You've seen enough posts here about my attempts at vegetable gardening to know I have an interest in producing my own food. I think the urban agriculture movement is gathering momentum as it becomes more difficult to source honestly produced food at affordable prices. Urbanization recently crossed a threshold and now half the world's population lives in urban areas. While I fall into the urbanized half, my current locale has few barriers to growing crops and keeping livestock on a small scale. Many of my neighbors tend well developed vegetable gardens, and a few miles away a man raises guineas and other small fowl. Unfortunately I doubt I will expand my agricultural efforts while I remain in rented accommodation.
My interest in urban agriculture was recently revived by a visit to the State Fair. You may think that a festival of everything rural is a strange place to find inspiration for suburban farming, and indeed there was no direct mention of urban agriculture at the Fair. However is was clear from the Fair in which direction the rural community is headed. It is not 'up'. The traditions of the past are kept alive by an aging population and their barely-willing offspring, and an overtone of the inevitable demise seems to permeate the festivities. Coming into contact with the rural community also made me aware of just how suburban I am. I may enjoy digging around in the dirt, but I didn't grow up on a farm and no amount of book-learnin' will make up for my metro upbringing. However attractive the idea of living in the country, I will probably remain shackled to a job in town and a long commute goes against everything I believe in. The solution, therefore, lies in harnessing the organic sustainability of the rural lifecycle on a micro scale in suburban environment.
On this subject the State Fair provided plenty of inspiration. Obviously small livestock such as chickens and goats would form the backbone of any urban agriculture effort. Beekeeping is also gaining popularity with suburban growers as bees are a vital component in the web of life that enables cultivation of any crop. The beekeepers had a large presence at the fair than the infamous Virginia vintners! Taking things to extreme, the mini-Hereford cow is held as an example breed ideal for people farming on a small scale!