The Food and Agriculture Organization defines urban agriculture as “as the growing of plants and the raising of animals within and around cities.” Across the globe, urban and peri-urban agriculture provides food and value-added agricultural products from different types of table crops (i.e. fruits, vegetables, mushrooms), livestock, and ornamental and medicinal plants.
Urban agriculture provides a variety of benefits including healthy food access, economic development opportunities, positive environmental impacts, community development and engagement, and recreation. Be sure to check out the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission’s comprehensive 2012 report on urban agriculture opportunities in Prince George’s County, Urban Agriculture: A Tool for Creating Economic Development and Healthy Communities in Prince George’s County MD.
At the District, we see urban farms as an opportunity to provide environmental and conservation benefits to urban and peri-urban areas in Prince George’s County including:
- soil health improvements to reduce soil erosion and conserve natural resources;
- the promotion of green space in congested communities;
- improved air and water quality;
- increased pollinators, soil microorganisms, and other elements that enhance biodiversity and improve soil health;
- food waste reduction through composting;
- increased pervious surfaces and creative water harvesting techniques which reduce stormwater runoff and potentially reduce the need for additional stormwater management infrastructure in certain areas;
- reduced carbon emissions by providing residents with food where they live;
- and even the reduction of urban heat.
If you aren’t familiar with Urban Agriculture, be sure to check out this Mid-Atlantic Women in Agriculture Webinar by Neith Little, the University of Maryland Extension Urban Agriculture Coordinator. She and her colleagues have some wonderful resources on the urban agriculture website including an Urban Agriculture Guidebook and monthly e-newsletter.
As with rural farms, urban farms are generally for-profit or non-profit enterprises growing, raising and/or processing agricultural products commercially. If you are considering an urban farm enterprise, contact our Urban Agricultural Conservation Planner, Kim Rush Lynch to assist you with a conservation plan and other resources.
In the meantime, please review our resources on: