The practice of urban agriculture does not limit itself to contributing in feeding the urban population, but rather provides important benefits at both the environmental and societal levels.
Here are seven positive impacts of gardening in urban spaces on our society :
1. Prevention of heat island effect
During summer’s hottest day, the last place where people usually want to be is in a city-center, surrounded by buildings, cars and grey sidewalks. The reason for it is simple: cities tend to have an average temperature of 5 to 10 degrees Celsius above that of outlying regions. This phenomenon is called “heat island” and is caused by the high concentration of built-up areas in cities such as rooftops and parking lots, which absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat. In contrast with urban environments, natural bodies such as forests and gardens produce freshness while improving air quality. Planting vegetables on rooftops is an efficient way to address the heat island effect, absorb carbon dioxide and have greener cities.
2. Reduction of greenhouses gases
By promoting a more local production of the food we eat, urban farming can contribute greatly to the reduction of greenhouse gases. Indeed, a large part of the fruits and vegetables we consume has to travel long distances before arriving in our plates, which induce great amounts of pollution. By growing vegetables directly in cities, the distance between production and consumers is reduced and thus diminishes the greenhouses gas emitted through the transportation of food. Moreover, like their green fellows, vegetable plants act as air filters and sequester carbon and other polluting gases, which contributes to the improvement of ambient air in cities
3. Creation of resilient food systems
The deployment of urban agriculture initiatives enables the development of local, sustainable, and resilient food systems. By transforming unused and underutilized spaces into urban farms, we are transforming the landscape of our cities and giving it an edible value to pave the way to food self-sufficiency.
Discover more about the role of urban agriculture for a resilient society in our blog article :
4. Preservation of biodiversity
The multiplication of urban agriculture zones favors the preservation of biodiversity in cities. As a place to eat and live, these initiatives contribute to the diversification of living organisms in the urban environment. The establishment of several varieties of fruits, vegetables, fine herbs and edible flowers in the vegetable garden encourages the support of these insects and organisms which are essential to life. Cultivating in cities is a concrete action that supports both the fauna and flora of urban centers, while contributing to the development of rich and diversified ecosystems.
5. Added value to properties
Integrating urban farming to an existing building creates value. Once unused or underutilized areas, these rooftops, terraces, and ground spaces now have the opportunity to become green oasis, where fresh and healthy food grows. In addition to positioning institutions as innovative and sustainable, urban agriculture initiatives benefit not only the occupants of these buildings, but the whole society. Who wouldn’t enjoy seeing a vegetable garden bloom on the roof of the building next door?
6. Wellness and performance in the workplace
People are not insensible to the benefits of enjoying some proximity with nature in their everyday life. From walks in parks to gardening in their backyard, the contact with nature is a source of relaxation and ease of mind for many. Recent studies have shown that those benefits can be particularly useful in the workplace as well, a context usually associated with high levels of stress and brain focus. Implementing a garden does not only provide healthy snacks to employees, but also contribute to their wellness by promoting a sense of community and belonging. Allowing employees to interact in the garden can serve as a way to evacuate stress and mental fatigue, help recharge the brain and gain productivity later on. In short, vegetable gardens are an easy way to promote a positive workplace environment, strengthen the firm’s culture and enhance employees’ performance.
7. Awareness to healthy eating habits
Urban agriculture initiatives connect people with nature and with their food. Vegetable gardens become learning platforms that raise community awareness on the importance of adopting healthy eating habits. With many communities living in environments prey to food insecurity, urban farm initiatives help to counter this phenomenon by providing access to fresh, healthy, locally grown food. Moreover, being included in the process of growing their own food reconnects individuals to the realities of food production. By fully realizing the time and efforts lying behind each grown vegetable, communities become more aware of the energy put into growing food and thus, the importance of limiting food waste