Urban Farming For - and By - Everyone!

Of the many different aspects of (and opportunities for) sustainability, one of the most rewarding outlets sits within some of the most densely populated urban areas all over our planet. At some point this century half of the global population will dwell in urban areas, and - unlike many agrarian civilizations throughout history - our urban areas have and will continue to encroach and tax upon already damaged and diminished hinterland ecosystems. This presents a sizable conundrum: how do we feed the billions of urban dwellers while sustaining the surrounding ecosystems and ensuring a steady and reliable food source? The answer is, increasingly, through urban farming practices and initiatives. It starts with awareness!

Even with the advent and adoption of 'up not out' urban growth limitations a vast wasteland of opportunities and ample outlets for agricultural space exists within urban areas; roof tops, vacant lots, and even underutilized stretches of pavement may contribute to the requisite space needed for an urban farming 'plot.' Like our historical ancestors, cities of today can have their food systems closer to home, providing a sustainable and steady source of food for large urban populations while also honing agricultural practices on both a community and individual level for the betterment of society as a whole.

Greenthumbs and costly equipment need not apply to the 21st century urban farmer, either. 'Container gardens,' produced using materials ranging from wood, clay, and even discarded buckets and childrens' swimming pools, can be suitable for urban farming, while the requisite soil and nutrients required for agricultural purposes to be found at very modest and affordable prices. This beginner type of urban farming is quick, easy, and offers a multitude of benefits. 'Container gardens' teach intensive farming methods through restricted available space (something most city dwellers can relate to) which in turn educates first-time farmers on utility maximization. Confined spaces promote healthier yields through inter-cropping and the diversification of crops. As such containers prevent runoff and waste, container gardens work to teach water conservation by default. And of great importance are the inherent social benefits of urban farming which include providing agricultural education, experience, employment, and community action and empowerment to all of those involved.

As space becomes scarce, people more abundant, and ecosystems fragile, urban farming is always a viable opportunity to reward those who participate with good, quality grown food, educated empowerment, and a strong sense of what a sustainable community may look like in this sometimes hectic modern age.

*Photo Credit: www.inhabitat.com*