May 14, 2013

Innovations in Agriculture

Mary Campbell,
Director and Community Resource Agent

Did you know that the average dairy cow produces seven gallons of milk a day, 2,100 pounds of milk a month, and 46,000 glasses of milk a year? In urbanized Pinellas County, we are removed from the daily reminders of where our food comes from and the importance of all types of agriculture to sustain our lives. Constant innovations in agriculture provide the ability to feed an ever growing population. In forty years, it is estimated that there will be an additional 2 billion people on the earth to feed. More people are moving to urban areas that traditionally did not provide space for farming – but that is changing.

Urban agriculture is of great interest for many reasons. It provides fresh, local produce which reduces miles traveled and can create more green space in an otherwise harsh city center. Urban farming can provide additional income, fresh vegetables for a family or be a recreational activity. Roof top gardens, vertical wall gardens, hydroponic gardens, backyard poultry, beekeeping, home vegetable gardens and community gardens are just the beginning of urban style farming. The urban farm usually grows a wider variety of produce than conventional types of agriculture and items can be grown for a specific market. Local farmers markets are adding an ever expanding array of fresh and organic produce and can be a location to sell locally produced fruits and vegetables. If you are selling only fresh fruits and vegetables that you produce, you do not need a license or permit from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. (Check with your the local tax collector for the occupational licenses and permits required in your county). Growers of fresh produce need to keep food safety considerations in mind for their operations.

If the right combinations of new technology, community support, and economic incentives align, urban farms could add to the food security of cities and reduce food deserts. Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food within walking distance. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.

New methods of production such as hydroponic and greenhouse grown crops (could be simple hoop house) can extend growing seasons, increase production and utilize small spaces. Innovations and urban agriculture go hand in hand. Join Extension on June 12 for an Aquaculture Workshop –another innovation in agriculture. (


Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises:

Alternative Greenhouse Crops: 

Hydroponic Vegetable Production in Florida:

Principles and Practices of Food Safety for Vegetable Production in Florida:

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