Home­grown in the city

Ontario Gardener Magazine - - LOCAL DIRT -

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. Food­borne 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.

Ur­ban Gar­dens

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

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 im­por­tance 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.

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