Issuu on Google+

Matthew McCallum

CCDN331

URBAN AGRICULTURE & LIVESTOCK FARMING

IS IT OUR FUTURE? Matthew McCallum 300161469 CCDN331 – Live Theory Kath Foster

1


Matthew McCallum

CCDN331

2

Introduction Urban agriculture is growing increasingly popular globally and raises the question is it just a trend or the beginning of a revolution? Urban agriculture has been around throughout history in one form or another. However, the demands and issues of today’s society requires new and innovative solutions allowing for urban livestock farming including fish, chicken, honeybees and more. This new transition is seems revolutionary but what are the potential benefits and concerns we should have about livestock being farmed on our cities? To what extent can design and designers help make urban agriculture a sustainable and effective farming solution for the future?

What is urban agriculture? Urban Agriculture (UA) refers to the production of crops and livestock within cities and towns (Zezza & Tasciotti, 2010). “UA is different from, and complementary to, rural agriculture in local food systems” (Mougeot L. J., 1994, p. 1). Urban agriculture encompasses a broad range of activities that incorporates both food and non-food production such as tobacco and silk worms (Mougeot L. J., 1994). Urban agriculture plays an integral role within a city or town as it influences social, economic and ecology systems (RUAF Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security). Certain data from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) suggests that UA enterprises employ 200million people that supply 400million urban dwellers (Zezza & Tasciotti, 2010). Many of today’s UA is situated in poor and developing countries such as Latin America, Africa and Asia (Smit, Ratta, & Nasr, 1996). However, the increasing emphasis being placed on sustainability across the globe is seeing UA becoming part of more cities in new and innovative ways.

Urban Agriculture: Nothing New Urban agriculture may seem like a recent concept thanks to modern media and the Internet. However, UA has existed in many forms across many cultures throughout history. By looking back at examples of UA we can begin to understand whether the UA of today is here to stay or if it is simply another trend of our time. The beginnings of urban agriculture could potentially go as far back as agriculture itself due to the limitations of transportation and refrigeration most farming was either in or around towns and cities (Heimer). The ancient Persians and Egyptians were among the first to develop methods of UA in the form of walled gardens that were skillfully irrigated called pairidaeze (paradises) (Mougeot ,. L., 1994). Around 1500BC in Thebes the Egyptian capital gardens were everywhere, the walled variety containing fruit and other exotic foods provided produce to households (Mougeot ,. L., 1994). Some cities had even developed underground cellars for food storage, animal keeping and breweries (Mougeot ,. L., 1994). The Romans famous for building aqueducts also pioneered fish farming around 100BC by connecting the city of Cosa with its harbor using an artificial lagoon in which its tanks contained eels and a range of fish species (Mougeot ,. L., 1994). These historical triumphs relied on more than just clever architecture and engineering these were complex designed solutions that were designed with the general citizen in mind.


Matthew McCallum

CCDN331

3

These solutions were not socially demeaning, as it was understood that they helped create a more advanced civilization. UA was a well-practiced activity across the globe and in most cases very sophisticated (Mougeot ,. L., 1994). For instance Latin America were using innovative architecture and city planning to allow for intensive farming in their cities. A great example of early UA is in the ancient city of Machu Picchu in Peru, its garden terraces can still be visited today and in surrounding areas there have been remains of guinea pigs found dating back as far as 1800BC indicating early livestock keeping in cites also (Mougeot ,. L., 1994). Later in Medieval Europe many castles contained raised herb gardens and rabbitries as food supply was of utmost importance and part of a successful survival strategy (Mougeot ,. L., 1994). The concept of the survival strategy brings me to some more recent examples of UA being used in times of struggle as opposed to periods of growth and expansion. The survival strategy used by civilization relied on UA in a number of ways but mainly it was seen as a reliable source of sustenance less vulnerable to supply disruption. Urban food production grew with the city to prevent famine, malnutrition but also allowed for markets and foreign trade (Mougeot ,. L., 1994). The great depression and the two world wars saw the revitalization of UA in both America and Britain in the form of Liberty and Victory garden allotments but it was the Cold war that provided the biggest sustainable UA movement since the industrial revolution (Heimer). Modern day Cuba is a unique example of a nationwide sustainable UA survival strategy that came about at the end of the Red Revolution (Zepeda, 2003). Cuba’s Green Revolution did not come about through choice but was forced upon the country around early 1990s due to the immense withdrawal of support from the Soviet Union after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 (Zepeda, 2003). The Country was placed in a dire situation and remained cut off diplomatically by the United States (U.S.) for being a Soviet Satellite during the Cold War the country was struggling to feed its population and had relied heavily on the Soviets (Zepeda, 2003). The Cubans had to find a solution quickly as importing basic produce was a logistical and economical nightmare for the second poorest nation in the Americas the government stepped in a drafted new policy for an UA nation (Zepeda, 2003). Now Cuba is used as a research ground for the future of UA as their nationwide commitment has produced astounding results they are eating well, making a good wage and are living better environmentally than their Latin American neighbors (Zepeda, 2003). If such a poor and politically handicapped nation can improve the quality of life of its citizens in such a simple yet effective way why are so many cities ignoring and even banning UA activities such as beekeeping? The Cubans have proven with ingenuity and intelligent use of space everyone can have a better life and if we combine this with the emphasis on designing farms and gardens into cities like the ancient Romans we potentially can alleviate famine and malnutrition across the globe as well as create healthier and more sustainable cities.


