Categories
Urban Farming

25 Incredible Benefits of Gardening

Gardening is much more than a hobby or fun pastime. In fact, there are many proven benefits of gardening that people enjoy. No matter if you’re a hobby gardener or a professional-level horticulturist, spending time out digging in the dirt and caring for your plants, you too can enjoy these various benefits of gardening. If you’re not sold on the concept, I’m going to change your mind with this article. 

I’ve rounded up the 25 biggest benefits of gardening for you in this post. If you’re considering getting into gardening, either a huge outdoor garden or a small herb garden in your home, understanding the benefits is a great way to feel good about what you’re doing and enjoy it even more. I invite you to read on and discover the various large and small benefits of gardening that you can enjoy every time you settle down to tend to your plants. 


There are multiple proven benefits of gardening,and you can experience them all by starting and caring for your vegetable, fruit, or herb garden. It also extends to keeping plants happy and healthy inside. 

Contents

1. Gardening Boosts Mood 

Did you know that gardening can boost your mood while increasing your self-esteem levels? When you make time to go out and work in your garden, your anxiety levels can go down and you could start to feel less depressed. One study looked at this benefit of gardening and spanned several years and took people who had diagnosed depression and had them participate in a 12-week long gardening intervention. The researchers measured several mental health aspects before and after the intervention, including the people’s depression symptoms. They found that each participant had significant improvement in their symptoms. They also followed the participants for several months after and found that the improvements lasted. 

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2. Gardening Can Boost Your Immune System 

You’re a lot more similar to your plants than you realize, and your body is just as capable of photosynthesis as they are. This is where your plants use sunlight to make their food. Your skin works in the same way by absorbing vitamin D for this benefit of gardening. Depending on the color of your skin and how much your clothing covers, researchers estimate that the sun can create around 8,000 to 50,000 international units of this vitamin. Vitamin D helps strengthen your bones, boost your immune system, and it can also help lower your risk of developing multiple sclerosis, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer. 

3. Gardening Helps Form Connections 

Community, family, or school-oriented container gardens are coming up everywhere around the United States. Some of the main factors that drive these types of garden’s popularity, and it has more to do with simple human connections and interaction than the food you get from it. The connections are one of the main benefits of gardening. One study took students and had them photograph their work before sharing what they learned. Students reported that they got a sense of well-being from the relationships they formed and the new skills they picked up. 


A big benefit of gardening is forming connections with new people and strengthening the ones you have while you all work toward a common goal of keeping your garden happy, healthy, and thriving.

4. Gardening Builds Your Strength 

Gardening is exercise because you do small tasks like cutting grass or raking that fall under the category of light or moderate exercise. However, you also dig, shovel, and chop wood to get this level up to moderate exercise. All of these tasks ensure you work your muscles, and this can help build up your strength. You’ll eventually use every major muscle group you have when you work in your garden, and this is one of the major benefits of gardening for older people. Gardening can help with weight gain due to age, and researchers found that gardening could help people sleep up to seven hours a night. 

5. Gardening Lowers Stress Levels 

Another benefit of gardening is that it can lower your stress levels. It can help you recuperate and bounce back after a stressful event. One study exposed people to a stressful stimulus. Then they split the group and asked one to garden and one to read quietly. Researchers then tested the stress hormone levels in everyone’s body, and they found that the group that gardened had lower stress hormone levels than the group that read quietly. The group that gardened also reported that their moods had returned to a more positive state over the other group. 

6. Gardening Protects Your Memory 

You can grab a pair of work gloves, head out to your garden, and know that it’s helping you protect your memory with this benefit of gardening. Exercise can improve how your brain functions, and Korean researchers decided to prove that it helps to protect your memory. They gave people being treated for dementia 20-minute exercises to test this theory. The residents spent 20-minutes planting and raking vegetable gardens, and they found that these people had more brain nerve growth factors than people who didn’t participate. These findings rang true for both male and female participants. 


Remembering everything that you have to do in your garden can help sharpen your memory, and this is a huge benefit of gardening people take advantage of.

7. Gardening Can Help With Addiction Recovery 

Horticulture therapy isn’t a new concept, and this benefit of gardening has been around for years. Many addiction recovery programs incorporate working with plants as part of their agenda. Plants can provoke positive emotions and feelings in people who are recovering from an addiction, and this makes them an effective rehabilitation tool. One study took people in a rehab program and offered them the chance to participate in a natural recovery process. They could choose gardening or art as their therapy of choice, and the people who picked gardening had a higher completion rate for the program, and they also reported a higher satisfaction rate. 

8. Gardening Can Reduce the Risk of Heart Attacks and Strokes 

One great benefit of gardening is that it can help reduce the risks of heart attack or strokes in people who routinely participate in it. You could grab your gardening tools, go outside, and lose a few hours tending your plants to help reduce your anxiety and stress levels, and this can lower your blood pressure. In turn, this takes a lot of stress off your cardiovascular system. Research shows that people who are older than 60 who participate in gardening activities have a 30% less chance of suffering from a heart attack or stroke than people in the same age group who don’t garden. 

9. Gardening Improves Hand Dexterity and Strength 

Gardening requires you to make precise movements, and this benefit of gardening helps build your hand strength and dexterity. This is especially important as you age, and doctors even recommended rehab programs for stroke patients involving gardening tasks as a productive and satisfaction to build their hand strength and improve how well their hands work. You should position your body naturally and be careful about repetitive movements to enjoy this full benefit of gardening and avoid injuries like carpal tunnel or tendonitis. Also, use both your left and right hand. 


All of the small movements required when you plant your vegetables and care for this is a benefit of gardening because it can help slowly improve your hand strength and dexterity. The more you garden, the better both will get. 

10. Gardening Helps with Aerobic Exercises 

No matter if you have raised planter boxes, indoor flowers, or a bigger vegetable garden, it’s a great way to get a daily dose of aerobic exercise with this benefit of gardening. You may even get so into your project that you don’t realize you’re starting to break a sweat. Reaching for different tools and plants, pulling weeds out, and bending or twisting as you plant starts to work new muscle groups all over your body. In turn, this can help build your flexibility, stamina, and strength the more you do it. You can slowly lose weight, sleep better, and feel less winded when you do other activities. 

11. Gardening Can Help You Eat Better 

The cost of fresh produce can skyrocket in the off-months, and this causes a lot of people to turn to canned vegetables. One benefit of gardening is that you can harvest a huge amount of vegetables, and you don’t have to be a professional to do it. There are dozens of easy vegetables to grow, and you can preserve them to eat later in the year. You may even discover new vegetables that you’ve never tried before, and you’re getting food that doesn’t have pesticide or herbicide treatments on it. You can have fresh, organic vegetables and even fruits if you live in the right climate to grow them. 

12. Gardening Can Improve Your Self-Esteem 

With your busy life, it’s easy for your self-esteem to drop. This is especially true if you’ve never gardened before and you’re not sure if you’re going to be good at it or not. One benefit of gardening is that it’s a natural and quick self-esteem booster. You plant your seeds, water, weed, and fertilize your garden, and watch it grow. As more plants start to grow, your self-esteem will also improve. It feels great to accomplish new tasks, and gardens give you endless opportunities to learn new skills. 


