Farming as if people mattered
Farming as if people mattered
There is a long list of issues with our Food System and with cities, and we can solve a lot of them through choosing to eat food grown in our very own cities
Below we go into each issue in a little bit more detail, so you can understand why we need to act, and the sooner the better
UN reports warn us that human population will increase to 9 billion people by 2050, and 80% of them will live in cities. We need to prepare cities for a responsible and smooth transition into that future!
Furthermore, most cities are nowadays true food desserts: Thanks to fossil fuels they completely rely on food transportation from far away, and prices of fresh healthy food makes it unavailable to some groups of citizens.
Our cities need a food system that takes into account opposed issues such as obesity and hunger, education, food democratisation, food security, food safety and food sovereignty; A food system that cares for the people it feeds, and that cares for our planet, and that is the Food System we want to create
Studies show how there is a relation between what citizens eat and their social and physical surroundings, and more strongly, between low-income neighbourhoods and malnutrition and diet related diseases.
Developers, public administrations, and even the community living in a distressed neighbourhood need solutions to regenerate them, and this has to be tackled thinking in health, in environment, in jobs and in entrepreneurial skills, which will make the regeneration long-lasting, hence producing a resilient neighbourhood.
Smartly designed Urban Farming can well be that needed regeneration strategy. An Urban Farm well integrated in the community will enhance the appearance of the neighbourhood and increase the sense of pride and the self-sufficiency of its inhabitants, while reviving the local food economy: jobs, food businesses producing, processing and distributing food, and food retailers.
Of course, It will also provide access to fresh and environmentally sound fruit and vegetables, especially important to lower-income communities.
And it can as well drive innovation around the new food system: local commercial kitchens, food business incubator (farmers’ markets, aquaponics farms, commercial kitchens, kitchen incubators, delicatessens and restaurants, connected peri-urban agri-farms), and training in growing food and in culinary arts. There is a growing demand in cities for fresh, local and healthy food, which will encourage these businesses.
Last but not least, all this social involvement in agriculture is a great opportunity to raise awareness on environmental issues and on nutritional education, apart from bringing social interaction across ages, races, religions and cultures: true integration, a socially inclusive city.
We work to make this Urban Farming strategy the catalyst for developing our cities responsibly, changing the food paradigm for a local one, investing locally and strengthening the economy on a local basis. This will not only increase the access to affordable food, but it will profoundly transform cities physically, economically, and socially.
Nearly a third of the food in our houses ends up in the bin, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Our Food system is wasteful, extremely wasteful. One third of the produce doesn't even leave the farms!
Also, we want cities be responsible for the waste they produce: Farms in cities should manage their own waste and recover the one from their clients to produce compost, and close the loop instead of producing waste and sending it away to landfill.
And exactly that, carefully reusing food scraps to create fertiliser to grow more crops, is our objective, to tackle the awful statistics below:
Healthy Food for Everybody
Healthy Food for Everybody
The current food system relies on unfairness to bring us cheap food. It takes abroad the growing and manufacturing processes, where it can exploit workers in a modern form of slavery
It also creates a ridiculous situation where we find Hungry Farmers!?! 80% of the world's hungry are directly involved in food production
But we think everybody should be paid a fair wage. The closer you are to the farmers, the easier that it is to control that the system is fair to them
The Food system is governed by big corporations representing the middle man that keeps more and more of the final retail price
This mass-market system is based on capital-intensive, land-intensive, fossil-fuel-intensive and highly mechanised giant farms, and is slowly swallowing the small farms
We need a Food System with a conscience, one that challenges the monetary economy to be more respectful of customer health, lands, waters, and farmers, who deserve higher returns for their role as managers of ecosystems.
And more important, one that cares for people and feeds everybody, even in urban areas of developed countries.
The world can produce enough food for everybody, but the issue is to grow it where it is needed
The food industry is profit-driven and as a result, does not promote a healthy diet, and brings on an epidemic of diet related diseases. Meanwhile, half of the world population is going to bed hungry, and a few thousand die of starvation everyday.
We want every citizen to have access to fresh, local, nutritious and healthy vegetables.
Working with schools, councils and different community groups, citizens can be educated in healthy habits, and by integrating the farms in these communities, we can develop schemes for getting the heathy food to the groups that need it the most.
Educated citizens can force the mass-market industry to meet environmental, health and labor standards
Critical food access areas are often identified as Food Deserts, areas with 'limited access to affordable and nutritious food', or Food Swamps, marked by the abundance of unhealthy food sources such as fast-food restaurants and convenience stores
We can also encourage local policies by schools and other institutions to increase access to healthy foods, create new markets for farmers and encourage the development of healthier, community-based food systems.
