It is quite challenging to have just two urban farms to serve a population of more than 70,000 people in a ward (“About Ward 7 | Op”). This is just like just like a food system in a containment enclosed in one space which is the community. Usually, urban farms focus on offering more of youth initiative, community garden accessibility to all and commercial kitchens that are suitable for establishing food-based businesses (“New Urban Farm in D.C. Is About More Than a Food Desert”). Since recently food security has been demanding for a diversified food system which entails urban areas as food production areas and food distribution, it calls for establishment of more urban farms. Therefore this paper analyzes the urban farm market in Ward 7 in Washington DC.
Accessibility of fresh food has been a persistent challenge for ward 7, Washington DC residents. With the inefficient urban farms available in ward 7, there are numerous designated food deserts which lack accessibility of complete service in grocery stores within a radius of one mile (“About Ward 7 | Op”). Washington DC has eight wards and Ward 7 being one of them is poor. Literally, Ward 7 has about one grocery store for every 22,000 people (“About Ward 7 | Op”). About 71,000 residents in Ward 7 lack easy access to affordable and healthy food from farms. Moreover, a 2012 study identified that about 17,000 people eat and share food which is possibly containing chemical contaminants surpassing the endorsed health levels (“New Urban Farm in D.C. Is About More Than a Food Desert”). Urban farmers in ward 7 encounter unique operational challenges which have resulted in restrained commercial success up to date. These challenges entail high operating costs, limited space, varied and unpredictable climates, and high competition from other farms in neighboring wards and bigger industrial producers. Due to this, it has been difficult in application of successful urban agriculture models that are copied from other places then anticipate comparable results.
To address these issues, the Washington DC administration has taken action to by allocating some pieces of land for lease which is to transform land into a large-scale urban farm. However, the opportunity and challenge that arises is the capacity to develop the farm for contemporary use of vacant land for local food production (“New Urban Farm in D.C. Is About More Than a Food Desert”). For instance, the East Capitol Urban Farm has been set up under joint forces with Urban Waters Federal Partnership towards addressing environmental and economic issues in across the ward of underserving communities. Moreover, sustainable Washington DC Innovation Challenge Fund has made contribution by committing itself in building aquaponics facilities which is a significant food production scheme in which fish gives plans nutrients which facilitate their growth. American Forests, an urban and wildlife forests conservation institution, contributes trees, bio-retention facilities and also help in evaluating the farm’s economic, ecological and social impacts . As urban farms focus on their economic gains, they are controlled and regularized by certain policies. Various policies to ensure better access to healthy food, fair competition and legislation regarding agriculture and food economy have been established.
Given that urban farms are located in urban neighborhood, they literally serve urban residence who do not purchase these farm produce at the amount that will require a drop-off delivery. This is because the urban population are so tied to fast food more than fresh farm foods (“Food Security: The Urban Food Hubs Solution”). Urban farm business in ward 7 find its niche within this market group, the dominating food distributing market. Ward 7 has various types of business and it is estimated that many of the sales arise from retail trade, food sales and beverage stores.
Apparently there exists both public retail and private retails for sale of farm produce in the market. Some urban farms are owned by the state, and thus selling their products in subsidized prices as compared to other urban farms (“Food Security: The Urban Food Hubs Solution”). When compared to other farms, urban farms are unique. Even though there may exist social benefits to their present configuration and structure like ethnic, less business development chances and as well alternative market for fresh farm produce and meat for the people, the economic gains of the current urban farm market are restrained. Some of the urban markets in this area, serve both local and international customers. The business is quite affected by traffic jams. This occurs generally when making deliveries which wastes a lot of time and eventual affect the business negatively. Urban farms are however, found to have a high volume of employees majority of them being agricultural experts (Ricg, 39). Urban farms require qualified experts in various departments to ensure effective and long term success. The success of the existing urban farms are characterized with the systematic structural of their employees from agricultural scientists, to sales representative, retailers to transporters (Ricg, 42). Most of the urban farms have their employees living near the farms in areas accessible to public transport which makes these farms more desirable for their employees and as a result also helps in saving costs.
Albeit, the cost of housing is found to be spontaneously increasing in areas around urban farms thus making it very hard for long term residence who are the potential customers having the capacity of these neighborhood leading to numerous vacant property and thus poses threat to the urban farm markets (“Meet Two of the Driving Forces Behind Urban Gardening in DC”). Nonetheless, the Neighborhood Prosperity Fund that was introduced in the recent past that was intended to award up to $ 3 million to facilitate real estate projects within the areas in order to attain the targeted census, facilitate the upbringing of affordable groceries to Ward 7 which has food deserts. Though small urban farm businesses are more effective to invigorating ward 7. At the moment, it has been evident that pop-up markets promise a lot especially in elementary schools who mostly rely on volunteer work heavily but are usually absorbed by private businesses.
Ward 7 is considered to be one of the poor wards in Washington DC. Most of its population gets wages less than $25,000 and most of them being the African American residence. This population it the potential customer to urban firms (“Meet Two of the Driving Forces Behind Urban Gardening in DC”). These population encounter significant economic challenges though are leading in their usage of technology. However, it is reported that only less than 50% of Americans consume the encouraged five farm produce daily, with low-income people taking the least. However, with the less food retail outlets vending fresh farm produce in poor neighborhoods, urban farmers have been regarded as the possible solution to food deserts.
Apparently, at the present few urban farms markets are operating in low-income areas of ward 7. To be precise there are only four urban farms operating in both ward 7 and 8 (“Meet Two of the Driving Forces Behind Urban Gardening in DC”). This is a significant geographical imbalance as compare to other wards. This clearly shows that there are insufficient urban farms to produce sufficient fresh farm produce for the urban residence. This urban farm intended to be established looks forward to help solve this issue by balancing this geographical imbalance (“Local Food Marketing Practices”). Not only will this project create a geographical balance but also will help produce a variety of fresh farm produce enough to sustain the entire ward. Employment as well will be created thus helping improve the financial status of this low-income areas.
Urban farms faces steep competition from fast food industries. Most of the urban population are tied to fast food since they prefer taste and convenience more than farm produce. The level of this competition is very fierce. More than 50% of the people in the population of ward 7 consume fast foods while less than 50% of them consume farm produce. Fast foods tends to be more accessible and quite cheaper than fast food. Moreover, fast food is reliable, fast and convenient. Chain restaurants are nowadays everywhere geographically balanced which has posed a big competition for the geographical imbalanced urban farms (“Local Food Marketing Practices”). These chain restaurants produces fast food such as burgers that are a bit cheaper and fast to prepare or rather convenient to consume while in motion unlike farm produce food which are a bit cheaper, takes a lot of time to prepare an inconvenient to carry around.
In essence, urban farms plays significant roles in maintaining the health of a population. Urban population turns out to be geographically imbalance in Washington DC and ward 7 having few urban farms as compare to its population. Moreover, despite the competition from the first food industry, it is significant to proceed with the business plan and establish an urban farm since farm produce is much needed in Ward 7.