Updated: Jan 14
Urban gardening refers to cultivating, processing and distributing food in metropolitan cities. It is transforming our cities into a greener and sustainable environment.
Urban gardening – The city gardeners are cultivating organic fruits and vegetables with regular ornamentals and bushes. While enjoying a sunny day in the park or at our terrace, now, we can enjoy eating healthy organic food for free. Yes, it is possible. In fact, many countries have already adopted it.
Amidst an increasing awareness about eating organic food, many questions arise in the consumer's mind: Is organic food healthier for us? Is it worth buying expensive organic food? Are the grocery stores claiming organic food, serving us 100% organic? How can I grow organic food in my space in the urban city?
Organic food is an agricultural product that is grown and processed in a toxic-free environment. During organic farming practice, fruits, vegetables and crops are produced with natural fertilizers. Hence, they hold more human health and environmental benefits than conventionally grown food. Some of the benefits of organic food to human health are improved nutrient content, antibiotic resistance, reduced heart problems, better taste, and a more robust immune system. Besides, it facilitates environmental benefits such as a reduction in soil erosion and soil pollution, conservation of water, and an increase in overall soil fertility.
However, the benefits of organic food come with the increase in food price compared to conventional food. The primary reason for this is that no use of chemical on-farm increases weeds and other issues which require extensive labour (human resources) to perform the task. Thus, an increase in labour cost increases the cost of food. Other reasons are the increase in demand than the supply, higher cost of farm input such as organic fertilizers, crop rotation practice, post-harvest handling cost, and high-cost organic certification.
Besides, the word organic is so popular that every second item in the market is labelled as organic such as organic soaps, organic makeup products etc. So, the consumers are worried about the authenticity of the food labelled as 'organic' in the retail shops. Therefore, an alternative solution to it is the concept of urban gardening. It provides the best solution to reap the full benefit of organic food at their own place.
People perform urban gardening in urban space such as balconies, vertical walls/stands, roof-top, pedestrian zones, parks or playgrounds. Based on the urban space, capital investment and topography, in urban gardening, the areas are converted into a community garden, parks, urban farms, aquaponics or hydroponics to grow food. As a result, the urban communities are serving means of securing a family's food security.
But should we try to grow our own food? Is it possible to do urban gardening at my house? Can I do urban gardening without any support?
AgriBioTechX visited the urban garden at 'Essbare Stadt' in Kassel, Germany, to see how people in developed countries apply their knowledge of organic farming in urban cities.
Essbare Stadt is a German word translated as an 'edible city' in English. This fancy term consists of projects in which an urban space such as balconies, vertical walls/stands, can be modified to grow food. With socio-political and social goals, the community's people participate in cultivating and consuming their organic food.
The Essbare Stadt association was founded in Kassel, Germany, in 2009. With an idea of converting the municipal land into an edible site, 16 people initiated the project voluntarily. Their concept was first accepted by the Environment and Garden office of Kassel and was eventually joined by other authorities. The local advisory board released funds for planting trees. The district manager from the garden authority coordinated the seed planting map. As a result, in 2010 they successfully planted seasonal agri-horticulture plants in their street's edible park. In summer, they cultivated walnuts, chestnuts, cherry plums, medlars, almonds, and winters with apple trees, service trees, aronia and jostaberries, and many currants. Since then, an edible park is gradually growing.
Started with sixteen individuals, the Essbare Stadt association is now a community of more than a hundred volunteers working on urban gardening throughout Germany. It is an inspiring journey that motivates us to engage in growing our own organic food.
Another flourishing example of urban gardening is experienced in Banglore city, India. Bangalore is the famous IT-hub where the IT professionals from all over the world are migrating. Hence, rapid urbanization is threatening traditional gardens. But it is not a problem in this city. Bangaloreans are enthusiastically participating in gardening more smartly. They are not only participating in community gardening but also they are actively involved in terrace gardening. Several thousand citizens are involved in urban gardening as a community or terrace gardens. They are thus bringing sustainable practices in their lifestyle.
In India, the motivation factors behind urban gardening are cultural values and belief system. YouTube is also one of the significant factors behind the massive success of urban gardening in India. More than 50 channels on YouTube are dedicated to educating and inspiring Indian towards gardening in their local languages. Hence, people cherish in educating themselves and reaping the benefits of eating self-grown healthy organic food.
Likewise, Mrs Alka Rani in New Delhi, India is progressively growing organic food at her terrace. In an interview with AgriBioTechX, she told that terrace gardening is her passion and serving healthy food is her priority. Knowing the fact that pure and healthy food is served to her family gives her immense pleasure and satisfaction. She loves the greenery and vegetative environment so much that she started growing it on her terrace. Out of her quest to have her garden, she learned everything independently; later, she also gained knowledge from youtube. She says that she feels so satisfied and motivated when people appreciate her efforts and ask for the organic fruit and vegetables grown by her.
If you are a beginner, her tip is to start terrace gardening by potting herbs such as holy basil (tulsi), curry leaves and Catharanthus roseus (sadabahar). Watering them regularly to prevent drying and using them in cooking will eventually develop an interest in gardening edibles. Her values lie in knowledge sharing and encouraging others to have sustainable and healthy living standards.
All the above examples show the massive potential urban gardening holds to make our kids and youth well aware of the types of fruits and vegetables planting seasons, fertilizer requirement, harvesting and post-harvest strategies. While controlling and managing the edible garden, people socialize and feel a sense of achievement and fulfilment with the growth of their healthy organic food.