City Farmer's Urban Agriculture Survey Results
We posted a short survey on our web site in late March 2000, to help us learn something about the people who visit "Urban Agriculture Notes". A simple link at the top of our Home Page invited readers to take part, and after one month, 100 completed surveys were collected. Here is what we learned.
People from 16 countries submitted surveys - Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, England, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Kuwait, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Spain and the USA. The vast majority were from the USA (56%) and Canada (26%).
By far the most interesting information sent to us can be found in the answers to questions 3 and 17: "What is your interest in Urban Agriculture?" and "Please tell us more about your experience producing food in the city."
A complete list of responses to both questions is posted below.
Responses to: "What is your interest in Urban Agriculture?"
Respondents tell us more about their experience producing food in the city.
92 of the 100 people who responded to the survey consider themselves urban.
Of the 92 urban people, 81 grow food and are therefore city farmers.
Most of the city farmers who responded grow vegetables(77) and herbs(72). Half of them grow fruit(45) and legumes(36). A few produce eggs, grain, edible flowers, nuts, honey, meat, dairy, jams, preserves, Chinese herbal medicines and wine.
62 of the city farmers produce their food at home, 21 in a community garden. Food was produced on window sills(14), and balconies(10). Food was also grown in containers, sunrooms, rooftops, school gardens, parking lots, someone else's yard, vacant city lots and on farm land.
Most of the city farmers have small(35) [0-100 sq ft] or medium(37) [100-1000 sq ft]growing areas. A few people reported large(10) [1000-10,000sq.ft.] and very large(3) [more than 10,000sq.ft.] gardens.
Most people said they enjoyed the activity of growing food(78), the flavour of the food(71) and the fact that growing it relieves stress(69). Of slightly lesser importance was that home-grown food was better for the environment(60), was safer to eat than store bought food(53), and saved them money(49).
8 people said they sold some food at local markets, in stores, through home deliveries and streetside stands.
46 people have produced food for 0-5 years.
16 from 5-10 years.
11 from 10-15 years.
5 from 15-20 years.
38 males and 40 females were recorded ranging in age from 14 to 75 (average age was 38).
Not enough space(39) and not enough time(32) were the reasons most often given by people for not growing more food.
The cities represented included: Arcata, Baltimore, Allen, Ann Arbor, Arlington Heights, Baltimore, Bellingham, Bilbao, Burnaby, Calgary, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Copenhagen, Delta, Detroit, East Lansing, Edmonton, Erie, Eugene, Fort Wayne, Hoboken, Hong Kong, Iowa City, Kalamazoo, Kamloops, Kuwait City, Little Rock, Louisville, Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, Marilao, Marysville, Memphis, Monrovia, Montreal, Nelson, New Westminster, Newcastle, Oklahoma City, Orillia, Parksville, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Providence, Quezon City, Richmond Hill, Richmond, Riverside, Roxbury, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, St. Albert, St. Louis, Steynsburg, Sydney, Toronto, Vancouver, Venice, Ventura, Victoria, Virginia Beach, Winnipeg, Worcester , Yellowknife.
City Farmer will continue to collect and review submitted surveys beyond the first 100.
Responses to: "What is your interest in Urban Agriculture?"
- I have a small acreage within the city limits. I raise chickens and vegetables and fruit.
- I am a practicing veterinary surgeon in the small village of Steynsburg in the Eastern Cape province. We have a major problem with the keeping of livestock in the urban area. I am researching for a paper for a degree of Master of Sustainable Agriculture. I am looking for positive solutions.
- I have been involved in drafting WHO-EURO Urban Food and Nutrition Action Plan and presenting this document at a series of regional Sustainable Cities conferences. I am educated as a nutritionist and interested in food projects including UA and low income strategies. I currently work for the Danish Cancer Society in fruit and vegetable promotion, and hope to incorporate UA in some of our work.
- Most of the sub-urban neighbors in our area might as well live in high-rise apartments for wasting the resources of their 1/2-acre suburban lots in regard to food production and waste reduction. Much could be accomplished if they AND their children were taught the fundamentals outlined on your web site in regard to farming and composting.