We want to:
Even though each culture has its own identity, there is a worrying trend towards a globalised diet, which means consuming a smaller variety of ingredients while forgetting about the rest
According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), just twelve crops provide 75 percent of the world’s food. Three of these crops, rice, maize, and wheat contribute to nearly 60 percent of the protein and calories obtained by humans from plants. Since the beginning of the 20th century, some 75 percent of plant genetic diversity has been lost
Restoring interest and investment in indigenous crops may offer a solution to food insecurity and the increasing loss of biodiversity. Some traditional plant varieties can help improve nutrition and health, improve local economies, create resilience to climate change, revitalise agricultural biodiversity, and help preserve tradition and culture
We are not talking about going back to a diet strictly based on locality and seasonality, as folk would do prior to the development of logistics, but we want to defend the cultural value of food
Whether through personal family origins or through the culture of a specific country, city, or even neighbourhood, we think that the cultural differences should be valued and respected, and that is why we want farms integrated in their neighbourhoods, where the residents get to choose the vegetables that are grown for them
One of the reasons that brought us into this business is our passion for good food.
And good food starts with good and fresh ingredients!
By having the farms round the corner, you will be able to have the freshest vegetables for your dishes, but also, we will be able to chose and cultivate varieties of vegetables which are tasty! And that instead of the industrialised food system, which selects what to grow depending on how well it travels the average 1500 miles that food travels.
Ever heard of "Sweet Chocolate Peppers?", "Violetta Italia Cauliflower?", "Brandywine tomatoes?", "Lunar white carrot?", Pink Ping Pong Tomatoes? or "Speckled Trout Lettuce?". They are all Heilroom varieties. Vegetables that have been cultivated for years, but don't travel too well, or don't match the "look" or replicability that the food industry standards looks for when deciding what crops to grow and sell mainstream.
Pollution & Climate Change
Pollution & Climate Change
Current Agriculture practices are threatening Biodiversity in various ways.
Indiscriminate use of supposedly safe pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are clearly devastating entire populations of wildlife, like in the case of the bees, so needed for our survival due to their freely given pollination services.
On the other hand, agriculture is concentrating on a small variety of seeds, and specialising on them worldwide, making these varieties of vegetables mainstream, and letting other varieties get lost in time.
Did you know that there are around 5000 varieties of potatoes? and around 7500 varieties of tomatoes? In a normal supermarket you will only find around twelve varieties of tomatoes, the one that have such a strong skin that will travel well for days and ripen during that trip. If you grow locally and your produce doesn't need to travel, you can choose tomato varieties that have actual taste!
We want to specialise in those varieties of vegetables, the ones with taste, and naturally designed to be eaten raw, fresh and as soon as they come out of the plant.
We love Nature, and all this population increase is putting a lot of pressure on it.
We think cities need to stop depending on the rural world to feed themselves and become self-sufficient and responsible: produce the food and energy they need, and manage the waste they produce.
Soil damage, climate change, water and energy availability are all challenges for the current food system, which Nature is paying the toll for. Agriculture is already using 40% of Earth's surface and 75% of al the freshwater we humans use!
Urban Agriculture and cities behaving responsibly will relief all this pressure on natural ecosystems, and help them heal and restore
To grow crops, industrial farms use massive amounts of synthetic fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides, which deplete soil and pollute air and water, and not only on a local basis.
Food production and consumption contributes to up to 30% of the GHG emissions caused by humans
And this system is global, makes people all around the work eat the same products and rely on a massive supply of these same products.
Climate change (air pollution, rising temperatures, droughts, natural disasters and raising sea water level) and increasing population will make it more difficult to prevent hunger
That's why we need to come up with smarter solutions and alternatives, because this food system leaves the world population in a pretty delicate spot.
High-income countries have bigger portions on their emissions just on their food chains, which means that localised food systems will already bypass that flaw of the current food system.
And lastly, it is easily demonstrable that a smart food system can be nurturing to the environment, instead of just damaging: Plants will clean our air and our soils, and help biodiversity if we just design smartly the flows of resources in our cities
The food system relies on fossil fuels for production, processing, transportation and packaging.
Fossil fuels aren't renewable! What will happen to cities when oil becomes scarce and its price skyrockets?
Also, we do think Oil is a valuable human asset to be managed intelligently, so it should be restricted for the really important uses, and stop being irresponsibly misused as a cheap resource.
Even if we don't take into account their limited availability, fossil fuels pollute! Remember last May when the head of the NHS advised people not to train in open air in London for a week?
So... Can you imagine a food system that doesn't need pesticides? Fertilisers? Any truck/plane or ship for transportation? That doesn't produce any CO2, but removes it from the air?