Happy New Year!!
2012 was a great year for good food and the best year yet for the non-GMO movement. As we continue to fight for transparency in our food system one thing remains clear. The only way to truly know what’s in your food is to grow it yourself.
For those of us living in Los Angeles and other urban areas, growing food to feed ourselves and our families is daunting. The notion of being self-sufficient on a fraction of an acre seems impossible. And while it’s not impossible (The Urban Homestead® in Pasadena does it on 1/10 of an acre), it’s not feasible for everyone.
What if you aren’t ready, willing, or able to transform your city lot into a solar powered farm and fuel your car with home-brewed bio-diesel? What if your lot is really tiny? What if you rent? What if you live in a condo?
You can still grow your own food! Maybe it won’t be 95% of what you eat or even 25% of what you eat but every little bit counts. And you don’t have to turn every inch of your yard into farm land to enjoy a bountiful harvest.
Backyard Urban Farming Benefits
Why should you grow your own food when there are markets on every corner and farmers markets in every neighborhood on any given day of the week?
Cost Savings – The more you grow, the less you spend at the market. With seed starter packs that cost 99 cents and planting mix for a few bucks a square yard, it’s not long before you break even and save money growing your own food. As of this writing, the average cost of tomatoes in Los Angeles is $3.81/kg. That’s $1.73/lb. Assuming you get a couple pounds of tomatoes from your tomato plant each harvest (averages are usually higher than that) you’ll break even the first time you pick ripe tomatoes even if you only have one plant.
Better Quality and Taste – Bite into a tomato from your first harvest and you’ll be amazed. I thought I didn’t like tomatoes until we grew our own. Growing your own food affords the freshest produce money can buy.
Good for the Environment – Growing your own food saves in transportation costs. You’ll drive to the market less AND save energy consumed in transporting food from rural to urban areas. Urban farming also adds much needed greenery to our neighborhoods.
Good for the Soul – Working in the soil, growing plants, and enjoying the fruits of your labor is great exercise for the mind and the body.
Great for Kids – Get everyone in your family involved in growing food. They will learn to appreciate where their food comes from and be more inclined to try a variety of fresh produce when it is something they’ve helped to grow. Growing a tomato from seed is also a great science lesson.
Whether you have a window sill herb pot, a balcony container garden, a single raised bed, or an entire micro-farm that encompasses all of your yard, urban farming on any scale is incredibly rewarding.
EcoBuzz Urban Farm Project
Throughout the year we’ll cover many urban farming topics here at EcoBuzz – composting, worm bins, seed starting, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, raised beds, container gardening, community gardens, community food exchange, urban livestock, and more. Be sure to follow along on Facebook, Twitter, or via email updates as I try to grow as many edibles as I can squeeze into a .15 acre lot (living space included!). We’ve started our worm bin, ordered the seeds, and made seed starting cups out of eggshells. Next up: planting the seeds, building raised beds, and finding other suitable planting spots in our very tiny yard.
Week 2: Coming soon…
Join us. Grow something to eat in 2013.
Follow EcoBuzz’s urban farming journey: