Urban Agriculture -- Creating Links
Urban agriculture is a relatively new focus in the portfolios of state agricultural experiment stations and cooperative extension. Yet it is an increasingly important focus for densely populated areas in the Northeast region of the United States. Urban agriculture does not intend to be a disruptive competitor of rural and peri-urban agriculture. Alternatively, urban agriculture partners with and complements traditional agriculture while meeting four key objectives:
1. Innovating food production to meet the demand for healthy nutrient rich food;
2. Improving public health through better food access and food security;
3. Introducing ecosystems services into the ecologically disrupted urban scape; and,
4. Introducing nature-deprived populations to their food source and nature connection
These four objectives have always been the focus of agriculture. (1) Agriculture has succeeded in producing more food with fewer producers through continuous innovation; (2) Agriculture has made strides to improve food access by lowering the percentage of household income spent on food, yet its growing centralization has also led to disparities in food access; (3) Agriculture is more dependent on ecosystems services including nutrient cycling, buffering, micro-organismic activity, etc. than most other production sectors, yet its ecosystems contributions have at times been underestimated and neglected; and (4) Agriculture has long linked people to nature(e.g., sun, air, greenery), yet the growing disconnect of large segments of the population from Agriculture has led to a deprivation in sensory development and context awareness.