FAQs: Urban ‘Ag’

Small herbs and plants are easy to grow for those beginning a garden for the first time. Photo by Gabrielle LePore/TU Student

Q: What is urban agriculture?

A: Abby Cocke, the environmental planner for the office of sustainability in Baltimore City, said urban agriculture involves the growing of food in a city setting for personal consumption or to sell at local food markets. Those who participate help turn the vacant land into a community garden or an urban farm where they weed and cultivate, and harvest crops.

Q: What are the benefits of urban agriculture?

A: By utilizing unused land, urban agriculture prevents areas from collecting trash and attracting loiterers. It provides jobs and income as well as healthy, local food, said Cocke. It also reduces greenhouse emissions by using less energy and gas to transport products from across the country. This helps provides food security because urban farming relies on local food production, said Cocke.

Q: Who can participate in urban agriculture?

A: Ben Warner, the advisor for TU Urban Farm, said anyone can become an urban farmer so as long as they share an interest in growing food and investing time in helping to maintain a piece of land for the purposes of local agriculture. People of all ages and backgrounds can get together and transform a dirty lot into a beautiful garden.

Q: How can students contribute to urban agriculture?

A: There are plenty of ways to get involved on campus and in the city including joining school groups like Towson University Urban Farm, seeking out community gardens, volunteering with city programs like Real Food Farm and supporting local growers at farmers’ markets. Simply growing your own food using a small patch of soil and some seeds can help support local agriculture and food production, said Abby Cocke.

Q: How can students begin gardening and growing their own food?

A: Herbs such as basil, cilantro and parsley are the easiest to grow in dorms. If you have a windowsill that receives a good amount of sunlight, plant the seeds in an empty yogurt container filled with soil, said Cocke. If you have a little more room for a larger container garden, or a small patch of land outside of an apartment or house, you can grow tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, said Ben Warner. As long as there is plenty of light and water, you can grow anything.

Information provided by:

Abby Cocke, Environmental Planner, Office of Sustainability, Baltimore City Department of Planning

Ben Warner,  TU Urban Farm Advisor, Towson University

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