Most farmers turn to land-grand universities, such as University of Nebraska-Lincoln, for research, economics and practical advice on raising a specific crop or livestock. Today, the only land-grant university in the country with an exclusively urban focus is the University of the District of Columbia. Che' Axum, director of the 143-acre research farm in Beltsville, Md., spends most of the day farming, but he and his small team also spend a great deal of time applying experimental techniques and analyzing research. The goal of their farm is to research and test techniques in sustainable and organic agriculture, applying them to an urban agricultural setting.
|Che' Axum stands in a hoop house at the University of the District of Columbia's Muirkirk Research Farm, a resource for urban farmers in the city.|
Axum says the urban farmers he is working with aren't looking to grow one crop for a commodity market, but enough crops to replace a trip to the grocery store or to fill a small farm box for customers. They need to know a little about a lot of varieties in order to make the most of small growing spaces. And, often, it's been a generation or two since anyone in their family has lived on a farm.
|UDC grows crops hydroponically.|
|A concept of the Rotterdam floating dairy.|
The goal with urban farming like this is to make cities like Rotterdam more agriculturally self-sufficient. While there are arguments on either side of agricultural self-sufficiency, no environment is perfect for raising ALL types of food. That’s why we have a global economy with important trade opportunities and partner with organizations like the U.S. Grains Council and U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Urban farmers and conventional (or do we say rural?) farmers seem pretty much alike. While urban farming might not be the most economical venture using land in a city to farm, both types of farmers are wanting to do a better job on every bit of land they have to raise food. They both have sustainability in mind with the practices they use and the idea of passing their farm onto the next generation. And they both want to have safe, affordable food for improving human health.
We’re all in this together – raising food for a growing world.