Urban Gardening & Window Farming
You cannot beat growing your own vegetables and it is easy, cheap and fun. For the second season in my life I am having a go at growing my own in my flat. As I was a student I just had a few meagre feet and successfully grew peppers, the best that I had ever tasted. Now a horribly long period later I am giving it another go. Locally grown food is better for the environment generally as it requires less transportation, which makes up a huge portion of the carbon released through growing are food. Apart from meat production that is in another league altogether.
Urban gardening or windowsill culture is not going to save the world: insulating our houses, buying less and cutting back on flying is a more important personal contribution to fighting climate change. However this is fun and it also gives us an idea of the effort and therefore the energy that goes into producing our food and maybe why it is not such a great idea to waste it.
Window Farming made easy
First of all you need to get some soil, seeds and some containers to grow your food in and find a sunny windowsill to start your mini farm.
An important element to consider when buying your soil is where it comes from. Most compost is based on peat, which is a rich carbon store that has taken centuries to form as only 1mm is added to peat bogs per year, therefore do not use composts based on peat. If the origin is not stated, or there is a total lack of information it is most likely going to be bad for the environment. If your local council recycles organic waste they are probably also selling the compost that comes out at the other end. This is a great green option as you are closing the waste cycle and it is a local product.
For the containers you do not need to spend a lot buying pots. Most food containers can be adapted. For example two milk cartons can be cut into two and taped together to make a great eco-friendly pot for a pepper plant or maybe a coriander bush. You can also decorate them with clippings from an old magazine.
The eccentrics among you may also consider buying some worms. This way you can make your own compost. I have been doing this for about two months now and it still does not smell and the worms are thriving (I think). The soil that you get out from the other end is great compost. If you want to start your own worm farm here is a guide.
Why is Urban Farming so important?
If you start growing your own you realise, that it is not really that much work. Ok I am now only in April and the real work starts in summer when the plants go crazy, but we need to bring farming into our cities. Turning our roves and common land into mini farm factories reduces our impact on the surrounding countryside and it localises food production. Localising food production is crucial because it reduces the need for transportation. Our mass produced food is too heavily carbonized and that is with climate change and peak oil not sustainable. An example of this craziness is that olive oil is transported from Spain to Italy before being transported further on to Germany. What is the reason for the stop off in Italy: pretty simple and stupid: olive oil from “Italy” gets a higher price in Germany than oil from Spain. So the Spanish oil is transported to Italy first to get the Italian stamp.
Such craziness can be stopped if we take control of our own food production. Ok you will not be able to produce everything you need on your windowsill, but you will get a new appreciation of the value of food and a small act can start to change the world.
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