More Than Growing Food
“I now understand why urban gardening is so popular in New Zealand,” says Floris after visiting community gardens all over the country. “I expected city dwellers to embrace them. Who doesn’t love to eat fresh, healthy, local, poison-free food, after all? But it was a surprise that so many other aspects are involved” he admits. Everyone with a garden of their own can often grow a portion of their own food quite easily. For others, community gardens offer a solution. Not only can they put their green fingers to good use, but they can also get in contact with their neighbours. Finally, there are the larger gardens that are maintained almost professionally and often have a social function, as we saw in Christchurch and Auckland. Gardening is used there to develop young people or to help underprivileged people eat healthier and cheaper.
All these types of urban gardens clearly have sustainability benefits. Each apple you pick from your own garden saves transport and energy. Every patch of grass that is replaced by a tree, plant, vegetable, or flower enriches biodiversity and stores more carbon. Through composting the nutrient cycle can be closed and soil health is improved. Food waste is reduced, as those who put in the effort of growing food themselves will not want it to go waste. And finally, it’s not a stretch to believe that those who learn about natural processes and growing methods also buy more sustainably grown food. For all these reasons, we have become fans of urban gardening. Now it’s up to us to expand our very modest boat garden (currently consisting of a basil plant). What will you do?