As your plants start to grow, one benefit of gardening is that your self-esteem levels can shoot through the roof. You’ll get much more confident in your abilities as your plants thrive and you can start picking your fruit or vegetables. 

13. Gardening Burns a High Amount of Calories 

Gardening is commonly labeled as a moderate-intensity level of exercise, and this is especially true if you have a larger garden with perennial vegetables. According to the Centers for Disease Control, you can burn up to 330 calories for every hour you do light yard or garden work. A few years ago, the American Journal of Public Health published a study that showed that people who participated in a community gardening program ended up with lower BMIs than their neighbors who didn’t participate, so you could lose a decent amount of weight while enjoying what you do. 

14. Gardening Can Strengthen Your Bones

As you age, your bones can get thinner and much more brittle. Your body’s levels of vitamin D start to drop, and this is the main vitamin that supports bone health. Getting outside in the sunshine and working around in your garden exposes you to more vitamin D through the sun’s rays. If you wear shorts and t-shirts while you’re out, this maximizes the amount of vitamin D you soak up each time you’re outside. This vitamin D can help prevent your bones from getting brittle and weak. 

15. Gardening Lowers Blood Pressure Levels 

Anyone who has a high blood pressure is at an increased risk for cardiovascular events. One big benefit of gardening is that it can drop your blood pressure levels without the aid of medication. One way it does this is to naturally reduce your anxiety or stress levels because you get so into tending to your plants. This same phenomenon occurs for people who have indoor gardens or plants too because they all need care. The more time you spend tending to them, the better off it is for your cardiovascular health. As your blood pressure goes down, this reduces the stress on your arteries. 


The more time you spend outdoors, the more your blood pressure levels can drop. This benefit of gardening can help several systems in your body be healthier overall, and this can give you a better quality of life. 

16. Gardening Can Relieve Chronic Pain 

For a lot of people, chronic pain exists in the joints. They can get stiff, and this makes people less likely to move them because it causes more pain, and it goes in an endless loop. Gardening could help alleviate some of this stiffness caused by chronic pain. You could start small and have a Mediterranian herb garden in your home and work at tending it every day. Planting, watering, and maintaining the herbs will help you move your joints, and this can ease some of the symptoms you feel. If the chronic pain is from arthritis, movement can help increase the range of movement you have and decrease some of the swelling. 

17. Gardening Helps You Sleep Better

Spending a few hours outside has the pleasant side effect of wearing you out. It also helps you clear your head of all of the anxious or stressful thoughts that are plaguing you, and this can help you fall asleep faster. The moderate workout you get weeding and tending to your garden are other benefits of gardening because it can help you feel more tired. In turn, you should be able to fall asleep quicker, sleep deeper, and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. If you garden every day, you could start sleeping much better each night. 

18. Gardening Saves You Money 

No matter if you decide to grow vegetables or you want to grow fruit trees, one benefit of gardening it entitles you to is saving money. Generally speaking, seeds to start your garden aren’t super expensive, and you can create your own fertilizer out of scraps from your kitchen. You can also collect rainwater to keep your plants watered. A small garden can produce a surprising amount of vegetables, and you can preserve them to eat all year-round. This saves you money because you won’t have to budget for fruits, vegetables, or herbs when you go to the grocery store. 


Being able to harvest your own produce is an excellent way to save money over the cooler months of the year when prices go up to a premium. If you preserve them, you can have organic fruits, vegetables, or herbs whenever you want them. 

19. Gardening Exposes You to Good Bacteria 

One unexpected benefit of gardening is that it gets you up close and personal with a host of good bacteria. Several studies show that strains of bacteria found in your garden dirt can stimulate your brain to release serotonin, and this is the feel-good chemical that can help fight off symptoms of depression. It can also boost your immune system. This is a theory called hygiene hypothesis.This theory also suggests that there is a connection between your immune system and your brain. Gardening can help improve both at the same time. 

20. Gardening Can Encourage Creativity 

Gardening is all about creativity, and one big benefit of gardening is that you can let your creative thrive. Whether this is putting together a vegetable garden layout to maximize your space or figuring out which vegetables will grow better together, you can get creative with it. If you have kids, you can encourage their creativity levels and ask them to help you set up and maintain the garden. They can even make adorable garden signs to help you tell which vegetales you planted where to keep track of everything. As a bonus, everyone is learning new skills at the same time. 

21. Gardening Encourages Mindfulness 

Mindfulness is a state of focusing on the present moment, and you see it a lot with meditation. However, you can achieve the same state by gardening. One of the benefits of gardening is to be able to dedicate your entire attention to the task at hand. This could be making sure you get all of the weeds out, planting everything in the exact right place, or monitoring your vegetables so you pick them at the best time possible. It’s possible to get lost in what you’re doing and spend hours out in your garden making sure everything is healthy. 


Being out in your garden will help you focus on one task at a time and practice mindfulness. This can help you get into a more calm and centered state of mind that carries over into everyday activities. 

22. Gardening Improves Mental Clarity 

One hallmark of gardening is that you have to remember a lot of information, especially if you have a bigger garden. This benefit of gardening helps sharpen your mind and improves your memory at the same time. Studies show that gardening forces you to keep track of several tasks at the same time. You have to remember which vegetables you planted where, their needs, whether or not you applied your natural fertilizer, your watering schedule, and when is the best time to harvest your vegetables. You use more parts of your brain, and this can boost your overall mental clarity. 

23. Gardening Gives You Family Bonding Time

Bonding with your family is so important, but it can be hard to accomplish with the digital age. Many families spend a lot of time in front of screens, but gardening gives you a chance to dial this back. You can get your kids in on the fun and use this benefit of gardening to bond. Have them decide which parts of the garden they want to be responsible for and help them take care of it. Teach them about every aspect of growing their own food, and let them help you preserve or cook it when it’s time. This can give you hours of bonding time each season. 


Getting the whole family out and involved in the garden gives you a few hours a week to bond and catch up on their lives. As a bonus, anyone of any skill level or age can help. 

24. Gardening Teaches Responsibility 

One of the benefits of gardening is that it is a fun and stress-free way to teach responsibility for everyone in the family. Your kids will learn what happens if they let weeds overtake their garden, and what happens if you don’t water them correctly. You can set up each area of the garden for every kid or family member you have. Give them the responsibility of helping you keep it healthy and harvesting your vegetables and fruits when it comes time. This can also encourage a love of being outside and doing things with the family. 

25. Gardening Gives You a Sense of Purpose 

One final benefit of gardening is that it can give you a sense of purpose. It’s a way to care for something and nurture it from a tiny seed up to a large plant. Sometimes, this is enough to give you a sense of purpose and pride when the plants take root and start to grow. It doesn’t matter if you’re taking on a larger project like growing raspberries or something smaller like keeping a houseplant healthy, the feelings are the same. You can grow plants all year-round to keep this sense of purpose going. 

