Farming

In the US, individuals, municipalities, businesses, and not-for-profit organizations have appreciated the importance of urban farming ventures. Howard University is one of such entities which have seen how impactful urban farming can be. Their Zeta phi beta chapter led the way in Urban Farming.  If you ever visit their campus be sure to see the impact they made and their chapter house where every member is carrying a Zeta phi beta purse. Indeed, an institution of higher learning is not supposed to be limited to theory, but rather, there should be a nexus between theory and practice.

Howard University Organic Farm

Howard University holds that its organic farm should be an educational opportunity on what sustainable business means, and how it can be of help to the university and the community at large. The university has stated its intention in providing the Howard community with healthy and nutritious food that is going to improve their health and life.

There are several core values that guide the Howard University urban farming initiative. To start with, Howard University aims at excellence in its farming project in order to stand out among the others. This is done through following the best practices in urban farming. Second, the university aims at providing leadership in the field of urban farming. This is through leading by example and showing the others the way.

Third, the university desires to provide excellence to the community. Fourth, Howard University presents data and information in truth and in reality in order to avoid miss-leading the stakeholders. Lastly, in the theme of sustainability, the university wants to do urban farming over time, in order to meet the needs of the generations.

Howard University has presented its mission in urban farming. The university is keen to achieve financial and agricultural autonomy. It aims at reducing the carbon print in the university and therefore contributes to the day to day environmental efforts of saving the planet. This is a concrete response to the problem of climate change in the world.

The university desires to provide courses in sciences and practice, on top of the arts courses. Again, working in the field breaks monotony in the classroom. It should be noted that the Howard University urban farming is a zero waste initiative making the project more valuable to the university as well as the greater community.

Challenges to Urban Farming

There are various challenges to urban farming. Perhaps, the most conspicuous one is that urban land is very expensive. This can be a major drawback to the ability to practice urban farming. As a matter of fact, some of the parts of the cities in the US could be categorized as saturated when it comes to any expansion.

If you are a tenant, you may find that you cannot make any decision without the consent and the approval of the landlord. In some cases, landlords have refused permission to take part in such activities fearing possible threats to their property.

Howard University should understand that theft and vandalism can have a deep impact on urban farming. This can be a major threat more so when it comes to embarking on a major urban farming project.

Thus, it is imperative that urban farmers are able to use the available space in the maximum way possible. In addition to that, if you are an urban farmer, you should be prepared to work with the technical assistance which is available in the city, which may not be much.

Towards the Future

Washington DC has some place left for community gardens, and it is important that the community starts taking advantage of such rare opportunities. This can be done by utilizing every space available. The government should support the initiatives of the residents in achieving their endeavours.

There is a need for more research and development when it comes to urban farming and its significance to the day to day lives of Americans. Research and development will help the policy makers to gain more insight on the best way of benefiting from urban farming. It will also give the community an opportunity to learn through disseminated data and information.

Howard University itself can still magnify its urban farming program in order to accommodate more people and help in meeting the needs of the community. The university has already made great strides in urban farming, and it is just a matter of modification and improvement in order to realize optimal outcomes in both the short term and the long term.


There is little chance that urban agriculture will ever feed the world, and the experts accept this as much. But the natural settings of the urban areas can be drastically improved, and there is a lot of potential that comes with urban farming. It is therefore important that Americans are informed about the importance of urban farming and benefit from urban farming. Overall, urban farming plays a critical role in the management of the environment, feeding families, and earning a steady income.

How Urban Farming can Make a Difference In Los Angeles

urban farming


If you live in Los Angeles, you can grow healthier and more affordable foods at home. And it doesn’t have to be hard – even with that limited space you have. In this post, we’ll cover how urban farming can make a difference in Los Angeles. And why you should give it a shot.

But first things first.

What is urban farming?

This is the process of growing food in a heavily populated city. Whether you want to set up a personal garden or grow fresh produce, Los Angeles is a sure bet.

Are you curious about the benefits of urban farming?

Read on.

Promoting a healthy community

Urban Farming increases access to healthy and affordable produce. You also get a unique opportunity to learn about nutrition. Also, numerous urban programs help you to engage the locals on the benefits of eating a healthy diet. Growing your food means access to nutritious foods like herbs, vegetables, and fruits.

And with the advancement of technology, you can now grow food where it was previously impossible. This explains why Los Angeles urban farming is a viable option, especially in places where space is limited. It’s not surprising to find that some people have embraced urban agriculture.