- Organizing a Symposium on UA.
- I am an urban gardener. I started with a neglected city backyard and an abundance of ignorance about ten years ago. It started out as something to do between jobs, and has turned into something bordering on obsession!
- I am dealing with international cooperation with developing countries where UA has unique importance. Concerning Israel I am focusing on Peri-urban Agriculture. My interests are agricultural extension, research and establishing projects.
- I love urban agriculture! Everything about it is wonderful!
- To grow, cultivate and harvest. Aesthetically it is pleasing, environmentally it is vital and cuisine wise there is no better.
- I work at Campinas State University (UNICAMP). I'm an agronomist and have an interest in agricultural development in metropolitan areas. I think that to make this activity possible, the State has to control the land market. And to keep agriculture near urban areas is essential for reducing food costs and losses in transportation, and I am interested in environmental issues, like raining-water infiltration, and climate regulation.
- Public Health.
- I actually came here to find out about how agricultural education affects the lives of urban people. This is for a speech.
- We have formed Parksville's first community garden this year. It's been 2 years in the making, and we got our land as a Christmas present in 1999. First shovel went into the ground in Jan, 2000. Awesome site, very much appreciated information and links while we were still in the planning stage.
- I am an urban gardener, or course! I have a bit of backyard that has been transformed into a vegetable gardening marvel with the help of my mom, an incredible gardener. I want to learn as much as possible about farming (in the old ways) as possible from her.
- I am planting herbs like basil and dill for my own consumption. Some flowers for the butterflies and plan to produce lettuce and other salad greens for my family. I am a member of the Organic Producers of the Philippines Association. I am also into composting and want to know more about the use of earthworms for compost.
- I raise a variety of vegetables on my half-acre lot in a suburban neighborhood. I have about 200 square feet of raised beds in cultivation.
- Urban Agriculture as an alternative use for inner-city vacant land in the U.S.
- I live in a city and I would like to grow my own vegetables. I am new to the city and I used to live in a more rural area where I was familiar with gardening methods. Now that I am in a city for the first time, I am having difficulty figuring out exactly what things I should be doing to grow vegetables in my apartment.
- I'm an avid vegetable gardener from the age of 10. Urban Agriculture has been a part of my life from my earliest memories of canning bush beans and making jalapeno jam with my parents. I'm also an anthropology major at Humboldt State University wanting to make working on sustainable development projects my career. Urban small-scale agriculture is one of my focuses. I am currently researching agricultural practices in China, as I am going to be traveling there and to Mongolia on through Siberia to Moscow this summer.
- I am a care taker/maintenance volunteer for two mini-parks and community gardens. One garden consists of eleven raised beds six feet long four feet wide. The second garden consists of 22 plots of various sizes and shapes and has nine raised beds of the same dimensions as stated above.
- I am the Coordinator of a new CGIAR Strategic Initiative on Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture (SIUPA).
- I love UA. I grow most of the vegetables and fruits that I need. I'm into helping others set up low maintenance, (usually no-dig) gardens, run workshops and help out at the Waimarama Community Organic Gardens. I'm especially interested in seed saving and running the Waimarama Permculture Seed Exchange.
- I'm interested in tips about organic gardening and any general information about the subject.
- I am an urban farmer in Portland, OR, developing an edible landscape with vegetables, dwarf fruit trees, vines, berries, on my own city lot. I am also a horticultural therapist working with at-risk children and youth, seniors, and those in rehabilitation to improve mental and physical health through gardening.
- To improve the quality of life and the community. Fresh food for all and to teach my kids where food comes from. Fresh lettuce keeps my wife smiling. Keep some heirloom plants given to me by a 103 year old man (who grew them all his life!)
- I just like fresh natural food.
- I grow vegetables and fruit for my own use.
- I would like to develop a community garden in Sooke, B.C. I want to promote a happier, healthy community.
- Sustainable community development.
