Urban Agriculture is the practice and the fast growing phenomenon of growing food in city settings. This is done through community gardens, utilizing vacant lots, balcony gardens, back yards and for those willing to deal with the scrutiny of there neighbors their front yards. Urban agriculture despite all the hype that it is receiving today is actually not a new phenomenon. Here in the US it has cropped up several times in the past couple centuries. One of the most notable occasions was during WW2 when people were urged to plant Victory Gardens. These gardens supplied more than half of all vegetables eaten during war years. This production right at people homes in cities led to supplies being freed up for the war effort. Growing good food in the city is not as difficult as some people might think. There are many things about cities that make growing food in them easier and more enjoyable than growing it in the country.
Heat Island Effect:
Cities create there own micro climate protecting the delicate vegetables from the vagaries of the weather. Wind speed is reduced and temperatures are slightly higher in cities which improves plant growth and extends the growing season.
When your garden is on your balcony it is not hard to take excellent care of it. While the difficulty will increase with the size and location of whatever you are growing the city offers many things that make it easy to care of a garden. Access to a ready to use clean water source is a great asset for growing quality food. Plus you will also be able to utilize the knowledge of the people and institutions like university extension offices to help you along the way.
For a lot of people after they grow there first garden it will have had one of two effects on them. One they end up hating it with a passion and they never want to pull a weed or pick up a shovel again. But sometimes the passion gets turned the other way and they loved it. They love it so much that they begin to look for ways to grow more and expand on what they are already doing. This can and usually does lead to overproduction. The excess needs to be done away with and the opportunities provided by urban agriculture make this a cinch. Food shelters are always looking for fresh produce or you could sell to your friends and neighbors who most likely would love some fresh right from the garden food. Being in a urban setting offers lots of potential customers right outside the garden and such a potentially profitable venture.
Urban gardens can produce not only high quality food but also provide a host of other benefits as well. They provide positive interactions between people and the environment. Provide fresh purified air in the center of cities. Restore more greenery to the center of concrete jungles and provide a ecological balance that is missing in most cities. There is also the numerous health benefits that come with gardening including exercise, fresh air, and a little shot of sunshine to give some color to office bound urban dwellers.
To learn more about urban agriculture I would suggest tracking down and reading a book called Urban Agriculture- Ideas and Designs for the New Food Revolution by David Tracey. This witty and highly entertaining book is a fun yet educational read. Packed full of fun facts and useful advice this book is great for growers of all levels and types. Whether you want a balcony full of plants or a half acre to call you own this is a good reference to read and have.
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