Planting the seeds of urban agriculture
- By Ysmay -
- May 24, 2012
Ysmay, founder and CEO of MetroSeeker.com has written this guest blog on growing food in our urban environment...
Urban farms are popping up in cities across America. Unlike rural parts of America, in cities you don't need to grow your own food as cities are replete with grocery stores and farmers markets where you can pick up your vegetables. And we all know, it's a lot easier to pop down to your local store to grab some veggies than spend time growing them. So what's up with urban agriculture and why should people put in the extra work to grow their own food?
Many experts view the domestication of plants, the so-called agricultural revolution, as one of the most important events in history because it allowed people to stay in one place and produce a food surplus. Over a period of what we believe to be about 5,000 years, settlements multiplied as people were raising crops and domesticating animals. Settlements grew in size and eventually became the first cities.
Urban agriculture has evolved over the years as a response to poverty and doubts about the continued procurement of food from other sources. In 1893, for example, residents in economically depressed Detroit began using vacant lots for urban gardening as a way to supplement income and food supplies. Urban agriculture makes it easier for poverty stricken urban dwellers to have access to fresh and healthy food.
As cities continue to grow, the amount of food that needs to be imported daily is going to increase as well. With the increase in city-based food consumption, we will also see an increase in fossil fuel usage. As it stands now, produce acquired through the industrial agriculture system in America uses 1 gallon of fossil fuel for every 100 lbs transported by tractor-trailer.
There are also many socio-economic benefits to urban agriculture as well including a decrease in the cost of food, an increase in job production, and food security.
Many large urban farms throughout America's cities, including Seattle, Austin, and New York City, are doing just that: making it easier for locals to get fresh, healthy food, while creating jobs and decreasing the amount of fossil fuels needed to transport food. Even personal urban farms help people eat healthier, save money at the grocery store, and reduce their impact on the environment.
Here's a few things you can do to get started:
- Start a worm box. Uneaten food is one of the largest components of waste in America. By creating a worm box, you can reduce the amount of food you put in the trash and make a nutrient-rich compost to be used in your urban garden. Worm boxes can be created out of rubber totes and are easy to make at home.
- Ease into the urban gardening process with container gardening. There are many fancy kits out there, but you don't need to spend big bucks. Anything that's deep enough to support root growth can be used in container gardening. For example, you can cut off the top of a milk jug and poke some holes in the bottom to grow some fresh herbs.
- Pick the right seeds. Not everything will grow well in a pot, so when you're at the gardening store, make sure you look for varieties that don't mind being pot-bound. Basil, rosemary, tarragon, kale, chard, lettuce, peppers, onions, and small tomatoes are a good place to start.
With a little work you too can eat healthier and reduce your environmental impact. Urban agriculture makes it possible for you to be good to yourself and good to the planet.
Image by Kevin Krejci
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