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Green goes out of the house into the city

28 of January '21

The strategy of taking small steps and creating a healthy ecosystem in our immediate surroundings, such as ourhomes and apartments , may have the potential to grow in a broader context. What if we took the ecological solutions a little further and started ecologically infecting the city space?

We are well aware that Polish meadows are full of herbs and edible plants, but which are often referred to as weeds or invasive plants. On the other hand, they used to be regular ingredients in diets and first-aid kits, although even today, in the context of the positive direction towards eco-food , many people grow their own mini-gardens on window sills, balconies, a patch of land under a block of flats or, at best, simply in a garden next to the house or allotments. A solution that is popular in Western Europe and the United States is the idea of urban gardening and urban farming, which are contained in a broad culture of ecophilosophy called permaculture. It involves creating a sustainable architecture for human dwellings and a self-regulating agricultural system along the lines of natural ecosystems. It may sound utopian in our local conditions, but urban gardening and urban farming, the ideas of which have been put into practice in Poland for several years, are nothing more than the cultivation of urban gardens and urban farms, often in a neighborhood cooperative, such as on the roof of an apartment building or a yard belonging to an apartment building. Urban cultivation can take on a variety of characters and scales, and are designed to meet the needs of small communities, both in terms of ecological or economic issues, as well as aesthetic and landscape. They thus become colorful and seasonally variable enclaves of urban greenery with utilitarian as well as aesthetic value.

roślin na balkonie

Growing plants on the balcony

Photo by Isabella Rick © CC BY 3.0

idea from farm to table

Permaculture, which draws from a number of fields such as organic farming, agroforestry, integrated agriculture, sustainability and applied ecology, seems to be a natural evolution of traditional agriculture. The movement's primary goal is to help people produce greater self-sufficiency through the design and development of sustainable gardens and farms. This is important because by 2050 more than 70 percent of the population will live in cities. Already, many restaurants that focus on eco-food are growing fruits and vegetables or mini farms for their own consumption. Urban "From farm to table," that is, hyper-local food growing, coming to restaurants from the immediate vicinity, significantly reduces the ecological footprint of food production. And these types of solutions can also be carried out in-house, reducing the issues of GMOs, pesticides or transportation negatively affecting our health and environment.

Meadows and green planes

Returning to meadows full of herbs and edible plants, it is worth replacing regularly cut urban lawns with them, which will create natural retention for rainwater, but will also become a habitat for insects and, going further, opportunities for apiaries. It is also important to design green roofs and facades, which promote not only water retention, but counteract the, so-called, heat island created by the ubiquitous concrete.

gardening w okolicy kamienicy mieszkalnej

Urban gardening in the vicinity of a residential building

Photo: Herzi Pinki © CC BY-SA 4.0

individual action

Such micro-scale challenges, such as urban gardening and urban farming , can be undertaken on an individual level or within small communities, also influencing interactions, while on a macro scale it is worthwhile for them to be supported by local authorities, although in fact this is more often done on the initiative of NGOs. Within the framework of the latter, neighborhood groups often receive financial and organizational support in the establishment and development of an urban garden or farm.

Katarzyna Oczkowska

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