The health benefits of producing rich food are almost unbeatable. They include:

  • Vegetables are rich in fiber
  • You get foods rich in folate, potassium, and essential vitamins
  • Vegetables are cholesterol-free

When you go to the local grocery store, you have little control over the food you get. But with urban farming, you get full control of the harvesting time, light exposure, growing conditions, etc. Why go for that heavily a bruised carrot?

Can reduce food insecurity

Urban farming can allow you to grow and harvest healthy food. You not only conserve land but also reduce carbon footprints. While growing food in the city brings sustainable solutions, it also helps to mitigate the challenges.

Think about it – urban farming can be as little as setting up an outdoor rooftop. You can use also use indoor vertical farms or UV lighting to mimic the effects of the sun.

Food insecurity is not a concept that exists in isolation. It can lead to health problems, low wages, poor housing, etc. Some of the tips that can be used to reduce food insecurity include:

  • Reduce food waste
  • Subsurface irrigation
  • Close the yield gap

To bring green spaces to an urban area

Los Angeles hosts many people, which is evident with the less green spaces. There’s always a consensus when people should reclaim nature. It’s no wonder some cities are viewed as places where true nature ends. And it’s within such cities that contemporary solutions of how to live a sustainable life are found. When growing cities put too much pressure on common agricultural practices, it leads to:

  • Costly processing
  • Complex food supply chains
  • Increased food insecurity
  • Prolonged distribution networks

With this in mind, Los Angeles Urban Farming can bring deep connections to the global economy. That’s not all – you get a sense of belonging.

Improves quality of life

Los Angeles urban farming fosters a connection with nature and can lead to better wellbeing. Numerous studies have also shown that cities that practice farming report fewer respiratory problems and cardiovascular diseases.

Localized food production means that it travels less from the farm to the table. Farmers also adopt environmentally-friendly fertilizers – no use of chemicals or pesticides.

That’s not all. Urban farming can give you control over the conditions, water, and compost you want to use. You can also grow unique heirloom varieties that may be susceptible to pests and diseases. Of course, you can pick fresh fruits and vegetables as soon as they are ready. You don’t have to worry about shelf life.

urban farming Los Angeles

Grow food all year round

Urban farming gives so many options as long as you have space. You can go for rooftop gardening, hydroponic gardening, or just container gardening. In addition to that, you don’t have to worry about drought and water.

You also have control over the location. It’s up to you to choose what you want to grow, how, and where you wish to grow. It’s worth mentioning that urban farming uses 90% less water than traditional farming methods.

To ensure you have enough food supply, you should keep a few things in mind. The most critical factor in choosing the right plants for urban farming. If you want to grow foods for personal use, you can start with vegetables. The best have a shorter growth period and ensures maximum profit. Some of the foods you can plant during spring include:

  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Beets
  • Cucumbers

If you have a good watering system, you can plant vegetables that extend to the spring season. You can also plant kales, peppers, or beans. Other vegetables you can try during winter are:

  • Turnips
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflowers
  • Cabbage
  • Peas

Don’t be afraid to grow herbs alongside your vegetables. Some of the best herbs to consider are Dill, thyme, lavender, sage, and oregano.

Tips to help you grow more in your garden

Well, you want to grow foods that your family loves to eat. Some of the tips that will prevent your veggies from hogging include:

  • Veggies that occupy a lot of space can be grown vertically
  • You should separate the space hogs – use separate containers to plant veggies and herbs.
  • Create steps to ensure all plants get the same amount of sunshine
  • Use hanging baskets on the porch, deck, and balcony

Can boost the local economy

Local food systems have a positive effect on the economy. In other words, more restaurants and schools will seek local food. This is good news for businesses and entrepreneurs. Even better, Los Angeles urban farming can lead to employment. And as the local activities rise, more money circulates within the city.

Urban farming can help you learn a new skill. Most people who live in urban areas have forgotten where their food comes from. You never know – maybe you can develop a new farming method.

If you don’t have the skills to start urban farming, you can get assistance from the local garden community council. A mentor can also help with all matters that relate to managing a garden.

Improves thermal insulation in buildings

Just like other cities in the Western world, most buildings in Los Angeles have rooftops and are a contributor to the urban plight. If you plant vegetables on the rooftop, you’ll notice colder temperatures in summer months and greater warmth in cold months. From a statistical standpoint, it’s estimated that urban farming reduces energy consumption in winter by 10%, and 25% in summer.

