New Study Reveals How Crucial Urban Farming Is To Food Security

You’ve probably heard of – or even bought produce from – any number of urban farming initiatives. But how productive are these companies, really, and do they have the capacity to produce food at the scale of traditional agriculture? TO new study published yesterday by researchers at the UK’s Lancaster University has concluded that in many cases, the answer is yes.

Published in the journal Earth’s Future, the new research indicates that urban gardening techniques including indoor vertical farming and hydroponics meet and in some cases exceed the yields produced by traditional farming in rural areas (via ScienceDaily). Given the boom in urban populations and lingering questions about how those populations will feed themselves in an increasingly urbanized future, researchers out of the UK’s Lancaster University wanted to tackle the topic by examining how well cities are equipped to grow crops.

To do so, the team, led by environmental scientist Florian Payen, analyzed the outputs of both urban green spaces such as community gardens as well as “gray spaces,” areas such as building rooftops and facades that aren’t yet used for growing food but easily could be. The researchers found that some crops, such as cucumbers, root vegetables, and lettuces, yield two to four times the amounts grown rurally when grown in urban settings, with many other urban crops producing similar yields to rurally grown ones.