Middle East urban farming has caught on in Egypt, where urban agriculture as a movement is now taking place. This also holds true for another highly dense population location, Gaza, where rooftop hydroponic farms are helping to sustain urban Gazans.
In the USA, the viability of urban farming to provide healthy organic vegetables to communities where such produce is not easy accessible received a big boost recently when a 40 something former financial services person, Robin Emmons, was nominated by CNN. She received its Hero of the Year award for her role in growing and providing fresh vegetable produce to urban communities that otherwise would not have adequate availability to a healthy alternative to their present life styles.
After working for 20 years in the financial markets, Emmons decided to embark on her urban farming idea after see how people in institutions, her brother included, were fed very unhealthy diets high in carbohydrates and sugars.
Home gardening had always been a hobby for Robin, who grew up in Boston but later relocated to North Carolina where she has lived more than 20 years. She decided to change her career goals to one of growing healthy, organic fruit and vegetables and make them available for people who did not have easy access to such produce and often lived on diets of fast and processed foods.
She began doing this by donating vegetables from her own organic garden to the institution where her brother was living.
Founded in 2008, Emmons called her newly created farming entity “Sow Much Good”. She began concentrating on residents living in Macklenburg County, North Carolina, where as many as 73,000 people were living in what Emmons referred to as “urban food deserts” without affordable or easily accessible fresh produce.
Since then, her foundation has grown to providing produce to a much larger area, including the city of Charlotte N.C., where an urban farm features seasonal produce such as corn, peppers, squash, cucumbers, collards, eggplant and more.
Beehives on the site help with pollination of what Emmons refers to as “beautiful chemical free produce”; and this provides people with high grade raw honey as well..
Sow Much Good produce, in addition to being delivered to various locations is also available at area stores and roadside produce stands. The NGO also provides education and guidance to people wanting to plant their own urban gardens and grow their own fruit and vegetables.
The virtues of eating healthier diets is also being taught by members of Emmon’s foundation and is being written about in their blog. All of these efforts make it clear why CNN picked up Robin Emmons and Sow Much Good for designation as one of 10 CNN Heros of the year 2013.
Based on the success of this urban farming venture, it’s easy to see that urban food deserts in Middle Eastern locations like Cairo Egypt, Palestinian Gaza; and other densely populated areas can be made more sustainable through roof top farms and other types of urban agriculture.
More articles on urban agriculture in the Middle East:
Photos of Robin Emmons and her farming project by Sow Much Good