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10 Urban Farmers to Follow on Instagram

by Quelcy Kogel

There’s a misconception that urban farming is this new, hip movement, but it’s more of a revival. During World War II, cities were speckled with “Victory Gardens,” and growing your own food was a patriotic duty (a movement which also yielded some amazing poster designs… Google those later). With the onset of industrialized food systems and improvements in refrigeration, apples began to travel more than pilots, and urban agriculture moved to the countryside, where it was out of sight and out of mind.

With the slew of environmental and food insecurity issues we currently face, reviving urban agriculture is a must. I recommend following these 10 urban farmers on Instagram as a way to connect more to food sources, to rethink sustainability in urban design and to find ways to support local agriculture. Additionally, I suggest leaving words of encouragement and gratitude in their photo comments. Farming, whether urban or rural, seems charming from the outside, but it’s a daily battle against critters, the elements, industrialization and physical exhaustion. Yet, without these crusaders, we could kiss those sweet, sweet tomatoes goodbye!

This roundup is merely scratching the surface, so be sure to tell me who else in the urban agriculture world inspires you. I am all ears. —Quelcy

10 Urban Farmers to Follow on Instagram via Design*Sponge
1/10
At 6’7”, Will Allen already has a mythical presence, but he truly is legendary. The son of sharecroppers, he turned his back on farming to play professional basketball, but he eventually felt the pull of his roots. Through several leaps of faith, he created @GrowingPower, agricultural hubs in Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago, where inner city kids come to learn about healthy food, compost and hard work. These sites also provide fresh, healthy food in poorer communities and food deserts, earning him praise from as high up as the White House.
10 Urban Farmers to Follow on Instagram via Design*Sponge
2/10
After 10 years working as an organic farmer and traveling in the off season, Joneve Murphy found a way to combine both her passion for food and travel into @FarmersRoots, a documentary of 145 food producers from around the world. In addition to the stunning visuals, each journey offers new lessons in sustainable agricultural practices.
10 Urban Farmers to Follow on Instagram via Design*Sponge
3/10
Audra Mulkern will act as your eyes and ears into the international farming community. On @RootedInTheValley she shares her project, “The Female Farmer Project,” which documents the rise of women in the agricultural world (though if my Grandma is any proof, women have been doing their fair share to keep farms running long before credit was given). Each photo is a testament to the power of women!
10 Urban Farmers to Follow on Instagram via Design*Sponge
4/10
"Grow Food, Not Lawns!" The typical grass lawn does more harm than good (herbicides, running a lawn mower, sprinkler, etc.), so @FleetFarming reimagines landscape design and puts those lawns to work! Homeowners donate their property in exchange for a percentage of the harvest, and a team of bicycle-powered volunteers tends to these “farmlettes.” To date, Fleet Farming has prevented 8,148 lbs of CO2 emissions from entering our atmosphere. They’e looking to expand beyond their Orlando, FL and Oakland, CA hubs, so stay tuned. They may be biking to your lawn soon!
10 Urban Farmers to Follow on Instagram via Design*Sponge
5/10
Not only does @GirlNextDoorHoney, aka Hilary Kearney, harvest and sell her liquid gold, but this passionate beekeeper teaches classes, hosts hive tours, and she also created a game to teach kids about the various roles bees play in the hives. If you live in San Diego, CA and want to support bees but aren’t quite ready to face the stingers, you can host a hive which Hilary will tend for you. Her hope is to spread awareness about the importance of bees by integrating them in the city’s ecosystem, instead of some distant apiary.
10 Urban Farmers to Follow on Instagram via Design*Sponge
6/10
At a time when fear is creating far too many barriers, @NewRootsKC is a shining example of an open-armed welcome. Founded by Catholic Charities in conjunction with @CultivateKC (another great urban farming feed!), the program helps refugees “put down new roots" by helping them to found their own small farm businesses. The apprenticeship program enables the refugees to transplant their skills and knowledge as they adapt to life in the U.S. Every city should be so hospitable.
10 Urban Farmers to Follow on Instagram via Design*Sponge
7/10
@BontonFarms is transforming the South Dallas, TX community of Bonton, an area scarred by poverty, crime, unemployment and a lack of fresh food. Bonton Farms refers to itself as an agricultural intervention with the mission to restore health and hope. If you need your faith in humanity to be restored, this feed is a good place to start -- that, and there’s lots of cute goat pictures.
10 Urban Farmers to Follow on Instagram via Design*Sponge
8/10
Filled with stunning imagery, tried-and-true tips and real life farmer profiles, it’s always a treat when the next issue of Modern Farmer Magazine hits the newsstands. In between issues, the @ModFarm account keeps all that useful information coming, including account takeovers by farmers all across the globe. Though not limited to urban farming, the magazine and Instagram feed do offer specific best practices for city growers.
9/10
I can’t talk about farming without talking about soil. Remnants often make the most beautiful photos, but more importantly, this feed will get you thinking about waste and renewal. When food scraps or plant matter make their way to the landfills, they rot and become a significant source of methane, a greenhouse gas (more info here). Composting not only prevents that methane release, but it contributes to healthy soil, which is vital for healthy plants, ie: your food. Initiatives like @CommunityComposting should be replicated wherever possible.
10 Urban Farmers to Follow on Instagram via Design*Sponge
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Last but certainly not least, my biggest inspiration and the reason this topic hits so closely to home -- I share a home with this dirt-covered fella. This hand belongs to @HazelwoodUrbanFarms, aka Kyle Pattison, who happens to be my partner in life, as well as the one to convert me from urban agriculture advocate to down-in-the-dirt farmhand. Kyle is transforming vacant lots in the Hazelwood neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA into a viable food source for the neighborhood and the city. He fights fracking, teaches courses on beekeeping and makes produce look like little works of art.

