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Is Urban Farming Really a Thing? New Study Shows Substantial Economic and Climate Benefits

You may hear about urban farming and dismiss it as an oddity of Europe or one-off US cities such as Brooklyn or Detroit.

But it turns out that urban farming has serious potential as a tool in the fight to mitigate climate change. A new study published in Earth's Future reports that 7 million hectares of land are available for urban agriculture, including roof tops and vacant urban lots. Two million hectares are available in the US alone.

If all of this acreage were to be converted to urban farming, the researchers estimate the world could produce 180 million extra tons of food each year. In addition, city farms could:

  • reduce global energy consumption by up to 15 billion kilowatt hours a year by insulating buildings -- enough to power almost 1.5 million American homes; 

  • divert up to 57 billion cubic meters of storm water runoff annually;

  • increase the surface area available for carbon sequestration; and

  • provide less green-house intensive produce to underserved areas.

So what can we do to encourage this type of urban land use? Contact your municipality and urge it to revise zoning ordinances to permit urban farming wherever feasible.

Each small step forward is a victory for Earth....

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