Urban Farming

Course CodeBAG229
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to Start and run an Urban Farm

  • relatively little land
  • start small and grow
  • be amazed at what is possible

I've seen viable urban farms in all sorts of small places eg. someone who set up a mushroom farm using the space inside 2 shipping containers, 300 sq m of home garden growing cut flower orchids, front and back gardens of a suburban home turned into an organic vegetable farm with free range chooks, or a butterfly farm supplying schools with teaching materials and weddings with butterflies to release. I've seen aquaponic farms producing fish and vegetables from as little as 100 sq metres. With creativity and knowledge, urban farming can be a reality.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Urban Farming
    • Introduction - Why this matters
    • What is Urban Farming
    • Who is an urban farmer?
    • Motivating Concerns: Environmental, Food Security and Waste, Sustainability,
    • Motivating Benefits: Profitability, Nutrition and Opportunities
    • Urban Farm Concepts
    • Further Factors in Concept Planning (Organics and Security)
    • Diversification of Urban Farming
    • Example 1 Plant and Animal Tissue Culture
    • Example 2 Urban Foraging
  2. What and Where to Farm
    • Choose wisely
    • What to Farm?
    • Geographic location
    • Local climate
    • Available space
    • Infrastructure Access
    • Community/Social Demographics
    • Restrictions on What Can be Farmed
    • Permits/Licences
    • Farming Animals
    • Farming Plants
    • Time to Harvest
    • Where to Farm?
    • Evaluating Sites
    • Indoor Sites: Factories, Warehouses, Greenhouses, Vacant Buildings
    • Outdoor Site: Rooftops, Parks, Community Gardens, Urban Land
    • Space Considerations
  3. Urban Farming Technologies
    • Introduction
    • Urban Farm Technologies
    • Protected Environments
    • Growth Cabinets
    • Cloches, Greenhouses and Florida Rooms
    • Hydroponics
    • Aquaponics
    • Aquaculture
    • Vertical Farming
    • Multi-storey Farming
    • Diversified Production Systems
    • Single Product Production Systems
    • Emerging Technologies
    • IoT, Automation, AI, Robotics, Blockchain, Nanotech
  4. Starting Up & Managing an Urban Farm
    • Introduction
    • Initial Considerations
    • Assessing Risks
    • Potential Risks
    • Legal Considerations
    • Safe Waste Disposal
    • Forecasting and Preparation
    • Analysing Costs and Benefits
    • Acquisitions and Launching
    • Acquire the Site
    • Property Setup and Staff Training
    • Launching the Business
    • Growing the Business
  5. Animal Farming Systems
    • Changing Farms
    • Intensive Animal Farming
    • Challenges of Urban Farming
    • The Physical Environment
    • Ethics
    • Services and Resources Access
    • Biosecurity and Health
    • Security of Animals
    • Animal Production Systems
    • Free Range, High Density and Bottomless Pens
    • How to Increase Productivity
    • Pasture Intensification, Livestock Selection, Animal Feed
    • Choosing High Value Farm Activities
    • Integration of Urban Farming into Town Planning
    • Case Studies: Aquaculture, Poultry and Dairy Farms
  6. Plant Farming Systems
    • Introduction to Plant Farming
    • Challenges of Urban Plant Farming
    • The Physical Environment
    • Services and Resources Access
    • Biosecurity & Health
    • In-Ground Growing
    • Containers
    • Soil Improvement
    • Roof-top Growing Systems
    • Adaptations for Indoor Systems
    • Vertical Growing Systems
    • Soil-less Crop Production Systems
    • Vertical Farming
    • Aeroponics
    • Propagation Techniques
    • Harvesting Techniques
    • How to Increase Productivity
    • Storage of Produce Pre-market
  7. Value Adding
    • Model of Business for Viability
    • Retail Services
    • Selling to Restaurants
    • Growing More in Small Spaces
    • Farmers Markets
    • Farm Tourism & Education Services
    • Marketing at Events
    • Volunteers, Grants and Skills Training
    • Preserving & Processing Produce
    • Producing Animal Feed
    • Manufacturing Produce and Other Goods
  8. Problem-Based Learning Project – Planning an Urban Farm
    • Plan establishment or ongoing improved operation of an urban farm.

Where to Start?

The start of a journey to establishing one’s own urban farming business is likely going to be a stimulating and exciting time. Often, prospective urban farmers are empowered and impassioned, filled with ideas, hopes and dreams for their business. This is great. As with any business, it is important to be motivated towards an end goal. However, in some cases, it may be important to bring excitement and passion into line with perspective. This can be achieved through applying some decision-making processes in order to start to shape the reality of what a business will look like. 

A person who is working within or looking to start an urban farming enterprise likely has several reasons for their desire. They also likely have a list of produce and/or animals, products, services or offerings which they are eager incorporate into the business. Don’t forget that passion, creativity and innovation will remain key drivers of running any successful business. The very first step an aspiring urban farmer should take is to put all of their ideas on paper. This process could be quick, take days or even weeks depending upon the person and their aspirations. But it can be very beneficial to have these ideas written down in some way. It would be prudent to organise these ideas into categories in order to begin gaining some perspective. Categories could include:

  • What to farm
  • Where to farm
  • How to farm
  • Additional services

Whatever the scope of your planned enterprise it is important to take time to gather your thoughts and compile all relevant information in an organised fashion.

This course will help you to do that; and in doing so develop perspective and enable another very important initial decision-making step to be taken with your eyes wide open.