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Urban Areas Need “Freedom Lawns” To Revive Their Soil

Few people put much thought into the soil beneath their feet, but Loren Byrne does. A professor at Roger Williams University, Byrne is an expert on urban soil ecology, and he worries that humans are changing the structural integrity of soils in urban environments and limiting the ability of plants and animals to live in and nourish the earth.

“Soil is easily overlooked and taken for granted because it’s everywhere,” he said. “We walk all over it and think of it as dirt that we can manipulate at our will. But the secret of soil is what’s happening with soil organisms and what’s happening with their interactions below ground that help regulate our earth’s ecosystems.”

Byrne contributed a chapter about urban soils to a report, State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity, issued last year by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization. He discussed how the ecology of the soil changes as it is compacted during construction, paved over, chemically treated for lawns, and dug up and carried away.

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28 Inspiring Urban Agriculture Projects That Will Make You Rethink How Food Can Be Grown

Authors: Danielle Nierenberg, Emily Nink, Juliette Crellin

Around 15 percent of the world’s food is now grown in urban areas. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), urban farms already supply food to about 700 million residents of cities, representing about a quarter of the world’s urban population. By 2030, 60 percent of people in developing countries will likely live in cities.

At Food Tank, we are amazed by the efforts of hundreds of urban farms and gardens to grow organic produce, cultivate food justice and equity in their communities, and revitalize urban land. Urban agriculture not only contributes to food security, but also to environmental stewardship and a cultural reconnection with the land through education.

The Urban Food Policy Pact (UFPP), signed on World Food Day, addresses the potential of cities to contribute to food security through urban agriculture. A technical team of 10 members organized physical and virtual workshops with many of the 45 cities participating in the Pact, and drafted a Framework for Action that includes 37 provisions covering the themes of governance, food supply and distribution, sustainable diets and nutrition, poverty alleviation, food production and food and nutrient recovery.

“The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize the importance of building sustainable cities,” says Maurizio Baruffi, Chief of Staff of the Mayor of Milan, Italy. “The City of Milan is partnering with urban areas around the world to embark on this journey, starting from food.”

Do you want to discover urban agriculture projects in your own city, or are you interested in visiting farms during your travels to new urban areas? Check out these inspiring projects, and find even more links to urban agriculture projects below.

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