University of Maryland Extension

Ground-based outdoor urban farming

Author: 
Neith Little, Extension Agent, Urban Agriculture


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 Outdoor urban agriculture can be done in raised beds or containers, in-ground in native or imported soil, and in high tunnels or hoop houses. Picture taken at Whitelock Community Farm, Baltimore, MD by Neith Little, UMD Extension.
Figure 1: Outdoor urban agriculture can be done in raised beds or containers, in-ground in native or imported soil, and in high tunnels or hoop houses. Picture taken at Whitelock Community Farm, Baltimore, MD by Neith Little, UMD Extension.

 
Ground-based outdoor urban agriculture is particularly common in cities with large amounts of vacant land, such as Baltimore and Detroit. Production practices include growing in-ground in the native soil, on the ground (or even on pavement!) in imported soil or growing media, in raised beds or containers, and in high tunnels or hoop houses which are used to extend the growing season and protect the crops from extreme rain events (Figure 1 and 2). Most ground-based urban agriculture is used for diversified vegetable production, but some urban farms grow perennial fruits, and a subset of urban farms specialize in cut flower production.

 Lettuce being grown in a high tunnel at Strength to Love 2, in Baltimore, MD. Photo by Neith Little, UMD Extension.
Figure 2: Lettuce being grown in a high tunnel at Strength to Love 2, in Baltimore, MD. Photo by Neith Little, UMD Extension.

A note about specialty ethnic vegetables: Urban growers may be particularly interested in growing specialty vegetable varieties featured in the cuisines of the ethnicities and cultures of the community around the urban farm. Learn more about specialty and ethnic crops here https://go.umd.edu/specialtyveg and in the references at the end of this chapter (Tubene and Myers 2008; Afantchao 2010; Mangan 2002).

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