Fancy yourself as a green thumb, but lack the space to grow large thriving beds of produce? Or perhaps you’re keen to understand where your produce comes from, but can’t keep a plants alive to save yourself?
You’re not alone.
The solution might just be your local urban farm. Or better yet, utilising your own small space with some clever planting ideas.
Growing food in city gardens and in small spaces is not new, but is definitely on the rise. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports that 800 million people around the globe grow their own fruits or vegetables, or raise animals in cities, accounting for 15-20 percent of world’s food production. This is due partly to convenience in growing food nearby in a city instead of far out in the country. However it also stems from consumers wanting to be more socially responsible in improving their surrounding communities and environment.
Having enough space is a unique factor for growers in an urban environment. With the area limitations in a city, urban farming isn’t necessarily done in a standard field. People have found creative methods such as staking vined plants, rooftop gardens, small gardens between buildings, or on a patio to grow their produce.
One of the leading experts in this socially responsible practise is Australian TV journalist and broadcaster Indira Naidoo, who authored the best selling book The Edible Balcony. ‘Her quest to reconnect with where her food comes from sees her setting up her own food garden on her 20 metre square 13th floor balcony.‘ Naidoo has become a sustainability warrior and travels around the world educating others through regular talks and workshops.
So what are the benefits of city farms?
Not only is fresh best, but with decreased pesticides and storage times, and lowered transportation costs, economically disadvantaged communities can enjoy garden-fresh food without straining their pocket.
In addition to the health benefits, urban farms also instill a sense of community in the gardeners. Students from local schools and even entire neighborhoods can work together to create and maintain their common garden. An urban farm provides an escape from city life so that participants can experience and appreciate the natural world.
But what if you don’t have a green thumb, or the time to commit to growing your own produce?
Local farmers markets are a great way to connect with your community and meet local producers. Don’t be afraid to ask the stall holder about the produce they are selling. Having a direct relationship with your farmer helps you make informed decisions that align to your values.
Remember, small changes can have a big impact.