Urban farms are all the rage nowadays. Cities across North America have been incorporating them into the cityscape to fill the void left behind by shuttered industry, or abandoned housing. While the benefits seem to have been fully vetted, is there a risk to allowing urban farms to grow too large? More from Grist:
More than a few environmentalists have argued that urban farms must remain small or risk suburbanizing the city. One of the most prominent is Kaid Benfield, a smart-growth guru with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Benfield worries that urban farming, if practiced on a large scale, will dilute the walkability and density that defines cities.
“I support the growing of food in cities, and have even done it myself,” Benfield cautions. But it should be done in ways that support urbanism and not displace it…I’m not sure we’re talking about a city any more if we’re going to have fields of 20 acres and more.” By seeding large farms in the city, he says, “we risk locking in long-term environmental problems in terms of not having a healthy urban core. Central cities are starting to revive.”
One problem is that most of the best para-urban land (or land just outside cities) — which was once seen as ideal for growing food without huge transportation costs — has already been swallowed up by suburban development.