- Growing vegetables and flowers on small plots
- I am trying to promote composting of domestic garbage and then apply it to Community Gardens and Permaculture Gardens. My wife and I are involved in a few gardens around Manly in Sydney as we do not have our own (we are apartment dwellers).
- Want to see more people raise part of their food I think it can help the environment, and also a good way to reduce food costs and use available land.
- Mostly growing my own veggies organically and getting the most out of my small space.
- This is my third year of concerted effort to raise a beautiful and productive garden that does it all - grows vegetables, provides herbs and flowers, and looks beautiful.
- I am a Professional, Commercial Vermiculture Specialist, Certified Master Composter instructor for the Riverside County Waste Management Department.
- I was looking for good tips on gardening in city conditions.
- We are trying to set our garden up as a Permaculture garden to supply a lot of our fruit and vegetable needs. We only have a standard size block, but are planting a lot of different things to produce a bio-diverse environment.
- I grow organic food for myself and love gardening.
- I like gardening and plants. I am also a biologist and ecologist with an interest in urban ecology.
- To bring life and beauty to a quiet, empty lot and enjoy the tasteful food.
- To develop and improve existing food production in an urban atmosphere, along with providing educational means for interested city folk.
- I am interested in providing cheap, organic produce for my family.
- UA helps create sustainable cities less dependent on imports from afar.
- I am an avid home gardener and am starting a demonstration farm and garden outside Little Rock, Arkansas.
- Looking for ways to produce food in a limited space, reduce waste by composting, organic gardening.
- I am interested in establishing many small intensive backyard gardens.
- I have two rooftop decks in need of planting, and I live in a condominium complex that has a few areas that support community gardening.
- To grow as much food in as little space as I can.
- Organic vegetables and flowers.
- I have 500 sq. ft of patio space for flowers and an herb barrel. As well I belong to the Burnaby Allotment Garden Association where I have 1000 sq. ft in raised beds and a greenhouse. I have gardened organically since 1991. I grow several fruits, herbs and lots of veggies.
- I am presently a volunteer with the Philadelphia New Kensington Community Development Center, specifically with the open space program. The open space program improves abandoned vacant lots into mini-parks and community gardening centers. At present I am caretaker for two such areas, one know as Belgrade Gardens & Park, and The Lutheran Settlement Park and Garden Center.
- I live in a house with a yard and am interested in starting a vegetable garden. I am also interested in supporting environmentally friendly products and initiatives at the community level.
- Organically grown fruits and vegetables.
- Practicing UA personally and promoting it through municipal policy.
- As a source of food and for community development. A way to reconnect city dwellers with the cycles of nature and our unbreakable link to the environment.
- I want to start composting and urban growing if possible on my city property.
- My partner and I seek to include elderly, disabled, impoverished people into systems that produce food, medicine, resources cycle, ideally organic and sustainable.
- Mostly home gardening, but looking at doing some propagation of native ornamentals, and shrubs etc.
- Implementing an urban agriculture project.
- Vegetable gardening.
- I want to start an urban farm that serves the local community not only with food, but also in fostering community.
- As an apartment dweller I enjoy creating my own natural spaces and am just beginning to include useful plants such as herbs and veggies.
- Organic vegetable gardens in back yards.
- Unusual ornamentals, trees, herbs, fruit, and vegetables.
- I have a small backyard garden and a plot in a community garden that I would like to make successful and abundant.
- I currently grow herbs and decorative plants in my apartment, but after doing some research on the web, I hope to begin worm composting and growing some produce.
- I think it is important for city people to take responsibility for their food rather than having the illusion that it comes from the grocery. I also support organic gardening and agriculture and since standards are so wishy washy, I feel better just growing it myself!
- Professional: research in urban ag (China). Personal: small plot and container gardening, vermi-composting, and bee keeping.
- I am the urban agriculture coordinator for the Detroit Agriculture Network (DAN).
- I am convinced that food can be grown in cities. Your web site has verified that such is the case in many parts of the world. I'm a long time urban gardener.
