Urban Agriculture - Growing Your Own Wherever You Live

Downtown Saskatoon’s 1.5 acre Food Bank Garden Patch

Urban agriculture is one of the fastest growing [sic] avenues that folks all around the world are taking to provide their families with fresh, organic, low-carbon footprint, inexpensive food. No matter what city a person lives in there is a thriving grow your own movement, this article would have to be biblical to cover the topic, so...The very best website for in-depth and up to date stuff is City Farmer News IMO. Please check it out if you have the time, energy and desire to get growing.

Many city dwellers live in apartment buildings where roof-top gardening has become huge for a variety of reasons. Food security, quality, access etc. are why the residents are interested. Reducing the cooling and heating bills in the winter and reduced direct solar exposure leading to far longer life cycles for roofs makes building owners interested. Overall urban island cooling, lower transit costs from less shopping trips and quality of life are a few of the reasons urban planners, regulators and politicians are interested. The National Research Council of Canada's evaluation of roof-top and vertical gardens explains how and why it works to every one's advantage. Even if a person only has access to a balcony they can utilize the vertical concept to help cool their home and produce fresh healthy food in the process.

Vertical gardening is being adapted to indoor food production too. One excellent example from The City Farmer is Ecopia, a state of the art indoor farm that uses LED lighting and organic soil for their specialty produce for chefs, in Campbell, Calif. Founder Ko Nishimura's fennel, red-veined sorrel, Russian kale, Persian cress and other gourmet edibles in miniature form, grown to exact specifications for the Bay Area’s most discriminating chefs flourish in organic soil containers. Indoors, or outdoors including on the roof-top, vertical space is far cheaper than horizontal space in every city - Go Vertical!

Vancouver, BC's urban mecca, has all the above plus thousands of community gardens big and small where so many folks want to participate there's almost always a waiting list no matter how fast new areas are created. Another cool option is Sharing Back Yards here's a map of all those who officially participate in the program in the Vancouver area, but there's also the more informal co-operation between neighbors through word-of-mouth or signs put up at the local community center. There are thousands of unused or under-used garden areas who's owners may not have time but would love to barter/share with someone who does.

There's also public-private partnership projects like SOLEfood's new downtown Vancouver site which is doing its best to grow food, jobs and the business case for urban agriculture. There are 'issues' with this type of idea, including tax subsidies that end up supporting competition for Agricultural Land Reserve farmers and in SOLLEfood's case it being built over the top of toxicologically questionable land. But there are other places, non-toxic municipally owned places, like in Saskatoon where the Food bank is using Urban agriculture as a new way to supply nutritious emergency food while addressing underlying causes of hunger and food insecurity, so there are solutions.

There's lottsa solutions and lottsa great folks working within them as well as inventing new ones. My last example is a story that's gone viral up here in Canuckistan about the family of Michel Beauchamp and his wife;Josée Landry;of Drummondville Quebec who tore out their front lawn and planted a veggie garden in its place. Of course, the by-laws enforcement types began to circle like vultures, but so far at least, the ground breaking couple are holding the forces of evil at bay in large part because of the huge internet and media support they've received. My advice, if you live in a subdivision and wanna have healthy, inexpensive, organic food growing as close to the kitchen table as possible copy Michel and Josée example, turf your turf,  plant a garden, and 'Give Peas a Chance'.