Challenges of urban agriculture

What we are searching for at the moment is not a specific technology or method but rather a new generation of farmers.

For many of you, this might be a stereotypical kind of article, similar to what you see in many mainstream media posts. While they give a decent introduction into the topic for masses, in my opinion, it is important to truly explain what is going on and what we are trying to achieve. The goal is not to show cool, technology-packed farms all around the world, but rather bring up the interest and engagement of as many people as possible, to join this journey on finding the fitting solution.

The future of farming is looking bright, but to make it really work a cooperation of all of us is needed. We need to act now as populations keep rising and temperatures continue to climb. The best solution for a fight against time are numbers – if we can manage to invite as many people as possible and offer them all the knowledge and support necessary, our chances will get much better. So for the rest of you, who are just getting started and diving into urban farming for the first time, let’s get straight into it.

Our relationship to food has been getting closer and closer in recent years. People demand transparency where and how their food is grown. Many of us no longer grab the most visually appealing product from a shelf, but carefully scan through the etiquette to see what’s actually inside first. We get to choose from high-calorie, low-nutrient, processed food that has traveled hundreds or thousands of kilometers. You know your internet service provider better than the farmer who grows and harvests things you eat. What happens is a total disconnection from providers and a loss of community in our food. And these facts also apply only if you are lucky enough to live in an environment where a food shortage is not a problem. Last, but not least, we cannot forget the nature – our resources are limited and we are slowly but surely running out and destroying what we still have.

The idea of urban farming comes from these questions and insufficiencies. In a single sentence, it aims to deliver healthy and sustainable food that is affordable, accessible and attractive to all. Easy to say, but very challenging to put into reality – there are so many areas that need an improvement or a complete change. If you can’t think off at least 4, you should carefully read the previous paragraph again. However, the great news is that we are already seeing great pilots working on this and looking for the correct solutions. There are all kinds of projects, from small local farmers to massive vertical farms inside of industrial buildings.

At this point, nobody knows what is the best way is, but exactly that essentially presents an extraordinary opportunity for millennials and entrepreneurs to go out and give it a shot. We cannot rely on big companies addressing these issues by themselves now since they will wait until we can come up with a feasible setup. The average age of an American farmer is 58 and rising. We need to find, inspire and educate a new generation of farmers, and I think urban farming is a great fit for this. A technology-packed job in a city (or in the nearest vicinity) providing healthy enjoyment for others – which is something I personally consider very appealing.

It must be mentioned that many of these small projects will fail while searching for the best recipe for this situation. Once somebody finds a promising concept, it is very likely that corporations will take over and mass adapt it. But until then, we are sitting at an exciting place in history where everyone has an opportunity to shine. It is a race against the time, fighting for a better future and maybe even a survival. And so I would like to encourage you to join this fight, to try, build, experiment, win or fail, and along your journey educate and help others. We need to connect with each other again, and the food is a great topic where to start!

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