- Community Gardening
- I think there are environmental, aesthetic, and health reasons to keep food production as close as possible to the people who will consume the food.
- I am currently a biology major with an interest in biological pest control and organic agriculture. I also happen to live in the "ghetto"! I grow all my own produce and herbs during the summer and experiment (on a small basis) with the use of beneficial insects and companion planting.
- This summer I want to grow only heirloom species. I am hoping to find that they are resilient and that eventually my city garden will be self efficient (i.e. provide the seeds from which to grow my produce, etc.) I would also like to raise my own chickens for eggs (I am an ovo-lacto vegetarian.) Unfortunately the latter would require jumping through political hoops! I also would like to start a community garden in my area. I am quickly running out of space. I think that with the gobbling up of wildlands and farmlands, city farming will be an absolute necessity in our future. I believe people can be self-sufficient.
- I want a more productive garden on my one acre of land.
- I have a degree in horticulture and am an avid gardener.
- I have a community garden plot in Madison WI. My interests in gardening are mostly in the realm of organic/sustainable gardening and supporting CSA farms (community supported agriculture).
- I'm growing a small organic garden in my backyard to show my 2 year old son how much fun it is to grow things.
- I am interested in worm farming for my pond fish and for my vegetable garden in my back yard.
- I grew up in a small town in Nova Scotia, very close to several farming communities. It was a great place to explore nature and learn about how the whole sustainable cycle works. I'd like my children to be able to experience this also, even if they grow up in an urban environment. Plus, I just love to garden.
- I am interested in vegetable gardening, composting, organic gardening.
- I am the president of the local garden club and am interested in the idea of a community garden to supplement the local food pantry. My idea is to let the people who are given food from the food pantry, also be allowed to grow their own fresh produce in a community garden. I don't know when we can get started with this. There are some other civic organizations that need to be involved. Right now, it is in the idea stage.
- Scadding Court Community Center has an urban agriculture project in downtown Toronto (ON). The project includes allotments for 50+ gardeners, a 14x20 greenhouse and an on-site vermi-compost facility. We work with a diverse group of clients, many of whom live on low incomes. We also provide workshops throughout the year on gardening and composting skills and herbal health. We started a yearly harvest festival in 1999.
- I am an organic urban gardener, who is interested and involved with food security and access issues. I am also a teacher in training, and plan to involve a large component of my curriculum in outdoor and environmental studies, with a focus on backyard ecology.
- I live in a co-operative in Memphis, Tennessee and our whole front yard (about 1/4 acre) is a living, breathing, organic garden! It is our biggest project in sustainable living in the city.
- I've been gardening since I was a youngster growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I enjoy the pleasure of working in the garden, having fresh healthy food right out side the door, and supplying family and friends with a bag of fresh organic veggies when they come and visit.
- I live in North Delta. It bothers me that over the years we have grown less and less of our own food and turned to purchasing more and more.
- Urban rooftop gardening.
- I have two interests: (a) growing organic vegetables and herbs for my own use; and (b) establishing native California shrubs, perennials, and wild flowers.
- I am planning a community gardening project, and I am participating in a community garden that is just getting started. I work on a farm and I love working the land. I believe strongly in the benefits to people and our environment to be derived from organic gardening and agriculture/farming. I think that a community garden in the low-income neighborhood where I work will promote community development by getting folks out working together and talking together. I think that people will be more food secure, as well as have better nutrition through access to fresh, local, organic produce. The garden offers an opportunity for youth to engage in creative, positive activities. Also youth and children can learn about biology and chemistry from growing food.
- I grow beans, potatoes, tomatoes, etc. on a small (20'x30') urban plot.
- 35 years experience in farming/market gardening in 3 countries on 2 continents, deep interest in world food security issues.
- I am an intern with Ozarks Food Harvest in Springfield, Mo. I assist with an urban garden program for low-income and disabled peoples.
- I am taking a class in Anthropology through the University of Pennsylvania. We are building a garden with 8th grade students from a West Philadelphia neighborhood school (Turner Middle School). The purpose of the class is to improve knowledge about nutrition through gardening. The umbrella organization is the Urban Nutrition Initiative.