Categories
Urban Farming

Importance of Backyard Farming

Since the dawn of time, mankind has always grown food in the comfort of their own spaces. In recent times – due to tough economic times and global warming amongst other reasons – we have seen this practice declining. Perhaps because people think “fresh” produce can only be obtained at a supermarket. Nowadays we have seen decline in government support to producers which in turn puts pressure on the country’s food security as many consume more than they can afford (figuratively speaking) – this drives the prices of produce “Supply versus demand”.

Everyone has a basic right to food nutrition. The United Nations has in 2008 established High-Level Task Force (HLTF) with the main key prerogative being “to promote a comprehensive and unified response of the international community to the challenge of achieving global food and nutrition security.”

We highly recommend backyard farming as it offers a lot of benefits. A lot of the people, the youth in particular still consider farming as a job for the illiterate – forgetting that pretty much everything their grocery cabinet is from a farm; well here at The Village Mag are here to change that perception. The following are just some of the many reasons why you should consider backyard farming.

The importance of having a backyard garden.

Ever wondered why is it important to have a backyard garden while you can simply get all the vegetables you need from a supermarket down the road?

Well let’s take a look at 4 main benefits of having a backyard garden.

A bucket load of tomatoes from a backyard garden to reduce the grocery basket costs Image: Supplied
  1. It improves your health.

By producing your own vegetables, you have control of what goes onto and into your food. You get to decide whether you want them organic or inorganic.

It is estimated that an average meal travels 1500 miles (2414 km) from farm to plate. Now do you think the quality and the nutrients they had when leaving the farm will still be the same when they get to your plate?

2. Saves money.

Growing vegetables has the potential to reduce grocery costs.

It is important that you know what your family likes because food waste=money waste.

3. Get outdoor exercise

When digging up soil, setting plants or carrying water, exercise is taking place.

Gardening gives all major muscle groups a good workout including your legs, arms, buttocks, stomach, neck and back.

4. Natural stress reliever

Vitamin D which is found in the sun can improve one’s mood.

Through deliberate mental focus and meditating on the actions of gardening, you are taking time to set aside your problems for a while. It is healthy to take a break from our stressors and gardening provides that outlet for a lot of people.

Fresh maize meal grown from the comfort one’s home. Image: supplied
Categories
Urban Farming

Home gardening and urban agriculture for advancing food and nutritional security in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Abstract

Despite a 2.3% increase in world cereal production in 2019 over 2018, the number of people facing severe food insecurity may double from 135 million in January 2020 to 265 million by the end of 2020. The problem of food and nutritional insecurity is severe in urban centers, where the global population is projected to increase (%/year) by 1.84, 1.63, and 1.44 between 2015 to 2020, 2020 to 2025, and 2025 to 2030, and it will increase overall from 54% in 2016 to 60% by 2030. The number of megacities (>10 million people) will increase from 34 in 2015 to 41 by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated food insecurity in urban centers because of the disruption in the food supply chain, aggravation of the physical and economic barriers that restrict access to food, and the catastrophic increase in food waste because of labor shortages. Thus, there is a need to adopt more resilient food systems, reduce food waste, and strengthen local food production. Enhancing availability at the household and community levels through home gardening and urban agriculture is an important strategy. Food production within the cities include small land farming in households, local community gardens, indoor and rooftop gardens, vertical farming, etc. Home gardening can play an important role in advancing food and nutritional security during and after the COVD-19 pandemic, while also strengthening the provisioning of numerous ecosystem services (i.e., plant biodiversity, microclimate, water runoff, water quality, human health). However, risks of soil contamination by heavy metals must be addressed.

Introduction

The rapid expansion of the COVID-19 pandemic, engulfing 186 countries between December 2019 and March 2020, has aggravated risks of severe/extreme food insecurity from 135 million in January 2020 to 265 million by the end of 2020 (Dongyu 2020). The severe problem of food insecurity will affect populations in both the developed and developing countries. The hotspots of food insecurity in developing countries are South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and the Pacific region. The twenty-first century is the era of urbanization. The global urban population of 54% in 2020 is expected to be 60% by 2030 (Knorr et al. 2018), and urbanization is more rapid in developing than in developed countries. Urban population as percentage of the total world population in developed and developing regions, respectively, was 59.4 and 40.6 in 1950, 49.8 and 50.2 in 1970, 36.2 and 63.8 in 1990, 23.6 and 76.4 in 2018, and is projected to be 20.3 and 79.7 in 2030 and 16.8 and 83.2 in 2050 (U.N. 2018a). The world’s ten most populous cities in 2020 have populations (millions) of 37.4, 29.4, 26.3, 21.8, 21.7, 20.5, 20.3, 20.2, 20.0, and 19.2 for Tokyo, Delhi, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Cairo, Dhaka, Mumbai, Beijing, and Osaka, respectively. The majority of the most populous cities are in Asia, especially in China and India. Asia and Africa are two continents which have the most people prone to both under-nourishment and malnourishment, and COVID-19 is aggravating the already serious problems of hunger and the hidden-hunger (Fig. 1). At present, there are 34 megacities (Hummel et al. 2015; U.N. 2018b), of which 19 are in Asia. By 2030, two-thirds of the world population will be urbanized and there will be 41 megacities, of which 80% will be in low to middle-income countries. The future growth of population will almost entirely occur in urban areas of developing countries. Yet, cities in these countries are not properly designed to provide sustainable sources of adequate and nutritious food for large population even without the disruptions such as that caused by the COVID-19 virus. Major disruptions in food supply chain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have aggravated the already existing severe problems of hunger and malnutrition along with food wastage. Unplanned or ad-hoc urbanization also has drastic impacts on the environment (i.e., the heat island effect, high runoff, inundation), and these problems are aggravated by the changing climate. A major challenge created by the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting access to fresh and nutritious food at affordable prices to large and growing urban population. The problem is worsened by the lack of or weak infrastructure and poor institutional support. Thus, there is a need to adopt more resilient food systems, reduce food waste along the supply chain, and strengthen the growth of local agricultural capabilities through home gardening and urban agriculture (HGUA). The specific objective of this article is to describe: 1) properties of urban soils and their suitability for growing food, 2) home gardens and urban agriculture for food and nutritional security, 3) ecosystem services provisioned by HGUA, 4) soil management options to reduce risks of contamination of urban soils by heavy metals and other pollutants, and 5) the nexus thinking of waste and water management based on the concept of recycling nutrients and water for producing food, and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (U.N. 2015) through HGUA.

