Agriculture is a multi-billion dollar industry for the State of California. Its 80,500 farms produce over 400 commodities each year, which eventually end up on our tables or exported to countries around the world. The revenue created by our farming industry is essential to the growth and development of our state. In 2012, the California Department of Food and Agriculture calculated that a record $44.7 billion was made that crop year, a three percent increase from the year before. The profitability of these crops illustrates the value of California land, but many people don’t realize that much of this land is neglected due to its location.
Urban Gardening: The Future of California Agriculture
Cities, with their skyscrapers and high rise apartment buildings, seem more like cramped living spaces compared to bodacious urban farms. As less and less arable land is available for farming it is becoming increasingly necessary to use creative and new spaces to grow food. After all, growing populations need more food. Up until this point, urban agriculture has been limited to private edible gardens, but with a new “Urban Agriculture Ordinance” being proposed in the Sacramento area, tax breaks will incentivize edible community gardens and create a new market for fruits and vegetables grown within walking distance from the consumers who will benefit.
Many different methods of urban gardening offer those interested with a lot of choice. One of the most efficient methods is aquaponics, a method that combines the growth and development of aquatic life with food cultivation. This system creates a symbiotic relationship between the fish and produce, and helps create nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables in a confined amount of space. This method is ideal for people without large gardening areas to work with.
Paul Trudeau, owner of Southside Aquaponics and urban gardening enthusiast, also believes in the importance of environmental stewardship. “I love growing food and being outdoors,” he says. “I love that urban farming includes different kinds of activities: physical work, social interaction, design and planning on various scales, and business tasks. I love that urban farming reconnects me (and others) with natural processes- the seasons, the weather, different forms of life.”
There are many benefits to urban agriculture. It is an environmentally sound practice- locally grown produce means less commuting between the farms and consumers, decreasing carbon dioxide emissions and increasing fuel efficiency. It also beautifies vacant lots that are often left unattended, filled with overgrown weeds creating eyesores for property owners. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, community gardening is a fun, safe, and creative way to teach adults and children alike about the importance of conserving our soil for generations. For those who want to start their own aquaponic farm, or are just interested and want to know more about urban gardening, visit southsideaquaponicfarm.com for more information.