Learn urban farming

Course Code: BAG229
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn Urban Farming

  • Begin on even the smallest plot of land
  • Start small and grow
  • Be amazed with what is possible when you know what you are doing.

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.


  • Discuss what urban farming is and types of urban farmer.
  • Determine the options and requirements for viable urban farming.
  • Distinguish technologies used to grow plants or animals in urban farming.
  • Examine the processes undertaken when establishing an urban farming initiative.
  • Describe general operations of different animal farming systems.
  • Describe general operations of different plant farming systems.
  • Develop added value to increase the economic viability of an urban farm.
  • PBL Plan for the establishment or ongoing improved operation of an urban farm.

What Does it Cost to Start Up?

Consider how much it is going to cost to setup an urban farming enterprise. Urban farms can be costly to set up if you choose to start with a tech heavy enterprise, and buy an expensive site to operate from. At the other end of the spectrum though; an urban farm may often start as a low tech enterprise, with minimal financial investment, using land already available in the start up farmers home garden.

If the site has existing soil, buildings, water supply fencing, containers, or other useful assets, the start up costs may be reduced a lot, particularly if you make choices that align with usig those resources.

It may be feasible to setup growing some vegetables or other produce relatively inexpensively e.g., by obtaining some seeds, seedlings, fertiliser, and putting in some hours of labour. If you have a disused swimming pool, you might convert it to aquaculture at minimal cost.

Depending on how much monetary input is required to establish and commence farming, it can sometimes takes several years to break even or turn a profit; but if you make the right decisions and start modestly, a small urban farm can become profitable within the first year or two.

Decisions need to be made that impact financial viability, both short and longer-term. It is important to list out and begin to calculate costs surrounding every aspect of the enterprise. These could include: property acquisition or rent; rates and utilities; purchasing and distribution costs; marketing and promotional costs; equipment and machinery costs; staffing cost and more. Research and information will feed into a financial plan section of the business plan, forming the basis of business viability.

Member of the Future Farmers Network

Member of the International Herb Association since 1988

UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

Accredited ACS Global Partner

Member of the Permaculture Association

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

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