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Fig. 1

Properties of Anthrosols and Technosols and their suitability for growing food

Urban soils are called Anthropic soils, Anthrosols, or Technosols (FAO/UNESCO 1990) because anthropogenic control of pedogenic processes leads to drastic alterations in soil properties. In general, urban soils comprise of highly disturbed and manipulated materials altered through mixing, filling, transportation, and other perturbations caused by construction-related activities. Yet, urban soils vary widely because of differences in site history, population density, and cultural and socioeconomic conditions. Urban soil horizons are irregular and comprise a mixture of soils, which may contain high contents of stones, gravels, and artifacts. Important attributes of urban soils, in the context of HGUA are the following: high heterogeneity, large temporal and special variability, presence of artifacts, and contamination by inorganic and organic pollutants. These soils are characterized by poor physical properties (e.g., high bulk density, low water infiltration rate, low plant available water capacity, and susceptibility to drought), unfavorable chemical properties (e.g., low soil fertility, nutrient imbalance, and low soil organic carbon concentration and stock), and low activity and species diversity of soil biota. Therefore, restoration and sustainable management of the physical, chemical, and biological properties of urban soils is critical to improving agronomic productivity and nutritional quality of vegetables and fruits grown on these soils. Application of compost, mulch, and other sources of biomass-carbon (i.e., lawn clippings, leaf litter, household waste) is essential to improving soil quality and functionality and alleviating soil-related constraints to HGUA.

Strengthening local food production by home gardening and urban agriculture

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the food supply chain. Thus, it is critically important to strengthen local food production at the household and community levels. The home garden is a farming system which combines different physical, social and economic functions on land around the family home to supplement supply of fresh food at the household level. Logistically, home gardens provide easy day-to-day access to fresh vegetables and fruits, leading to enriched and balanced diets by supplementing proteins, vitamins, and minerals (Galhena et al. 2013). Through supply of medicinal herbs and an opportunity for physical activity, home gardens are also important to human health and wellbeing. Thus, home gardens can improve food security, diversity, nutritious value, and the microenvironment around the family home.

Urban agriculture (UA) is defined as all forms of agricultural production (food and non- food) occurring within or around cities (Wagstaff and Wortman 2015). UA strengthens many ecosystem services, such as improving human health, food access to local communities, income and jobs along with economic prospects, aesthetical value and beauty, education about farming, and community resilience (Fig. 2) (Oberholtzer et al. 2014; Santo et al. 2016; Thomas 2014). UA may comprise ground-based outdoor urban gardens and farms, hydroponic or aquaponic indoor production through skyfarming, rooftop gardens and farms, landscaping and nursery businesses, and urban livestock (Little 2019). Community gardens refer to spaces that provide agriculture environment within the city limits to grow vegetables and fruits and raise livestock. These gardens are owned or farmed by the members of the community or sub-divided into allotments cultivated by individual members (Corkery 2004).

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Fig. 2

Home gardens and urban agriculture for food and nutritional security

The conventional system of bringing food into large cities, over an average distance of 800 to 1500 km, involves a large amount of energy and is vulnerable to disruptions such as that caused by COVID-19 (Altieri 2019). Thus, there is an urgent need for adopting resilient food systems for meeting a partial food needs through a systematic development of HGUA. UA is already producing about 15–20% of the world’s food supply, and this can play an even more critical role in achieving food security during a global crisis such as that created by the COVID-19 virus. Small scale UA can produce high crop yields through judicious management of inputs needed for achieving sustainability (McDougall et al. 2019). The percent of families engaged in UA varies from 10% in some large cities in North America to 80% in some smaller Siberian and Asian cities (Thomas 2014). In 2013, 42 million American households were actively practicing HGUA by growing their own food either at home or in community gardens (Algert et al. 2016).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, innovative HGUA systems are critical to addressing the following issues both in developing and developed economies: 1) large populations living in mega- and gigacities with large food demand, 2) high food waste at all steps of the supply chain and long food mileage, 3) undernourishment and malnourishment because of the poor nutritional quality of the food (Fig. 1), 4) disruptions in the food supply chain, and 5) low income as a result of the lockdown. A system-based and wholistic approach through HGUA can produce food within urban centers, including in and on urban buildings.

In addition to the large and growing megacities in developing countries, there are also several megacities in the developed countries of North America, Europe, and Australia where practicing HGUA is as an important solution to the food crisis as it is in developing countries. Some large cities and their populations (millions) in developed countries include New York (18.8), Moscow (12.5), Los Angeles (12.4), Paris (12.3), London (9.0), Sydney (5.0), etc. These cities have specific examples of HGUA, including vertical farming, which uses hydroponics and aquaponics (Despomier 2018). Scientific HGUA (i.e., vertical farming) has the potential to alleviate food and nutritional insecurity, while not only reducing demands on finite natural resources but also providing urban populations with diverse, sustainable, safe, and nutritious food.

Contaminants in urban soils

Soil contamination by heavy metals [i.e., lead (Pb), arsenic (As), and cadmium (Cd)] and organic pollutants [i.e., polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), antibiotics, and petroleum products] are among the major constraints limiting the use of urban soils for food production (Menefee and Hettiarachichi 2018). These problems must be addressed to produce healthy and safe food. Indeed, with adequate management and bioremediation, the pathway from contaminated soil to humans via food can be minimized, and high yield obtained with judicious management of inputs (McDougall et al. 2019). Bioavailability of heavy metals and organic pollutants can be reduced by input of soil amendments including compost, mulch, recycling of the biomass and use of engineered media, which enhance soil health and promote activity and species diversity of soil biota. Replacement soil can be produced through urban waste that can be added into contaminated soil (Brown 2018).

Impact on ecosystem services and sustainable development goals of the United Nations through Nexus thinking about waste management

In addition to increasing access to fresh and nutritious food, HGUA also strengthen supporting, provisioning, regulating, and cultural/social ecosystem services or ESs (Fig. 2). Site-specific examples of these ESs include: 1) soil formation and primary production for supporting services, 2) food, fiber, fresh water and infra-structure foundation of provisioning services, 3) micro-climate modification, flood control, water purification, soil bioremediation and decontamination for regulating services, and 4) aesthetical, spiritual, recreational, and social for cultural services (Shuster and Dadio 2018). In accord with the strengthening of ESs, HGUA has also positive impacts on the SDGs of the U.N. Urban waste, a major environmental hazard and source of pollution, can become an asset by developing a cyclic economy. Compost made from waste is an essential amendment to restore soil health, enhance productivity, and improve the nutritional quality of food grown under HGUA systems. Sustainable management of soils by practicing HGUA can simultaneously enhance humanity’s culture, civilization, livelihood and health (Minami 2009) and create sustainable communities (Sullivan 2010).

Innovative Management of Urban Soils for home gardens and urban agriculture

The focus of managing urban soils for HGUA is on agronomic productivity, nutritional quality, and the safety of food products. Vertical farming, based on a cyclic economy involving aquaponics and hydroponics, is an innovative option (Despomier 2018). Just as in agricultural lands, indiscriminate use of chemicals, water, and other inputs must be avoided. Similarly, judicious use of inputs is critical to obtaining high yields and safe produce in home gardening (McDougall et al. 2019). Because of heavy human traffic, the risks of soil compaction must be minimized by improving and sustaining soil structure of the surface layer by mulching and use of compost to enhance the activity of earthworms and other biota. Scarcity of good quality topsoil can be addressed by using synthetic soils. Rather than sprinklers, drip irrigation may be essential to improving water use efficiency.

