Urban agriculture is becoming an increasingly popular strategy for community-based organizations to increase access to healthy foods and simultaneously support education, neighborhood development and engagement, employment, exercise and more. However, it can be daunting to know where to start. It is important for organizations to assess their readiness for the work and determine the areas needing additional support. 

When starting the planning process, there are three key areas to consider:

  • Community Needs: Do you have a clear understanding of the community needs, interests, and broader community landscape?
  • Garden Purpose: Are you clear on the purpose and goals of your garden?
  • Garden Location: Do you have a clear sense of where your farm or garden will be located and the implications of that particular property?

As organizations assess their communities’ interests, strengths, and needs, as well as their prospective physical space(s), they can begin to home in on the type of urban agriculture they’d like to pursue. Because there are a wide variety of urban agriculture approaches to choose from, it is important to select the one(s) that best align with your organizational and community goals.

Image of the urban agriculture toolkit coverThe many approaches include: 

  • Community Gardens: Create mixed-use space for growing produce and herbs by neighbors
  • Rooftop Gardens: Create green space and reduce urban heat islands and improve air quality
  • Backyard Gardens: Grow food for personal consumption on home properties
  • Vertical Farms: Build farms upward to reduce the land footprint
  • Animal Husbandry: Raise animals for food, including chickens, pygmy goats, rabbits, and pigs
  • Urban Beekeeping: Cultivate bees, which are responsible for pollinating crops and producing honey

To learn more about what to consider before getting started, including a detailed checklist, download the new Maximizing Urban Agriculture to Increase Community Health and Wellness Toolkit.

The Alliance and longtime partner Aramark partnered with urban agriculture experts BakerRipley and Pillsbury United Communities to develop this resource.

From Healthy Food to Healthy Lifestyles

As you think about ways to improve access to healthy foods, enhance your current community health and wellness program or start one by becoming a Healthy for Life facilitator. Free registration offers access to the Healthy for Life Educational Experiences, an evidence-based community nutrition and well-being program that empowers people to make healthy food, nutrition, and lifestyle choices. The complete, ready-to-use program includes a curriculum, facilitator guides, videos, and more. 

Watch Ethan Neal's Snapshots presentation from the 2019 Alliance National Conference to learn more about Pillsbury United Communities urban agriculture initiative.