Respondents tell us more about their experience producing food in the city.
- I think more people should keep chickens in their backyards.
- My entire yard (500') is given to food production. I have fruit and nut trees, grapevines, herbs, berries and raised beds for intensive green veggie production. I use my car as a mobile greenhouse/cold frame. I also have an allotment (3000') under hi-tension wires where I grow potatoes, corn, legumes and wheat. I can, preserve or freeze all output and give a small portion to the food bank and the in-laws.
- There is something quite unique about planting, cultivating and harvesting, primitive maybe. My father was an avid gardener in New Zealand and it seems I have inherited his love of the environment.
- Neighbours are supportive but their damn maple trees block the sun light in my garden.
- I only started a couple of years ago, but in a few years I will be producing a ton of food, giving it to relatives, canning, etc. I can't understand why everyone doesn't do this!
- I believe it to be an inspiration for people to see food production within a city atmosphere, to see just what effort is made to produce quality organic produce. So much food can be produced if the right education and learning is established. I personally enjoy waking up to my chickens in my own backyard.
- Farming with a community garden is fun and enjoyable. I recommend it to all.
- I have followed the lead from local Council representatives who have set up a community garden in Manly. We have worked with private individuals to set up vegetable gardens in their homes to which we have free access to grow our own. We only had one full season and the crop was limited but tasty and very rewarding.
- I never realized there were others who are trying to grow great veggies in urban gardens with same concerns as I. When I first started digging in my backyard, five years ago, finding all kinds of garbage in the soil really grossed me out. I hated the idea of growing food I would eat from that soil. But with painstaking (not to mention ongoing) soil amendments and always removing those rocks, bits of plastic, glass and whatever else turned up, I watched the soil become richer and more productive, and have now grown all my own veggies for the last couple of summers.
- Gardening is really addictive, and with my many flats of seeds that I am anxiously germinating, I can't wait to transplant and watch all these new vegetables grow in my incongruous backyard garden, in the heart of downtown.
- It's very exciting and helps me teach my son to appreciate nature. It provides the link to our goal of helping nature go back to its very basic state. In this way we can recycle some garbage and help produce cleaner air.
- We love the birds in the morning and we are looking forward to seeing butterflies in the garden. We also enjoy seeing insects around the house. We saw snakes too, small ones, and I teach my son that each creature has a role somewhere and that there is a balance in everything. We are enjoying it. My husband is an agriculturist and we intend to move back to the countryside in a year or so and start our own farm.
- I am a bio-intensive gardener and use John Jeavons' book about growing more vegetables than you thought possible on less land than you can imagine as a guide.
- I haven't had too much trouble growing my vegetables, but I do have problems with pests.
- Most neighbours are not used to producing food. They just have a lawn and flowers. But I enjoy helping the environment.
- We live in a 120m2 flat with a balcony (East-facing) and a glazed balcony and 2 window boxes (West-facing), in the warm maritime climate of northern Spain. So far it's very experimental. We've harvested 2 radishes! But then we only bought the flat in January. Looking forward to courgettes (sorry, zucchini), garlic, lettuce, etc., later in the year, plus lemons in a couple of years time. I also have a worm bin on the balcony -- thanks to City Farmer's tips!
- The beauty of turning an empty city lot into a garden full of life is unexplainable. I never knew how much life and energy you can bring to your back yard. For me, I get a lot more than just a harvest. I LOVE GARDENING!
- I have had a garden of one kind or another since I was a young man, six years old. My father planted vegetables for economic reasons during the Second World War. These were called Victory Gardens.
- Last year was the first time I actually grew food. I added compost and rock dust. We had a fabulous weed and pest free garden until the snow buried the kale. Everyone who visited was amazed at how large and tasty everything was. We had no problems with watering even though the summer was hotter and drier than usual.
- Bees are exciting. The City has an animal control ordinance, which outlines some rules for bees such as requiring fences and water sources. Neighbours have not complained.