Conclusions

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the food supply chain and globally aggravated undernourishment and malnourishment, but especially in developing countries
  • Food production within cities by practicing HGUA can create resilient food systems while reducing food waste along the supply chain.
  • Restoration of the quality of urban soils, by use of compost and other organic amendments, is important to improving productivity, enhancing nutritional quality, ensuring safety, improving human health and strengthening numerous ESs.
  • Soil restoration can be accelerated by using synthetic soils made from biowaste and organic materials.
  • Sky farming; based on circular economy and using aquaponics and hydroponics, is an innovate and new form of urban agriculture.
  • Practicing HGUA is an important strategy to advance SDGs of the U.N.

References

  1. Algert, S., Diekmann, L., Renvall, M., & Gray, L. (2016). Community and home gardens increase vegetable intake and food security of residents in San Jose, California. California Agriculture, 70(2), 77–82. https://doi.org/10.3733/ca.v070n02p77.Article Google Scholar 
  2. Altieri, M. (2019). How urban agriculture can improve food security in US cities. Phys Org. https://phys.org/news/2019-02-urban-agriculture-food-cities.html
  3. Brown, S. (2018). Making soils from urban wastes. In R. Lal & B. A. Stewart (Eds.), Urban Soils (pp. 215–227). Boca Raton: CRC Press.Google Scholar 
  4. Corkery, L. (2004). Community gardens as a platform for education for sustainability. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 20(1), 69–75. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0814062600002317.Article Google Scholar 
  5. Despomier, D. (2018). Vertical farming using hydroponics and aquaponics. In R. Lal & B. A. Stewart (Eds.), Urban Soils (pp. 313–327). Boca Raton: CRC Press.Google Scholar 
  6. Dongyu, Q. (2020). Senior officials sound alarm over food insecurity, warning of potentially ‘biblical’ famine, in briefings to security council title. United Nations Security Council. https://www.un.org/press/en/2020/sc14164.doc.htm
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Urban Farming

5 Great Benefits To Having A Backyard Farm

One of the most intriguing home trends of 2020 has been the rise of backyard farming. People in both urban and suburban areas across the United States have been digging out their shovels and growing their own produce and raising their own livestock from the comfort of their own homes.

The benefits of backyard farming are multiple, ranging from social to mental to financial. If you are considering starting your own backyard farm but are still on the fence, here are five reasons why now is most definitely the time to do it.

Having a Backyard Farm

1. Save Money on Food

One of the most obvious benefits of growing plants and producing in your own backyard is financial. It’s no secret that maintaining a healthy diet in the US can be an expensive undertaking.

However, by farming at home, you can soon have a reliable supply of fresh fruits and vegetables all year round. Start a farm today to embrace a healthier way of living.

2. Starting a Backyard Farm is Easy

Any backyard farm 101 guide will quickly teach you that starting a farm in your yard is not as difficult as you may think. For example, take a look at this guide on what you need for raising chickens at home.

It explains that you can build a coop for backyard chickens in just a few minutes. The same applies to virtually every other aspect of backyard farming. Just a little bit of elbow grease is all you need to make it work.

3. Enhance Your Connection with Nature

In an age where we are stuck at home more than ever before, that connection to nature is essential. If you don’t have a national park on your doorstep, you will be looking for innovative ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

A backyard farm is a way to safely spend your time outside and really connect with the land. This is something that is truly priceless.

4. Create Perfect Gifts for Loved Ones

With the holiday season approaching, surely the last thing you want is to burden your friends with the same department store gifts you get them every single year.

Rather than another bottle of wine or online shopping voucher, you can give them a truly meaningful gift in the form of home-grown produce. If if it is not a special occasion, you can always offload excess produce to your grateful friends.

5 Great Benefits to Having a Backyard Farm

5. A Hobby That Lasts a Lifetime

Whether it’s chickens for backyards or a homegrown bushel of vegetables, the joy of backyard farming never truly fades. There are few things more satisfying than watching all of your efforts come to fruition, proving that you can truly work the land.

Once you have gotten the grasp of backyard farming, you have a hobby and skillset you can take anywhere with you. All you need is a little bit of outdoor space and a passion for produce.

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Urban Farming

Benefits of a Community Garden

Community gardens may seem like a new thing but in actuality they have been around for quite some time and there may be more in your area then you think. Their popularity does seem to be on the rise again. Statistics are hard to find, but a report by the National Gardening Association studying a 5 year period from 2008 to 2013 found that 35% of households are growing their own food and the number of households participating in community gardens grew by 2 million. Leading the way in the grow your own food resurgence are millennials, particularly in our nation’s urban areas.

“But why,” you might ask, “would I want to garden in a place that is not in my own backyard?”

The reasons are numerous. Perhaps you are limited on outdoor space. Or maybe your yard is too shady for growing vegetables, or you want to grow more than what your property can handle. Or perhaps your front yard is the sunniest spot, but your Home Owner’s Association doesn’t allow front yard edible gardens. Or maybe you just love the camaraderie that comes with hanging out with other gardeners you know, sharing tips and advice or swapping seeds

If any of these reasons sounds familiar to you, and you’re intrigued about joining a community garden, here are some great tips for getting involved and getting the most out of your participation.

The Benefits of a Community Garden:

Now that you know what community gardens are, how they work, and how you can benefit from joining a community garden we will help you find one near you.

1. New Experiences. You might think you’re joining a community garden so you can grow more tomatoes, but you might be surprised to learn that you could make lifelong friends, develop a taste for eggplant, and learn how to garden without chemicals. The “community” aspect of this type of gardening, and everything it entails, is a huge part of the draw.

2. Garden Knowledge. Growing your own plants is wonderfully rewarding but it does take knowledge. When and how much to water, planting for full sun or shade, soil structure and health, nutrients, pest control, and beneficial insects are just a few of the areas you will need information about. In a community garden you will be surrounded by people with varying levels of garden knowledge who will never get tired of you talking abot gardening.

3. Beautification. Vacant land that is not kept up can not only be an eyesore but can create hazardous conditions for residents, community gardens bring vacant land to life. Creating a safe and beautiful place to gather for humans and beneficial plants, insects, and animals.

3. Health and Wellness. Community gardens increase access to fresh better quality foods, help reduce food expenses, and improve food security for those who most need it. Studies show that those who grow their own food increase their fruit and vegetable intake and improve dietary habits. And finally, gardening can increase physical activity while also improving mental health and relaxation.

Community Garden Costs & Conduct:

1. Reserve enough time to garden. After all, this kind of gardening is different than going into your backyard in your pajamas to tend to your roses. Factor in driving time as well, but be sure to look for a community garden that is close enough to your home to be fairly convenient.

2. Inquire about cost and volunteer hours. Typically there is a an annual fee per plot that includes space and water. Some community gardens require participants to perform a certain number of volunteer hours per month or per season. These are gardens that, for the most part, are non-profits and depend upon volunteers to keep them going.

