What is Urban Gardening?

fall shrubsWhen most people think of gardening and food production, they think of large farms with wide open fields.  However, a lot more food and greenery is now being grown in urban centres. And as more people move into cities, this practice is likely to increase.  So what is urban gardening? In this article we go over the definition of urban gardening, its history and the benefits that it creates.


What Is Urban Gardening?


Urban gardening is basically any type of tended plant growth that takes place in a city environment.  There’s no single approach that defines urban gardening, but rather there are a seemingly endless array of techniques that encourage the growth of plants, foliage and food in urban centres.  Urban gardening can be undertaken by individuals, communities, businesses or governments. It can take the form of backyard vegetable patches, rentable gardening allotments, planting on vacant land and roofs or community, business or government directed cultivation projects.  The common factor is that these activities take place within the urban environment.


Urban Gardening History


Urban gardening is, by no means, a modern phenomenon.  It was thought to be first practiced in Mesopotamia over 5000 years ago where small garden plots were kept inside the walls of the city.  The ancient Egyptians grew fruit and nut trees in urban environments for shade and the food they produced. The Aztecs were also known to create garden beds with irrigation systems within the urban environment.  Allotments, or community gardens became popular in late 19th century Germany as a place to introduce greenery into the city and benefit from the food that was grown. Similar types of rentable garden patches were introduced as an antidote to oppressive urban environments during the Industrial Revolution in England.  During the two world wars, many countries developed “war” or “Victory” gardens where citizens were encouraged to grow food to supplement the war effort.


Benefits Of Urban Gardening


One of the main benefits of urban gardening is the greening of the city and creating larger recreational areas.  Not only does the greenery create a more pleasing environment, it helps boost its quality by reducing water runoff, soil erosion and carbon dioxide levels while increasing oxygen production, cooling the air and filtering rainwater.  Urban gardening can provide easier access to quality produce for city dwellers while reducing the environmental costs of transporting food from farther away.