Facts and Further Reading

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Important Reasons to Develop ROA Farms in Urban and Peri-urban Environments

1) ROA farms reduce and eliminate ground-water pollution caused by excessive nitrogen fertilizer use which has resulted in over 250 dead zones in our oceans worldwide.

2) ROA farms reduce worldwide air pollution caused by excess nitrogen fertilizer off gassing from conventional farming methods combining with petroleum emissions to produce dangerous air polluting compounds that create harmful air, especially for children and seniors. RAFT farms replace manufactured nitrogen fertilizers with organics, nitrogen fixing plants and cover crops. These farms create onsite waste management systems, including biogas diverters and local fertilizer production from urea.

3) ROA farms conserve water and improve hydrologic function. By planting more native grasses, native edibles, drought tolerant super foods, and perennial food plants in close proximity to other food plants, keep soils covered at all times and disturb site soils as little as possible. Capture and manage storm water. Convert greywater for agriculture use. Utilize subterranean drip irrigation.

4) Data shows that ROA farms are 7-10 x more productive than organic farms. ROA farms can produce much more on a smaller space of land while receiving higher income than conventional farms. Some farmers who have experienced this outcome are Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser at Singing Frogs Farm and Jean Martin Fortier of Les Jardins de la Grelinette in Saint-Armand, Quebec. High productivity is possible because of the variety of foods grown, methods used, and multiple strategies employed, particularly by stacking functions. Because of the intensified production, and added indigenous food crops, ROA farms can provide food for many more people than a conventional farm year round.

5) ROA farms require fewer resources to grow more food than conventional farming practices. The methods reduce the need for focusing on maintenance issues such as pest control, weed control, and other land management needs. Rather, ROA focuses most of the labor efforts on production, planting, harvesting and bed preparation. ROA farms are less fossil fuel dependent, use less water, use no phosphate based fertilizers, no pesticides, no insecticides and no herbicides.

6) ROA farms include native edible plants that have been growing in our local communities for millions of years. Our species has been eating native edible plants for 260,000 years, since the African diaspora. Conventional agriculture doesn’t utilize the many indigenous plants and edible crop varieties that are native to local environments and also offer highly nutritious. ROA farms reintroduce local foods that redefine what local means.

7) Most ROA farms are not 100 acres plus farms. They are usually 1-12 acres. These farms are ideally suited for urban and Peri urban areas. Paul Kaiser, a regen farmer, once said, “I’d rather have a thousand one acre farms than one 1000-acre farm.” We can grow more food and healthier foods on smaller farms. Therefore, smaller farms can produce adequate food using less land to feed more people than current methods.


8) ROA uses poly culture planting and also spaces plants closer together than current farming methods. This can be done because of the minimal tillage and therefore deeper top soils and higher organic matter content. ROA fields are producing crops year-round. They are not left fallow. When plants are harvested, new seedlings are planted the same day. Roots of food plants, except for root crops like beets or carrots, remain in the soil to hold carbon.

9) Native plants are used in multiple ways to produce multiple benefits in ROA farms. ROA farms are surrounded by complex native grassland or riparian hedgerows, which also contain native edible plants as well as perennial food plants. ROA farms stack function, utilizing native perennial bunch grasses to sequester more carbon, improve hydrology, improve nutrient uptake and attract beneficial insects to manage row crops and improve pollination. 

10) ROA includes controlled environment agriculture technologies like aquaponics, aeroponics and hydroponics. These technologies enable ROA models to use fewer resources to grow more food. These urban farming technologies can be used on rooftops, in buildings, on asphalt, or even housed on top of contaminated soils. They provide more opportunities to stack function, while utilizing fewer resources and reducing CO2. For example, aquaponics uses 10% of the water of organic agriculture and produces 40% more food in the same area that is farmed.

11) ROA farms include fruit and nut orchards and berry vines, which utilizes a Tatura Trellis system. This makes fruit production easier to manage, protects trees from extreme weather events, and allows the farm to produce more fruit than conventional orchards. The Tatura Trellis system makes fruit production easier to manage and allows for more fruit production in a smaller space.