Urban farming is a time honored method for growing food the world over. From ancient Egypt to Machu Picchu, Peru, to Detroit, Michigan in 1893, people were conserving water and growing vegetables in small urban plots. In the United States, during both World Wars urban gardens were planted and during World War II, over 40 percent of the nation’s produce came from the small gardens of 20 million Americans.
Today, with modern technologies, urban farming is more successful than ever for both developing and developed nations. It fulfills the need for healthy, affordable vegetables and fruits at a local level. Many people join in this endeavor including volunteer groups, families, businesses and neighborhood associations working together. Locally grown food is the most sustainable and environmentally friendly food. It creates almost no carbon footprint.
Urban gardens can be started in vacant lots, front and back yards, on rooftops, balconies and terraces. The locally grown food can be sold locally or taken to a farmer’s market and sold for cash. It allows people to have a choice other than genetically altered food or produce covered in pesticides and herbicides.
Many communities get a lot more than food from their urban farm. Working with others growing food teaches biology, nutrition, the effect of seasonal changes on our food as well as communal harmony, conflict resolution and a lot of fun. The Southeastern Horticultural Society creates sustainable communities by caring for the natural environment. They offer educational activities to local communities and teach conservation and the important role of plants in life through the four urban gardens they have created around Atlanta.
The Good Samaritan Health Center (GSHC) in Atlanta and the Friends of English Avenue are working to improve the lives of the people in their areas. The GSHC has a large urban farm and offers classes in nutrition to its patients. The FOEA has a smaller urban farm and works to provide resources and hope to the local community that is suffering depressed social and economic conditions.
Urban gardening unites people in all walks of life towards a single goal. Everyone needs fresh, healthy food and buying locally improves everyone’s life. Alyson Laura, who is an employee of SIG, worked for one year on three different organic farms in South Florida. She was able to do this through opportunities she found through wwoof. Sometimes it takes volunteers to begin the effort, and when the local people see the benefit, they are more than happy to join.