3. Community Garden Amenities. Community gardens are as unique as the communites they live in, some have raised beds while others do not. Some have bathrooms, storage sheds, covered sitting and hang out areas, waste removal, fruit and vegetable stands, and organized events and education.

4. Community Garden Rules. When you join a community garden you must rememer that what you do may impact another gardener so know the do’s and don’ts before you join.

  • Is it an organic community garden?
  • What hours and days can you access your plot?
  • Are there any growing restrictions?
  • What is the shared equipement and watering protocol?
  • Is there composting on site?
  • Can you bring in garden decorations?

4. Get on the waiting list. Many community gardens have waiting lists for at least a year to reserve a single garden plot, so be sure to inquire ahead of time how long the wait may be. Sometimes it’s sufficient to get on the list towards the end of the growing season, but don’t make that assumption only to be disappointed with no availability.

How To Find A Community Garden Near You:

Now that you know what community gardens are, how they work, and how you can benefit from joining a community garden we will help you find one near you.

1. Google Community Gardens. Google is always a great place to start your search for things near you. Google will show you community garden locations on Google Maps, it will list community garden questions you may not have thought of, articles, blog posts, and current updates.

2. Facebook Groups. Many community gardens have a Facebook group page for their community members. The best way to search Facebook is to search Community Garden plus a town or community name.

3. Local Garden Resources. Local garden centers, nurseries, botanical gardens, extension offices, gardening groups and even libraries, city planning offices, and chambers of commerce can help you find local community gardens that are currently active or even in the planning stages.

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Urban Farming

Gardening for children

Children can learn new skills, have fun, play and develop self-confidence by spending time in the garden tending plants and growing their own food. Most children enjoy being outdoors and love digging in the soil, getting dirty, creating things and watching plants grow.

Children learn from growing things

People of all ages can enjoy gardening, but children in particular will have lots of fun and gain special benefits. Gardening is educational and develops new skills including:

  • Responsibility– from caring for plants
  • Understanding– as they learn about cause and effect (for example, plants die without water, weeds compete with plants)
  • Self-confidence – from achieving their goals and enjoying the food they have grown
  • Love of nature – a chance to learn about the outdoor environment in a safe and pleasant place
  • Reasoning and discovery – learning about the science of plants, animals, weather, the environment, nutrition and simple construction
  • Physical activity – doing something fun and productive
  • Cooperation– including shared play activity and teamwork
  • Creativity– finding new and exciting ways to grow food
  • Nutrition – learning about where fresh food comes from.

Getting children interested in gardening

Some suggestions to get children involved and interested in creating a garden include:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Give children their own garden space. (This does not have to be big. You can start with a large container or a few pots.)
  • Involve older children in the planning and design of the garden.
  • Use lightweight, easy-to-handle, correct-sized tools and garden equipment.
  • Encourage children to dig in the dirt. (Younger children love making mud pies)
  • Grow interesting plants such as sunflowers, corn, pumpkins, tomatoes and strawberries.
  • Use a trellis or teepee to grow beans or sweet peas.
  • Plant flowers that attract butterflies, ladybirds and other interesting insects or birds.
  • Make a scarecrow.
  • Install a water feature, a birdbath or a sundial.
  • Set up a worm farm.
  • Visit community gardens, children’s farms or botanic gardens for ideas.

Child safety in the garden

To make the garden safe for children:

  • Select the correct-sized tool.
  • Keep sprays and fertilisers out of reach.
  • Do not use chemicals. Garden organically whenever possible.
  • Provide safe storage for equipment and tools.
  • Secure fences and gates.
  • Provide shade in summer with umbrellas or shade cloth.
  • Make sure that where it’s appropriate, children wear a hat, sunscreen, suitable clothing and gumboots.
  • Do not leave buckets of water unattended around very young children and toddlers.

Plant selection for children

Children like large, brightly coloured flowers and vegetables that grow quickly. Plants such as sunflowers, corn and pumpkins are good examples.

You should also consider using varieties of plants that have sensory and textural qualities as well. Examples of great sensory plants include:

  • Touch – woolly lamb’s ear, succulents (such as aloe vera), bottlebrush species, snapdragons
  • Taste – basil, strawberries, peas, rosemary, carrots, cherry tomatoes
  • Smell – jasmine, sweet peas, lavender, pelargoniums, native mint bush, lemon balm
  • Bright colour – daffodils, rainbow chard, marigolds, pansies, sunflowers
  • Sound – corn, bamboo and grasses rustle against each other when the wind blows.

Different-aged children in the garden

Toddlers, preschoolers, primary-school-aged and older children will all have different expectations and will learn different things in the garden.

Younger children will require careful supervision during activities. Suitable tasks for younger children include watering plants, harvesting produce and planting seeds. Older children are physically capable of handling a greater variety of activities, like digging, carrying, planting, mulching and pruning.

Activities for a child in the garden

Choose activities that suit the child’s age. Suggestions include:

  • Watering the garden
  • Digging
  • Picking flowers
  • Planting vegetables, fruits and flowers in the correct season
  • Feeding the worms and using the ‘worm tea’ from the worm farm as fertiliser
  • Picking vegetables and fruits when they are ready to eat
  • Preparing healthy food, such as making salads and preparing school lunches
  • Craft activities using harvested seeds, plants and flowers
  • Composting, recycling and mulching
  • Weeding
  • Gathering seeds and dried flowers
  • Deadheading flowers
  • Preparing the soil with organic fertiliser
  • Replanting and re-potting.

Where to get help

  • Community or local garden groups
  • Cultivating Community Tel. (03) 9429 3084
  • Horticultural Therapy Association of Victoria Tel. (03) 9836 1128

Things to remember

  • Gardening is a healthy, fun activity for children.
  • Children develop new skills and learn about science and nature from growing their own food.
  • There is a variety of interesting activities children can be involved in, such as planting, mulching, weeding and cooking.
  • Make sure that your garden is a safe place, with suitable equipment, tools, fences, gates and paths for children to use.
Categories
Urban Farming

The Environmental Benefits of Gardening

People turn to the garden for a variety of reasons; filling open areas in the yard, improving the curbside appeal, fulfilling a personal desire to create, and even partaking for the many health benefits it provides are all great reasons to garden. But what many people are unaware of is how amazing these activities are for the environment.

Gardening impacts everything from the air we breathe to the minimizing of carbon footprints we leave behind. If you have an area to plant in, even if it’s simply containers on a terrace, take advantage of this space and become part of a healthy environmental impact.

Plants Naturally Clean the Air and Ground

Plants produce oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. They take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through their leaves and use it to help expel oxygen and water. Carbon dioxide is what we expel when we breathe- it is a waste product by all means, and plants help recycle it into something we need to survive! They also remove any chemicals and bacterias that may be floating around in the air, providing an overall healthier environment to be within.

Plants don’t just take in through what is found above ground, their roots also uptake much of what they come in contact with. This includes chemicals and heavy metals in the soils and groundwater, and work towards an overall healthier ground. This may not always be what’s best for your plant, but an indication of a poorly growing plant can alert you to problems with what lays below the surface.

