The Past and Future of Urban Agriculture
By looking at the history of city farming, this piece argues that the recent growth of urban agriculture doesn't need to reinvent the wheel.
"Cities didn't just innovate techniques that would later become associated with large-scale, chemical-dependent agriculture, they also incubated sustainable ones. The so-called "French-intensive" method of growing vegetables -- in which large amounts of compost are added annually to densely planted raised beds -- is one of the most productive and sustainable forms of organic agriculture used today. And guess what? It developed not in the countryside, but rather within the crowded arrondissements of 19th century Paris. Maine farmer Eliot Coleman, one of the leading U.S. practitioners of the French-intensive style, credits those pioneering Parisian farmers with ingenious methods of extending growing seasons that are only just now coming into widespread use in the United States."