CityLab: Most Urban Farms See Slim Annual Sales of $10,000 or Less

March 2, 2016 12:00 PM
CityLab: Most Urban Farms See Slim Annual Sales of $10,000 or Less

Here’s a news flash: Farming can be financially challenging.

That’s one of the findings of a new study on urban farming in the U.S., where the practice has become a hip trend from Seattle to Boston.

According to a story in CityLab, two-thirds of urban farmers surveyed by researchers have sales of less than $10,000 annually, and only one-third say they are making a living from their urban farm operation.

“This raises questions about the long-term financial viability of most of these farms, located as they are on relatively expensive land with little revenue to support them,” according to the story.

Part of the reason for the slim sales—and nonexistent profit margins—could be the motivations of these niche growers. “The majority of urban farmers said that they were producing food not only for profit, but also to educate community members, improve food security, and build community," the story said.

Overall, about one-third of the urban farms surveyed were incorporated as nonprofits, which is a model that Carolyn Dmitri, the study’s lead author, thinks more urban growers should consider.

Otherwise, their operation may not survive for long.

As Dmitri told CityLab, “I wonder if 10 years down the line, people will be tired of working really hard without making a good living. I wonder if urban farming might just be a passing trend that fades into the background.”

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