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The Urban Farming Boom: How City Dwellers are Cultivating a More Sustainable Future

An increasing number of individuals are reconnecting with their agricultural roots and discovering the advantages of urban farming, from high-tech chicken coops to vertical gardens.

urban farming
Written by
Tehrene Firman
Gone are the days when people solely relied on
grocery stores
to provide fresh produce,
, and other meal essentials. Now, an increasing number of individuals are reconnecting with their agricultural roots and discovering the advantages of urban farming.
The urban farming trend is gaining momentum in various forms. You might have observed your apartment-dwelling friends setting up a
vertical vegetable garden
on their balcony, or your favorite influencer obtaining permission to raise chickens in their urban abode. Even celebrities are getting their hands dirty, with Carrie Underwood
adding a coop
to her Tennessee estate. Cities are also
taking advantage of
unused spaces, transitioning them into beautiful community gardens.
urban farming
Photo: Gardyn
Dominique Charles
, the gardening expert behind
Plots & Pans
, first noticed an increased interest in urban gardening during the summer of 2020. “We were deep in the pandemic and people wanted to source their own food to have one less trip to the market. They felt much safer growing their own,” she says.
Today, the urban farming trend is only growing. And
Michelle Bruhn
, founder of
Forks in the Dirt
and co-author of
Small-Scale Homesteading
, says it’s here to stay. “We’re all searching for more of a connection to our food, and growing your own food isn't just empowering but also tastes better, costs less, is better for the environment, and is a great way to build community—especially when your gardens spill into your front yard,” she says.
And what better time for an urban farming boom than when our finances depend on it. Even as
inflation has fallen
, the cost of food is still growing, giving consumers another reason to start their own mini homesteads. According to the
, food prices in January 2023 were 10% higher than the year prior. “As grocery costs have skyrocketed, there has been even more interest in growing food as a way to manage household costs and again, knowing how to source one’s own food,” Charles says.
Urban farming offers a winning combination of economic and environmental benefits. By cultivating your own produce, you can significantly reduce the
food miles
required to transport food across the country, or even the globe. Plus, there's no wasteful packaging to deal with—your food goes straight from farm to table, no plastic needed.

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"Being able to walk out into the yard and harvest a couple fistfuls of green beans to cook with dinner not only is more nutritious, but saves me from driving to the grocery store and buying beans that were transported from who-knows-where and harvested who-knows-when,” says
Stephanie Thurow
, co-author of
Small-Scale Homesteading
, certified master gardener, and food preservation instructor, agrees with Charles on the initial spark. “In addition to that, I’m able to control the pesticides that are used on my plants so my family isn’t ingesting unwanted chemicals.”
Aside from gardens,
Nick Cutsumpas
, the plant coach and urban gardener behind
Farmer Nick
, says he's seen a shift in individuals' landscaping preferences, replacing typical yard shrubbery with options that serve a greater purpose. "I've noticed a rise in fruit trees and people wanting to replace ornamentals with species that are edible," he says. "I love this switch and it's a great way to combat food insecurity in rural areas with land."
But urban farming goes far beyond gardening. Many cities already allow residents to raise backyard chickens, and more are joining the trend each month. A quick online search will reveal local news stories from across the country of city councils considering such requests. With egg prices
surging by 70%
over the past year, there's never been a better time to add a fluffy flock to your family. Raising your own chickens also allows you to enjoy eggs more sustainably and ethically without relying on factory farming practices that contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, as well as
soil and water pollution
Tech is making urban farming easier: Those who wish to raise backyard chickens can uncomplicate the process by utilizing
, a first-of-its-kind smart chicken coop that’s crafted with double-walled recycled plastic, features compostable litter trays and an automatic door, and allows you to keep track of your flock via cameras and motion alerts straight on an app. And apartment dwellers with minimal space to spare can utilize vertical hydroponic garden systems like
Lettuce Grow and Gardyn
 to grow produce with ease.
Photo: Coop
“We really don’t like to talk about the ‘things COVID taught us/trends from COVID,’ but it definitely showed people the power of food sovereignty and controlling your own food supply when shelves were empty for weeks on end,” says Jordan Barnes, the co-founder and CMO at
. “Plus, with increasing concerns about food supply chains and recalls, made very tangible for consumers by the egg crisis of 2022 and 2023, having a source of fresh eggs in your backyard can provide a sense of food security and self-sufficiency.”
Urban farming isn’t just a great way to
reduce your carbon footprint
—it also allows you to
connect with nature
and the planet you love so much. Whether you're working with a few square feet or a whole backyard, it’s clear that there are plenty of ways to get started and reap the many benefits of growing your own food.