In keeping with the unintentional green theme happening this week, we decided to take a look at another sustainable living approach: urban agriculture. Urban agriculture, sometimes referred to as urban homesteading, is the practice of using your urban residence – whether it’s a home, condo or apartment – to produce some portion of your own food.
Homesteading is a rewarding practice that saves you money on grocery costs while providing you with tasty produce… essentially a win-win. But how much space do you really need to get your toes wet as an urban farmer? Not very much, it turns out!
Ready to get started? First things first, you can put down that tractor catalog; you won’t be needing one of those. Urban agriculture is about making the most of whatever space you have. If you have a suburban family home, you might add some raised garden boxes to your backyard or blend some edible plants into your existing landscaping (Disneyland does it!).
If you have a smaller space, like a patio or balcony, go vertical. You can optimize any fence or rail by mounting a gutter garden – a rain gutter cut to length is the perfect home for strawberries, lettuces, herbs and other shallow-rooting plants. Another inexpensive vertical garden option is a DIY pallet garden.
With purchase of chickens – and all their accoutrements – that is! If you have a yard (and a way with animals), you might be tempted to try your hand at chicken-husbandry. Lawn chickens are trending right now, if the rising subscriptions rate at Backyard Poultry magazine tells us anything. While city codes vary, many areas allow up to a certain amount of hens, quails and/or ducks – but NO roosters – in suburban areas.
A steady supply of farm-fresh eggs is definitely tempting. And the costs associated with a mini-chicken farm aren’t too staggering; baby chicks only cost $1 each! Before you start counting your egg money though, take a minute to read about the “eggonomics” of urban chicken farming.
Can It Already
Don’t feel like getting dirt under your fingernails? Not a problem, you can still participate. Try your hand at homesteading by learning how to preserve your farmers market (or, let’s be realistic, grocery store) stockpiles. Pickling and canning tutorials are all the rage, even stores like Williams-Sonoma and Whole Foods are getting in on the fun by offering the occasional class.
Canning and pickling offers agricultural-enthusiasts the ability to stockpile their hauls, but it often requires a little more time and patience than the average urbanite has available. For an easy pickled carrots recipe, no boiling or sterile tongs required, click here – they’ll keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks!
Urban agriculture is already extremely popular in big cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Brooklyn. Have you seen any urban farms in your listing neighborhoods?
How do you think backyard chickens will affect home values? And, more importantly, have you ever made your own jam (and will you send us some)? Inquiring minds want to know!