Urban agriculture is an alternative to change the food and lifestyle of urbanites. Today we will see why and what are the main benefits of urban gardens.
Gray Cities VS Urban Agriculture
Those of us who live in cities eat food that has been able to travel hundreds or even thousands of kilometers, coming from intensive agriculture greenhouses. Fresh” food that looks very good, but in reality hides the carbon footprint and all the chemical process (artificial fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides…) behind it.
Moreover, in cities, unlike in the middle of nature, there are many areas that are gray, cold, “lifeless” spaces…
Most of us are accustomed to this way of living and feeding ourselves, without realizing how necessary green spaces and a more natural, local diet are for our wellbeing.
Even if you don’t usually think about it, surely if you live in a city and you have gone to the countryside, visited a friend’s garden, or gone on a rural weekend after a time away from nature, you will have been able to see that, deep down, your inner self was longing for it.
Getting out of the concrete jungles that many cities around the world have become and getting in touch with nature has a therapeutic effect and improves overall health. In addition, tasting vegetables and greens fresh from the ground (which always taste different, much better…) transforms our diet towards a healthier and more natural diet.
But getting out of the city is not always possible, and the best thing would be to have green areas in the very place where we live: more gardens, parks and avenues with trees, green roofs, and, of course, urban gardens.
More and more people and groups, aware of the benefits of urban gardens, are involved in the dissemination and implementation of projects or initiatives of Urban Agriculture.
Urban gardens are a very useful tool not only in this aspect, hence for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, the support and promotion of Urban Agriculture is one of the main objectives of this century.
The benefits of urban gardens
Under the umbrella of Urban Agriculture, city gardens, urban gardens or leisure gardens, are structures with benefits in many areas:
Environmental benefits of gardens
- In most urban gardens, organic agriculture is practiced. This set of techniques for food production is respectful of the environment, biodiversity and resource conservation.
- Use of rainwater and reuse of urban and industrial waste: recycling is one of the fundamental aspects of organic agriculture. Many organic wastes from homes, park and garden maintenance or the food industry can be used in vegetable gardens, to make compost or to create covers or mulch, thus helping to reduce the consumption of natural resources.
- Green spaces reduce the carbon footprint in cities and the “heat island” effect.
- They improve and enliven the urban landscape, and can even become an important aesthetic tool (if you are interested in this, you may like the article “Decorative gardens, the new trend in stylish gardens”).
- They recover degraded and disused spaces where waste and garbage of all kinds can accumulate. In many cities, neighborhood associations and groups struggle to convert these spaces into more useful ones. And… they often succeed! A few months ago, the Barcelona City Council gave 12 plots of land for management by neighborhood and agro-ecological associations to create community gardens in the city.
- They favor sustainability in cities for many reasons: it favors recycling, reduces the use of packaging and plastic bags, reduces trips to remote green areas that serve as a social attraction, improves air quality, recovers unused or degraded areas…
Benefits of urban gardens in education
Pedagogical resource for environmental and nutritional education and awareness for children and adults. There are already experiences underway that confirm the success of urban gardens in this aspect, such as the Environmental Education Center ‘El Huerto del Retiro’.
School gardens are a useful educational tool for the teaching of science subjects in schools.
It fosters creativity and the ability to face the resolution of practical problems.
They are a space for practical learning of cultivation techniques (which would not be possible in “non-green” urban spaces) and other aspects of nature and agriculture.
It favors intergenerational knowledge sharing.
Social benefits of urban gardens
A community garden is a very useful meeting and coexistence place for the socialization of urbanites, which encourages associative work, communication and collaboration between people.
They are a relaxing leisure alternative to combat stress and the hectic pace of life in cities.
Improved health and quality of life: they promote healthy lifestyle habits, such as the consumption of organic food (a factor to be taken into account for disease prevention) and physical activity in the garden.
Therapeutic and social integration benefits: it is very useful for the physical and mental wellbeing of vulnerable groups such as the elderly or those at risk of social exclusion. In addition, the practice of participatory and outdoor activities such as this one, allows people with intellectual disabilities to overcome many of their complexes and helps them in their integration (You can read more about this in the article “La Huerta de Montecarmelo”).
The harvest of the urban garden or the food acquired in the periurban organic gardens is a support for families who want organic food but cannot afford it because the organic food sold in supermarkets is too expensive.
It can become a means of subsistence for some groups: urban agriculture is an important support to the family economy in many developing countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Nepal or Vietnam.
I hope you liked this article about the benefits of urban gardens, and that little by little people living in big cities are encouraged to cultivate! If you know or can think of other benefits or advantages of urban gardens, do not hesitate to make new contributions in the comment thread below.
I have 30 years of experience and i started this website to see if i could try and share my knowledge to help you.
With a degree a Horticulture BSc (Hons)
I have worked as a horticulture specialist lead gardener, garden landscaper, and of course i am a hobby gardener at home in my own garden.
Please if you have any questions leave them on the article and i will get back to you personally.