Big City Farm

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Some crops prefer the hustle and bustle of big cities instead of quiet, open spaces, according to Science Alert.

Urban farming has become more popular in recent years and current estimates show that 15 to 20 percent of the global food supply is produced in cities – although some believe that figure is an overestimate.

A group of researchers investigating the feasibility of urban agriculture as a means of boosting food security, resilience, and sustainability, analyzed 200 studies covering more than 50 countries and 2,000 data points, they wrote in a new paper. Their analysis focused on ‘gray’ spaces, such as roads and rooftops, as well as green ones, such as parks and allotments.

While it wasn’t clear which urban spaces were the best for growing produce, researchers found that some types of crops are partial to cities.

“Surprisingly, there were few differences between overall yields in indoor spaces and outdoor green spaces, but there were clear differences in the suitability of crop types to different gray spaces,” lead author Florian Payen said.

For example, tomatoes and leafy green veggies have higher yields in hydroponic environments, where water – instead of soil – is used. Meanwhile, lettuce and broccoli were naturally suited to be grown vertically.

Payen cautioned that more research is needed to determine whether humankind should start moving our crops to the cities, such as further investigating the costs of running a climate-controlled environment.

Still, developing urban agriculture could be advantageous in a variety of ways, such as avoiding supply chain problems or lowering the environmental cost of food production.

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