Growing Food in Chicago

Growing Food in Chicago

This week, I spoke at the 2013 Urban Agriculture Summit in Sweden, which brought together leading decision makers from China, Japan, India, the Middle East, Europe, and the United States to discuss the future of urban agriculture.

More than half of all people in the world live in cities – with 2.7 million people living in Chicago alone. By 2050, 80 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas, according to the United Nations. Finding better ways for urban farmers and food entrepreneurs to grow food, raise livestock, and process and manufacture food in Chicago and other cities worldwide is more important than ever before.

And there are many initiatives already underway in Chicago that are helping urban farmers, businesses, and consumers find ways to grow, sell, and process food.

Advocates for Urban Agriculture has partnered with the Chicago Urban Agriculture Mapping Project to inventory and map the thousands of urban agriculture projects taking place across the Chicago metro area. This project will connect Chicago urban producers and consumers by offering a comprehensive overview of exactly where food is growing around the city.

And the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) started the Green Healthy Neighborhoods  (GHN) initiative which plans to turn parts of Englewood, as well as areas of Woodlawn and Washington Park, into thriving urban farms – producing jobs, healthier food, and an economic boost for these South Side communities. CMAP hopes that urban farming can be a solution for a “crippling housing market, lack of employment opportunities, and many years of population decline.”

The urban agriculture movement isn’t only happening in Chicago, however – it’s growing worldwide. According to the U. N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), by 2030 the urban population of sub-Saharan Africa will reach almost 600 million, double what it was in 2010. Growing Greener Cities in Africa, an FAO initiative, is hoping to meet the ‘zero hunger’ challenge by fostering urban farming in quickly developing African cities. Growing Greener Cities aims to ensure a year-round supply of fresh produce from market gardens at affordable prices.

And Urban Harvest is a challenge program, created by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which aims to provide strategic analysis of urban agricultural and policy development to enhance the role of urban agriculture in tackling poverty while also improving public health and sustainability in cities.

It is important that we find ways to ensure that urban farmers and food entrepreneurs get the support, attention, research, and investment they need to raise incomes, reduce malnutrition, decrease urban unemployment, and make cities more livable.

What Chicago urban agriculture initiatives are you a part of? How do you think we can foster urban farming here in Illinois and also around the world? 

Filed under: urban agriculture

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