This is an addendum to an article posted on November 10th.
I had the chance to interview Dr. Parwinder Grewal–professor of entomology and director of the Center for Urban Environment and Economic Development at Ohio State University, and the author of “Can Cities Become Self-Reliant in Food?”–to learn more about the study. In order to conduct his reasearch, Grewal quantified the space available for crop production in the city of Cleveland and multiplied it by the potential crop yield. “We also obtained food-per-person availability data from the USDA to determine if we meet with level of food from within the city,” he said. “We calculated self-reliance for 36 different vegetables and 14 fruits that can be grown in our region.”
According to Grewal, there are several challenges associated with growing food, the biggest challenge being soil quality and contamination. The next most pressing challenge is the lack of farming know-how among people in the cities. Marketing and distribution of food grown on urban farms or gardens is another challenge, he said.
In order to promote urban gardening in cities like Cleveland, we need to educate people about the social, economic, and environmental benefits of growing food locally and the benefits that locally grown food offers, like taste and freshness, Grewal said. “We also need to train people to grow food and to prepare nice meals out of the freshly-grown vegetables and fruits,” he said. “We also need to continue to educate people about the healthy eating habits. Involvement of younger people/students in the local food movement is critical.”