Carbon Farming and Climate Change Education on Urban Farms

Commentary / 1st Quarter 2020

Carbon Farming and Climate Change Education on Urban Farms

by Alana Siegner

March 12, 2020

At an urban farm in the San Francisco Bay Area on a Wednesday morning, a diverse group of people gathers in anticipation of the weekly free farm stand. Customers line up to select from a variety of fresh farm herbs and vegetables, as well as organic food items donated from local groceries and bread bakeries. Multiple languages coincide and music plays from an outdoor speaker as greetings and food are exchanged.

“Urban farms can be havens of peace, health and community, but they require heavy involvement and advocacy from those communities for the long term in order to be successful,” East Bay urban farmer.

Artichokes growing in soil amended with biochar co-compost (Photo courtesy of Alana Siegner)

In cities across the United States and the world, urban farms are cropping up as local food alternatives to the globalised food supply chain. They also represent sites of resistance to a corporate-dominated global food system that does not offer equitable, affordable, sustainable and culturally acceptable food to all people.

While urban farms have existed for much of human history as a vital food resource for urbanites, the modern trend of urban farm establishment has grown particularly since the 2010s. The intertwining motivations for modern urban farms are extensive, encompassing a ‘grow your own’ ethos; efforts to expand food access, sovereignty and justice; greening the city movements; cultural preservation; and efforts to improve health, nutrition and well-being of urban residents.

Urban farms can be “havens of peace, health and community”, according to one farmer in San Francisco’s East Bay region. They can also be important urban resources for climate change mitigation and education.


Clinton, N. et al. A Global Geospatial Ecosystem Services Estimate of Urban Agriculture. Earth’s Future. 10 January 2018.

Grewal, S. S., & Grewal, P. S. (2012). Can cities become self-reliant in food? Cities, 29(1), 1–11.

Marris, E. “How to Stop Freaking Out and Tackle Climate Change.” New York Times Opinion. 10 January, 2020.

Wynes, S. and Nicholas, K. The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions. Environmental Resource Letters. 12 July 2017.

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