Over the past several years, there have several trends taking over the culinary world: eating “nose to tail,” so no part of the animal is wasted, “farm-to-table” eating, which promotes consuming local produce and meat, along with some companies that are striving to make crickets the sustainable protein of the future, by putting them into energy bars, chips, and powder.
But what about urban farming? This is one of the newest and most exciting ways that you can literally harvest your own crop regardless of where you live or how limited your space may be. It’s not only environmentally responsible, but more delicious, too.
What is Urban Farming?
Urban farming has been around since great great-grandma grew a little basil plant on her window sill. As long as there have been cities, there have been people who have wanted to create their own little urban farm oasis amidst the crowds.
However, with limited space, sunlight, or maybe even lack of a green thumb, the urban farming process has been extremely difficult with various challenges. From building rooftops and city legislative codes, to abandoned lots and miniscule balconies, city dwellers have tried as best they could to grow their own fresh herbs, veggies and flowers to bring life and beauty to their small part of the world.
Urban Farming Benefits
Clearly we are not the agricultural society that we once were 150 years ago. Since it’s so easy to visit a grocery store to buy produce, why would you want to grow your own produce?
Here are some benefits of urban farming that are changing the minds of millennials and urban dwellers all over the world:
Minimal waste – According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we throw away between 30-40% of our nation’s food supply, which is about 133 billion pounds of food and is worth an estimated $161 billion … yes, that’s billion with a “B”! When we grow our own food, it not only stays fresher longer, but we are more likely to use the harvest since we put the effort into growing our own food.
Cost-Effectiveness – The average American family of four spends between $632 to $1,252 per month on grocery bills. Now just think about the last time you cleaned out your refrigerator; how much food did you throw out? Many people over buy because they forgot what they initially bought or didn’t plan their menus ahead. With your own urban garden, you are not only saving money by using what you grow, but you are less likely to overbuy and throw money away.
Organic – Buying organic is expensive. Not buying organic means that you are putting dangerous chemicals in your body and your family’s bodies. You control what plant food and pesticides go on and into your food. With your own little urban farm, you can grow a variety of fresh organic herbs, vegetables, and medicinal plants all year-long. It’s better and safer, and your health will thank you.
Sustainable – Not only do many traditional farms use damaging chemicals to grow fruits and vegetables, but traveling from across the nation or globe creates harmful emissions and requires immense amounts of fossil fuels. In fact, one study found that the average distance from farm to consumer takes approximately 1,500 miles. Urban farming is more sustainable and offsets our carbon footprints.
Richer Food – Since food has to travel so far, many times it’s picked before it’s ripe so it will be ready to put on the grocery store shelves upon arrival. Majority of the time, the herbs and veggies you buy at a grocery store have been frozen and are dying by the time their stocked on the shelves. The flavor isn’t developed or depleted, and the taste is mediocre at best when compared to produce plucked fresh from the vine, whether that’s from your kitchen countertop, balcony, or a table inside your abode.
The Problems With Traditional Urban Farming
While there are many benefits to urban farming, there are some valid reasons why it hasn’t gained the popularity you would expect.
First of all, traditional urban farming requires a lot of space. If you live in a city apartment, you know that is one luxury that costs a small fortune. Secondly, if you live in the city, you’re probably working a lot to pay for that mortgage or rent… who has time to garden?
Next, if you do have the space, it can be really expensive to build small plant beds, install an irrigation system and hope and pray that all this time and money means that your crop won’t die due to weather conditions, hungry pests, or your neighbor’s cat thinking it’s a litter box. And then there are cities like Detroit and Sacramento have empty lots that are becoming community urban gardens with plots that neighbors can rent. Yet, the costs continue to add up just to “urban farm” in these cities. When you factor the amount of time, money, and effort involved with traditional urban farming, it adds up to be a lot.
However, in big cities like New York and San Francisco with rents that seem to be ever-increasing and where housing is scarce, the chance for using an empty lot for a community garden is simply not cost-effective. It has even been noted to that urban farming has contributed to making the housing shortage even worse in San Francisco, the 2nd most densely populated city in America, next to New York in an article in The Atlantic.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re all about urban farming, but there’s a much better way.
Modern Methods of Urban Farming
Yes, there are countless benefits to gardening with seemingly equal amounts of reasons why it just isn’t feasible… until now. ROOT has removed the obstacles that plagued traditional urban farmers.
No Space? No Problem! – In just one square foot of space, you can set up your ROOT hydroponic system indoors, and grow up to 12 plants. Whether you want fresh basil, oregano, cilantro, thyme, and sage on demand for added ingredients or cocktail garnishes, to having lavender, chamomile, or even fresh kale, romaine lettuce, or spinach. It’s up to you.
I Don’t Have a Green Thumb – With ROOT, you don’t need a degree in agriculture to grow your own garden. Simply plug in your system, add water & nutrients, then download & sync the ROOT app (iphone or android) and you’re all set. You’ll get alerts on when you’ll to water or feed your plants. That’s it. All the fresh smells, herbs, veggies, and flowers of your choice. In your home, office, bar and/or restaurant – all year-long.
My Apartment is as Bright as a Cave – ROOT has premium full-spectrum LED grow lights that mimic natural sunlight. Heck, your mood might even improve with a brighter apartment. Nothing wrong with a little bit of additional light therapy.
Environmentally Responsible – ROOT has energy efficient LED grow lights, urban farm-to-table is now just feet away, you’ll raise and eat your own food, decreasing your food & travel costs, and no pesticides or harmful chemicals are needed. The Earth will thank you later with good karma. Your body will thank you immediately with good health.
Foolproof Farming – And speaking of eliminating pesticides and chemicals, there is also no risk of inclement weather, over or under watering your plants, finding permits to create an urban garden space or wasting a lot of your time and and hard earned money on a failed harvest.
Urban farming is more than just a culinary trend, it is the way of the future. Caleb Harper explains in National Geographic that, “In the U.S. alone, only 2 percent of the population is involved in farming, with 60 percent of our farmers above the age of 58. We’re also experiencing a dramatic move away from rural areas, our traditional growing centers. The UN estimates that by 2050, 6.5 billion people will be living in cities, nearly double what it is today.”
It only makes sense that urban farming is going to continue to grow in popularity and practicality. The only regret will be that you didn’t try it sooner. However, all of that can change today (or tomorrow) just by having your own ROOT hydroponic garden system.