The importance of urban gardening

Photo credit: Google

Youth community gardeners care for more than 1,400 plants at the Cadillac Urban Gardens in Southwest Detroit.

Urban agri can boost food security in cities—DA

A mixture of urban agricultural production technologies can enable cities to produce their own food, complementing the government’s efforts in the countryside to maintain food security in the country, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Exploring Negros Occidental: the "Organic Capital" of the Philippines:
Exploring Negros Occidental: the “Organic Capital” of the Philippines:

At the launching of DA’s  urban agriculture project in Las Piñas City on February 4,  Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that urban agriculture can provide additional source of fresh and safe food and extra income for urban residents, among other benefits.

The project is implemented in partnership with the DA Regional Office for CALABARZON, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Office of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.

Urban gardening in Davao (Philippines): Jojo ROM's A-risers :
Urban gardening in Davao (Philippines): Jojo ROM’s A-risers :

Among the production technologies proposed by DA are edible landscaping, green riprapping, aquaponics and container gardening.


Backyard gardening in Manila (Ph.):
Backyard gardening in Manila (Ph.):

Norby De La Cruz, a resident of Las Piñas and a container gardening enthusiast cited the benefits his family has gained from urban agriculture.

“On the financial aspect, we are able to save since we no longer have to buy some of the vegetables, herbs and spices we need in our kitchen,” De La Cruz said.

Organic lettuce garden in Quezon City Circle (Ph.):
Organic lettuce garden in Quezon City Circle (Ph.):

He also mentioned that during emergencies, they have a ready source of food. He likewise shared that having more plants in their house gives them more fresh air, and that gardening has become his way to exercise and contribute to the clean and green program of the city.

Urban farming in Caracas (Venezuela):
Urban farming in Caracas (Venezuela):

Alcala said that urban agriculture may not be able to produce all what city dwellers need but this is a way to increase awareness on agriculture and the government’s programs to ensure food security.

Read the full article: Philippine Information Agency

Community gardens are a growing movement (Google / nzherald)

Read at : Google Alert – container gardening

Down to earth: Community gardens around the city

By Kirsten Warner

Community gardens are a growing trend in Auckland, a place to learn how to reap what you sow in every sense, writes Kirsten Warner.

All over the city and beyond, Aucklanders are digging, sowing and reaping the rewards in gardens tucked alongside churches, marae, community centres, on disused Transit New Zealand and council land.

Community gardens are a growing movement. There are well over 50 in Auckland alone. Some are connected with special interest groups or communities, but many welcome anyone with a desire to get their hands dirty over the weekend.

Having an allotment can be a fun, therapeutic, cheap and social way to grow your own (mostly organic) vegetables and other produce if you don’t have room at home.

People who don’t start with gardening skills are learning that if you water them, give them food and put them in a sunny place, vegetables will, mostly, grow and just about always taste better than bought.

South Auckland

At the former women’s bowling club at Stadium Rd, Papatoetoe, two large greens have been turned into allotments as part of a network of council teaching gardens.


City withholds community garden permits amid 16,000 vacant lots (Food for Freedom)


Community gardens (allotments) in the Philippines (Photo Willy GOETHALS)


Read at :

Granny guerrilla gardener ticketed for trespassing in Buffalo: City of 16,000 vacant lots

By Donn Esmonde

If she keeps it up, they might slap the cuffs on her. I can see it now—Nettie Anderson, outlaw gardener. Dirt on her hands. A summons in her mailbox.

That is just the image this city needs: An 83-year-old grandmother with a rap sheet. The longtime community activist may get nailed with a trespassing violation for trying to spruce up her street. Standing with her is a legion of other citizen- gardeners who are trying to make Buffalo better, if only the mayor would let them.

City Hall has a nasty habit of making life tough for people who are trying to help themselves — and the city. Even so, count this absurdity among Byron Brown’s Greatest Mis-hits.

The city has 16,000 vacant lots and no idea what to do with them. Folks on battered streets got tired of staring at scrub brush. They pulled out weeds and jacked up property values by putting in gardens. Lending a hand is Grassroots Gardens, a nonprofit group that donates plants and — amazingly — put up $1 million to legally cover the city’s back. All that the city’s chief planner, who takes marching orders from the mayor, has to do is sign off on the gift of citizens’ sweat.



