As communities strengthen and younger generations come of age, it’s becoming clear that sustainable, eco-conscious practices are the way of the future. Even in the grocery aisle, modern Americans are increasingly interested in learning more about where their food comes from, often preferring wholesome, natural, and local ingredients. For some, shopping organic is enough. But a bolder set of ambitious, resourceful people takes it even further. Enter: urban farming.
In the United States alone, over 29,000 people consider themselves urban farmers. Some farm just to provide for their families, while others expand into businesses serving their communities or even operating at a national level. Recent research indicates that global urban farming will constitute a $281 billion-dollar market by the year 2030. It’s clear that this is no passing fad, but a movement indicative of greater lifestyle changes around the world.
So, what exactly is urban farming? It’s exactly what the name suggests: the practice of cultivating food in urban areas. It’s a pretty general term, applicable to windowsill herb gardens and ambitious livestock ventures. Whether you dream of raising chickens in suburbia or you’re just trying to keep your basil plant alive, everyone has to start somewhere. Whatever your plans, here are a few tips on having your very own urban garden.
Before you run to the hardware store for fencing supplies and pawpaw seeds, take stock in your current abilities and interests. What do you like to eat? What do you want to grow? Do you have a backyard, or a bright and sunny New York City rooftop? There are entry-level options for everyone, and there’s no shame in working with terra cotta pots before investing in a garden rake.
As with any new hobby or interest, there’s always something new to learn. Gardening magazines are an excellent resource, as are books on the local flora and fauna that flourish in your own community. Many cities have communal urban farms with rental plots and volunteer needs, or locally-based classes and workshops. Starting your own garden in connection with others is a great way to learn, grow, and of course, socialize!
Know Your Limits
The urban farmer aesthetic can be quite alluring, but it can be easy to tip over from #cottagecore to #cottagecan’t. Before you rush out and buy live chicks from Facebook Marketplace (we know, they’re sooo cute!) make sure you have the means to set up a proper habitat. Or, play with some rental landscaping goats as a way to test your animal-handling skills. Though your green thumb may be vivid, handling livestock is a whole other ball game!
Enjoy Your Harvest
If by the end of the season you’re too tired to cook with your own produce, that may be a sign you’ve been working too hard. Pace yourself so that you can continually enjoy your harvest, try exciting new recipes, and share your work with loved ones! Pro tip: remember to research the right materials you’ll need to store excess produce away for the off-season. You may surprise yourself with your bounty!
Good luck out there, current and aspiring urban farmers. You ARE the future! And if you happen to enjoy your home-grown wonders with Alexian pâté, we’d love to see! Tag us on social media (and always share your cute goat pics!) at @alexian_pate.