- The last two summers were droughts and the garden and gardener suffered under the heat. Consequently, yields were diminished.
- Am using the square foot method and have yet to keep the garden at 100% efficiency. Have 16 4x4 squares and it takes a lot of work to keep everything filled. Am doubling tomato, cucurbit and legume production this year.
- We had one empty, rubble-filled parking space behind our apartment building. I thought it would be great for me and the kids in the building to clean it up and watch seeds grow. I was right. We are all learning a lot. I grow mostly vegetables such as tomatoes, cabbages, beans, peas, carrots, onion and herbs for kitchen uses.
- I do not use any chemicals in the garden. I use compost from kitchen waste and grass clippings.
- I love to experiment and try different plants and methods. Going organic was a real effort but very rewarding. I continue to search for chemical free methods of controlling insect infestations. My current problems are cutworms and earwigs. Any suggestions would be welcome.
- I choose vegetable varieties for flavor and earliness and like to try and squeeze in an extra crop. I start my plants indoors and have been able to grow tomatoes in my basement. I am searching for methods of growing other vegetables in the basement as well.
- So far I have been quite successful but I continue to look for new ideas on how to improve my gardening.
- I've grown on the flat and sandy Tahunanui Beach, up a cool valley on alluvial soils and now on a north facing clay hill. So I can appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of a range of soils, microclimates and garden size. I'm into utilising most any container to grow in also. Waste paper and green scrapsand weeds go into 8 worm tire towers, and the chickens (2) and ducks (2) get the rest. From them I get eggs, fouled straw, fertilised fruit trees and cleared ground for planting (covered). I enjoy growing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. I've co-ordinated the Waimarama Community Organic Gardens and still contribute weekly to the seed garden, processing and the seed bank.
- We have lots of slugs in our area, so that is a difficulty. Also we don't have a lot of space for compost piles. But I love fresh tomatoes and peppers and greens and prefer the organic produce, but find it to be very expensive in the stores.
- We use mostly dwarf or semi-dwarf fruit trees an on a 100'x150' yard i.e. we have 4 apple, 2 nectarine, 2 plum, 2 pear, 4 apricot, 12 Nanking cherry bushes. Our berry patch contains; raspberries, blackberries and new this year 6 boysenberries, 3 seedless grapes and 50 (new) strawberry plants (renewing bed). Most new shrubs are judged on whether they have edible fruit (birds/animals and us) as well as attractive color and shape.
- Actually, we're not directly in the city. Definitely suburban though. A country setting with city all around. Neighbours use chemicals, not understanding of sustainable practice at all. Therefore, we have to spend time for education to survive!
- I enjoy preparing for and working in my garden, from tilling in my compost in the spring and fall, to laying out the rows of individual vegetables. My wife and I still enjoy canning. We can green beans, tomatoes, peppers, and make lots of salsa. We really enjoy making the salsa from everything in the garden.
- This spring I am starting an urban garden with a local charter public school. We're working to improve soil quality, so not much food is being produced this year. But stay tuned...
- My lack of space and being limited to containers puts constraints on what I can grow, but successes with herbs have led me to try new things this year such as tomatoes designed for containers and small varieties of lettuce. I figure if I can grow flowers and houseplants, I should be able to get some good vegetables, as well!
- We garden mostly as recreational activity. Small pots with herbs and runner beans grow in window boxes. My children learn how food is grown. I also have a couple of raised beds, fruit trees and berry bushes at our summerhouse, but this is not urban.
- My knowledge increases each year when I am dealing with what grows and does well, what to plant where, how to deal with pests. My neighbours help out with their suggestions and knowledge. Just grass to mow every week is not satisfying.
- I can share food with friends and invite them over to pick. The family loves the fact that we can go out and pick our food fresh for meals.
- My property is heavily treed and rocky, with a small stream running through it, so my vegetable growing is rather restricted. But the front yard is sunny and drier and I'm converting a lot of it to vine crops with trellises to maximize space usage.
