The urban farming movement is proving that food can be grown in abandoned lots, on former highway ramps, or in the backyards of city dwellers. Moreover, food grown in the city can be used as a resource for low-income families, public schools, local farmers markets, and even high-end restaurants. Here's our intro to urban farms that are doing all these things and more across the country.
Boggy Creek Farm
Since 1992, Boggy Creek has been a certified organic farm. It consists of five acres and a historic house in East Austin, where they grow warm and cool weather crops. They sell produce at a stand on the farm and supply the local Whole Foods.
Rio Grande Community Farm
This 50-acre, organic, non-profit farm is located in Albuquerque's North Valley. The farm operates on City land and offers classes, delivers produce to public schools, and supports local food networks.
reVision Urban Farm
ReVision Family Home shelters homeless women and their families in Dorchester. In 1990, they began an urban gardening program that sells produce through CSA subscription, as well as through a new farm stand at 1062 Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester.
Jones Valley Urban Farm
This farm has existed on 3 acres in downtown Birmingham, Alabama since 2001. They sell their organic produce through subscription or at local farmers markets and they supply nearby restaurants and grocery stores.
Located between the Gold Coast and Cabrini Green, City Farm is a vegetable garden that supplies Chicago restaurants and sells through a farm stand, open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-7 pm and Saturdays from 9am - 1pm.
Green Youth Farm
Operated by the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Green Youth Farm is a one-acre site in suburban North Chicago where students are paid a stipend to grow food that's sold through local public markets.
Earthworks Urban Farm
This urban farm has been operated by the Capuchin Soup Kitchen since 1997. In 2001, they began Project FRESH, a program that supplies locally grown food to low-income families and makes produce available through local markets.
Kansas City Community Farm
This is a 2-acre organic farm in the Argentine neighborhood. They sell produce through CSA subscription and local markets, and they educate through urban farmer and business development programs.
Silver Lake Farms
Founder Tara Kolla started with flowers and now grows vegetables on a small plot of land in Silver Lake. She sells through farmers markets and local CSA subscriptions, and she also hosts workshops on starting your own urban farm.
Community Food Center
Growing Power, a non-profit organization, operates urban farms throughout Wisconsin and Illinois, but their main location in Milwaukee is the largest, with six greenhouses, an apiary, and a store that sells food and compost to the community.
NYC-based Just Food operates the City Farms Program, which "trains, connects, and empowers New York City community gardeners." They work with a network of 30 small urban farms and community gardens throughout the city and they've helped start 11 farmers markets.
Located in Red Hook, Brooklyn, this urban farm provides local teenagers with training in sustainable agriculture. Their produce is available through the Red Hook farmers market and Red Hook CSA subscriptions.
Brooklyn Rescue Mission Farm
On the site of a former garbage dump, the Brooklyn Rescue Mission worked with the City to transform the land into an urban farm. Their produce serves a local food pantry as well as CSA subscriptions.
Mill Creek Urban Farm
Located at 4901 Brown Street in West Philadelphia's Mill Creek Neighborhood, this urban farm is also an educational center. They grow food for local distribution and host skill-sharing workshops for the community.
Greensgrow Urban Farm
Founded by Mary Seton Corboy and Tom Sereduk in 1997, this farm covers a square city block in the Kensington neighborhood. In addition to the farm, there's a market, a nursery that sells plants, and a CSA pick-up and subscription service.
City Garden Farms
They're an organization that links together a series of small urban produce farms in the Portland area, and they sell food through CSA subscription and local farmers markets. Their mission is to "reclaim and farm underutilized urban land...the yards, lots and plots we all see everyday."
Hayes Valley Farm
This 2.2-acre, non-profit farm is run by volunteers from the community who are transforming a former freeway ramp into vegetable garden and educational center. Just opened in January 2010, the farm currently operates on Sunday and Thursday afternoons.
Seattle Urban Farm Company
Colin McCrate and Brad Helm run this company, which helps locals start their own organic urban farms. They offer consultation and installation services for private homes and they sell their own produce through local farmers markets.
Homeless Garden Project
In 1990, this non-profit program established an organic garden that provides work opportunities and training for homeless people in the area. The farm now covers 2.5 acres and has a year-round retail store and farm kitchen.
Back Door Harvest
This company works with St. Louisans to design and develop their own backyard farms. They offer private memberships where people reap their own farms, crop share memberships where produce goes into community food networks, or cropless memberships for people who want to sign up for their CSA subscription.
Common Good City Farm
This volunteer-run urban farm and education center grows food for low-income DC residents. The farm provides produce bags to local families, hosts agriculture workshops, and works with local schools.
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Photo: City Garden Farms, Portland