Urban Gardening: The city, my garden

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The cities of the world grow, the resources for the cultivation of food for their inhabitants are dwindling. Can solve, planted the high-rise roofs and urban agriculture the Problem in the future?

Miriam Brink from plucking a glossy, dark green leaf, chews and ponders. “Celery!”, the hobby diagnosed teacher and breaks you in gently, three, four, the bright green herbaceous plants under the foliage. For fresh vegetables, Brink does not have to go to the market or in front of the city. Since one and a half years, the initiator of the “city of fruit gardens” in Bonn’s old town. Together with a friend, she has found the fallow area is leased, and an urban garden transformed. 30 members of the Initiative has in the meantime. Together, they maintain 20 raised beds about 80 square meters of space. Even in the late autumn, the harvest is rich: celery, Kohlrabi, Savoy cabbage, and an occasional sick yellow tomato.

The urban garden now has many partners in the world. One of them is the science shop (WiLa) in Bonn. A topic that has been written of the WiLa on the Flag, is urban agriculture. Together with the Fraunhofer Institute for environmental, safety and energy technology, he runs the SAIN project. Goal is to issues and concerns in the society and to feed this into the science. The results are then provided back to the civil society.

The farms of the future could look like: A draft of the Swedish company Plantagon from the year 2014

Urban agriculture: utopia or a real Alternative?

A solution believed to have already in 1999, the former Professor at Columbia University in New York Dickson Despommier found: Vertical farming. The principle crops are to be grown in high, multi-storey buildings within the city. Such a skyscraper Farm should be able to provide in this way, tens of thousands of people with food.

Around the turn of the Millennium, the idea still seemed feasible. Meanwhile, countries are working around the world in the method or are already using it. A pioneer in this field in Europe is the Netherlands. In the Dutch city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, scientists have set up already in 2010, the PlantLab. According to the Website almost every agricultural Crop grows here on 3000 square meters in three floors under the earth. The cultivation generated a significantly higher Output than the conventional agriculture, because of the protected areas, can all year round to be harvested. The produced vegetables is consumed in the city, without a long transit. “Grown locally, and planet friendly”, advertises the company.

Wilfried Bommert of the Berlin-based think-tank the Institute for global food sees the high-tech fruit and vegetable production in cities is critical: “The implementation of vertical farms in skyscrapers is possible, but the entertainment is very cost-intensive. A head of Lettuce would cost around two dollars instead of one or less. It is clear, therefore, that the only for a wealthy audience, is attractive.” For cities in poorer regions of the earth that is not a solution, as a lower-cost Alternative must be found. In Nairobi, Kenya, was tested, therefore, in the densely populated, poor Region Kebira for the first time, the so-called dead garden. The earth is not there, well, so plant the inhabitants of the vegetables in bags with a suitable earth. 15 Euro for the bag with earth, including seed, and every three to six days cost is can be harvested. The French humanitarian organization Solidarités had started the project in 2008.

The French humanitarian organization Solidarités had started in 2008, the project bag gardens in a Slum of Nairobi

Europe’s cities need to rethink

But also, European cities will need in the future to make thoughts, Bommert is convinced that “climate change is shifting our production sites. Europe imports three-quarters of Emerging and developing countries, which are becoming plagued more by drought or Flooding, and will not stand forever as reservoirs.” This will mainly affect the global South, predicted Bommert. “But in Germany, too, we remember, of course, with The harvest in the summer of this year is down in Germany to 50 percent.” The cities would have to solve the previous large production cycles. “Urban agriculture needs to be a part of the policy of the city”, calls Bommert. Berlin, for example, would have good conditions for this.

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New gardens need the city – Urban Gardening in Berlin

“The city’s surfaces alone is not enough,” says Stephanie Bock from the German Institute for urbanism “In a city the size of Berlin, we are not able to use all of the free areas of the country economically, and even if, it would be too few to feed the whole town.” A combination of conventional farming and urban farming here. Urban gardens of the society are one step in a complex conversion of the production system.

For Miriam, in Bonn, your garden is a living example of, above all, a way to sustainable food production in the city. Whether you will eat at some point exclusively from the garden, she does not know yet. “But a wish it would be,” she says. “If not now, then at least for the next Generation.”