Sample Agriculture Studies Paper on A Solution to Food Deserts: Micro Farms.

In the United States, about 23.5 million people live in food deserts, low-income areas
with limited access to affordable, healthy food such as fresh fruits and vegetables (United States
Department of Agriculture) . Residents of food deserts often have poor diets and related health
problems, including diabetes and heart disease. Most food deserts are in cities such as Detroit,
Milwaukee, Phoenix, and Oklahoma City (Johnson) . However, living in a rural area does not
guarantee an abundance of fresh food options. The United States Department of Agriculture
(USDA) reports that around 2.3 million people, or 2.2 percent of all U.S. households, live in low-
income rural areas that are more than 10 miles from a grocery store.
A recent trend in agriculture called micro-farming presents a possible solution to food
deserts. A micro-farm is a small-scale farm that uses less than five acres of land to raise
vegetables, fruit, nuts, herbs, mushrooms, and even small livestock (Movahed) . Because micro-
farms are compact, farmers do not need to invest in expensive equipment such as tractors and
harvesters but can use hand tools to manage their plots. Rather than relying on harmful
herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers, micro farmers use organic methods such as
composting that build the soil and encourage plentiful harvests. The aim is to build a sustainable
ecosystem that promotes growth (Ames) . For example, composted soil uses worms to process
waste, add fertilizer, and serve as a food source for small livestock. Beds of straw discourage

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weeds and support mushrooms. Flowering plants attract bees, which pollinate fruit trees and
bushes. 1
Micro farms include private gardens in yards and on rooftops, community gardens in
vacant or underused lots, hydroponic growing operations in underused buildings, and sustainable
farms that produce cheese, honey, herbs, and other goods for sale and profit.
In cities, micro-farms do more than provide food for their owners and others. They also
improve the quality of life for residents by reducing heat islands, clusters of structures that are
warmer than surrounding locations (Harris) . Planting crops and fruit or nut trees in vacant lots
freshens the immediate and nearby areas. Instead of using heat-absorbing tar or asphalt to cover
roofs, rooftop gardens keep buildings cool, absorb rainwater, and dilute pollutants in the water
and air.
In rural locations, micro-farms can sustain families and provide local employment. For
example, Jean-Martin and Maude-Helene Fortier use low-technology, organic practices in
Quebec to manage a micro-farm that realizes about 45 percent profit and produces an income for
the couple and two employees (Fortier 25) .
In short, for communities in food deserts, micro-farms provide affordable sources of
nutritious food and possible avenues for profitable enterprises.

1 Such practices are called companion planting.

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