Greener cities with urban vegetable gardens
Do you know what urban vegetable gardens are? Well try to explain it.
Think about a city whose green part has been overwhelmed by cement, a family that can't make ends meet and a supermarket salad, which remotely remind of soil taste. Now, mix all those ingredients together and here's a bright idea: urban vegetable gardens, to recover communion with nature, to demonstrate children that fruits and vegetables are gifts from the soil (not from a fridge) and to offer new job opportunities.
New York City is not necessarily a place you would expect urban agriculture to thrive, being one of the most densely populated cities in the world, with some of the highest real estate market values. And yet, New York is a leader in the practice of urban agriculture.
4 Types of Urban Agriculture
Each urban agriculture project arises in response to the particular needs and opportunities of a given community, organization or site, since no two growing spaces are perfectly alike.
Urban vegetable gardens in New York, and also in many other cities around the world, be maintained by volunteers or paid staff, have a budget of a couple hundred or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and be affiliated with one of the different entities that control the land.
Four types of urban agriculture were identified:
- Institutional farms: affiliated with an institution (such as hospitals, churches, prisons, schools, public housing), whose primary mission is not food production but having social goals
- Commercial urban farms: due to their commercial aim, they try to maximize crop performance in order to achieve profitability, without paying less attention to community and earth's health
- Community gardens: they are 490 in New York, located on publicly-owned land; typically managed by local resident volunteers, roughly 80% of these gardens grow self-consumption food products
- Community farms: tend to be numerous and operated by nonprofit organizations that engages the surrounding community in food production but also social and educational programming.
Although each typology presents its own specific characteristics, urban vegetable gardens have some common aims and similar practices among them.
While New York has some 700 urban farms and gardens spread throughout its five boroughs, urban farming still meets with difficulties. The gains aren't guaranteed and future progress have been slow.
To boost the long-term prospects of urban farming in NY, the Design Trust for Public Space and its nonprofit association Added Value just launched a new report some three-years in the making called “Five Borough Farm: Seeding the Future of Urban Agriculture”. The project seeks to create a global “roadmap” with the goal of helping stakeholders – policy makers, community groups, farmers, and designers – understand and evaluate the benefits of urban agriculture, while persuading local government to support this growing field.