Reduce Cooling Costs with Well Placed Trees and Shrubs

The sun’s energy can heat up your home quickly, causing many people to run air conditioners and other cooling devices for extended periods of time. This has an impact on the environment- both in how that energy is being created and the costs of said cooling effects. Trees and shrubs planted in areas that help block the sun are incredibly efficient in keeping your living space cooler and reduce the use of fossil fuels to do so.

Growing Your Own Food Reduces Carbon Footprints

When you grow your own food you simply do not have to make as many trips to the store to buy what you need. Plus, much of what you buy at a store may have traveled halfway around the world to get there! Thus you save on energy, waste, time, and money by growing your own. It isn’t hard to grow staple vegetable and herbs, and in many instances, you can do so year-round.

Plus, all you need is a little ground (containers work nicely too), something easy to water with (check out these affordable, professional-grade, watering nozzles), and the will to do so.

Prevents Soils Erosion

The roots of your plants help bind your soils together, making them less likely to wash away after particularly heavy rain and protecting slopes from sliding downhill. Topsoils are more likely to be affected by water movement, and these are often the soils you most want as they contain organic debris and leaf litter that eventually breakdown to help add nutrients into the soils. Good ground cover with extensive root systems help keep this from happening.

Replenishes Nutrients in the Soil

As mentioned above, topsoils are created by leaf litter and other organic materials that fall from plants. Dead or decaying plants, especially annual vegetation, provides materials both above and under the surface of the soils- providing available to the following season’s growth. Certain types of vegetation help fix certain nutrients into the ground as well, and choosing those types of plants can help reduce the use of synthetic fertilizers.

Helps to Reduce Noise Pollution

Vegetation absorbs sound, and if you are looking for a natural sound barrier, planing a row of trees and/or shrubbery can be very effective. The higher the incidence of green spaces also reduces urban noises, creating a quieter atmosphere.

Supports Beneficial Insects and Birds

It’s no secret that wildlife is drawn to greener spaces. Pollinator, in particular, need all the support they can get, and you can provide much more than just a food source. Your plants also provide protection from predators and weather and even give space for them to complete their lifecycles.

Birds are also drawn to quieter, more protected areas and can help keep unwanted insects away. You also provide places for them to nest. Birds are an integral part of the environment as they help spread vegetative seeds, are a food source for other wildlife, and also can help protect against unwanted predators and insects.

Conclusion

Gardening is well worth your efforts for both personal, and environmental concerns. Any sort of greenery that you can grow is going to provide a positive impact on your environmental surroundings. Gardens are not just aesthetically pleasing, they are a building block of a healthy space and a reduction in carbon footprints.

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Urban Farming

WHY CHOOSE ORGANIC GARDENING?

The benefits of going organic in your lawn and garden are vast! In addition to helping improve the environment and decreasing the chances of accelerated disease in your family, going organic can provide mental and physical benefits, long-term money-savings, and increased vitamin and mineral content in your soil, among other things. 

GOING ORGANIC

SHOP

Benefits of Living Organic

The basic theory in organic gardening is that “nature knows best.” The organic gardener starts from the soil up, by feeding the soil, not the plant and creating a rebirth in the life and vitality of their lawn or garden. By rejecting the world of harmful chemical pesticides that put your plants and your family at risk, organic gardeners nurture the ground (and therefore all that springs above it) through techniques or systems that are found in nature. Those involved in the organic movement seek to live a cleaner, healthier existence and in a more earth-friendly way.

Nutritional Benefits of Going Organic

The vitamin and mineral content in organic foods is higher than those in conventionally produced foods, thanks in large part to the nutrients and trace minerals found in nurtured and chemical-free soil.

The Soil Association conducted a systematic review of the nutrient information available comparing the vitamin and mineral content of organic and conventionally grown food. It was found that, “on average, organic food contains higher levels of Vitamin C and essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and chromium.

The independent review of the evidence found that organic crops had significantly higher levels of all 21 nutrients analyzed compared with conventional produce including:

  • Vitamin C (27% more)
  • Magnesium (29% more)
  • Iron (21% more)
  • Phosphorous (14% more).

Soil & Food Benefits of Going Organic

a selection of fresh organic vegetables: lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, etc

Organic farmers and gardeners have a strong commitment to their soil. If they do not abuse the land, it will provide for them and their families for many years to come. Organic gardening helps to prevent a loss of topsoil, toxic runoff, water pollution, soil contamination, soil poisoning, death of insects, birds, critters and other beneficial soil organisms, as well as eliminating pesticide, herbicide, and fungicide residues on food from synthetic fertilizers.

Organic gardening provides for intense, realistic flavors in your food, as well as higher vitamin and mineral content. Increased soil organic matter reduces erosion, conserves water to give drought resistance, and feeds plants in time commensurate with their needs.

As for lawn care, products such as Safer® Brand Lawn Restore® and Concern® Weed Prevention Plus ensure your lawn has all of the essential nutrients necessary to keep your soil in top shape.

Mental & Physical Benefits of Going Organic

There are numerous mental and physical health benefits to going organic. Time spent in the garden working with the soil and plants can be very meditative and peaceful; so much so, that organic gardening has made its way into the mental health industry in the form of Horticultural Therapy.

The practice of horticultural therapy is a process of utilizing plants and horticultural activities to improve social, educational, psychological and physical adjustment of persons to improve their body, mind, and spirit.

In 1973, the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) was created, recognizing horticultural therapy as a professional discipline in which Blair says “‘trained therapists work with other therapists and medical professionals to help treat physical injuries or disease, mental illness, conditions associated with aging, social problems, and substance abuse.”

The principles of organic gardening go hand-in-hand with this approach by eliminating harmful synthetic chemicals, for safe organic solutions to problems in the garden. Tomatoes are a perfect example. Tomatoes are constantly under attack by insects and other pests, and using synthetic chemicals can harm your plants, as well as your family. Using an organic solution such as Safer® Brand Tomato and Vegetable Insect Killer can eliminate the pest problem, organically and provide protection to both your plants and your family.

Financial Benefits of Going Organic

Fresh sprouts and soil on increasingly large stacks of coins

A major bone of contention for consumers making the leap to the organic world is the misconception that organic products are more expensive. While some synthetic chemicals are less expensive than organic, much of the difference is a result of higher quality raw materials and manufacturing process, in addition to the higher cost of organic raw materials.

Despite the higher cost of individual organic products, organic gardening can save you money in the long run. The theory goes that by improving the health of the soil from which the plants grow, a better crop is yielded-fuller and all-natural, feeding a family for years to come. Thus, less money spent in the store for food and items to help your garden, means more money in your wallet. Considered to be more sustainable, organic gardeners use the concept of ‘feeding the soil, not feeding the plant.’ Using that approach keeps your soil free of chemicals, yielding a bounty of your own nutrient-rich vegetables.

The foremost money-saving technique in going organic is composting. Composting is the “usage of decomposed remnants of organic materials as a soil amendment and a seed starting medium in organic gardening that reduces land-fill waste by recycling your chemical free grass cuttings and food scraps.” Using a product like Ringer® Compost Plus Organic Compost Starter can help you get started and start saving you money!