Matthew McCallum

CCDN331

4

What drove animals out of our cities? For centuries the protection and free access to an agricultural resource has been vital for any great city plan (Butler, 2011). City dwellers understood that this convenience had its drawbacks especially in regards to urban livestock farming otherwise known as animal husbandry “noise, odors, pestilence, and disease were widespread as animals (and their wastes) were integral to the city” (Butler, 2011, p. 3). During the height of UA in the 19th Century parts of cities had more livestock than residents (Butler, 2011). So what caused the dramatic shift to rural agriculture? The divorce of agriculture from our cities is a recent phenomenon and almost entirely limited to the western world (Mougeot ,. L., 1994). Has our fascination for the artificial and man-made come at the loss of the natural practices and way of being? (Mougeot ,. L., 1994). There seems to be no obvious answer as to what drove the animals out of our cities. However, sanitation, waste management, industrialization, land ownership, population and politics are some of the most obvious contributing factors. Sanitation and waste management is an important function of a city and is vital for good health of its citizens. However, the cause of epidemics and disease was often blamed on the presence of urban livestock when the true problem was poor waste management of the industrial food production system and poor living conditions of its workers (Mougeot ,. L., 1994). This led to many governments to begin zoning their cities and dividing and allocating roles to each zone. This slowly saw UA get pushed out of the city and combined with urban sprawl the rural countryside was seen as a more viable option for large-scale food production (Butler, 2011). The privilege to grow your own food within a city was soon limited to the rich the demographic which least needed to and began to highlight the divide between rich a poor within cities through the separation of workers and their work (Mougeot ,. L., 1994). Early technological advancements such as the refrigerator and the automobile have also played a part in weakening our dependence on a localized food system and UA (Butler, 2011). Refrigeration technology revolutionized farming by allowing city dwellers to purchase fresh food locally that’s grown rurally “the invention of refrigeration—helped to render urban farming obsolete.” (Nierenberg & Halweil, 2007, p. 49). This technology also lead to the creation of the world food market as almost all foods could be preserved for long journeys and as a result seasonal produce was practically eliminated. The cost of transporting food has also dropped dramatically overtime making it more financially viable to transport food and therefore no longer limited to farming within city boarders or even within the same country (Nierenberg & Halweil, 2007). The countryside allowed for a new style of industrial farming that could not be sustained within a city. This was seen as an attractive option for many city farmers, governments and corporations (Wirzba, 2003). It appeared that all our food security problems would be solved with farms bigger than anyone could imagine. These all seem like good things but instead we have become detached from the natural environment and agricultural practice (Wirzba, 2003).