Allotments in Ghent/Belgium - (Photo WVC)

Community and School Gardens (

Read at :

By Marie Iannotti, Guide

One of the few nice things about tough times is that it woos many people into the garden. People who never grew so much as a pansy are now tomato growing obsessives. And lucky school kids are being dragged out there with them.

If you’ve been considering starting a garden in your community, whether to help feed people, to reclaim a vacant lot or to get the kids involved, there is a lot of great advice on the web to get you started. The American Community Gardening Association has a web site overflowing with charts and resources or you can begin with my boiled down checklist for getting a community garden organized.


The role of urban gardens, family gardens and school gardens (Willem Van Cotthem / IRIN / FAO)

For years we have been promoting family gardens (kitchen gardens) and school gardens, not to mention hospital gardens, in the debate on alleviation of hunger and poverty.  We have always insisted on the fact that development aid should concentrate on initiatives to boost food security through family gardens instead of food aid on which the recipients remain dependent. Since the nineties we have shown that community gardens in rural villages, family gardens in refugee camps and school gardens, where people and children grow their own produce, are better off than those who received food from aid organizations at regular intervals.

2007 – Family garden in Smara refugee camp (S.W. Algeria, Sahara desert), where people never before got local fresh food to eat

Locally produced fresh vegetables and fruits play a tremendously important role in the daily diet of all those hungry people in the drylands.  Take for instance the possibility of having a daily portion of vitamins within hand reach.  Imagine the effect of fresh food on malnutrition of the children.  Imagine the feelings of all those women having their own kitchen garden close to the house, with some classical vegetables and a couple of fruit trees.

No wonder that hundreds of publications indicate the success of allotment gardens in periods of food crisis.  See what happened during World War I and II, when so many  families were obliged to produce some food on a piece of land somewhere to stay alive.  In those difficult days allotment gardens were THE solution.  They still exist and become more and more appealing in times of food crisis.

2008-10-25 – Allotment gardens Slotenkouter (Ghent City, Belgium) at the end of the growing season

There was no surprise at all to read, since a few years that is, about a new movement in the cities : guerilla gardening.  Sure, different factors intervene in these urban initiatives, be it environmental factors (embellishing open spaces full of weeds in town) or social ones (poor people growing vegetables on small pieces of barren land in the cities).

Today, some delightful news was published by IRIN :”Liberia: Urban gardens to boost food security” :

“MONROVIA, 19 January 2010 (IRIN) – Farmers are turning to urban gardens as a way to boost food security in Liberia’s Montserrado County, where just one percent of residents grow their own produce today compared to 70 percent before the war.


The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is targeting 5,000 urban residents of Montserrado, Bomi, Grand Bassa, Bong and Margibi counties, to encourage them to start market gardens or increase the amount of fruit and vegetables they grow on their farms. Participants had to have access to tools and some land.  The aim is to improve food security and nutritional status while boosting incomes, said project coordinator Albert Kpassawah. Participants told IRIN they plant hot peppers, cabbage, calla, tomatoes, onions, beans and ground nuts. Health and nutrition experts in Liberia say increasing fruit, vegetables and protein in people’s diets is vital to reducing chronic malnutrition, which currently affects 45 percent of under-fives nationwide.


FAO assists primarily by providing seeds and training in techniques such as conserving rainwater and composting. The organization does not provide fertilizer, insecticides or tools – a concern to some participants. “You cannot grow cabbage without insecticide. It doesn’t work,” Anthony Nackers told IRIN.  Vermin, insects and poor storage destroy 60 percent of Liberia’s annual harvest, according to FAO.  And many of the most vulnerable city-dwellers – those with no access to land – cannot participate at all, FAO’s Kpassawah pointed out. But he said he hopes the project’s benefits will spread beyond immediate participants, since all who take part are encouraged to pass on their training to relatives, neighbours and friends.  And there is ample scope to expand techniques learned from cities to rural areas, he pointed out. Just one-third of Liberia’s 660,000 fertile hectares are being cultivated, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.


