Summer class teaches students about urban farming
September 13, 2012
By: Kelsey Outman

news-urban-farming-large.jpgStudents in the Urban Farming class work at Denver’s Sprout City Farms. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Eleven University of Denver students got their hands dirty studying agriculture, food production and more as part of a summer quarter class called Urban Farming.

Through site visits, guest speakers and in-depth discussions, students learned about food production, the local-food movement and how food travels from farm to table. They studied different models of urban farming, including nonprofit farms and community-supported agriculture.

Urban farming is becoming an important topic to examine. By 2050, according to recent U.S. census statistics, demand for food will double, and 70 percent of the world's population will live in urban centers. Issues such as nutrition, food assistance programs and sanitation all will play a major role in farming in the future.

"Denver is a hotbed of urban agricultural activity," says Sasha Breger Bush, who taught the summer class. "Both the private and public sectors are ratcheting up their efforts to support urban agriculture as a method of improving food security and health in Denver, generating new sources of income and jobs for the area, creating a more resilient local food system, mitigating environmental damage, improving urban waste management and beautifying urban landscapes. This is a really exciting time to be studying this topic, and Denver is a fantastic place to be doing so."

Students also thought about ways to redefine food production and how societal-based movements, such as the organic food push, impact processing and local food policies. Each student was required to grow a plant or raise an animal and track its progress in a daily journal. Several students even adopted baby chickens.

Site visits to urban farms in the Denver metro area allowed students to learn about urban farming initiatives and participate in diverse farming methods.

International studies major Seth Markus says he took the class to find possible solutions for the global food system. "I believe food security is one of the most important problems of our generation," Markus says. "I took away a sense of hope from this class—hope for global food security. Urban agriculture has so much potential to combat not only food insecurity, but also detrimental and unsustainable practices from industrial agriculture."

By the end of the course, students knew how food was produced and had new ideas about local food production. Bush hopes students will continue to "contemplate how food creates connections between individuals and communities living in different parts of the world and grapple with the ways in which different ways of eating and producing food connect us to the Earth."

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