Growing your own food is fun and possible, even in a tiny space, so everyone should give it a try. Cities are finding ways to encourage more people to grow food locally for a variety of reasons, and they all revolve around dealing with climate change. Cities become more resilient to climate change thanks to the benefits from an increase in urban farming. Those benefits range from local cooling effects from growing plants to the more serious food supply issues felt around the world. There’s no better time than now to try your hand at starting a small food garden.
Apart from private backyard gardens, urban gardening includes larger community gardens, allotment areas and building rooftops that allow people who don’t have backyards to also grow food. Ryerson University in downtown Toronto operates a rooftop farm on its engineering building that has a little under a quarter acre of growing space.
In that little space in the middle of the crowded city, the farm grows about 4,500 kilograms of food every year that supplies the university community and local chefs.
Growing significant amounts of food within the city is not necessarily a new concept. Karen Landman, a professor at the University of Guelph who researches urban gardening, says agriculture used to be a part of North American cities before being gradually zoned out of urban areas after the First World War.
“It’s actually a very old practice,” she said. “There is a lot of land where it could be turned into food production. And if we really had to, we could produce a lot of food. There are other cities in the world where urban agriculture is the primary source of food for many people.”
Pollinators love the spring and they love your lawn….until you cut it. Spring time is when pollinators need a quick get up and go meal, which usually comes from those peppy plants popping through your lawn early in the season. You can help pollinators survive the spring by just being lazy and letting your grass grow. Yes, you can save the world by doing less.
Remember the best strategy for not mowing lawns is not to have one in the first place. Check out these lawn alternatives.
Conservation groups have been promoting the “No-Mow May” approach around the world.
Cormier said spring is a crucial time to help pollinators.
“Flowering plants in the spring, for example, can bloom and provide an early source of nectar for pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and beetles,” she said.
Cormier says allowing wildflowers and grasses to grow during this time will also help prevent pollutants and debris from travelling directly into freshwater ecosystems, and help with soil stabilization.
“We’re not asking for a lot of time. We’re asking for 4 weeks so hopefully maybe just take a break from mowing for a couple weeks, for the entire month just try it out. It’s a small commitment but maybe people will like it and I hope they do,” she said.
Lawns are unnatural and require a lot of maintenance, so why do we have them? As a non-lawn person I just don’t get the appeal of a lawn when there are so many better alternatives which require less work to maintain. It turns out I’m not the only one baffled by the obsession with barely keeping grass alive through. There’s a growing movement in the UK (and elsewhere) to replace labour intensive lawn care with easy to maintain landscaping. Instead of a lawn you can plant clover, switch to xeriscaping, or any of these alternatives.
The no-mow trend is gaining momentum across the gardening community. The wildflower conservation charity Plantlife runs an annual No Mow May challenge, which encourages people to share their experiences of letting the grass and wildflowers grow, or even learning how to plant a wildflower meadow in the process.
Sarah makes an important point: not mowing your lawn this spring may help redefine your relationship with your garden, making it more about relaxation and quiet – and watching bee friendly plants grow. If you do like keeping active in the garden, you can always give yourself a challenge by growing a new plant, starting a vegetable patch, or building a bird box or a home for a hedgehog.
Since at least 2008 we’ve been championing that people with land should plant a food garden. The best time to start your garden is today, the second best time is tomorrow. Being stuck at home to slow the spread of COVID-19 has inspired people to start growing their own gardens – great! Interest in gardening has grown this year and this means (very) local produce for more people. Gardening is fun and a great way to better understand food you eat, give it a shot!
For a city boy like me, born and raised in Brooklyn, where I had spent most of my adult life, this was all very new. Once you get your hands in soil—really get dirty with it, feel it under your fingernails—there’s a change in perspective, and you’re someone different. You’ve opened the tiniest of windows onto the ecological reality of the forces that sustain human existence, the biogeophysical relationships of water, sunlight, air, earth. Quite suddenly, what seemed mysterious quotients—say, the balance of phosphorus, nitrogen, carbon, and potassium—become commonalities of understanding and, eventually, of wisdom. The plants that depend on all those factors in harmony rise up, or they don’t.
It’s hard to express the pride and lovingness and delight in seeing a plant germinate, and grow tall and hardy, and then flower and put fruit out. When the crop came fresh and healthy last summer—there wasn’t a hint of blight, and no insects attacked it—I felt a bit like Viva and I had brought green babies into adulthood. We will never not do it again.
People panic buying at grocery stores have messed up with the normal operations of industrial supply chains, including food. Not to worry though as toilet paper is still being made and crops are still growing around the world. Due to borders being closed and transportation being limited there is a coming issue around labour migration and farming. Over the last few decades migrant workers have been increasingly relied upon on farms to help with operation and now that labour pool won’t be able to help as they did in the past. There is something you can do this month (or even next month or the month after that…) is to plant a “victory garden”. If we need to keep the practice of social distancing going then having fresh food on hand will save trips to the grocery store.
“The warehouse is full and there are more containers arriving so we haven’t felt it,” she said.
“But I am not sure how we will go for the orders we are placing now because these containers are from orders we placed many months ago.
“We have to keep working and do our best; and hope that in a few months time things will be better and things will be back to normal.”