Urban Agriculture Inspirations

A minor diversion from the usual theme of gardening with kids…

School gardens are, of course, only one of many types of urban agriculture.  Walking up and down Jones Avenue on my way to/from Blake school, I’m always amazed by all of the food that people grow in their front yards.  Most of the front yards are pretty tiny, but people fill them up as much as they can, and there are some creative ways of using what little space they do have.  There are lots of greens and onions and herbs, but also quite a lot of peppers, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers…. But the one that really gets me every time is the tiny little garden that is just FULL of corn – and corn that is producing well! Pretty impressive. It’s a neat neighbourhood , because although growing your own food is very trendy right now, I don’t think that most of the folks on Jones are caught up in this trend.   I think that most of them grow their own food either because that’s the only/easiest way for them to get culturally appropriate food, or at least the most cost-effective way.  Either way, it’s pretty inspiring to see how much can be grown in such a tiny space on a very urban street.

Various forms of urban agriculture have been gaining popularity in the last few years, as I’m sure most of you have noticed.  This isn’t a new idea, though it is new for many people who are taking part in it these days.  But during the WWII, growing your own vegetables was strongly encouraged.  (But that’s a whole other story that I won’t get into…  There are tons of other way more authoritative sources on that topic.)  And growing vegetables at home has always been popular among certain cultural groups as well.  Walking around the city, I’m definitely noticing a lot more veggies growing than a few years ago, whether it be that whole gardens have been taken over, a small pot of herbs on the patio, a new community garden, or allotment gardens that I hadn’t noticed before.  While veggie gardening is definitely a growing trend, I also definitely notice it more now that I’ve acquired “food goggles” (to paraphrase Not Far From The Tree‘s idea of “fruit goggles“).  Having become interested in food growing, I notice edible plants everywhere now!

Then there are also examples of urban farms.  Riverdale Farm is a wonderful example in Toronto, that anyone can visit for free, see the farm animals, watch cows being milked, check out their veggie patches, hang out with the goats…  (And sorry to get political on you here, but it’s a place that we Torontonians need to work together to save, and make sure it stays free and accessible to all!)   I also just read about a wonderful new children’s educational farm in Oslo where they not only farm but also have cooking workshops for kids.  I’m hoping I can visit when I’m in Oslo in November (and then tell you more about it)!  (For a brief article about it in English, click here.  If you happen to read Norwegian, check out this link: Geitmyra).  I’m also excited to go watch Urban Roots next week, which is a documentary about urban farming in Detroit, which is being screened at the Planet in Focus film festival next week.

I hope you enjoyed my little (super-brief) intro to urban agriculture.  Please share other examples you’ve seen and heard of!

Happy growing!

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