Atlanta Grows Lettuce as Urban Farms Bloom

Jennifer Oldham
Bloomberg

Designer lettuce will soon bud under the flight path of the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta. An orchard is taking the place of a parking lot in Davenport, Iowa. And homeowners near downtown Denver are turning lawns over to farmers like Sundari Kraft, who plant, weed, water and harvest crops from their yards in return for a share of the bounty.

“People are sick and tired of mowing and fertilizing,” said Kraft, author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Urban Homesteading,” in an interview at her Denver home. “We have a stack of applications, enough to double what we do now.”

From New York to Seattle, cities — which the U.S. Conference of Mayors says account for 90 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product — are attempting to create jobs, foster economic development, feed impoverished neighborhoods and fill long-vacant lots by returning to their agrarian roots.

Kraft, 34, and a team of apprentices nurture tomato forests, white eggplants, rainbow chard and other genetically pure vegetables for 11 homeowners who live minutes from downtown. Kraft sells the crop at farmers’ markets and to 30 families, who fork over $450 for a 20-week supply.

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