Jac Smit, the ‘Father of Urban Agriculture’ is the pioneer who virtually created the concept of urban agriculture. In a 2009 interview with Franz Jaggar, Jac recounts his first-hand experiences. Click on the links to listen.
Segment #1: Jac and Urban Agriculture – The Beginnings
“Urban Agriculture” grew out of Jac’s term paper at Harvard University. Then, while working in India for the Ford Foundation, Jac had a chance to put his ideas into practice even while the concept of growing food in city gardens and plots was virtually unheard of. Length 4:56. Click here.
Segment #2: From Backyard 'Farmer' to Harvard
Jac explains how he was 'farming' in third grade, and that interest drove him through high school, service in the Korean War, and into graduate school at Harvard University. Length 3:25. Click here.
Segment #3: New Technologies Vitalize Urban Agriculture
Jac recounts how the 21st Century's new technologies of better irrigation, hydroponics, and greenhouses has vitalized urban agriculture just as rural farming has declined in productivity due to over used land and pests adapting to fertilizers and chemicals. Length 2:50. Click here.
Segment #4: Urban Agriculture, Refugees and the Poor
Jac foresaw urban agriculture as a critical element to help refugees and impoverished people in other countries provide for themselves and survive. But in 2009, one of the most exciting Urban Ag ventures is occurring in New York City’s “Skyscraper Greenhouse.” Length 3:27. Click here.
Segment #5: The First Urban Agriculture Library and Information Network
Jac pioneering book, Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs, and Sustainable Cities, co-authored with Joe Nasr and Annu Ratta, highlighted a trend that was invisible because it was so dispersed. The book fueled creation of an information network that spread the concept of around the world. Length 1:54. Click here.
Segment #6: The Role of Women in Urban Agriculture
Jac found that women became the power behind the growth of urban agriculture. While men are assumed to be those who do the heavy lifting, Jac found that women undertook the serious tasks of organizing farming in urban areas and getting the job done. Length 2:36. Click here.
Segment #7: The Urban Agriculture Network, the United Nations, and the Book
Jac explains how he started the Urban Agriculture Network and also his role as principal author of a United Nations-published book that revealed the existence, growth, and benefits of growing crops and food in urban environments. Length 2:05. Click here.
Segment #8: Urban Agriculture Supports Main Street
Jac believes urban agriculture is an answer to supplying high quality, affordable food in both impoverished villages and expensive suburbs. He characterizes urban agriculture as a primary supporter of "Main Street" which has the potential to supply half of a community's food requirements. Length 2:54. Click here.
Segment #9: The Future and Urban Agriculture
Jac believes adoption of urban agriculture is critical to solving global threats to society including climate change and rampant population growth. He sees progress, from Zimbabwe to Santa Barbara. He concludes, "Anyone who looks at it would have to be optimistic." Length 2:19. Click here.