Finding affordable, wholesome, fresh food is a challenge in many urban communities. Add joblessness and it’s easy to see why it’s increasingly difficult to raise a family in many urban areas. Abandoned buildings and other manifestations of urban blight also hurt the quality of life in many urban communities. However, a growing number of communities have found a viable solution that both brightens up the community and addresses the food problem. It’s called urban gardening and it involves transforming trash-filled, dangerous abandoned lots into beautiful, fertile, productive gardens.
Urban Gardens Improve Communities
Urban gardens in cities like Detroit, Chicago, Brooklyn, New York, San Francisco, New Bedford, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Sacramento and Philadelphia have had a significant positive impact on the communities in which they are located. These gardens not only teach children, young people and adults how easy, helpful and lucrative it is to create these urban oases, just having the community gardens can help to make people money, lower stress, improve people’s health, wellbeing and outlook on life and they also appear to lower the rate of gun violence as well.
The Business Of Urban Gardening
In one neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan, community members have transformed their community gardens into a thriving business. They grow vegetables in several community gardens and sell their produce to local restaurants, at farmers markets and directly to consumers and typically make between $20,000 and $30,000 per acre. And the move towards urban farming is growing throughout Detroit. Community groups are transforming thousands of abandoned lots that formerly blighted their neighborhoods into small-scale urban agriculture projects that make the local economy healthier.
A Growing Movement
Detroit is now fourth nationally in terms of cities with the most urban gardens. The largest city in the United States to seek bankruptcy protection, Detroit now has a growing number of people that promote urban farming as a way to feed the people in their community, generate income and create jobs. And Detroit is not alone in the urban agriculture movement. According to a 2013 USDA report, California leads the way followed by New York and Illinois. But Michigan is also nurturing small-scale urban farming by encouraging the development of other businesses that use the produce from those gardens. They include some of the 140 craft breweries in Michigan, the sixth-most in the country.
Support From State Government
To encourage and support the growth of urban gardens where abandoned buildings with broken windows once stood, the City of New York has invested $600,000 into expanding a rooftop farming business called Brooklyn Grange that’s opening a small-business incubator to help other urban farmers. In Seattle, the government has just begun planting a seven acre ‘food forest’, created to grow fresh produce for public consumption. In Detroit, regional officials say transforming some of the city’s estimated 150,000 abandoned and vacant properties into urban farms could begin to clean up blight, create an estimated 4,700 jobs and generate $20 million for the city in business tax revenue.
A Local Food Creation And Processing Industry
An official with Michigan’s agriculture department envisioned rising consumer demand for the food grown in local urban gardens spurring the emergence of local entrepreneurial communities developing a food-processing industry to handle the produce from the gardens. That would help spur economic development in blighted urban communities, create opportunities for entrepreneurs, as well as give the people living in some of Detroit’s economically depressed communities a reason to be excited about the future. The local people continuing to create urban gardens can make that a reality.
A Vision Of Urban Farming
An organization called Detroit Future City is calling for the government to repurpose the city’s abandoned buildings and vacant land and commit at least part of it to urban farms. Some urban farmers are making such a good income, they are giving up their day jobs and investing their time, money and resources into creating more community farms. One Detroit entrepreneur has pledged to buy several blighted properties and create the largest urban tree farm in the world. People in communities throughout Detroit and other cities now know it’s possible to pool their time, talent and resources to purchase abandoned properties and transform them into lucrative urban gardens and farms.
Increase Yield With Vertical Gardening
Vertical gardening is the use of trellises, garden netting, pot towers and other garden structures to get a bigger yield out of a garden with limited space. People can use vertical gardening to grow nutritious, delicious, fruits and vegetables, fragrant, vital herbs and spices and colorful, fragrant, flowers. Using vertical gardening has many benefits. They include healthier plants, easier maintenance, effortless harvesting and much higher yields. It’s perfect for use in urban gardening where not much space is available. Some urban farmers have been able to double or triple their yield by using vertical gardening methods.
Less Work, Less Space And More Produce
An innovative, effortless, highly productive growing system, vertical gardening utilizes bottom-up as well as top-down supports to grow a wide variety of plants in garden spaces both small and large. There are countless varieties of fruits, vegetables and flowers perfect for being grown in beds, containers and freestanding and wall-mounted supports that can be used in vertical gardening. This method of gardening requires less space, reduces the amount of work required to prepare new beds and makes watering, fertilizing, weeding and controlling disease and pests a lot easier while increasing the yield.
A Larger Output
Plants like tomatoes and beans produce much more with vertical gardening. Beans raised on a vining pole can out produce those grown on a bush tenfold. Vining vegetables are capable of continuous yields. New flowers and produce form the more you pick the fruit. While a bush variety of a vegetable may exhaust its yield in 3 weeks or less, using vertical gardening enables growers to extend their harvest time. This gardening method allows gardeners to take advantage of unused vertical space to grow more plants. This means a lot more income is produced from the same acreage.
Kylie is the editor at Green & Growing. She enjoys the outdoors, especially when she can go on a hike or adventure. She likes to focus on the perks of green living. She feels it is important to take care of the Earth and hopes to spread greater awareness as she edits and writes.