Urban Farming as a Successful Business
Currently urban farming is a popular trend but it is not yet significantly changing the way we grow and eat. As we farm locally using sustainable/organic techniques we'll be reducing our carbon foodprint and eating better food. However, in order for urban farming to significantly impact our food supply it has to be economically successful.
There are currently three business models Urban Farmers can pursue that have been proven successful:
- SPIN (Small Plot INtensive) Farming - succession growing high-value crops like herbs and salad mixes intensively using free or cheap land from neighbours' backyards
- Design/build/maintain - building raised bed vegetable gardens and maintaining them for a weekly fee)
- CCSA's (Combined Community Supported Agriculture) - offering not only fresh veggies and fruits, but also local sustainable meat and 'artisan' food from local vendors that can include anything from honey to fresh salsa
With food prices increasing and unemployment high, the time is perfect to start an urban farm. The biggest impediment to doing so currently is the lack of support and information on how exactly to run a profitable farm. Urban Patches has profiled a number of successful urban farmers which will point aspiring farmers in the right direction. The site is designed for farmers to connect (via facebook) and share their best practices on how to successfully run a farm wherever they are in the world.
The intensive farming and design/build/maintain technique can actively reduce the amount of lawns we're fertilizing and mowing while increasing local food production.
Adding on Elliot Coleman's techniques for harvesting in the winter means we can access fresh local food year round.
The CCSA's role will be allowing local food producers to compete directly with grocery stores. CCSA's will have the ability to offer quality, sustainable food year-round as a weekly subscription. It gets not only urban farmers involved, but other local food vendors. This will the the element of food distribution that will ultimately compete with grocery stores.
Urban Farmers have refined their business plans enough in the last 10 years to make a solid living farming in the city. To see this trend continue, information on the best practices used by these farmers needs to be shared. Urban Patches looks to be a great resource for teaching and inspiring city farmers around the world.