By Tim Blank, Tower Garden
A full 90 percent of the U.S. labor force worked on a farm in 1790.1
By 1860, that figure shrank to 58 percent. In 1940, it dropped to 18 percent. And in 1990, less than three percent of workers helped produce our nation’s food.
As our number of farmers decreased, we witnessed an increase in the consumption of processed, packaged, and preserved foods — ultimately contributing to an epidemic of poor health.
And I don’t think the concurrence of these trends is a coincidence. I believe that our society’s disconnection from our food supply has directly harmed our collective health.
But there’s good news: With the healthy living movement that’s taken root across the country, things appear to be turning around.
Why Urban Farms Are Flourishing
Today, if you flip through a magazine, switch on your television, or turn up the radio, you’ll find stories about healthy living.
These stories often focus on eating an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, as studies have shown that doing so can improve and preserve your health.
Not surprisingly, people now seek to add more whole foods to their diets. And as a result, farmers markets have grown exponentially in recent years. Restaurants promoting local, fresh food have seen dramatic lifts in patronage.
In short, the desire for clean, healthy, whole food ingredients supplied by local farmers is stronger than ever.
And with this increase in demand, we’ve seen the rebirth of the urban farmer.
Producing Food in Unconventional PlacesIn 2006, I helped design and build the world’s first certified green building with a vertical rooftop farm. And visitors from all over the world came to Orlando, Florida, to see what was possible.
(The weekend we opened, we offered farm tours for $17 and attracted more than 600 people!)
At first glance, cities don’t seem to offer much space for growing food. But every building taking up space on the ground has an empty roof that’s full of potential.
After the rooftop farm in Orlando, we developed more Urban Tower Farms. And mainstream media began to notice.
Until every rooftop is producing healthy food, I won’t stop sharing the story of what is possible.
One evening, Nightline ran a segment on a roof-to-table Tower Farm in Manhattan, causing a flood of website traffic.
In turn, we received inquiries from all kinds of businesses — including hospitals, nursing homes, grocery stores, colleges, restaurants, produce centers, and more.
Almost overnight, an extraordinary number of people became extremely interested in urban farming.
Advocates for healthy living saw urban farming as an opportunity to build a career around something they love and care about. College students from all over the country submitted applications, hoping to land a job where the future of food was now a reality.
The Key to Growing in a City
Now that we understand how important fruits and vegetables are to a healthy lifestyle, demand for real, fresh (i.e., local) produce is high. And as I just mentioned, many people are rushing to meet that demand.
But traditional farming requires lots of land and capital. Performance is dependent upon weather (so risk is high). And the work is downright dirty — and oftentimes not very enjoyable.
Fortunately, by using less land and water (and no dirt!) to produce more food, Tower Garden gives farmers a fun, easier way to grow almost anywhere in the world.
Interested in joining the urban farming revolution?
Using Tower Garden, forward-thinking farmers make a living while making a difference — without soil, without high overhead, and often without an ounce of previous agricultural experience.
Want to help change the future of food? Start developing a 12 tower Community Garden. Explore here.