Urban farmers take root in unsuspecting places with help from CSU Online

A group of friends gardening on an urban rooftp[
As the country continues to urbanize, CSU provides students a pathway to careers in Urban Agriculture through a new one-of-a-kind graduate certificate.

More than half of the world’s population lives in an urban area. Most predictions show that by mid-century, two-thirds of people across the globe will live in a metropolitan region. As people migrate to these urban or suburban locations, they share one thing in common: the need to eat.

Food security and food quality concerns continue to be a topic of importance for many parts of the world. Urban areas often depend on rural regions to supply food, but workers continue leaving their traditional farming jobs to move to cities. Many in these urban areas find themselves supplementing the lack of fresh food supply by relying on community gardens, indoor home gardens, or green roofs –  rooftops that have been converted to support a constructed landscape.

History & about urban farming

Urban farming, also known as urban gardening or urban agriculture, brings the cultivating, processing, and supplying of food to densely populated regions. It can reflect varying social and economic situations – from social movements of organic growers in sustainable communities, to a vital source of food security, nutrition, and income generation for others. Both scenarios provide communities with direct access to freshly grown fruits, vegetables, and meat products.

Urban farming, to supplement rural food production, is nothing new. Often during war or depressions, when food shortage or distribution issues arose, community gardens emerged as a response to poverty, labor or food insecurity. Formal urban farming practices date back to the beginning of the 19th century.

Today’s urban farmers face unique challenges and without expert help, will continue to struggle. Faced with hurdles like deteriorating soil conditions, due to climate change or contamination, a lack of water resources, space and logistical constraints, urban farmers need access to new technology and advances in the industry.

Online Graduate Certificate Program

To ensure professionals are prepared to innovate and solve these complexities, CSU Online has launched a new, online Urban Agriculture Graduate Certificate program. The certificate, one of the only of its kind offered by an accredited institution, focuses on best urban agriculture practices

Students will gain a better overall understanding of the industry and all its contributing systems, from designing green roofs, to logistics and marketing the end products. The program curriculum places an importance on:

  • Evaluating the scale and feasibility of urban and peri-urban food growing methods
  • Designing a green roof from concept to project completion, including food production and maintenance
  • Teaching students best practices in horticulture and human health, specifically in plant biology, food and medicinal crop production, human nutrition, and the treatment of chronic disease

The need for professionals in urban growing and distribution continues to grow. In the next ten years, predictions show careers in urban farming increasing nearly six percent* nationwide. This certificate prepares students to be competitive for new employment opportunities or entrepreneurial endeavors and teaches them to expertly manage challenges related to food products within city limits.

The program is three courses, nine credit hours, and can be completed in as few as two semesters. Application information, requirements, and deadlines can be found at: online.colostate.edu/certificates/urban-agriculture

*Bureau of Labor Statistics