University of Maryland Extension

Production systems

Neith Little, Extension Agent, Urban Agriculture

Urban Ag home | Table of contents

Although any one individual urban farm might use multiple methods to grow crops and raise livestock, urban agriculture production systems can be broadly categorized as

  • Ground-based outdoor urban farming
  • Hydroponic or aquaponic indoor production
  • Rooftop farming
  • Landscaping and nursery businesses
  • Urban livestock production
  • Mushroom production (fungiculture)

A recent survey of urban farmers in Maryland found that the majority grew vegetables, fruits, and cut flowers in land-based production systems using raised-beds, in-ground growing, and high tunnels (Little et al. 2018). Across all production systems, the types of crops and livestock that fit most easily into an urban agriculture business are ones that are physically small, thrive in small spaces and challenging growing conditions, and have fast life cycles. The last point is important to maximize the amount of income or food produced per square foot. Slower growing crops (like fruit trees) or livestock (like oysters) can be important parts of an urban agriculture system, but their slow life cycles mean that they consume more space and time per unit of food produced than faster-growing crops and livestock.

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Ground-based outdoor urban farming

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