There’s an enormous swell in the number of people learning to garden and grow their own food. Yet, many lack the space for a garden – or so it might seem. This is where unique urban gardens and community gardens can play a big role.
In this episode, we revisit some of the great urban and community gardening heroes that we’ve met in past seasons. These are people who are making gardening more accessible to all – no matter the boundaries or limitations.
We also look at how some urban gardeners have found creative ways to grow fresh food for themselves and others without a garden or soil.
The Greening of Detroit
Detroit was once one of America’s most productive cities and home to a thriving automotive and music industry. At one time, the city boasted almost 2 million residents and a robust economy.
Factories began closing their doors in the 1960s to take advantage of overseas opportunities. Detroit eventually suffered near-collapse, and residents and businesses left in droves to find work elsewhere.
Many of Detroit’s green-minded citizens began to reclaim the city’s vacant lots, clearing out the debris and creating gardens to provide both food and beauty to the city’s abandoned neighborhoods.
Their work led to a growing community of urban gardens and food activists who provide fresh food where there is none, and productive green space where once there were only empty lots.
Today, over 1,300 community gardens have sprouted up throughout Detroit, and with the support of non-profits like The Greening of Detroit, there is a growing network for urban farming.
Urban Gardens Made Possible by Yardsharing
One of the most important trends of food and environmental security in recent years is eating locally, seasonally, and growing your own food in an earth-friendly way.
And while some people want to grow their own food on the land they have, they don’t always know how. Others know how, but don’t have the land to do it.
There are organizations that are helping connect people all over the country, creating win-win partnerships that reach far beyond the plots where seasonal, organic gardens grow.
Stacey Murphy is the founder of bk farmyards in Brooklyn, NY. In tiny backyards scattered across Brooklyn, Stacey and her team make the most of every square inch, turning overgrown, weed-infested spaces into thriving urban gardens.
New Ways to Grow Old Favorites in Urban Gardens
With more people living in urban settings than ever before, it can be difficult for them to find locally sourced food within their neighborhoods or even to find a plot of dirt in which to grow their own food.
Fortunately, there are some alternative food growing options for urban gardens that don’t require a garden or even soil.
Aquaponics is an example of a soil-less and water-conserving form of agriculture where vegetables and fish are raised together.
Emmanuel Pratt, is the co-founder of Sweet Water Foundation. As an urban farmer and educator, he took the idea of Aquaponics to a whole new level.
Emmanuel and his team built a farm inside a vacant shoe factory to not only provide fresh fish and veggies to Chicago’s south side but to also serve as an educational center – teaching current and future generations about healthy food.
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in nutrient-rich water without the use of soil. In this episode, we see that hydroponics is no longer an idea only for space-age gardening and farming.
Britta Riley is a woman in Brooklyn who grows her own fresh herbs and vegetables in her Windowfarm™, a vertical, hydroponic garden. She constructed her system using recycled materials and inexpensive supplies from the hardware store.
Her design began with one person, but the concept is now shared with an entire online community, of “Windowfarmers” across the world sharing ideas for ongoing improvements in a continuous cycle.
Matt Liotta is a former software developer turned urban farmer who came up with the idea for PodPonics. This unconventional organic farm is completely invisible to the passing traffic – hidden inside used shipping containers!
Inside each Grow Pod is the perfect environment for growing delicate lettuces and other greens. These are highly sought-after by local restaurants to feature local and organic greens in specialty dishes and salads, even in the dead of winter.
We hope you have enjoyed meeting these gardeners and seeing how they’ve helped people in their community overcome barriers to fresh food. Thank you for watching.
Links & Resources
*Disclosure: Some product links in this guide are affiliate links, which means we would get a commission if you purchase. However, none of the prices of these resources have been increased to compensate us. None of the items included in this list have any bearing on any compensation being an influencing factor on their inclusion here. The selection of all items featured in this post and podcast were based solely on merit and in no way influenced by any affiliate or financial incentive, or contractual relationship. At the time of this writing, Joe Lamp’l has professional relationships with the following companies who may have products included in this post and podcast: Rain Bird, Corona Tools, Milorganite, Soil3, Exmark, and Park Seed. These companies are either Brand Partners of joegardener.com and/or advertise on our website. However, we receive no additional compensation from the sales or promotion of their product through this guide. The inclusion of any products mentioned within this post is entirely independent and exclusive of any relationship.