From a Canadian city covered in green roofs to vertical farms in the middle of the desert; all over the world, food producing metropoles are stepping up their game to provide citizens with fresh, organic and locally grown food.
With almost 70 percent of the world’s population expected to live in cities by 2050, guaranteeing urban dwellers access to nutritious, sustainably grown food is becoming an ever growing challenge. These five food producing metropoles prove that agriculture does not need to be outsourced to far-off monocultures, but in fact can take place within urban areas. In doing so, they reconnect people to both their food and communities.
Paris: the city of love and urban farms
The French capital is the living proof that a dedicated mayor and a handful of engaged citizens can kickstart a green revolution. Anne Hidalgo, elected mayor in 2014, declared that she wanted to make Paris a greener city, with a third of all its green spaces dedicated to urban farms. Since the start of the Les Parisculteurs project, dozens of economically viable urban farms have sprouted. Amongst them is the largest urban farm in the world: a 14.000 square meter complex located on top of the Parc des Expositions building.
Toronto: green rooftops everywhere
That local politics can have a big impact on sustainable food production is also demonstrated by Canadian metropole Toronto. In 2009, a bylaw was introduced making it mandatory for new buildings to incorporate green roofs. The cutting-edge approach has resulted in 1.2 million square feet of new green space across commercial, institutional, and residential developments. Many of the green roofs in Toronto include edible crops. A flourishing example is the Ryerson rooftop, where up to 10.000 pounds of produce is grown annually.
New York: the metropole where food production never sleeps
Many inhabitants of New York City lack access to healthy food. Luckily, inspiring initiatives such as Gotham Greens, the floating urban food forest Swale and the GreenThumb program (with over 550 community gardens!) are successfully changing the tide.
Dubai: veggies from the dessert
How do you feed your population when your city is built in the middle of a desert? It is the challenge Dubai has been facing for many years. Recently, the government announced that at least twelve vertical farms will be constructed within the city in places where resources like water are scarce. In doing so, Dubai is taking important steps towards a sustainable urban food system.
Shanghai: (em)powering sustainability in food producing metropoles
Shanghai hosts over 24 million people, more citizens than any other city (or some entire countries for that matter). Rapid urbanization is threatening the self-sufficiency of the Chinese megacity that used to produce most of its own food up to the 1990’s. But with ambitious projects such as the Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District and the inauguration of the world’s largest waste-to-energy plant, Shanghai is well on its way to once again become an inspiring sustainable showcase.