What is urban food production?

Urban food production (also known as “urban agriculture”) is broadly defined as growing, processing, and distribution of food (e.g., crops, livestock, etc.) for the urban market both within and on the fringe of urban areas.

Why urban food production is important?

Globally, more than half of the population is living in urban areas that rely upon external supplies of resources, such as food and clean water. It is projected that 2.5 billion more people will live on the planet by the mid-21st century, with disproportionate growth in urban populations. The state of Florida, as the third most populous state, has reached a population of more than 21 million in 2018, and is project to exceed 31 million in 2050. Challenges from increased urbanization and resource demands in cities are further exacerbated by shifting land use, and increasing impacts of climate change and economic fluctuations. It is thus vital to explore sustainability pathways that enhance resource efficiency in urban systems, reduce tradeoffs, and improve urban resilience. Urban food production, by promoting local food production, decentralizing food supply, and reducing food imports from highly industrialized production systems, is one of such pathways that could contribute to long-term urban sustainability.

What is sustainability?

The concept of sustainability is defined as the practice or development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainability has three pillars or dimensions: environment, economics, and society, and thus achieving sustainability involves the balance of all these three goals simultaneously.

How does urban food production contribute to sustainability?

At the local scales, urban food production could achieve multifunctionality such as food security, water and nutrient reuse, stormwater management, ecosystem health, and social-economic benefits (e.g., household income supplements, providing employment, and diversifying industry base). At regional to global scales, urban food production could counteract indirect land-use changes and promote climate mitigations through reducing environmental externalities (e.g., reduced greenhouse emissions and energy use associated with food supply chains) related with food trade and imports.

Interests in urban food production in south Florida.

Incipient grass-root and business interests have advocated for different forms of urban food production (e.g., community garden, urban-adjacent farm, food forests, greenhouse production, vertical farming) across south Florida (see figure below on selected representative sites) for addressing food security issues, public health, elevated social inequality, and worsening environmental conditions. Developing local food production is of particular relevance for south Florida, where food security is now becoming a major concern with 326 identified “food deserts” where residents have difficulty in accessing affordable, fresh, and nutritious food. 

What are the Sustainable Urban Food Production Short-course?

This comprehensive UF/IFAS Extension short course includes a series of lectures and hands-on workshops and field trips centered on sustainable urban food production. It is geared for anyone (e.g., community gardeners, urban farmers, homeowners, school teachers, entrepreneurs, general public) interests in increasing the knowledge and awareness and adopting best management practices related to urban food production, and enhancing the livelihoods of urban residents.

This short-course was delivered in 2019, and anticipated to continue annually, with the collaborations between UF/IFAS and Broward County Extension Office. The program for 2019 is shown below:

Get involved

The next Sustainable Urban Food Production short-course (weekly workshop series for six weeks) will be offered in the fall 2020 (August – September). Registration will be open in spring.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Lorna Bravo, CED and Urban Horticulture Agent II, 954-756-8529,


Dr. Jiangxiao Qiu, Assistant Professor of Landscape Ecology and Ecosystem Service, University of Florida, 954-577-6337,


Urban Horticulture and Natural Resources
Hydroponic Solutions for Urban Food Production
Broward County Bioblitz


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Lorna Bravo
Broward County Extension Director
Urban Horticulture Agent
(954) 756-8529

Adam Pitcher
Urban Horticulture
Education/Training Specialist I 
(954) 756-8526

Anthony Gross
Urban Horticulture
Education/Training Specialist I 
(954) 756-8525

UF/IFAS Broward County Extension
3245 College Avenue
Davie, FL 33314
(954) 756-8519

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