Making compost is an easy process that uses “waste” from your lawn and kitchen to replenish nutrients to the soil and the organisms within it. Composting also helps you do your part in reducing the waste that winds up in the local landfill. “‘One-third of the space in landfills is taken up by organic waste from our yards or kitchens.” Land-fills are nearing their capacity for rubbish and new sites are getting increasingly difficult to find.

Liken composting to recycling — instead of cans, glass and newspapers, you are recycling your leaves, grass and food waste, returning them to the earth in a beneficial way.

Categories
Urban Farming

You can earn extra income from urban farming

Most people living in urban areas have to buy their food. Some of them go to restaurants for their meals and others buy the food items and take them to their homes.

For many of those who buy their food from markets, its transportation to their homes often costs money. However, it is possible for people living in towns not only to grow their own food but also to engage in commercial farming.

Just imagine you are a livestock farmer, keeping poultry and two or three Frisian cows on perhaps half or a quarter of an acre where you also had a garden of some vegetables in a densely settled area.

Very likely your neighbours would not want to spend money boarding a boda-boda or driving to the market to purchase vegetables, milk, and eggs.
As a farmer and producer of the items you would most probably charge less for your products than any trader in the market would.

There was an article in the August 3 2020 digital AGRA publication titled: “Urban agriculture thriving in East Africa during Covid-19”authored by Richard Wetaya.
It was written in the article, “Kampala typically depends primarily on agricultural produce grown by farmers in outlying areas of the country. But the lockdown and transport restrictions disrupted the links between rural and urban areas, threatening the city’s food security. In response, urban and peri-urban farmers began catering to the city’s numerous food markets, where they’re doing a roaring trade in leafy vegetables, Irish potatoes, plantain, corn, fruits, and vegetables.”

Backyard farming has since gained greater importance as more people discovered that it was an excellent means of earning additional income to their regular salaries.

When a husband or wife goes to work in an office the spouse can engage in backyard farming at home not only to produce food for the family but also to generate some money. Some farming businesses don’t require a lot of space so long as there is sufficient water.

It is possible, for example, to keep a thousand or more layers and two or three Fresian cows on half an acre or less.

Categories
Urban Farming

What are the Benefits of Growing a Vegetable Garden?


What are the benefits of growing your own vegetables? Vegetables are so easy to grow especially in sunny spots. And you don’t need a large yard to build a vegetable garden. Even the tiniest slice of space can be transformed into a lush, thriving garden.

If you love the idea of growing your own produce then building a vegetable garden will save you hundreds of dollars on grocery. You’ll also have the peace of mind knowing that the vegetables you eat are grown with lots of TLC! Still torn about the idea of building a vegetable patch? In today’s post, we are outlining all the amazing benefits of growing your own vegetables:

Vegetables being planted in the garden

Improve Your Health

Fresh vegetables are a central part of a healthy diet. Vegetables are loaded with essential nutrients that promote better health, including antioxidants and vitamins. Adding fresh vegetables to your daily meals is the best way to boost your health, and your loved ones’ health too.

Children, in particular, will benefit from the health-giving nutrients of fresh vegetables. Studies show that children who are fed with homegrown produce are twice more likely to eat 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetable a day compared to children who rarely or never ate homegrown veggies. Unfortunately, kids are not great fans of greens. Starting them young is a great way to get the kids to appreciate vegetables early on.

Save Money on Food

Stocking up on fresh produce grown from the yard means having more food to enjoy for weeks, even months, without spending a dime on store-bought vegetables. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average household spends about $550 per month on food, spending more on fresh produce compared to eggs, dairy, sugar, and other staples. If you’d like to reduce your grocery expenses, try growing your own crops. You won’t believe how much money you will save from growing your own food!

Most households spend 60% of their food budget on meals and snacks. A small packet of seeds costs about a few cents. Growing vegetables from seeds allow you to plant a huge variety of vegetables, which you can harvest at different seasons. If your pantry is overflowing with vegetables, you can always preserve these so you can enjoy healthy veggies even after the growing season is over!

Newly sprouted plants being held.

It’s Eco-Friendly

Gardening is inherently eco-friendly, more so if you are growing vegetables without using any type of chemical. Growing food organically means sparing the earth of water, soil, and air pollution. Since you are buying less produce from the supermarket, you are not contributing to the use of fossil fuel from transporting fruits and vegetables to your local grocery. If you are growing crops without using pesticides or herbicides, toxic chemicals won’t seep into the soil and waterways. You can enjoy the earth’s bounty without harming the environment.

Effective and Enjoyable Workout

One of the benefits of growing your own vegetables is that it keeps you fit. Most people want to work out but not all of us are comfortable at the idea of lifting weights or enrolling in a fitness class at the local gym. Gardening is a wonderful hobby for anyone who’d like to achieve a trim and healthy physique. All that weeding, planting, watering, and harvesting tone the muscles and build strength. If you don’t like lifting weights, completing all your gardening activities is similar to working out but it’s much more organic and enjoyable because you are doing something that nourishes your soul.
 
If you are always stressed out and you don’t or won’t go to the local spa to de-stress, try gardening. Doing something meaningful or purposeful is a great stress reliever. Going out there and getting some fresh air and sunshine certainly helps soothe frazzled nerves!

A bunch of vegetables being carried

Healthy, Sustainable Food

Dining out or having takeouts is nice every once in a while but restaurant food and fast foods pale in comparison to homemade meals made from fresh, sustainable ingredients. Usually, resto meals and fast foods are high in sodium, sugar, and additives that are bad for the health. Also, there is no way to say if the ingredients are organically grown.

Organically grown vegetables are healthier, more flavorful compared to store-bought meals. Unfortunately, organic produce is more expensive than your average fruits and vegetables. Wouldn’t it be great to have access to organically produced vegetables at home? Growing your own food allows you to enjoy sustainable fruits and vegetables whenever. You can prepare your meals and have total control over the quality of the ingredients while spending less money on food.

Minimize Waste

Did you know that the average American household throws about $600 worth of food every year? Most people are so used to accessing food conveniently, never thinking about the hard work that comes from growing the said food. It’s much harder to waste food when you grew your own food.

When you are growing your own food, you are less likely to take fruits and vegetables for granted. You are also likely to preserve or use up your supply before it spoils. Building a vegetable garden is also a great way to teach your children about the importance of utilizing whatever bounty the earth has provided to its fullest and avoiding waste!

Different kinds of vegetables on the table

To make your vegetable garden even more sustainable, you can build your own compost pile using kitchen scraps and organic garden debris. By building a compost pile, you can turn organic scraps into natural fertilizers for your garden.

Building a vegetable garden takes a lot of hard work and commitment but as long as you are devoted to growing your own food, you will reap the benefits of growing your own vegetables! It’s also easy to turn any available space into a garden patch. Just use small containers if your garden space is limited. Found these gardening tips useful? Tune in for more! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest gardening resources straight to your inbox!