Lisa D. Tinsley
Urban gardens are transforming cities around the world.
Urban and peri-urban farms supply food to about 700 million city dwellers — one-quarter of the world’s urban population according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. All of the world’s population growth between now and 2030 will be concentrated in urban areas in developing countries. By this time almost 60% of people in developing countries will live in cities. With this increase in our cities, farming in and around urban areas will play a larger role in feeding city populations.
In Start Your Urban Gardening the Right Way: Small Gardens for Small Spaces, author Jesse Appollo writes about how gardening is a lifestyle that will help bring purpose, inspiration, and a sense of achievement to your daily life.
Fresh basil, rosemary, mint, sage and chives all have one thing in common. According to Appollo, these are a few easy-to-grow herbs that any beginner can nurture and care for (without any prior gardening experience).
When preparing for a small, urban garden it is important to understand lighting, what soil to use and how much space you will need to create a practical and efficient garden.
If you are inspired to create your own garden in a small space here are some facts that will enlighten you about urban gardens:
- Involves using small plots such as vacant lots, gardens or roof tops in the city for growing crops.
- Can take many forms, from small “microfarms” to larger operations.
- Is generally practiced for income-earning or food-producing activities, contributing to food security and food safety.
- Provides an outlet for better health and nutrition, increased income, employment, food security within the household, and community social life.
- Shows that planting increased numbers of gardens in a city environment improves air quality close to pollution sources.
- Gardens act as refuge for wildlife such as soil organisms, wild plants, insects, birds and amphibians thus increasing the biodiversity within the city environment.
- Can help in climate regulation through the absorption of greenhouse gases.
- A window ledge… a balcony… a small backyard… a sunny corner of your kitchen: whatever space you have, you can make it work.
Here are some extra notes about how production of crops directly in urban areas has many additional economic, social and ecological benefits.
- Improves nutrition, as produce is fresh and less damaged when grown and distributed locally.
- Closes the nutrient loop, as domestic organic waste can be composted and processed into the soil for added nutrients and soil structure.
- Has the potential to alleviate two of the world’s most crucial problems: poverty and waste.
- Has the potential to provide economic regeneration and stability to the growing population.
- Organic city farming diverts nutrient rich waste from landfills or export and returns it to the land.
- Promotes sustainable development by reducing the vulnerability of the world’s urban populations to global ecological change.
- Reduction in crime has been noted when gardening projects are implemented in urban centers.
- Youth and even adults acquire self-esteem, stay busy and feel useful when participating in these programs.
- Naturally restores the human connection to nature by instilling a sense of stewardship in the farmer, creating a better appreciation of the land’s natural processes.
- Creates a feeling of community between people, which can facilitate further collective action on issues of local importance.
- Improves the aesthetics of the city by increasing the ‘green spaces’ in an otherwise concrete landscape while providing recreational opportunities for those who work the land.
- Increased gardens and plants in cities improve air quality close to pollution sources.
- On a large scale, it reduces transportation of produce; thus, less fuel is required by vehicles and less protective packaging is needed for the produce.
- Encourages the production of rare varieties of fruits and vegetables, as urban gardeners tend to cultivate a wider variety of crops, conserving unique cultivars and enhancing agricultural diversity.
If you have an urban garden, please share your images on social media and tag us @KISAPublicRadio.