We recently shared two inspirational urban farming stories about the largest rooftop greenhouse in Montreal and bountiful vertical farming in Paris. Now, a new study is demonstrating how other urban areas can get in on the agricultural action with a model of 378 metropolitan areas in the US that could grow enough food locally to meet the dietary needs of their city’s population.
The research from Tufts University identified areas that could meet their food needs using land within 250 kilometers (155 miles) of the city’s limits. Researchers estimated cities’ food needs based on a range of seven potential diets from a meat-centric Western diet to a vegan diet and everything in between.
So where are the food hot spots located? Cities in the Northwest and interior parts of the US have the highest chance of producing all their local food needs based on climate and terrain demographics, but small dietary changes boost the food matching potential even further. Small reductions in meat consumption for example would greatly improve the ability of an urban area to meet its residents’ dietary needs.
The potential to expand urban farming is exciting for many reasons. More localized food production would reduce food waste and carbon emissions from transportation. It would also reduce food deserts and boost access to fresh, healthy ingredients.
Farming has long been seen as the antithesis to metropolitan living, but this new research shows that we have the capacity to integrate farming with our urban spaces at levels well beyond what we’re doing at the moment. Hopefully, this new research inspires more cities to take on their own rooftop or community gardening initiatives.