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Best Way to Start Urban Farming: Essential 6-Step Guide

Updated: July 8, 2022
rooftop urban garden

Anyone can farm, regardless of their location. Whether you live in the heart of a city, in the suburbs, or on a massive ranch, there are ways to grow your own food. In this blog post, we will give you essential tips for urban farming, so that you can get started right away!

Maintain a rooftop urban farm for access to fresh local food.

What is Urban Farming?

While traditional farming methods may require a lot of open space for growing rows of crops, urban farming is the practice of growing food in urban areas. This can be done in many different ways, such as:

  • Community Gardening: These are usually shared gardens that are open to the public. They are a great way to meet other urban farmers and learn about different techniques.
  • Indoor Gardening: If you live in an apartment or condo, you can still grow your own food! There are many ways to do this, such as using hydroponics, aeroponics, or soil-based methods.
An indoor garden lining a window can provide access to fresh local food for your family.
  • Rooftop Gardening: This is a great way to make use of unused space. You can grow a variety of crops on your rooftop, as long as you have enough sunlight and water.

Benefits of Urban Farming

There are many benefits to urban farming such as:

  • Lowers your Carbon Footprint: Every piece of food you eat that isn’t sourced from a factory farm lowers your carbon footprint and mitigates the effects of climate change. Urban farming is one of the most sustainable options for sourcing your produce if you live in a city.
  • Increases Access to Fresh Food: When you grow your own food, you have access to fresh fruits and vegetables year-round. You also know exactly where your food comes from and how it was grown.
  • Saves Money: One of the best parts about maintaining your own garden is the food is free! In the long run, the average garden can save you $530 in yearly produce costs.
  • Improves Mental Health: Gardening has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels. It can also improve cognitive function and increase feelings of well-being.
  • Creates Stronger Community Ties: Urban farming can help build a sense of community. When people come together to grow food, they form bonds that can last a lifetime.
  • Improves Rooftop Cooling from Rooftop Farms: Having a layer of greenery on a roof absorbs the sun’s harshest effects by diluting its heat before it can be absorbed by your roof. This way, your house can stay cool while you grow crops.
  • Creates a Source of Nutrition for Communities: For those that live in food deserts, (neighborhoods in which there doesn’t exist a grocery store with affordable produce), a big community garden can be one of the only sources of nutritious produce.

Step-by-Step Tips for Successful Urban Farming

1) Plan your Garden

For community gardens, this step may already be done for you. Check with the agency that runs your community garden, whether it be your neighborhood, your municipality, or a company. Make sure you have a space within the garden and you are a member before you start planting crops.

If you’re looking to start a community garden, be sure to check up with your local municipality so you can make sure to fulfill any and all requirements before you start planting.

For indoor gardens, find a dedicated space for pots, buckets, or tubs of crops to reside in. If you can’t find a dedicated space, spread your plants throughout your home. This will provide nice decor for your home while also growing produce.

For rooftop gardens, make sure that your building can support the weight of a garden. Be sure to get a rooftop inspection from your city or local municipality before installing any garden as some cities may have requirements that need to be fulfilled before you can build a garden.

Green rooftop gardens can provide an environmental benefit for your city.

2) Research Crops Suitable for your Local Environment

If you’re planning on planting crops in an outdoor garden, (whether it be on a community plot of land or on a rooftop), be sure to research what to plant in order to make sure your garden is suitable for your local climate.

Be sure to research drought-tolerant crops if you live in an area prone to drought, aridification, or frequent heat waves. Look for crops suitable for dry-farming that can grow and create fruits or vegetables with little to no watering.

If you’re growing crops indoors, your choice of plants is very wide. You won’t have to water your indoor crops nearly as much as outdoor crops because evaporation will be much less of a problem. Still, you have to make sure that your space gets enough sunlight so that your plants can thrive.

Some cities restrict what you can grow based on environmental conditions including crops prone to burning. Make sure what you’re growing is okay with your city or local municipality.

3) Build your Garden

If you have the land and clearance from your city or local municipality, you can start to build your garden. Build garden beds out of wooden pallets, line the bottom of the bed with porous weed block, and add topsoil. You can also use containers instead of garden beds.

For indoor gardens, lay out your pots and containers according to the sunlight available and what is necessary for your plants. Be sure your containers have proper drainage systems so that watering your plants doesn’t make a huge mess.

Another urban farm lining a window can provide access to fresh access to fresh  local food for your home.

Once you know what you’re going to plant, buy or make soil that fulfills the nutrient requirements of your crop. You should also start composting so you can have access to free, nutrient-rich soil amendment from your home.

4) Plant your Crops

For seedlings, check the back of your seed packet for specific instructions on how deep to plant your crop. Water the plant according to its needs.

Make sure you keep the area around your plants weed-free so they don’t have to compete for resources.

5) Transfer your Plants

Once your crops outgrow their container, transplant them to a bigger container.

Transplanting can be stressful for plants, so try to minimize root disturbance. Gently loosen the roots of your plant, remove the plant from its pot, and place it in its new home. Be careful not to damage any roots.

6) Harvest When Ready

Check the back of your seed packet or do a quick Google search to find out when your crop will be ready to harvest. Use sharp, clean tools to cut or pick your produce

Why Should I be Farming in an Urban Environment?

Urban farming can be a great way to get fresh fruits and vegetables, while also reducing your carbon footprint and saving money. It can add beautiful charm to your otherwise barren rooftop or vacant lot. It can also create strong community ties and education for volunteer gardeners. Thanks for reading! We wish you luck on your urban farming adventure!

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