Five Creative Ways City Dwellers Can Still Grow Their Own

Five Creative Ways City Dwellers Can Still Grow Their Own

With more people than ever living in cities, how do we reconcile our need for fresh fruit and vegetables with the challenges of life in an urban environment where the time and space for gardening are limited?

Thankfully, there are many ways to grow your own fresh produce in the city, which go beyond the traditional solution of the allotment. Here are just five:

1. Create your own window farm

Here’s proof that you can grow food in the smallest and most urban of settings. Window farming allows you to grow plants vertically inside your house or flat with the roots resting in water with added nutrients, a system called hydroponics. There’s no need for outdoor space or even any soil.

These “farms” can be as complex or simple as you like and there are now more than 45,000 window farmers around the world collaborating to find new ways of growing food.

 Save space by going soil-free. Jon Kalish, CC BY-SA Save space by going soil-free. Jon Kalish, CC BY-SA2. Guerrilla gardening

At its most basic, guerrilla gardening involves the cultivation of land that you have no legal right to use. As such, it’s about much more than growing fruit and veg, since projects tend to have broader aims to do with reclaiming public space and transforming derelict or neglected parts of the urban landscape.

At its best, it is a creative and inspiring example of direct action. Think of “seed bombs” used to transform a demolition site into a haven for pollinating insects, or lavender and sunflowers being added to a traffic island under cover of night.


 Get The Latest From InnerSelf


Transforming wasteland in south London – by night. Alessia Pierdomenico / ReutersTransforming wasteland in south London – by night. Alessia Pierdomenico / Reuters

3. Join a community garden

Unlike allotments, community gardens are focused on doing things together with others. They’re perfect for people who don’t have the time or skills required to work an allotment on their own, and the the camaraderie of working together and learning from more experienced gardeners provides huge social benefits beyond the food they produce.

The Gardens Community Garden in Haringey. DCLG, CC BY-NDThe Gardens Community Garden in Haringey. DCLG, CC BY-ND

4. Community-supported agriculture

So-called “CSA” projects are still relatively new in the UK but the idea behind them is simple: to create a direct connection between farmers and consumers and take back control of the food system from supermarkets and large corporations. Some schemes are similar to existing veg box delivery services where you simply pay to sign up and receive regular vegetable deliveries in return.

However, others allow you to be much more than just a “consumer” as you spend time working on the farm in exchange for produce. In this way, you can get some fresh air and exercise while learning new skills and meeting like-minded people. From the farmer’s perspective this also means a guaranteed market and extra help on the farm. Interested? You can find your local scheme here.

 

5. Urban foraging

Do you like the idea of finding your own food but you’re not keen on gardening? No problem. If you know where to look, urban areas also offer plenty of opportunities to find good food for free.

Parks, cemeteries and neglected canal towpaths often offer lots of edible species, from the relatively common blackberry and elderberry to more unusual tasty treats that you can use to spice up your meals. For example, hedge garlic – or Jack by the hedge – can be a fantastic addition to salads, while hawthorn berries and crab apples can make a fabulous jam.

Found in shady urban wastelands, ‘Jack by the hedge’ is delicious in salads. Nick Saltmarsh, CC BYFound in shady urban wastelands, ‘Jack by the hedge’ is delicious in salads. Nick Saltmarsh, CC BY

Of course, you need to be careful about possible contamination or misidentification but, if you’re unsure, why not see if your city has a forage walk that you can join? That way, you can learn first-hand about what’s safe to eat.

Shops, supermarkets and restaurants also throw out lots of perfectly edible food every day. An increasing number of people are foraging in bins for bread, tinned beans or even beer. This hunt for ready-made food is known as “skipping” or “dumpster diving”. Like many of the other methods described here, it’s not just a means of feeding yourself but a political act that highlights the wastefulness of the global food system.

About The Author

whittle rebeccaRebecca Whittle, Lecturer, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University. Her research interests that centre around the sustainability of community-environment relations. Her current focus is on researching and developing local and alternative food systems which combine environmental sustainability with social and community benefits.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation

Related Book:

{amazonWS:searchindex=Books;keywords=urban gardening;maxresults=3}

enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfifrdehiiditjakomsnofaptruessvtrvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

FROM THE EDITORS

The Day Of Reckoning Has Come For The GOP
by Robert Jennings, InnerSelf.com
The Republican party is no longer a pro-America political party. It is an illegitimate pseudo-political party full of radicals and reactionaries whose stated goal is to disrupt, destabilize, and…
Why Donald Trump Could Be History's Biggest Loser
by Robert Jennings, InnerSelf.com
Updated July 2, 20020 - This whole coronavirus pandemic is costing a fortune, maybe 2 or 3 or 4 fortunes, all of unknown size. Oh yeah, and, hundreds of thousands, maybe a million, of people will die…
Blue-Eyes vs Brown Eyes: How Racism is Taught
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
In this 1992 Oprah Show episode, award-winning anti-racism activist and educator Jane Elliott taught the audience a tough lesson about racism by demonstrating just how easy it is to learn prejudice.
A Change Is Gonna Come...
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
(May 30, 2020) As I watch the news on the events in Philadephia and other cities in the country, my heart aches for what is transpiring. I know that this is part of the greater change that is taking…
A Song Can Uplift the Heart and Soul
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
I have several ways that I use to clear the darkness from my mind when I find it has crept in. One is gardening, or spending time in nature. The other is silence. Another way is reading. And one that…