Urban Businesses Cater to Growing Crop of City Farmers

Even though I come from farm family stock (my paternal grandparents had their own little Grapes of Wrath operation going most of my life), I have trouble just getting the crabgrass to grow in my tiny inner-city backyard.  Not so with many of my neighbors — and an increasing number of “urban homesteaders” across the country — who are turning their city space into mini-farms.

And businesses geared toward their needs are sprouting up everywhere.

From a St. Paul Pioneer Press interview with Audrey Matson and Robert Lies, owners of Egg/Plant Urban Farm Supply:

“The past few years have seen increasing interest in growing and preserving food, backyard chicken-keeping, urban beekeeping and traditional skills such as cheese-making and canning. The National Gardening Association reported a 19 percent rise in vegetable gardening in 2009. Seed sales were up 20 to 30 percent, and the maker of Ball canning supplies reported a 40 percent increase in sales as well. People are interested in eating locally and organically and are increasingly willing to learn to do it themselves. In 2009, the word ‘locavore’ entered the national lexicon, meaning a person who strives to eat locally grown food. Books such as Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and movies such as Food Inc. and Fresh have brought backyard food gardening as well as concerns about food safety and support for family farms and farmer’s markets into the mainstream.”

Farming–and farm culture–is rapidly developing a more urban vibe. Terms like sustainable, farminista, foodie-driven, art-to-table, heirloom and CSA are cropping up more and more in day-to-day urban discourse, even in New York City, arguably the most urban atmosphere in America. Urban farm supplies in the Big Apple are big business:

“Urban farming is hotter than hot. Therefore it is not a surprise that the first DIY urban farming/gardening store in New York City is a huge succes. City Hydroponic is a full service shop that offers a complete range of gardening products for indoor as well as outdoor gardeners and farmers. The shop has all what it takes to grow fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs in the Big Apple. Whether you want innovative aeroponic or hydroponic growing kits, hi-tech gardening equipment for intricate green roofing systems and indoor grow room to a plain old fashion dirt and guano for a modest apartment window box…”

Urban farmers are becoming a noticeable demographic presence for businesses to target.  They blog, they hawk their produce on twitter and gather at conferences.  They are an evolving modern entity my grandparents would hardly recognize. 

Related Stories:

The Heartland in Compton? Urban City Hides Farming Community

Urban Gardens Sprout in Mall Food Courts, on Office Rooftops

Local Food: Where Sustainability Meets Self-Reliance


Photo credit: dreamstime



Holly Lawrence
Holly Lawrence5 years ago


Aoife O Mahony
Aoife O Mahony5 years ago

Thanks =)

Masha Samoilova
Past Member 5 years ago


Wioletta S.
Wioletta S.5 years ago

let stop this

Tiffany Derichsweiler
Tiffany D.5 years ago

I've had fun turning my front "yard" (read: barren dust bowl) into a garden. I wasnt about to waste my efforts on grass anyway. And I converted my backyard into raising my chickens. Luckily, there is a lady across the river whose thumb is as green as mine is black so that after I've eaten all two of the tomatos I've managed to raise I can buy locally grown produce from her :)

Priscilla G.
Priscilla G.5 years ago

Growing your own fruit and veg is a good way to save money and avoid the GM ones at the supermarkets, I have started a veggie patch again used to grow all my own but stopped a few years ago but have now gone back to it, it is so rewarding to grow your own food and healthy too.

Joanna Marie D.
Joanna d.5 years ago

Interesting, thank for sharing!

gerlinde p.
gerlinde p.5 years ago

very interesting article, thanks

Sumit jamadar
Sumit jamadar5 years ago


Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M.5 years ago

Your article is very interesting to me, as I want to get back to growing some of my own veggies and fruits again. Because of poor health I have to keep it simple, so I am going to use pots I used to use for flowers and plant food instead of flowers. Food has gone up over 36% here, since last year. I will also be going to the farmer's markets and still searching out some organic farmers in my area. Sooner give them my business instead of the big super markets, unfortunately there will be some things I have to buy in them.