Can you elaborate on your thoughts on urban farming/the rich vs poor?
I think there are three issues:
1. Who makes money? (As in, “the big bucks”)
I’ve talked about this a lot with sex and farming, in that even when there is a sizeable portion of female farmers (30-50%), less than 3% of operations of a large scale are owned by women.
As the article said, you could break down who actually makes money from urban farming projects (and vertical, hydroponic, and aquaponic systems especially), by race and sex. Overwhelmingly it’s young white males with access to investment capital who actually make the big bucks, while women and minorities tend to the non-profitable, community-building, soil-based farming projects.
This is a wage gap, and an opportunity gap.
2. Who can treat gardening like performance art, and who does it to survive?
Someone with an MFA and very little practical knowledge about plants can dream up a floating urban garden project, and have all their permits expedited and get grant money flowing in.
Immigrant grannies who live in inner city communities and know how to grow everything in their front yards are the ones who are more likely to face zoning violations, resistance from municipal authorities, and run up against architectural controls.
3. Who does the “urban farming is the future” paradigm, serve?
I think languishing rural communities really get thrown under the bus in all this: “urban farming” has a cool factor, whereas traditional farming conjures up words like ‘redneck,’ and ‘hillbilly.’
Rural communities are being de-populated by urbanisation, and family farms are being bought up by mega-producers, and this is something that is dangerous for the food system. It’s only allowed to happen more when agricultural innovation is seen as something synonymous with “urban.”
Moving out on to the land to do sustainable soil-based production doesn’t have the same cachet as building a rooftop project out of shipping containers, even if the productivity may be higher and environmental impact lower.
In essence I think it’s complicated, but it mostly boils down to the actually profitable business of “urban farming” becoming the domain of already-on-top urbanites.