Matthew McCallum

CCDN331

5

Why bring animals back? Today we live in a world where over half the people live in cities and this urban migration is showing no sign of slowing (Nierenberg & Halweil, 2007). This Rapid urbanization is placing great strain on many cities great cities as they struggle to sustain their populations. The rural areas are now struggling to keep up with the demands of the crowded cities as their farms are being consumed by the urban sprawl. Farmers are desperately trying to keep up by continuously mechanizing and industrializing their practice (Wirzba, 2003). However, this too is creating more problems than it is solving and it is only a matter of time until natural resources and traditional farming practices are depleted or eliminated (Wirzba, 2003). Adding to this struggle is global climate change creating food shortages through irregular seasons and extreme weather events such as flooding. The ignorant urban consumer is now playing the price for their lifestyle through ‘food miles’ and poor diet (Wirzba, 2003). What is the extent of these issues and how can urban agriculture help solve these issues? Industrialized farming The industrialization of agriculture particularly post WWII has created a change in how we farm and created new problems for an already strained industry. In an effort to keep with demand for produce many farmers are expanding and mechanizing their farms. To make this more cost effective they are planting in crops of only one kind (monoculture) to save cost on machinery and processing. Industrialization has created a decline in farm numbers and a rise in unemployment as workers are replaced by machinery (Wirzba, 2003). The effects of such practice are far reaching and very concerning “the combination of industrial plant breeding and industrial animal breeding therefore increases the pressure on land use by a factor of 400 percent” (Wirzba, 2003, p. 137). The industrial farming practice has also seen deterioration in animal welfare as farmers are pressured into producing cheap and abundant food faster than ever before. In 2010 a movie titled Queen of the Sun was released. The movie documented the global bee crisis and explored possible reasons for the rapid decline in bee populations and colony collapse disorder. A large portion of the movie focused on the destruction of bee habitats to make way for monoculture farming in particular crops of almonds in the US state of California. Bees are responsible for pollinating over 40 percent of our food crops so you would think it would make sense to farmers to use bee friendly practices in their agricultural practices (Siegel, 2010). Instead farmers are using lethal pesticides which are poisoning and even mutating bees (Siegel, 2010). The effects of these practices are forcing farmers to pay the bulk of beekeepers to package and transport their bees all across the US for a few weeks to pollinate the almond crops. This as you could imagine puts massive stress on the bees and exposes them to multiple viruses and diseases (Siegel, 2010). This is simply one example “illuminating the deep link between humans and bees and how that historic and sacred relationship has been lost due to highly mechanized industrial practices.” (Anon., 2010). Urban agriculture has the potential to counteract


Matthew McCallum

CCDN331

6

these issues by creating a pesticide free sanctuary involving urban beekeeping and allotment farming. Healthier cities, Healthier citizens Urban agriculture will place more burdens on the already stretched city infrastructure. However, through clever planning and innovative design and architecture UA could become an effective tool for solving many challenges faced by our cities (Nierenberg & Halweil, 2007). What are the positive effects of urban farms? “They provide ground to help catch and filter rainwater; land for composting and reusing of organic wastes; city trees to create shade, reduce heat, and cut down on greenhouse gases; and even buffer zones for flood or earthquake-prone areas.” (Nierenberg & Halweil, 2007, p. 54). There have been many studies into the effects of recycling city waste water and sewerage for use within UA and the results are quite astounding for example many Asians have been recycling waste for thousands of years through their aquaculture practices (Nierenberg & Halweil, 2007). Not only does UA have the ability to improve waste management and ecology it “urban farming can be a functioning business that pays for itself” (Nierenberg & Halweil, 2007, p. 50). UA benefits the entire city it frees up money for local governments to spend on other areas and provides a stable, affordable and healthy food supply (Nierenberg & Halweil, 2007). Food miles / Local Food Movement We now live further away from food production than ever before couple this with rising fuel prices and we have an un-sustainable food network (Wirzba, 2003). When “the average grocery store item travels thirteen hundred to fifteen hundred miles before it reaches the shelf” (Wirzba, 2003, p. 14) this is effecting our environment and the cost and condition of our food. Food miles is an extensive problem yet could be reduced so easily by an uptake of sustainable UA. The local food movement involves a range of people and businesses devoted to bring affordable, fresh and reliable food to people within a community (Tozzi, 2009). The movement has a strong focus on what to eat and where to get it with the most local option gaining the most support (Tozzi, 2009). The local food movement is proving to be far more than environmentally and socially beneficial as many businesses such as restaurants and cafes are now investing in urban farms to support themselves and communities via local green markets (Tozzi, 2009). Sustainable Food Security Food security is one of the most significant reasons for UA to be incorporated into our cities plentifully. Even with all the industrialisation of the food production system and the use of sophisticated technologies and genetic modification starvation and malnutrition still threaten millions worldwide (Mustafa, 1999). “Food security is basically defined as access by all people at all times to the food required for a healthy life.” (Mougeot ,. L., 1994, p. 16). Access to food shouldn’t be a privilege but a basic human right yet many developing countries are almost totally dependent on food imports (Mustafa, 1999). In


