Abuja, Nigeria: Recently I wrote about the need to make agriculture and farming cool again; enough for young people to desire to get involved. One of the biggest barriers to the involvement of young people in agriculture is urbanization. Farming as we know it is usually done in rural areas. The reason for this is simple, farming requires land and land is just not available in urban areas and cities.
With recent advances in science and technology policy changes, however, you may now have your chance to farm even if you don’t live in a rural area or have an expanse of land on which to farm on. This is known as Urban Farming.
Urban agriculture can be defined simply as the growing of plants and the raising of animals within and around cities. The most striking feature of urban agriculture, which distinguishes it from rural agriculture, is that it is integrated into the urban economic and ecological system: it is embedded in – and interacts with – the urban ecosystem.
The following are five ways you can be involved in farming as an urban dweller. Most are variations of urban farming techniques. A few are not strictly urban farming techniques but they will provide you with the means and opportunity to be involved in farming. I hope you find the one that suits your current environment.
1. Window Farming (or Window Gardening)
This is perhaps the easiest and most innovative way to farm in your house no matter how small your living space is. Scientifically, plants need mostly sunlight and water to grow and not soil. As the name suggests, in window farming, the plants are placed directly near window close to the sun often in repurposed containers containing water through a system called hydroponics.
Window farming is cheap and convenient and can serve as a wonderful hobby. You can get started by checking out this website here.
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2. Farming in Public Spaces (Guerilla Farming)
Every city has open spaces that are not exactly occupied or being used for much. This may include abandoned malls, parking lots or buildings or rooftops. These places can be repurposed into small patch gardens and farms. The spaces may not belong to you per se, but that is the whole point, and why it is often referred to as guerrilla farming. Rather than let those spaces lie fallow, you can utilize them to do good, produce food and save the world while you’re at it.
Guerrilla farming carries with it a measure of adventure which I believe is good for the soul.
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3. Community Farms (or Community Gardens)
Various cities are now creating community farms also known as community gardens around the world. These plots are owned by the city council or other non-profit organisations. A resident pays a little fee to be part of the farming community. A key advantage of Community Farming is that you don’t need to have all the required skills to grow crops as members bring different skills and can provide guidance.
Community farms come with the added advantage that they instantly enable you to go outdoors, meet and interact with other people in your neighbourhood who have the same passions for green living as you do.
4. Digital Farming
With the internet, the barrier of location in business has been broken. This is applicable in agriculture as well where developers are coming up with solutions that will enable urban dwellers to run their own farms without having to change their location. Platforms like Farmcrowdy lets users search and discover farms in rural areas in Africa that require funding. The user then selects a funding plan and funds the farm of his or her choice. After harvest over a stated period, the user receives a profit from the farm.
One can use this to become actively involved in farming without even having to leave your home.
5. Urban Foraging
To forage is to search for something (such as food or supplies). Foraging here means to search for food in the urban areas. Every city has green locations such as gardens and parks where trees and other plants grow. Although these plants are often planted for ornamental and aesthetic purposes, they can be a great source of natural edible food. You can embark on foraging with friends and colleagues. It also offers a great way to discover parts of your city that you wouldn’t otherwise know about. Just make sure not to eat anything you don’t know!
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These methods are not the only ways that exist to contribute to farming in the urban areas but they are a good start. You can find many more that suit your needs and your city by doing a quick Google search. All you have to do is be ready to get your hands dirty, literally.
Want to get organised and keep records of your gardening progress? Make sure to keep a Gardening Journal. Take a look at an example here.
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