Let us express our sincere hopes that FAO will soon be able to show to all aid organizations that sufficient food production can be secured by the population of any developing country.  What is possible in urban areas of Liberia can be duplicated in any other country.  What can be achieved in urban gardens, can also be done in rural family gardens.  Why should we continue to discuss the alarming problem of those vulnerable children suffering or even starving from chronic malnutrition, if  school gardens can be a good copy of the successful urban gardens in Liberia?

Don’t we underestimate the role container gardening can play in food production (see and the pleasure children can find in growing fruit trees and vegetables in plastic bottles.  Pure educational reality !

We count on FAO to take the lead : instead of spending billions on “permanent” food aid, year after year, it would be an unlimited return on investment if only a smaller part would be reserved to immediate needs in times of hunger catastrophes, but the major part spent at the world-wide creation of urban and rural family gardens.

We remain in FAO’s save hands. We wonder what keeps United Nations to envisage a “Global Programme for Food Security” based on the creation of kitchen gardens for the one billion daily hungry people who know that we have this solution in hand.  Let us spend more available resources on “Defense”, the one against hunger and poverty!

Benefits of growing your own food in allotment gardens (Sheffield Univ. / Willem Van Cotthem)

Read at : Sheffield Univ. – Environment Division


Producers of ‘home grown’ food can gain psychological and physiological benefits through physical activity and improved nutrition, as well as through self empowerment, engaging with nature, and participating in communal activities. Lack of physical activity and low intake of fruit and vegetables is linked to poor health, but little is known about how the health benefits of physical exercise and fruit and vegetable consumption relate to their environmental setting. Studies of these benefits have often focused on particular social groups such as the elderly or those with mental illness.



The paragraph above describes the major benefits of growing your own food in allotment gardens.  Key words are :

  1. Physiological benefits: physical activity, improved nutrition, improved health
  2. Psychological benefits: self empowerment, engagement with nature, participation in community.

In fact, these benefits also go for family gardens (kitchen gardens), school gardens and hospital gardens.  One can imagine that extraordinary improvement in nutrition and health can be achieved if people in the drylands and in refugee camps would be enabled to grow their own food, be it in allotment gardens or in community gardens.

I remain confident that international aid organizations and NGOs, sooner or later, will set up programmes and projects to install these types of gardens to combat hunger and malnutrition and to assure food security in hostile environments.

Success of community plots (Google / The Columbian)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

City cultivates garden locations

Vancouver opens more space for community plots

By Andrea Damewood

Columbian Staff Writer

Look out Bono: Community gardens are the hottest ticket in town.

Last year, Vancouver’s 200 community garden plots sold out in just four hours. Turns out, folks in Clark County interested in growing their own groceries seem to be cropping up faster than the pesky dandelions their brothers-in-dirt lament.

So for this growing season, the city has added new plots and beds to its four existing community gardens, and is opening the new 24-plot Haagen Community Park Garden on Northeast Ninth Street. The work is covered by a $5,000 grant from the Parks Foundation of Clark County and $40,000 in city funding.

The city is also hosting a forum Tuesday for those interested in starting even more public gardens, this time in their neighborhood parks. Continue reading Success of community plots (Google / The Columbian)

Community food gardens/Food Banks/Allotments for food security (Google / Green Living Tips)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

Community food gardens

By Green Living Tips

What is a community food garden?
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In previous articles I’ve covered “alternative” natural food sourcing and production arrangements such as CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) and natural food cooperatives.

Another concept gaining popularity is community food gardens.


A community food garden is a piece of land, usually rented from local government, collectively worked by a group of people who share the harvest. It differs a little from the UK allotment concept in that allotments are usually rented out to individuals.

Community food gardens offer individuals a way of growing a portion of their own food in a collaborative environment, benefiting from the experience of other members. Community food gardens can provide greater food security along with a reduction in the food mile impact of participants’ diets. Quite a few of these groups also observe environmentally friendly methods of food production – anything from using heritage or heirloom seeds or natural fertilizers, to full blown organic gardening. Continue reading Community food gardens/Food Banks/Allotments for food security (Google / Green Living Tips)

A convenient truth for family gardening (Willem van Cotthem)

In August 2007, I launched a new project “Seeds for Food” (see <>) for collecting seeds of vegetables and fruits, in order to offer people living in the drylands opportunities to grow fresh food themselves in small family gardens or community gardens.  This action is growing into a dramatic success as people on different continents are now sending seeds of the fruits they eat or from vegetables grown in their own garden.