- I enjoy the community garden, meeting other city folks who garden. Most everyone has a word of advice, or some extra seed or a spare seedling to share. I like trying to raise food, spending as little money as possible, and then only on seed. This year, I've started almost everything from seed in the basement under a fluorescent light, then planted out. I live in an old neighborhood with very tall trees, so sunny vegetable loving locations are hard to come by in my own backyard. I'm still new at this so I am focusing on growing healthy plants using few or no chemicals. As the years go by, I hope to increase my yield.
- I'm trying to convince the City to grow vegetables in with flowers. I'm experimenting with green manures in our terrible soil. Have encouraged high-school environmental science classes to do research on year-round composting in Yellowknife. Have started up the Yellowknife Landscaping and Garden Society. Have hosted arctic gardening "koffee klatsches" Saturday mornings through the City.
- I went out and bought pots and nailed 2x4s to my windowsill so there was space for them and now they are my little babies. I love to watch them grow. I want to keep growing things. I thought about asking to use the roof of my neighbor's garage, which is flat and about two feet away from my bedroom window, but I think all that soil would probably be too heavy for their roof.
- We garden as a family: mom, dad, and two teenage daughters. We enjoy the fresh herbs and vegetables when they come in, but do not rely on them for the family budget. The motivation is enjoyment and a bit of connection to nature.
- Beekeeping is a new hobby for our 15-year old and Dad, 45. Worm bin composting is long-standing hobby for Dad.
- I help coordinate the efforts of about 25 urban gardeners in the city of Detroit. Our numbers are continually growing as are the number of gardens in our network. Our largest garden is approximately 2 acres in size, the smallest is a typical backyard garden. We are proud of our long history of urban farming here in Detroit from the famous potato patches of Mayor Hazen Pingree in the late 1890's to Mayor Coleman Young's Farm-a-Lots of the 1970's to today's DAN network. We are people of varying backgrounds who grow food for the various reasons you listed above.
- I have been a city farmer for over twenty years. My grandfather established our intergenerational garden in the early 1970's. I have been taking care of his garden for 20 years. I also sit on the board of our community garden. We are facing a clubroot (tired soil) problem. I began searching your site in order to find out if there is any valuable information on soil to pass on to other gardeners.
- I find that producing my own food gives me a sense of control over my own life. It supports my family (somewhat) and combines my love of the biological world with biological needs!
- I've had a garden on and off during the 10 years I've lived in Madison. I started gardening a lot while I lived in a housing coop in college. We have an active farmer's market and system of community gardens in Madison. After a 2-year wait, I finally have a community garden plot. I live near downtown and move every few years so I am grateful to finally have a place to put perennials such as asparagus. I find growing herbs particularly rewarding as the ones in the stores are not nearly as flavorful as the plants I grow in my garden.
- My biggest problem is bringing in fresh soil for raised beds because our house was painted with lead paint that chipped a great deal before the siding was put on. We've found paint chips in much of the soil of our small yard.
- I've had mostly good experiences, except for the soil, which is rocky. Also it gets a bit too hot at the end of the season, so I always use some type of shade material before June-July here. As for the harvest, it's always tasty and much better than store bought.
- Living in Calgary produces several challenges, not the least of which is the climate (dry summers that are short and very cold winters). So we are limited to container growing or to things that have a short growing cycle. Watering is a must in summer (translates into higher water bills). I have just signed up for a community garden (there are only a few). Space is at a premium and demand seems to be high as I was accepted only as a cancellation. There seems to be a lack of knowledge about these types of places. Calgary has a great horticultural society.
- I am proud to grow vegetables in containers. I use coffee grounds, wood ashes, banana peels, cow dung and compost for 80% of my fertilizer needs. My garden produces around 30 lbs. of vegetables per year; about 20 lbs. of tomatoes and the remaining peppers, spinach, radishes, and potatoes.
- I have found that over the time I have been producing food in my garden, the more compost I add, the better the production and the plants are healthier.
