Why Urban Agriculture?

With a strong, integrated plan for urban agriculture, the City of Chicago could reap the broadest community, economic, nutritional and environmental benefits. Such a plan would help Mayor Emanuel and Chicago residents realize a vision for Chicago as the “greenest city in the world.”

Urban Agriculture Improves the Environment and Enhances Quality of Life By:
• Improving storm water collection.
• Increasing biodiversity.
• Reducing air pollution.
• Composting the 30% of the waste stream that is organic waste.
• Cleaning up the 70% of Chicago soil that is contaminated.
• Reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by not transporting agricultural products long distances.
• Reducing urban cooling energy requirements as a result of adding plants to the environment.
• Combating the nation's obesity epidemic and improving public health. Exposure to gardening and locally grown foods has a beneficial impact on dietary habits. Gardening is also great exercise!

Urban Agriculture Brings About Community Economic Development By:
• Providing employment and supplemental income opportunities.
• Increasing overall economic activity in local communities.
• Increasing green open space and the property values and tax revenues near them.
• Allowing residents to save money by growing and/or buying locally.
• Reducing the costs of health care through the health and environmental benefits of gardening and eating fresh produce.

Urban Agriculture Enhances Food Security By:
• Increasing the availability of healthy, affordable food for all.
• Teaching people how to grow their own food.
• Reducing the reliance on emergency food systems.
• Increasing residents’ access to local food and enabling them to spend "food dollars" on non-garden foods and other items.

Urban Agriculture is a Proven Benefit to Urban Areas:
• 40% of Toronto, Canada, residents grow some of their food in home or community gardens.
• Residents in Havana Cuba, produced 8500 tons of agricultural produce including 7.5 million eggs and 3,650 tons of meat in 1996 alone.
• The United Nations Development Program estimates that 15-20% of food is produced in urban areas world-wide, while cities get about 25% of their food from urban and peri-urban farms.
• Salem, Oregon, reports that urban land next to a “greenbelt” was worth $1,200.00 more per acre than land only 1000 feet away.

Source: Advocates for Urban Agriculture (auachicago.com), a coalition of organizations and individuals open to all interested in networking and advocating for urban agriculture in the Chicago area.