What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Agriculture’?
Does a farm come to mind? Perhaps barn animals, gardening or open fields of crops? While these concepts may be aspects of traditional Agriculture, the field of Urban Agriculture is taking crop production to new heights – literally!
What is Urban Agriculture?
Urban Agriculture can be defined as “growing fruits, herbs, and vegetables and raising animals in cities.” It also includes many other activities such as processing and distributing food, collecting and reusing food waste and rainwater, and educating, organizing, and employing local residents.
Numerous studies have shown that Urban Agriculture can contribute to the social, economic and ecological well-being of a community. It is also growing in popularity all over the world as people become more conscious of what they are putting into their bodies, and increasingly choose locally grown organic produce over processed food. The trend is also a way for people to help the planet by incorporating more greenery – such as parks, trees and gardens – into urban areas.
What’s happening in Urban Agriculture?
There have been many exciting developments in this sector, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for young professionals to start their careers in this growing field. Below are some trends in Urban Agriculture and ways to get involved!
A green rooftop is when a roof’s surface is partially or fully covered in plant life or vegetation – it can include rooftop farming, gardening, or even a greenhouse. They can be installed on top of office and commercial buildings, schools and universities, and private homes.
A green roof consists of many technologically and professionally installed components that all function together to maintain it and to deliver various benefits, such as:
- Improved air quality
- Natural insulation for the building
- Contributing to natural biodiversity and wildlife habitats
- The opportunity to grow fresh, organic produce that can be sold locally
There are plenty of ways students and grads can get involved with this in-demand trend. Because of the complex systems that need to be installed for green roofs to function efficiently, there are many career opportunities in the installation and maintenance of these systems. Additionally, if you’re looking for something more creative, there are also jobs related to landscape and design where you can help create beautiful, vibrant and safe green roofs and surrounding spaces.
This highly popular trend in Urban Agriculture consists of producing food/crops in vertically stacked layers, vertically inclined surfaces, or integrating them into other structures. This particular practice uses Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) technology so all environmental factors – such as humidity, temperature and isolation from external air – can be controlled.
Vertical farming and CEA technology both have many advantages.
- It uses less space than conventional farming
- It uses 70%-90% less water
- Foods are grown without the use of pesticides
- It can be implemented almost anywhere
Because this is a fairly new trend, more research and analysis needs to be conducted to grasp the true benefits of this type of farming, and to ensure that proper policies and practices are in place for sustainable production. However, the recent rise in vertical farming and its use of high-end technology has created many more jobs in both the Green sector and Agriculture.
There are plenty of roles in the research and technological areas of this growing trend – for example, Science and Engineering grads would be perfect for roles such as Research Analyst or Agricultural Engineer. If you’re looking to work with plants or crops directly, a career as a Horticulturalist might be a better fit for you.
This emerging trend is essentially the integration of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in water and without soil) into one system. Because the fish waste provides organic food for the growing plants and the plants naturally filter the water in which the fish live, this practice almost eliminates waste while producing two high-value crops.
Similar to green roofs and vertical farming, aquaponic gardening also comes with a lot of advantages and benefits.
- Since it doesn’t require soil, such a system can be set up almost anywhere
- It is essentially organic – this method doesn’t require the use of pesticides, hormones or antibiotics
- It uses 90% less water than soil-based gardening
If you’re looking to get involved in aquaponic gardening, there are lots of career possibilities. You can attain a job in manufacturing and distribution of gardening/hydroponic equipment or if you have a passion for working with animals, you could become a fish farmer.
If you simply want to teach people in your local community on how they can set-up their own aquaponic garden and grow their own food, joining various non-profit organizations can help you make this a reality. Such organizations provide information, resources, and volunteer opportunities to individuals looking to educate themselves and their community about aquaponic gardening.
The possibilities for starting you career in Urban Agriculture are endless, you just have to find what interests you!