Nevertheless, a number of people express their concern about the possibility that some of these seeds could belong to “invasive species”, which would rapidly invade the local ecosystems and thus be a nuisance for the local biodiversity.

Here is one of these “critics” and my reply thereon :

“I have some problems with the scheme you are talking about. It is not good for biodiversity. For example here in SA when people imported bramble berries they took off so well that now they are a huge problem covering millions of hectares of land that would otherwise be used for grazing or local crops. I have just spent an hour near the bridge removing the bramble before it takes off after a very good spring rain.

In SA what we need to do is gather and care for our own indigenous seeds, not plant foreign seeds. So the scheme wouldn’t work here. I hope the scheme will really not cause more problems in the long run for the countries where the seeds are being grown. …………..


MY REPLY (Willem)

I understand fully your concern about the possible introduction of so-called “invasive species of plants”, rapidly dispersing in the original ecosystems and developing into a catastrophic nuisance.  This is certainly the case with bramble berries.  One should never send bramble berries abroad because this plant species is known as an invasive one of which the seeds are dispersed by a lot of animals.

Most of the vegetables, on the contrary, are not invasive.  And so are most of the fruit trees.

Now, let us suppose for a moment that tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery or parsley would spread quite rapidly over the dryland areas where we introduce them.  Would the local people mind finding these food crops around their houses after a certain time? If ever tomatoes would spread massively over desertlike areas, would we speak of a catastrophe for biodiversity ?  Or would it be even positive to see some green plants covering the dry soil?

So, I understand your concern, but I am very sure that the seeds we are sending abroad will never create such a problem.  Moreover, it would be better to create a vegetation layer over a dryland area with vegetables and fruits than to leave it barren, due to desertification.  Drought will always be the limiting factor in such areas.

I hope you see my point : we want to offer fresh food and fruits to the rural people in the drylands, not by sending them “food baskets”, rice, dry beans, peas, canned food and the like, but by offering them free seeds to be grown in their own small family garden.  Our “food aid” brings life into the drylands and takes care of the causes of hunger, drought and desertification.  That’s providing sustainable development, not by sending a billion of dollars load in an airplane, but in a small package full of different seeds.

And we are not sending invasive species !

Thanks for your remarks.

Friendly greetings,


Growing a community garden (Google / Marinij)

Read at : Google Alert – drought,0,6467836.story

Master Gardener: Growing a community garden in Tiburon

Jeanne Price, UC Master Gardener

Blackie, a retired Calvary and rodeo cutting horse, stood in his Tiburon pasture for 28 years, until his death in 1966. During his retirement local children loved to feed him carrots and sugar cubes. The land became a mud hole in winter and a dust bowl in summer. Attempts to improve the site by the town went unfunded. Then local citizens, tired of waiting, formed Blackie’s Brigade determined to make the site into a real pasture.With volunteer labor, grants and private contributions this was done over a period of about three years. However, a fifth-of-an-acre strip of land lay between the town’s bike path and the road to the Sanitary District, in which to plant a garden. Tiburon resident Ruth Lese fell in love with Blackie’s Pasture on her daily walks. When she passed away her children provided the seed money for a garden in her memory. The town now needed someone to make it happen.

Enter Master Gardener Harvey Rogers of Belvedere. In 1995, he expressed an interest in working on the project and became its heart and soul. Engaging Marin Master Gardeners and other gardening enthusiasts, he organized them to plant, upgrade, irrigate and tend what you see today. Rogers wanted the garden to showcase native plants and water conservation. He looked for plants that were long-lived, provided color for many months, weren’t thirsty, didn’t need much fertilizer or pesticides – in a word, low maintenance.

Today more than 2,500 native plants – native to our Mediterranean climate – in a variety of colors and largely drought tolerant are the fruition of his vision. The garden is cared for by volunteers, with 80 percent of the labor donated by Marin Master Gardeners and 20 percent by others. It is now funded by the town of Tiburon, the city of Belvedere, the Belvedere Community Foundation and the Tiburon Peninsula Foundation.