Documents: Special Interest: Organic Growing:

How to Grow Your Own Vegetables in Urban America
by Pano Savvidis
October 6, 2014

Living in the city has its advantages, but as land has become a premium commodity it’s difficult to find spaces for greener projects. Spots that aren’t being cleared for future housing are being turned into another car park or, worst of all, left unused to become wasteland. Those of us who want to be able to grow our own vegetables are having to turn to more creative ways to get the taste of something that’s really home-grown.
Community Gardening
As a way to combat this, many Americans are joining community garden programs. These are ran across the country in all types of locations and, according to the American Community Garden Association (ACGA), over half a million people in the United States and Canada are involved with local projects. Community gardening gives you access to not only the space, but also the kind of facilities needed to grow vegetables on a more substantial plot of land. For a small fee, you will be able to participate in the space alongside like-minded members of your neighbourhood growing a wide range of vegetables that would otherwise be impossible for you to do on your own.

The ACGA prides itself on being on providing an inclusive environment where all members of the community are welcome, regardless of age, ethnicity, or social class. Not only will your involvement provide you with delicious wholefoods, it can also increase your physical and mental wellbeing. A 2008 study from the Public Health Agency of Canada noted that participants of community gardening found that it acted as both a stress relief and a good form of physical exercise as it encompassed the three major recommended types of activities: endurance, flexibility, and strength.

Window Box Gardening
Window box gardening is a common alternative for people without a community garden program in their area. As you are forced to confine the roots of your vegetable to a container you’ll become more restricted in what you can plant. Most typically, window box gardening is used to grow herbs. Mediterranean herbs like basil, cilantro, and fennel can especially flourish in West Coast climates, but with enough sunlight an Eastern climate is also suitable to a large variety of plants. Generally avoid leaves like chamomile, lavender, and oregano as these have a tendency to take over small areas. Window box gardening isn’t limited to just herbs, however. If you have the space to fit containers measuring around 25cm across and 30cm deep, you could grow small amounts of carrots, beans, or salad leaves.

Window box gardening can be a great way to introduce the idea of growing your own vegetables to children. Teaching your children from an early age that food doesn’t just come from the grocery store can be the initial step to improving the diet and health of your family as well as offering them the independence of growing their own plants.

Whether you decide to join a local project or simply start growing some herbs alongside your kitchen window, you can be sure that what you’re doing is improving your own wellbeing as well as providing a spot of color to those around you. In an increasingly industrial landscape, seeing a natural space of beauty should never be taken for granted.

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