Food deserts and food insecurity

Stabilizing the Food Supply Chain through Urban Agriculture

Urban Agriculture

Andrea D. Foore |
Posted on Aug 17, 2023

Growing up in my rural community has always felt like a blessing. I love the beautiful sights of the hills filled with corn, soybeans, or cattle that greet me on my drive to and from work every day. When I visit local farm stands, I often think about how fortunate I am to have such easy access to healthy, locally grown food!

Many other communities are not as fortunate, and can even be defined as food deserts due to their restricted access to affordable, healthy food options. In 2017, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) food access research report estimated that 19 million people in the United States have limited access to a supermarket or grocery store. This was fueled even further during the pandemic when businesses permanently closed or limited their operating hours and public transportation was restricted. 

Food deserts and food insecurity have multiple ramifications, including poor diet and nutrition, health problems, and dependence on fast food and convenience stores. While many solutions are progressing, one that has been successful through government programs and grassroot efforts is urban agriculture. 

Across the United States there has been an increased need for urban agriculture. In Pennsylvania, the cities of Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have worked to stabilize their local food systems. An excellent example is the GIANT Bleacher Garden, repurposing the abandoned Bishop McDevitt stadium to grow vegetables for Harrisburg residents. The Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department created the Farm Philly program to assist residents in growing their own food, manage composting programs, preserve land, and maintain resources. Nationally, the USDA announced in July of 2023 that they will be opening 17 new Urban Service Centers to offer farm loan, conservation, as well as disaster assistance and risk management programs. 

There are many resources available for those looking to start an urban agriculture project in their local community. It is important to first develop a business plan and discuss your options with a bank that specializes in agribusinesses lending. The lender may also refer you to a Farm Service Agent with the USDA for additional assistance. 

Since agriculture is one of the largest blocks laid in the foundation of our society, it is important to strengthen our food system and invest in urban agricultural programs. Everyone should have access to healthy, locally grown food no matter where they live. Grass roots efforts to grow food locally is the best response to secure a steady supply of wholesome, healthy food, significantly reducing reliance on the “supply chain” as the only source of these products.

What assistance do you need to get started? We can help... MEET THE AGRIBUSINESS TEAM

Andrea Foore, Agribusiness Loan Officer

Andrea D. Foore
Assistant Vice President/Agribusiness Loan Officer