- As more community gardens are established, the City's Parks Department becomes more open to the community garden movement. Many people are interested in participating in the project but they are lacking many basic skills and are often unaware of the amount of work involved in maintaining a garden plot. There are many obvious benefits beyond food production - education, environmental awareness, etc. that can be observed.
- I continually run into problems with the village and our waste disposal. They do not like my compost bin, though it does not smell nor attract vermin. Instead of allowing me to chip my own branches, they insisted that I dispose of them through the village, which costs time to bundle, and money in the form of refuse tags. Since the village has a recycling program, they frown upon those of us who take our own recyclables to stations.
- I grow legumes and grains, garlic and peas. I garden with as much organic seed as possible, all open-pollinated and I save seed. I am presently designing a garden to share with an elderly lady in my neighborhood, but the soil is so poor in her backyard that I will have to spend this year soil building. Since I need to grow at least a couple of things, I will be planting in amended trenches. Since I have quite unconventional techniques and garden philosophies, I find it hard to connect with any groups that reflect my focus except via the net. I am very interested in permaculture and my future garden design will reflect this.
- Our garden is beautiful. Around this time of year especially, people walking by sometimes stare at it for 5 minutes and you can tell they are wondering what it is we are doing. We are almost finished with a sign to tell them just that. The best feeling in the world is to eat something right off of a plant that you helped raise up from a seed. It makes you realize our connection to the earth.
- My family always had vegetable gardens while I was growing up. For the past 20 years or so I've only occasionally been able to garden. Now I live in a house with a yard. The soil is the worst hard packed clay that I've ever seen but I'm determined to grow something. Tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, eggplant and, of course, herbs.
- I started out growing a few tomato plants and just kept going. Now I have no grass left - front and back yard are all done in edible landscaping.
- I moved into a 40-year-old house in Delta in 1995. In 1968, a previous owner of the house had taken over approximately 1/3 of the back yard to build an enormous and exceedingly poorly engineered "carport". Over the next 3 years I devoted myself fully to tearing this structure down. The yard was also overgrown with ornamental shrubs, which had gone "wild". I uprooted approximately 10 of these, reclaiming enough space to contemplate the idea of having a garden. In 1997 I attempted a large, 20 X 30-ft. garden plot. I had minimal success because my kids overran much of the space. In the spring of 1998, I surrendered; the previous owner had also worked on cars all those years ago. The detritus of automotive work had gradually worked itself into the soil. With a considerable amount of "bull-work" I trenched out and screened the better part of the backyard space, finally sowing it all to grass in the summer of 1999.
- I plant mostly in raised beds. I'm gradually introducing more non-food plantings (native shrubs, wildflowers) so they can more or less become permanent, lower maintenance plantings. (Besides, I want to "restore" native species as much as I can.) I could grow what I need for food from a much smaller space.
- I have grown food in my mother's back yard garden. This year I am creating a container garden in the courtyard in my apartment complex. I have also joined a community garden, but we have not made beds yet. I am also planning a new community garden in a low-income neighborhood.
- I hope that youth and elderly will get out and enjoy and benefit from one another's company in a community garden. I think that the garden will beautify the neighborhood. The garden may also offer job training or job skills, a significant need in our area. I hope in will bring greater peace and unity.
- When I was younger, I was more ambitious. Most of what I produce now are potatoes and most of them volunteers. I am primarily a recycler, so I like the prospect of gradually improving the soil, which was poor (hillside clay) in the beginning. A large tree shades my garden most of the summer, but I would rather remove myself than the tree. I live in a house built by my great grandparents, so the notion of continuity, roots, and sustainability is important to me.
- I compost yard by-products, coffee grinds from my company cafeteria, sawdust from a local sawmill and the odd bag of chicken manure from the University.
- My children both began gardening at age 1 yr. They will each take responsibility for a particular crop, e.g. Jana (age-4) last year took on apples: she scouted for pests and disease, picked all the fruit and canned applesauce.
- I have begun pushing the envelope farther in the area of season extension. Last fall, we planted late broccoli after garlic harvest in August and kept it covered in October. We harvested broccoli until Nov 2.
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