Do you reside in a city? Are you an immigrant into an urban center? Do you long to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits? Do you have basic knowledge and skills on food production to consumption?
What is holding you back from growing your own food? Yet, the consumption of vegetables and fruits had been identified as central to our food and nutritional security?
We have heard those questions enough times to get us into action. Yet, there are enough excuses to set us free from accessing and consuming the foods we desire: lack of resources to purchase desired food, lack of food to be purchased, lack of skills to prepare food, and lack of knowledge on food types and their nutritional value, and the list continues.
Okay, let's get doing something, before you drift into thoughts on the challenges ahead.
Between the months of May and September, I will share my farming activities in a city. The step-by-step information will focus on my experience in garden preparation, seeds/seedlings, garden tending, harvesting, storage, food preparation and consumption.
My journey so far
Did you say you do not own land?
Not everyone has easy access to land, especially in cities. But, you will find some if you look a little hard: family land, land for lease, land for purchase, seasonal community lands, flower gardens, or underused public or private lands.
How? Ask within your social networks, your leaders, and the relevant department in your city.
My first attempt at urban gardening was by growing herbs and tomatoes in containers, balanced on window bases of an apartment building.
I later cultivated an assortment of vegetables at a flower garden of a rented residence. One day, when a letter arrived from the property management, I assumed it was a warning. On reading, it was a congratulatory note for keeping the grounds beautiful. Then a friend introduced me to a community garden where we lease land on an annual basis.
For 2017, I have booked a 40X40 parcel of land.
While waiting for the farm to be opened for the growing season, I made a list of vegetables I plan to cultivate, and visited stores and garden centers in search of seeds and seedlings.
My choice of crops to grow is guided by the four to five-month cultivation season, amount of harvest from last season, satisfy my quest for variety, try food items new to my menu, and the general cost of vegetables. For example, kale is rare and expensive in my city, yet easy to grow and store.
I have already purchased seedlings for kale (Sukuma wiki), mainly a response to my 2016 experience I had to drive around the city in search of seedlings. I also bought seeds for beetroot, pumpkin (squash) and cucumber, and some sunshine for the garden (sunflower).
My choice of the Mckenzie organic seed brand is based on past harvests. The seeds are non-GMO, and being organic, means limited inputs on my side, except for some compost, water and weed removal. The company has how-to information on their website for new gardeners.
The variety of crops on my land will increase over time. Another benefit of being part of a community of gardeners is the sharing of extra seeds, seedlings and harvest. For example, I will plant two packets of pumpkin seeds, yet I know I do not have enough space to transplant all of them – will share out extra seedlings to any gardener in need.
What is holding you back from cultivating the food items you desire? Time to share your concerns. Better still, locate some land and let's share skills on food cultivation, storage and consumption.
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