Homegrown in the city
Cucumbers are cool and peppers are hot as many people are showing renewed interest in growing their own vegetables. Today’s vegetable gardens come in a variety of sizes, shapes and styles, and can be found in a backyard, on a patio, and even on a rooftop.
A national survey from the Garden Writers Association Foundation found that vegetable and fruit plants are being purchased in increasing numbers by gardeners.
There may be several reasons for this increased interest in vegetable gardening. Skyrocketing gas prices and increasing food costs at the grocery store are pinching our wallets. Food-borne illnesses and safety issues make us unsure about the food we buy and where it comes from. Concern about the environment is forcing us to look at how best to use our natural resources.
A new and often extreme approach to vegetable gardening is occurring in cities across Canada. Urbanites are replacing lawns, even entire front yards, with vegetable gardens. Supporters of these “mini-farms” feel growing food is a better use of land and water resources than cultivating an expanse of grass. In addition to growing vegetables for personal consumption, many of these urban farmers are generating income by selling their produce at farmers markets or to restaurants. However, these front yard gardens are not without controversy as neighbors and homeowner’s associations may oppose them saying the vegetable gardens detract from the general appearance of the neighborhood.
Community gardens offer many city dwellers access to land where they can grow their own productive garden. As food costs rise, families, especially those with a low or limited income, find that fresh vegetables and fruits become unaffordable. Community gardens not only provide fresh, nutritious produce for nearby residents, they offer a place for the neighborhood to come together and interact, and bring a sense of pride and ownership to the community. Some community gardens are specifically for children to help them understand the impor- tance of where their food comes from, ecology and to make a connection with nature; while others use the garden as a way for kids to earn money by selling the fresh vegetables they have grown.
Benefits of Gardening in the City
Whether it’s a small backyard garden, containers on a rooftop or a large community garden, urban gardens contribute to the community in many ways. The green space adds to the quality of life in the city and can contribute to increased property values. It is estimated that green vegetation reflects as much as 25 per cent of the sun’s radiation, reducing the heat island effect found in cities. Gardens also provide areas for rain runoff, minimizing soil erosion as well as recycling water back into the environment. The open space, food and water found in a garden provide important areas for wildlife inhabiting urban areas.
Urban areas offer as many ways to garden as there are people who live there. Start small, have fun and enjoy all the benefits of growing your own, healthy and flavorful fresh vegetables.
Story provided by National Garden Bureau ngb.org.
Community gardens are a great way to grow fresh produce and reduce your grocery costs if you don't have space in your own yard for a garden.