The Fine Art of Vegetable Gardening in small spaces
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Urban farming is a groundswell movement of
growing food in cities and towns; in fact, anywhere other than a countryside
farming is gaining in importance as the price of fuel rockets into
the stratosphere, making it uncertain in the future if we’ll be able to even
buy out of season produce from Chile, or New Zealand in the winter.
It’s up to us, the common people, to make
the effort to provide for our own needs, and those of our neighbors.
Most governments don’t realize how
important it is in times like these, of climate change, economic uncertainty
and worry, for citizens of their country to feel as though they have some
farming is a way we can indeed have control.
Using organic farming and gardening
techniques refined over years of experimentation in rural settings can provide
huge amounts of fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits in small pockets of land,
vacant lots, roof-tops – anywhere that has any amount of sunshine everyday, and
a water source nearby.
Local farmers markets are gaining in
popularity too, giving urban farmers a place to get their produce to a
I see a movement towards neighborhood
solidarity, where people live, work, grow food to trade or sell, all in a few
As an added bonus, our children actually see and
recognize where food comes from, other than the supermarket.
budding gardeners off right; get gardening as soon as possible while
they're receptive to learning about it. Kids love to garden, especially
finding out about bugs, playing in the 'dirt' and eating real
vegetables that they have produced themselves.
The pride and self
esteem boost is amazing.
If we can all follow the 100 Mile Diet,
where most if not all of our food is produced locally, it reduces our
carbon footprint, and helps save the planet, all while giving us
In Canada, we might have to build
greenhouses to grow winter food supplies, but why not use a heat exchanging
technology to provide heat to it? In Whitehorse and many other
very cold areas, this is exactly what’s happening.
In Nelson, British Columbia sustainability
in the form of geothermal heat exchange technology will be used in a municipal
setting, where the city hall and other community buildings will be heated using
the ambient warmth of lake water and the earth.
Why not add a community greenhouse to this?
Here are a few tips to get your Urban Farming off to a good start:
- Try and get permission to start
your urban farm, using a vacant lot, roof top or even a parking lot such as the
one donated by a hotel on Davie Street in Vancouver, British Columbia in the
nations grittiest downtown east side. It doesn't have to be a huge space; even small areas can be intensively gardened, with vertical structures to plant into.
- Get free stuff to build raised
beds, salvage lumber, recycle pots, rain barrels, tools, compost bins. Ask for donations, have a garage sale, put up
notices, start a buzz.
- Find a source of horse manure –
try police or riding stables, local petting zoo, or ask at your SPCA,
veterinarians or animal shelter if they know of a source.
- Get a source of free composting
material – good sources to try are restaurants, grocery stores. They'll be happy to have you pick up their
waste on a regular basis, especially if you supply them with tubs that can be
easily cleaned - and not too heavy when full.
safety when saving water - don't allow creatures to have access to it and
drown, keep a cover such as a screen on your cistern to prevent mosquitoes
carrying the West Nile Virus or heartworm to have access to lay their
- Water can be captured
from downspouts, make sure you have a clean container, cistern or the like to
save it in for use on the garden.
- Decide what to grow – are you
going to try and grow a wide selection of produce, or limit it to certain high
- Marketing – is this going to be a
co-op with paying members, or selling to the public via farmers market, or farm
- Restaurants will be happy to take
your fresh, organic produce off your hands, especially those that focus on the
100 Mile Diet idea.
- Soup kitchens and food banks
welcome the addition of fresh produce - find out if there are any rules that
you have to follow to be able to contribute your organic produce. Some require that the vegetables be packaged
in a certain sized box, or be washed before dropping them off.
- Elders in your community will be
thrilled to give you advice, tell stories of their own gardening experiences,
and gratefully receive care packages of produce.
- Find a master gardener or
horticulturist to help with planning and help to focus your group in the right
Above all, have fun, and make it a point to
get as many people as possible involved.
To find out more about my secret method of
insulated worm farming, sign up for the Composting E-Course (your free
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Organic Farming Methods