Another technique used is vertical farming. It involves the use of small trays where crops are stacked in LEDs. You could have a large number of crops enclosed all year round. And thanks to the constant supply of light, growing such plants require less water.

You may also have heard of floating farms. While this can be a headache in the cities, some people consider it part of their Los Angeles urban farming. They require more room than vegetables.

Saves money

It’s expensive to live in a city. And the large portion of the money you use is usually on food. Did you know that healthy fruits and vegetables cost less than readily available junk food? Just imagine if you can manage to grow lots of food for your family. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? This will not only help to create jobs for other people in the neighborhood but also saves money in the long run.

Maybe you’re worried about the limited space. If you’re thinking about urban farming, you should pay attention to the seasons and planting schedules. Also, you should select the right plants and cycles that best suit your area.

Can help the local demand

If there’s a high demand for local food, you can supply the demand. Perhaps. The best approach is to focus on trendy food. But, the key to success is proper planning. What do you want to accomplish? If you want to make a profit, you should focus on plants that give high yields.

Similarly, if you want to plant crops that meet the local demand and still earn a high profit, you should consider personal taste.

The location also matters. The way you position your plants will determine how much sunlight gets to the plants. If you’re in an area that receives lots of sunlight, you should erect a shade. A better approach is to learn about the gardens in the neighborhood and find one with the right fit.

How about the planting method? If you want to plant on the deck or patio, you should select the right containers.

Don’t forget to gather the supplies – potting soil, fertilizers, and containers to grow the herbs. You also need a trowel. After that, you should decide on the population you want to feed. This information will help you decide on the number of seedlings to plant.

Can bring social benefits

There are many social benefits of urban farming. There’s indeed some evidence that this type of farming increases social bonds. It also enhances integration to otherwise segregated groups.

Los Angeles has programs that teach people about environmental stewardship. Besides community cohesion, you get improved neighborhood aesthetics and increased property values.

When people spend their time farming, the crime rate goes lower – this can be a safe environment for kids. Urban farming also allows you to create a bigger picture. It’s all about making a better world and developing larger cities.

Ecological benefits

Urban agriculture helps to protect scarce species of plants, flowers, and vegetables. On top of that, green spaces can provide a pleasant smell in the city. Another benefit of Los Angeles urban farming is that it can reduce pollutants to boost air quality.

To boost international business

Urban farming can be beneficial to all people involved. If you pursue large scale farming, you should take advantage of the technology. And when urban families become self-reliant, international investors come in, just be careful and make sure you have a good ADR Attorney Los Angeles on your side before taking on investors. This also leads to the creation of jobs and increased taxes for urban development.

Future food security

Los Angeles urban farming helps to boost future food security. In recent years, many diseases have affected the urban environment. This has further led to an increase in water-borne diseases, allergies, diabetes, etc. Urban agriculture has also lead to the provision of healthy and safe food.

Sustainable water management

When it rains, the water is retained in the cities. If you can embrace Los Angeles urban farming, green roofs can absorb rainwater to reduce the collapse of the sewer systems. This also eliminates pathogens that can lead to diseases.

To mitigate the effects of global warming

Let’s face it: global warming is a catastrophic threat. Through Los Angeles urban farming, people can mitigate the effects of gases trapped in the atmosphere. Plus farming operations like crop rotation, use of cover crops, and crop production systems can improve soil health. You may be curious why most farmers continue to use traditional agricultural practices even in the city.

LA urban farm

What are the common approaches to urban farming?

Los Angeles Urban farming can be done in almost any part of the city. It can also be practiced in:

  • Schools
  • Public parks
  • Restaurants
  • And anywhere else you think of

If the weather outside is not conducive, you can still create a stable pest-free environment. For example, you can use container farms. And because they take up small space, you can use them anywhere. Also, they come with special systems that can help with climate control, lighting, etc.

In the heart of the city, rooftop space comes at a premium. If you spot such an area, it’s a largely underused resource. You must talk to the owner of the building to see what he can allow you to use. You have to be careful about the kind of load the rooftop can support.

Other farming techniques that can help you engage in a successful venture include:

  • Hydroponics – the plants are grown in water without soil. The essential nutrients must be added before you immerse the plants in water.
  • Vertical farming
  • Backyard gardens

Final thoughts

If you live in a city – growing food doesn’t have to be expensive. Los Angeles urban farming can help you to sustainably grow your fruits and vegetable. It’s a way of living a healthier lifestyle and generating profit.

We all deserve to be happy, and so should you.