Homesteading is described as living in a self sufficient way. It is normally characterized by subsistence or small-scale chemical free agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, off the grid as much as possible and generally making and doing stuff for oneself. We are all not cut from the same cloth but even if this lifestyle is not for you, but you do like to potter around in the garden, a sustainable veggie garden is food for the soul and your family.
The Urban Farmer
Urban farming is not new, In fact, it’s been around since 3,500 BC when Mesopotamian farmers began setting aside plots in their growing cities for this purpose. A Polyculture approach was primarily used in these early food gardens. Monoculture is the agricultural practice of producing or growing a single crop, plant, or livestock species, variety, or breed in a field or farming system at a time. Polyculture, where more than one crop is grown in the same space at the same time, is the alternative to monoculture. I mention this as urban farming has invariably proved to be more successful when a Polyculture approach is practiced with a variety of different edibles grown alongside each other resulting in diverse veg available year round if planned properly. There are many urban market gardeners worldwide that grow fresh veg in small urban spaces successfully and supply their local communities.
Whatever your motivation for establishing your back yard garden whether for sharing with your neighbours or for own use, a few things to consider:
1. Vegetables from your own garden are healthier, more vitamin-dense and fresher. Often supermarket or shop bought produce has been cold-stored or transported hundreds of kilometres. It is obvious that you cannot grow all your required veggies in your garden but consider supporting other local emerging small farmers to source veg you don’t have.
2. Natural chemical free food using less fertilizer and significantly less pesticides ensures a healthier and less costly vegetable supply.
3. A backyard food garden could even become a small-business growth engine. Veg is always in demand and backyard garden requires little infrastructure.
4. Less supermarket packaging is required in having a constant supply of fresh produce from your garden. The impact of discarded plastic on our environment cannot be underestimated and by eliminating the need for conventional plastic packaging materials from shops is an important step in addressing this huge challenge.
5. Less food is wasted, as city farming is a system of harvest-and-eat.
6. City-farms, whether on open land, in warehouses, or on rooftops, are aesthetically pleasing and can be integrated into the architecture of the city.
7. Your garden provides valuable habitat for bees and other pollinators.
8. It’s fun . . .