Urban Sustainability: How Cities Are Growing Food Locally

Getting Around By Kendra Ralston September 26, 2017

Sprawling pastures, rows of vegetables, and Instagram-worthy views — the countryside is ripe with idyllic imagery. But global urbanization is infringing on agriculture as we know it, and that seemingly endless landscape is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Much of our food production has already moved to urban centers, and it’s only expected to increase in relation to rapid urban growth.

From urban gardens to farmers markets, learn how city dwellers are getting creative to keep up with the high food demand.

Sustainable Methods

Farmers Markets

Dating back to 1730 in America, farmers markets aren’t only a convenient place to buy fresh produce, but also a great way to support local farmers and promote sustainability.

Looking to get involved with your farmers market or establish one in your community? The USDA National Farmers Market Directory helps connect farmers, consumers, communities, and businesses around the U.S.
Urban Gardening

Instead of depending wholly on grocery stores (and the high prices of organic fruits and veggies), urbanites are resorting to their own methods of producing local food, whether it’s a restaurant growing vegetables in its backyard or a neighborhood taking over vacant lots for a community garden.

Through urban gardening, locals get fresh produce and access to high-quality fruits and vegetables at an affordable price. Plus, urban gardens double as a place for people to meet and work together to create a healthier, more mindful community.

Food Forests

Food forests are exactly what they sound like: forests that are created specifically to produce food. Food forests are an effective way of turning under-used land into self-sufficient, sustainable ecosystems. Communities in cities from Los Angeles to London have created food forests to help achieve their agricultural needs.


Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to cultivate sustainable food systems through farmers markets and educational programs. By connecting city dwellers and local farmers, CUESA seeks to provide nutritious, high-quality produce to communities.

Urban Sustainability Benefits

While agricultural practices have significantly changed due to urban sprawl, the benefits of urban farming are abundant:

  1. Builds Community

Community-run gardens help educate neighborhoods about sustainability and agriculture and teach children the importance of healthy eating.

  1. Improves Quality of Life

Urban farming improves the quality of life in cities, while combatting pollution with gardens, forests, and other vegetation.

  1. Makes Organic Produce Accessible

By working in an enclosed area, urban farmers grow crops in a more controlled way, meaning less dependencies on chemicals or weather. All that’s needed is nutrient-rich soil, excellent lighting, and water.

The greatest benefit, though, is access to safe, healthy food. In buying or growing local produce, you begin to respect, appreciate, and be mindful of the food you eat.

Urban farming is just one thing cities are doing to become more green. Check out some of the other amazing ways the most eco-friendly cities in the world are making a difference.