Gardening in the City

by Scott Smith

I’ve been thinking about something Celeste said about how most people live in the city and don’t have access to a space in which to garden and provide some of their own food which made me think of Lacy and her guerrilla gardening. She and her neighbor took over a 12 X 12 spot in a HUGE median strip where they grew lettuces and broccoli amongst the perennials and annuals that helped to satisfy local code. Now, imagine if they had filled that entire median with greens. It might be enough for the neighborhood. The neighborhood would be eating fresher (therefore more nutritious) food and a lot of natural resources would be saved by avoiding centralized planting and transporting of the food. If all the medians in that particular town were used for food production who knows how many people could be fed or how many natural resources could be saved?

Lacy's Guerilla Garden

Now, I know, that area actually looks fairly suburban and suburbanites tend to at least have backyards, so how about a truly downtown-big-city example? How about Hong Kong?

Organic garden in Hong Kong

Currently in Hong Kong there are many promoters of “urban gardening.” Arthur van Langenberg (pictured above) wrote a book called Urban Gardening ([possibly] where the term was coined). Everything you see in that picture has been grown on top of a concrete slab that has been filled in with soil. van Langenberg is even able to grow his own fruit trees in large troughs. The idea of urban gardening has caught on so well in a city filled with people who remember what it was like to have a backyard that architects are starting to incorporate places for plants into their blueprints. They are finding that when people plant their balconies chock full it is actually cooling the inside of their homes which means fewer resources used to keep their homes cool in Hong Kong’s tropical climate which equals an economic savings on top of the lower impact on the environment.

So, I really do think that if enough people started growing their own food, even in the city, trading surplus with neighbors and visiting farmers markets it could be a huge step to decentralizing our food system. And hey, if you need patriotism as an excuse, think how much harder it would be for the terrorists to contaminate our entire food system if it’s not all in one place.


A few examples of big city farmers markets:
Metro New York.
Los Angeles