SUSTAINABLE URBAN GARDENS
Akila Wijerathna notes the importance of urban agriculture in food security
Urban agriculture – the cultivation, processing and distribution of food in or near metropolitan areas – has the potential to improve global food security, environmental sustainability, economic growth and community wellbeing.
The growth of plants in urban environments is governed by many factors including land area or the availability of space, capital requirements and so on. Urban gardening can be practised in a variety of ways such as community gardens, urban farms and aquaponics or hydroponics programmes. In addition to animal husbandry, aquaculture, agroforestry and horticulture, it can also include apiculture.
Urban gardening is a widespread practice today and corresponding food production is currently undergoing a renaissance.
In the Global South, the practice provides food for poorer people in particular who work to ensure their own food security. The reasons for urban gardening in the Global North are very different because it’s a trend and the gardens are hubs to which many interest groups gravitate.
It creates new models of public-private collaboration for the use, planning and funding of specific (public and private) locations. In Germany for instance, it is mainly motivated by socio-ecological values that emphasise sustainability and healthy nutrition.
As a result of participating in urban gardening projects, people tend to purchase more seasonally, regionally and organically produced food. The projects also help build social communities that encourage mutual learning, and connect individuals from diverse backgrounds, lifestyles and perspectives.
These spaces have the potential to transform the public discourse on sustainability, as well as the future of agriculture, food value chains and consumer behaviour, and their impact on biodiversity, ecosystems and climate.
Additionally, urban gardening can lead to societal change and promote a knowledge-based bioeconomy that goes beyond sustainable biomass production – especially food.
Therefore, its related activities are valuable for promoting bottom-up transition to a bioeconomy, and also serve as a social counterpart to the top-down ‘techno economic’ bioeconomic policies that are advocated by political and scientific institutions.
Urban farming is becoming increasingly important for sustainable urban development and offers a range of functions beyond food production. It engages residents in healthy communities, improves individual and public wellbeing, and helps mitigate climate change.
As urbanisation continues to grow, urban agriculture is the key to increasing global food sustainability, as well as enhancing environmental responsibility, economic growth and community revitalisation. It also improves individual and public wellbeing by providing access to and greater control of the food system, and improving individual health and a sense of empowerment.
Urban farming helps meet the increasing demand for food in densely populated areas, and promotes a more sustainable and resilient food system.
Sustainable urban gardens will conserve water, improve soil quality through organic matter and soil amendments, recycle green waste into compost, avoid the use of chemical fertiliser and minimalise the use of chemicals. Being an environmentally responsible organic urban gardener requires balancing ecology to reduce pests, and promoting pollination and decreasing weeds through mulching and targeted watering. Sustainability in gardening aims to reduce any environmental impact, which can be achieved in various ways depending on the garden.
Everyone can make a difference and sustainable urban garden solutions will help individuals make more sustainability oriented lifestyle choices.
Urban agribusinesses prioritise community building, environmental sustainability and food sovereignty. They participate in formal governance systems, and shaping policies and regulations for sustainable urban agriculture.
These community gardens provide easy access to food and bring people closer to agriculture through modern urban farming methods, which use temporary structures and innovative technologies such as fully enclosed hydroponic systems with artificial lighting, moisture and heating systems.
Since urban farming is becoming an appealing source of food for people, it’s important to identify sustainable urban agricultural principles that can assist policy makers in designing flexible cities.
By adopting flood prone areas, experimenting with sustainable urban agriculture and paying for environmental services, which include land taxes to promote carbon sequestration, it’s also a viable solution to mitigate climate change.
Sustainable urban crop production and the enhancement of food sustainability in urban settings are critical.
The concept of urban agriculture is considered a movement that promotes environmentally sustainable agriculture and promotes a change from the traditional large-scale industrial model.