Though it sometimes seems like our evil frankenfood corporate overlords, such as Monsanto and Dow, have completely hi-jacked our food system, many people around the nation are actually creating more sustainable and viable alternatives. A few good folks in Asheville, NC are bringing agriculture back to the people, empowering urbanites to gain more food independence, while learning to grow healthier fresh local food for their own communities.

Landscapes at the urban farm school

What is Urban Farming?

Urban farming is a movement sweeping across the country that is bringing food production into urban areas. It is an attempt to re-define where we get our foods, re-think how we use our urban landscapes, make food as local as possible, and de-centralize the power vacuum and the economies of our food supply.

Urban farming is an effort to address food deserts, food insecurity, community health, improve urban quality of life, as well as to reduce the rising costs of healthy foods. It is a participatory food production model that inspires urban communities with the knowledge on how to reap the rewards of growing food on even the smallest plot of land, an abandoned lot, roof tops, patios, or even in a parking strip.

Workshop at urban farm school

Urban farming is a strategy for reclaiming landscapes which have traditionally been synonymous with trimmed lawns and inedible landscaping, instead using these plots to grow fruits and vegetables, raise bees and chickens, and create beautiful food filled urban habitats.

Urban farming encourages people to keep their money in their local communities, eat in season, eat as local as possible, decrease food transportation, and solve several urban pollution problems.

Where Can I learn About Urban Farming?

Starting this April, the Urban Farm School at the Ashevillage Institute will open its doors with a comprehensive, 815 hour, 28-week program that runs from May 6 to November 13, 2013. The training will include a full range of topics, including:

  • Permaculture certification, Biodynamic, Biochar & Hugelkultur farming methods
  • Pest, weed and soil fertility management
  • Site planning, seed selecting, and season extension techniques
  • Small scale composting, vermiculture and humanure
  • Wild crafting and responsible wild foods foraging
  • Aquaponics, and mushroom cultivation
  • Skills needed to create value added products such as herbal medicine-making, fermentation, and food preservation
  • Beekeeping
  • Forest gardening, urban orchards, and managing animals in the garden
  • Seed-saving, marketing and outreach
  • Other Topics include learning about food justice, food politics, natural building methods including cob construction 

Urban Farm School


Janell Kapoor founder, designer and chief visionary from the Urban Farm School and director for Kleiwerks International, explains why this growing sustainable food movement is so important:

“The Urban Farm School is significant because it is 100% possible for us to collectively create truly local, long-lasting, integrated and vibrant culture within our cities. Ultimately, healthy and nutritious food is good for all of us, and there is no reason we cannot provide for this. Food is a central part of our lives. It brings us together. Addressing food means we address all aspects of society — from education to economics, from water supply to seed supply, from local governance to quality of life. None of these things are separate. 

Communities that can provide for their own needs, and their own food, are communities that have a direct relationship with place and that value life in a sacred way. The Urban Farm School will help to generate community leaders with hands-in-the-dirt skills, and with big vision comprehension and connections to feed our urban bellies and souls.”

Janell Kapoor at the Urban Farm School