Matthew McCallum

CCDN331

7

the United States alone it has been reported that over 30 million people are unable to afford to buy enough food to maintain a healthy body (Mustafa, 1999). The global food system is has become a broken machine and without urgent attention cities and countries will become paralysed by the lack of access to basic food requirements. UA has the ability to provide more than enough to sustain each community on a daily basis through simple and proven agricultural techniques.

The Future? Today many corporations, governments and general public are beginning to understand the importance and abilities of good architecture and design. We are seeing a new revolution in UA in all the big international cities for example Paris, France is the urban beekeeping capitol of the world. London has recently gained its first FARM:shop in Dalston aiming to be an “urban food hub� with onsite aquaponics and cafe. The Mayor of New York recently de-criminalised urban beekeeping after profound public demand. Urban agriculture is already happening in varying scales all around us now it is up to us to decide if we want to continue in our lost ways or support an urban agricultural movement for a more sustainable and healthy future. Why keep thinking of the rural and the city as two separate entities and find new ways of bringing the two together for the benefit of all.


Matthew McCallum

CCDN331

8

Bibliography Anon. (2010). QUEEN OF THE SUN: What Are the Bees Telling Us? Retrieved from IMDB Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1645852/plotsummary Butler, W. H. (2011). Welcoming Animals Back to the City: Navigating Public Health Tensions of Urban Livestockto Achieve Healthy and Resilient Communities. Florida State University, Urban and Regional Planning. Tallahassee: Florida State University. Heimer, L. (n.d.). International History of Urban Ag. Retrieved September 17, 2011, from Sprouts in the Sidewalk: it's all about urban agriculture: http://sidewalksprouts.wordpress.com/history/internationalhistory-of-urban-ag/ Mougeot, ,. L. (1994). Urban Food Production: Evolution, Official Support and Significance. Cities Feeding People Report , 8. Mougeot, L. J. (1994). AGRICULTURE : POTENTIALS AND RISKS DEFINITION , PRESENCE. Potentials , 1-42. Mougeot, L. J. (2005). Agropolis: the social, political, and environmental dimensions of urban agriculture. Ottawa, Canada: IDRC. Mustafa, K. (1999). For hunger-proof cities: sustainable urban food systems. Ottawa, Canada: IDRC. Nierenberg, D., & Halweil, B. (2007). Farming the Cities. New York, United States of America: W. W. Norton. RUAF Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security. (n.d.). What is urban agriculture? Retrieved September 17, 2011, from The RUAF Foundation: http://www.ruaf.org Siegel, T. (Director). (2010). QUEEN OF THE SUN: What Are the Bees Telling Us? [Motion Picture]. Smit, J., Ratta, A., & Nasr, J. (1996). Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs and Sustainable Cities. New York, United States: United Nations Pubns. Tozzi, J. (2009, December 18). Bloomberg Business Week. Retrieved November 31, 2011, from Entrepreneurs Keep the Local Food Movement Hot: http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/dec2009/sb20091217_914398.htm Wirzba, N. (2003). The essential agrarian reader: the future of culture, community, and the land. Lexington, Kentucky, United States: University Press of Kentucky. Worldwatch Institute. (2007). State of the world 2007: our urban future : a Worldwatch Institute report on progress toward a sustainable society. (L. Starke, Ed.) New York, United States of America: W.W. Norton. Zepeda, L. (2003, December 15). Cuban Agriculture: A Green and Red Revolution. Retrieved September 19, 2011, from Choices Magazine: http://www.choicesmagazine.org/2003-4/2003-4-01.htm Zezza, A., & Tasciotti, L. (2010). Urban agriculture, poverty, and food security: Empirical evidence from a sample of developing countries (Vol. 35). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier.


URBAN AGRICULTURE & LIVESTOCK FARMING, IS IT OUR FUTURE?