[The increase of grain prices and the decrease of crop yields as displayed in a recent feature in the Economist.]

With the recent food crisis, one need look no further than Vancouver … and Cuba for responses.

Vancouver's Olympic Village is set to include urban agriculture; rainwater management systems; green roofs; and neighbourhood energy system. The urban agriculture prompted an in depth report outlining urban agriculture and its trajectory. Within this document is a useful definition of urban agriculture:

The term urban agriculture, as it is commonly used, refers to any agricultural production that takes place within the urban and peri-urban region. This could include the growing of food (vegetables, grains, mushrooms, even meat and dairy products), medicinal plants, herbs, and ornamental plants. It includes a diverse array of techniques and approaches ranging from backyard growing to large-scale urban market gardening, hydroponic greenhouses and aquaculture. It is not just community gardening although this is an important component in many cities. Food is of paramount importance because of its primary contribution to survival, health, culture and impact on the environment. This study primarily focuses on food rather than some of the other agricultural/horticultural products.
The study of urban agriculture is often focused on food production within a City, which predominantly means the growing of soft fruits, salad crops, herbs and vegetables. However, in a high-density community like SEFC some of the opportunities for food production are limited compared with neighbourhoods with a higher proportion of open space. The potential for addressing the issues of sustainability is likely to be greatly enhanced by examining other aspects of the food system such as how and where food is processed, and the manner in which it is distributed…

Get the Southeast False Creek Urban Agriculture (207 page!) report as a full PDF here.
Cuba's story is more complex. It developed the organoponicos, organic urban farms, in the 1990s as a response to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Cuba's intensive monoculture approach to farming was dependent upon Soviet agrochemicals. Cuba was heavily dependent on imports and this event threatened food security. To gain greater independence, the government launched a nationwide organic urban agriculture movement. Organoponicos made Cuba one of the only countries to develop state-sponsored urban farms.

[A downtown Havana organoponico.]

This practice has also been taken up in Caracas since Hugo Chavez came into power in 1999. Chavez promotes urban agriculture as a form of 'endogenous development.' An inward-looking self-sufficiency.

[Organoponico Bolivar I garden occupies 1.2 acres in the center of Caracas.]

related: Fritz Haeg's Edible Estates

[Edible Estates, Fritz Haeg.]

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