Urban agriculture isn't new. During the First and Second World Wars, Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia and Germany encouraged "victory gardens" to aid the war effort by reducing pressure on food systems and farms. Gardens and chicken coops appeared in yards, parks, school fields, golf courses, railway edges and vacant lots. Sheep grazed on sports fields and kept grass in check. Until the 1970s Edinburgh’s city-centre Arthur Seat would have sheep grazing.
During the Second World War, the U.K. had allotment plots producing 10 per cent of the country's food, including half its fruit and vegetables. From 815,000 allotments in 1939 the number rose to 1,400,000 by 1943. Allotments were estimated to contribute some 1.3 million tonnes of food produce. British Restaurants supplied an almost universal experience of eating away from home. Here a three course meal cost only 9d. Standards varied, but the best were greatly appreciated and had a large regular clientele. British Restaurants were run by local authorities, who set them up in a variety of different premises such as schools and church halls. They evolved from the LCC’s Londoners’ Meals Service which originated in September 1940 as a temporary, emergency system for feeding those who had been bombed out. By mid-1941 the LCC was operating two hundred of these restaurants. British Restaurants were open to all, but mainly served office and industrial workers.
By war's end, more than 20 million home gardens supplied 40 per cent of U.S. domestically consumed produce.
Toronto plans to supply 25 per cent of its fruit and vegetable production within city limits by 2025.
A study from Michigan State University concluded Detroit could grow 70 per cent of its vegetables and 40 per cent of its fruit on 570 vacant lots covering 5,000 acres of city land. One patch of Detroit land where 12 vacant houses were removed to grow food has supplied almost 200,000 kilograms of produce for 2,000 local families, provided volunteer experience to 8,000 residents