Notes to broadcasters on urban agriculture:

    | June 2, 2008

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    In February 2007, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) noted in a press release that, for the first time in history, the world’s urban population exceeded the rural population. The FAO observed that urban agriculture will be an important source of food for city dwellers as urban areas continue to swell. In fact, an estimated 800,000 people practice urban agriculture, producing about 15 per cent of the world’s food.

    Two groups of people – those who do not grow their own food and farmers unable to produce enough food for their families – have felt the recent food price hike most acutely. In the past few months, African cities have been hotbeds of civil society action, with protesters demanding affordable food. And it seems that fears of food security have re-invigorated interest in urban agriculture.

    Your listeners may appreciate more information on how to produce food in an urban area, or other locations where arable land is unavailable or very limited.

    -The Canadian NGO Alternatives provides details on several soil-less gardening techniques:
    -Many techniques for producing maximum yields in a small area are described in the Wikipedia entry on biointensive agriculture:
    -The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research provides an online course about urban agriculture:

    The following Farm Radio International scripts describe some innovative approaches to growing food in cities, and offer advice on how to limit the absorption of toxic chemicals in urban crops:

    -“Garden on your rooftop” (Package 39, Script 2, April 1996)
    -“Grow vegetable vines in small spaces” (Package 39, Script 1, April 1996)
    -“Gardening in tires” (Package 41, Script 5, July 1996)
    -“Reduce lead in city gardens” (Package 41, Script 2, July 1996)

    You may also wish to review this FRW story about women in Gugulethu Township, South Africa, who improved their families’ health with vegetables grown in community gardens:
    -“Community gardens help women pensioners maintain their independence” (FRW Issue 11, February 2008):

    Finally, here are some ideas for a call-in/text-in show to further explore this issue. This will be especially relevant if you broadcast to an urban area, but may also interest rural audiences who must make the best use of small plots:

    -Have any members of your audience started growing food (or growing more food) in response to rising food prices? What materials did they use to get started? What difficulties did they face and how did they overcome them?
    -Have members of your audience grown food in an urban area, or a very small plot in a rural area, for some time? How much food do they produce and what impact does this have on their family’s food security? What materials do they use? Which crops grow best with the space and resources they have available? What tips or innovations can they share?