The American urban farm comes in many guises but come it does. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 800 million people worldwide practice urban agriculture. That accounts for between 15 to 20 percent of the world’s food supply. As urban ag continues to build momentum across all 50 states, the influence and scope of the urban farm is growing. Most of us think of less than a couple of acres when we think urban farm, yet urban farms are getting bigger. And some are getting really big.
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In 2016, at the height of the California drought, Julian Cantando and Clayton Garland envisioned a more sustainable farming model than traditional soil-based agriculture, which has always thrived in California.
“Last year was the seventh year of the drought, the lake was down, and the threat of not having water was real, at least for other farmers who aren’t on a well. It was kind of a bleak situation,” Cantando says.
He and Garland were classmates in the Horticulture Program at Santa Barbara City College and often discussed going into business together.
This article was originally published on Ensia.com
As word gets around that soil is alive, farmers have adopted a whole new attitude toward their land.
For three weeks every month, Ray Archuleta captivates audiences with a few handfuls of soil. He begins with two clumps, dropping them into water. The soil from a farm where the soil isn’t tilled holds together, while the tilled soil immediately disperses, indicating poor soil structure. Next, volunteers from the audience — mostly farmers and ranchers — pour water over a soil that grew a variety of crops, and it runs right through. A sample of tilled soil that grew only corn is like a brick, and the water sits on top. Water is the most precious resource for growing crops, and having a soil that is unable to absorb water is crippling for farmers.