As industrialization took over the latter part of the 19th century, the States witnessed heavy migration. As a result, by the end of the 20th century, nearly 805 Americans lived in urban areas.
This led to the consolidation of spaces, and things like owning a little garden in your front lawn or basking under the sun among the freshly brewed oxygen by your greens became a scarce luxury.
This is where urban gardening came into play. Whether you have a big terrace, a tiny backyard, or just a small balcony, you can grow your greens and relish the vicinity of them in your surroundings.
What is Urban Gardening?
The process of cultivating greens at your home for personal use or to avoid supply chain distributors is known as urban gardening.
It is also considered a social activity to benefit the surrounding areas and to improve food quality. Urban gardening provides more than just food for households and communities; it also helps to supplement income, reduce solid waste, and establish a green and sustainable world.
Depending on the size of the space available, gardeners have various ways to foster their creativity. Urban gardening started in the late 1890s. Detroit was the first city in the USA to have a fully functional extensive urban farm.
Why Urban Gardening?
As technology is advancing, more advanced medical centers and drugs are being introduced to safeguard people better. However, the quality of food we consume has not improved. Not only among humans; this kind of food is also causing massive implications in various industries.
Take the meat industry, for example. People feed grains exported from all over the world to their cows and additional antibiotics instead of grass.
Then those cows are slaughtered in factories and transported all over the world. This process takes up around 45% of global farming land and causes massive surges in greenhouse gas emissions.
As for the fishing industry, since 1970, the fish level in the oceans has dropped by 50%.
We can see that we are using up our resources at a much faster rate than our earth can replenish. Thus the transition from this inefficient way of producing food towards a method of sustainability is much needed. Hence practices like Aquaponics and urban gardening will help us fix the broken food chain at the community level.
Types of Urban Gardening
While the central idea of urban gardening is the same, it has various other types based on the location factor, which are discussed below:
This involves growing food in a household backyard for domestic use and short-term storage.
A communal authority generally manages this. Along with improving the air quality in the surroundings, it also enhances the scenic beauty of the streets.
This involves using smart architecture to make use of any minimal space available outdoors, such as an empty spot beside a parking lot, and using it for cultivation.
Various gardens throughout cities can be filled with diverse flora such as fruits and nuts.
It is the most trending way as it involves cultivation in your household and the added benefit of reducing ambient temperature and heat throughout the building.
Vacant space on walls are planted with greenery, and the roots are set up in the ground along with soil and water.
This significantly reduces land footprint and is highly efficient. One meter of such a farm can house up to 20 plants.
Benefits of Urban Gardening
- It helps you add a new skill to your bucket and teach your loved ones the concept of sustainability and how to ensure a better future for them.
- Self Gardening products are known to be richer in nutrients than foods grown from the use of fertilizers.
- Urban areas often experience food insecurity issues due to high demand. Urban gardening gives people the opportunity to harvest their own food at a much lower cost than supermarkets.
- With options like Container or Hydroponic gardening, your crops will no longer be affected by external weather conditions. This will enable you to grow crops all year round.
- You can also join various communities for urban gardening and be a part of the change they try to bring to the current system.
- It also opens various income avenues for you as, if you can produce large quantities of food, you can also sell it to different people in the neighborhood.
Tips for Urban Gardening
- Choose the right plant if you are a beginner. Generally, people go with petunia, daylily, and cornflowers.
- If your yard is small, you can also grow on porches or containers found online.
- Switching to vertical/wall gardening can save water and will take less of your effort during maintenance.
- Growing herbs such as thyme, rosemary, or medicinal plants may also aid to your benefit, saving you a trip to the grocery store to buy herbs.
- If your balcony does not face the sun and has minimal exposure to sunlight, you can consider growing plants such as amethyst, begonia, and caladium. Whereas coreopsis, purple coneflower, blanket flower, and lavender are good for sunny sides.
- Make it a habit to use potting soil rather than normal soil as it is more sterilized and drains better.
Are There Any Downsides to Urban Gardening?
Research suggests that out of the 29 nations that face food insecurity, only nine can perform urban gardening on a scale large enough to feed a considerable amount of the urban population.
Rest nations will have to use 100% of their urban land to farm, which is unrealistic.
Urban elements such as cars, paints, and industrial waste can have a heinous effect on the quality of the city’s soil.
Arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals are often detected in urban soil, necessitating the purification or removal of the sediment before planting. These impurities then have to be filtered out. This process is not cost-effective.
Another risk and drawback is that vertical farming has the potential to disrupt agriculture-dependent societies. Traditional agricultural work can become outmoded as a result of vertical farms.
Families that live in rural areas, especially those who rely on agriculture, will undoubtedly struggle. As a direct consequence, urban agriculture and rural agriculture will clash. Many vertical farms also use LED grow lamps as a substitute for sunlight.
Not only this but various fossil fuels are also being used in some cities. This is a significant drawback considering their scarcity.
Unless we come up with better ways to fuel the artificial ecosystem, it could deplete our resources just like conventional farming.
Relying on artificial intelligence-regulated systems to provide a viable ecosystem is also risky as they can fail due to technical errors at any time. However, the pros of urban farming outweigh the cons, but with the advancement of technology and improvements in the energy sector, fuelling these gardens will not be a major hurdle.
According to a recent survey conducted by the World Bank, the earth’s population will be nearly 10 billion by 2050. This will increase worldwide food requirements by 70%.
These requirements cannot be met if we continue to exhaust our resources at the current rate with conventional farming methods.
Health and nutritious food is not just a privilege but a fundamental right. It’s high time that we all join hands and move towards a sustainable future.