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Comments

  • Not urban farmers, but the folks at Soul Fire Farm (in upstate NY) are doing amazing things at the intersection of farming and social justice, working to dismantle systemic racism and injustices in the food system. Check them out @soulfirefarm

  • Yes! Seeing these farms is inspriring!

    I’m not a farmer, but I’m doing my bit by growing food in my Los Angeles backyard, and encouraging friends, family and clients to get rid of their lawns and do the same. @mizmascara

    Also, I love seeing what’s happening at Hazlewood Urban Farms. I’m a Pittsburgh native and remember the serious neglect in that neighborhood. Glad to see that there is some life there now.

  • Not urban farming, but following Dishing Up the Dirt, a blog written by half of a young farming couple in Oregon, has helped me understand and appreciate the incredibly hard work that goes into growing food.

  • Concrete Safaris is located in East Harlem in NYC, has urban gardens in 2 public housing sites and are the largest children’s gardens in public housing in the country! The org harvests 1+ tons of vegetables and herbs annually. Students in the after school program and those living near the gardens can pick up free produce on harvest days. This is a fantastic organization that empowers youth to be active and healthy leaders through gardening, outdoor play & community advocacy. The Instagram page (@concretesafaris) is still a work in progress, but the organization is doing amazing things in the urban gardening space.

  • @lickety_spit_fibre_farm is doing amazing things just outside of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. It’s run by two women who have built it from scratch. They are using the wool from their alpacas and sheep to create sustainable household products that they sell at farmers’ markets and craft shows. They both work full-time jobs outside of their farm and their spirit and tenacity and commitment to sustainability inspires me.

  • Thank you, Quelcy, for encouraging readers to connect with urban agriculture, and for acknowledging the daily battles that all farmers face. Our Instagram posts may look idyllic, but farming is the hardest work that I have ever done.

  • Thanks for all of these great accounts to follow! I too am a farmer, albeit not urban. It’s always so good to see others engaged in sustainable farming and taking care of the earth.

  • Hi Design Sponge! Thank you for featuring the important work of urban organic agriculture. It’s a large-scale movement, made up of many small organizations and movers in each community. Anyone with a sunny spot can grow their own food and everyone can participate with shopping for local and sustainably-grown food.

    Here in San Diego, I work for an urban farming company that replaces lawns with edible gardens and grows thousands of pounds of food for restaurants on-site. You can also find us farming for hospitals and schools. We’re so proud of our work.

    Check us out on instagram:
    https://www.instagram.com/urbanplantations/

  • Great round up! I missed this the first time around. I’m a garden educator, writer, and speaker in Madison, WI and I post inspiring and educating posts to my feed: https://www.instagram.com/creativeveggardener/

    I follow a lot of gardeners and farmers and highly recommend
    The Seattle Urban Farm Company – https://www.instagram.com/seattleurbanfarmco/
    Mari Hotti, a photgrapher and gardener in Finland – https://www.instagram.com/gardener_marihotti/

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