Betting the Farm

Is There an Urban Agriculture Bubble?

Story by David Lepeska

Illustration by Lauren Adolfsen

Published on Jan 14, 2013

Download PDF

It’s no secret that urban agriculture is in vogue. Just witness the beehive colonies on Brooklyn rooftops and chicken coops advertised in Austin, Texas real estate listings. But as major urban farms such as the Milwaukee-based Growing Power gain new facilities, employees and glowing media attention, most have not yet figured out how to yield enough profit to become self-sustaining businesses — or, looking even further afield, to feed significant portions of their hometowns. Exploring large farming operations in three different cities, Chicago journalist David Lepeska asks the question: With all this demand and no sure way to scale, is urban agriculture facing an imminent bubble?

Subscribe to Forefront for only $20/year.
You’ll get a new story each week and full access to our archives.