This blog originated as an email response to an agent who asked me what I thought of urban farming and hydroponics. As I began crafting my response, I realized it was better posted as a blog for wider distribution rather than a private exchange between myself and another agent. That being said, here are my thoughts on Urban Gardening.
Wherever people live, we need food. People live in urban areas, so urban gardening is a necessity. What approach to use?
When gardening in urban areas, once must be concerned with contaminants in food. Buffer zones and barriers against pollution are essential, as is building the tilth of the soil.
My approach to gardening is to use the most energy and resource efficient methods possible. The objective is to achieve maximum production for minimum effort.
Gardening methods that use large quantities of materials that have to be mined, manufactured, transported, warehoused, stocked, inventoried, sold, constructed, maintained and disposed of when they are no longer in use do not meet my criteria for good gardening practices.
My approach is to instead identify the land that is available in urban areas that is already irrigated and tended, yet growing landscape plants rather than growing plants that are useful for human sustenance.
The way Quinn used public spaces in the first episode is an example of what I am referring to (although I would plant from seeds and starts, and compost neighborhood wastes rather than truck it all in the dark of the night).
Parks, lawns, planters around commercial buildings and parking lots, roadside easements,
small urban yards are all potential sustenance gardens. Build the Tilth of this land, improve the irrigation, plant edible, medicinal and otherwise useful species rather than landscape plants.
Build barriers and buffer zones to protect the crops from contaminants. Grow species that are compatible with the climate zones and conditions that don't require greenhousing.
Establish permanent, self renewing plantings that require little human tending other than to harvest. Allow them to establish themselves over the course of time, rather than over weeding or ripping them out at the end of each season then replanting them anew the next.
Bottom line - the work of The Garden Earth Project is ReGardening. ReGardening is defined as "regenerating the earths natural garden state through establishing permanent sustenance gardens." In other words - regrowing Eden.
With that in mind, wherever you live, be it an urban, suburban, rural or range environment, and ask yourself, "What would it look like if this were a little patch of Eden? Then do what you can to allow it to return. When the Earth is allowed to fully renew and regenerate itself, food security will rapidly become a non-issue.