A new green revolution is sweeping urban areas across the country. Some call it urban gardening, others urban homesteading, still others urban agriculture. What is this trend, and how can you and your family benefit?
What Is Urban Gardening?
Urban gardening is just what its name suggests – gardening in the city. It utilizes rooftops, vacant lots, flower beds, and patio containers to grow plants for food and aesthetics. Sometimes urban gardeners even venture into beekeeping, growing edible mushrooms, and indoor hydroponics.
How Can You Benefit From Urban Gardening?
Better health. Spending even a few minutes a day immersed in the beauty of nature has been shown to reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and increase happiness and contentment. Other studies have linked gardening and the moderate exercise it provides to fewer incidences of heart attack and stroke. Fresh air and sunshine have even been recognized by the World Health Organization as being natural disinfectants helpful in relieving some infections.
Not only is your physical health benefited by contact with nature, but your mental and emotional health. The hustle and bustle of city life, complete with traffic jams, road rage, and close proximity to other people, can produce stress, frustration, and increased incidents of depression and mental illness. Studies have shown that viewing videos of nature for just a few minutes can reduce these effects – imagine how much the benefit is increase by actually immersing yourself in nature!
Financial benefits. If you often eat organic, you know that organic produce can be up to three times as expensive as your run-of-the-mill fruits and vegetables. Growing your own organic foods can reduce your family’s grocery bill. Doing so as a community can aid even those with limited means in providing wholesome foods to their families.
Stronger communities. Community gardens allow neighbors a safe and relaxed environment in which to get to know one another better. When neighbors know and look out for one another, good things happen. Discuss the benefits of a community garden at the next meeting of your home owner’s association or community crime watch.
Raising healthy, responsible children. Many courses on early childhood care now include the importance of gardening in the curriculum. “Give a child a seed to plant, and you give him the gift of patience,” says one educator. Gardening also allows for quality time spent between parents and children, opening lines of communication as there is ample time to talk in this relaxed setting. Early instruction on caring for and respecting the natural world will equip our children for the challenges of tomorrow.
Urban gardening can help children grow into healthy and well-adapted adults. Researcher Andrea Taylor, for instance, has reported that children with ADHD who spent time interacting with nature experienced a significant increase to their attention spans. Outdoor activities also combat the current upsurge in childhood obesity.
Where Can You Start Your Own Urban Garden?
The simple answer is, you can participate in urban gardening anywhere that you may live. If you own even a small patch of dirt, you’ve got everything you need. If you rent an apartment, talk to your landlord about utilizing a small area on the grounds. Or, organize a community garden. Even if all you have is a balcony, a patio, or a rooftop, you can successfully grow all sorts of decorative and edible plants in flower pots and containers.
If you’re moving, making a new start, why not factor your urban gardening goals into your real estate plans? In the Denver area, S*Park is a promising urban development featuring affordable, eco-friendly townhouses. With features including roof-side solar panels, a private park, and a community greenhouse, no other community is more prepared to host urban homesteaders and gardeners.
Wherever you choose to put your roots, both literally and figuratively, you will be benefited greatly by urban gardening.