An own garden with big trees, colourful flowers and fresh vegetables – a dream for many. For people who live in a city, unfortunately this often remains a dream. But with the principle of "Urban Farming" you can also make this dream come true on your own balcony.
Urban farming is on the rise. More and more city dwellers are using every available area of land to grow food in densely populated centres. It is not uncommon to find several Urban Farming projects in large cities, which also work together.
What is behind the term Urban Farming?
What makes urban farming so special? How does Urban Farming differ from allotment gardens, for example? Well, for one thing, it is not (only) about self-supply. Many urban farming projects sell their products, whether at weekly markets, local restaurants or organic shops nearby. It is also conceivable that products might be sold in soup kitchens for the public good. Allotment gardens or cultivation areas in the backyard, on the other hand, serve the owners' own needs.
And while allotment gardens and domestic vegetable gardens are part of a community's planned stock, urban farming projects are created where there is space – on fallow land, on roofs and terraces, sometimes in schools or public parks.
Where did the idea actually come from?
The "roots" of urban farming can possibly be traced back to the First World War. As the war devastated farmland throughout Europe, citizens were explicitly encouraged to use free land within the city limits for vegetable cultivation. The idea gained momentum during the Great Depression and in many cases contributed to survival.
And during the Second World War, cities and municipalities freed up even more land – with good reason, because the so-called "victory gardens" produced food worth the (then) equivalent of around 3 million US dollars. This was a remarkable achievement, and a not inconsiderable proportion of US production from Urban Farming was even shipped to soldiers overseas.
What can be grown in Urban Farming?
Anything that grows on a normal field also grows in an urban context. This includes vegetables of all kinds, salads, root vegetables, but also perennials such as corn. Fruit, especially berries, can also be grown easily, and even fruits such as apples, pears or peaches and many more can be grown – the latter, however, more in specially designed espalier varieties. An urban farming project can be complemented by keeping bees, which not only produce honey but also pollinate the plants, and small animals such as rabbits or guinea pigs, including poultry, can also be part of such projects.
How do urban farmers proceed?
There are of course limits to this type of cultivation. The most important of these are the very small areas. Therefore, the use of large machines is not possible, work is largely done manually. In addition, many urban farming projects are working on how to grow more and more effectively in a small area, but at the same time sustainably. Most of the methods used come from organic farming – this applies to both crop protection and pest control. Even water consumption is covered by sophisticated systems, often from grey water or similar wastewater that is compatible with food cultivation. Urban farming also uses special lighting where there is a lack of sunlight, if there is no other way around the property. In fact, everything is thought of to optimize the yield in a reasonable way.
The many advantages of Urban Farming
The cultivation in the city has many advantages. The most important of these is, of course, the availability of fresh products that do not have to be transported far and packed in environmentally harmful packaging. In addition, the products often have organic quality.
Furthermore, green and cultivated areas in the city play their part in purifying the air and enable people to have close contact with nature. Children and teenagers in particular are given the opportunity to learn gardening – often the foundation for a lifelong fascination.
Quite a few communities release areas for urban farming. Anyone who is interested in this type of sustainable agriculture on a very small scale, but who really has no room for it themselves, can ask the city or municipality. Watching something grow is a joy, it improves the quality of life and enhances the entire environment. Urban Farming definitely has a future!
Urban Farming – on your own balcony
Of course, Urban Farming can also take place on a smaller scale, at your home. Especially herbs and vegetables are perfect for your own terrace. Having fresh lettuce, basil and tomatoes on your plate every day is not only delicious and healthy, but also inexpensive. In addition, taking care of your own garden is not only sustainable, but also a nice and varied way to relax a little.
Although we at NIKIN are mainly committed to sustainability in fashion and to the preservation of forests, we hope that our blog has sparked your interest in urban farming and motivated you to rethink your own lifestyle and possibly make it more sustainable.