Small urban spaces are perfect for growing high-value crops like herbs, salad leaves and soft fruit. Homegrown produce can be a great way to supplement a diet and cut down on food waste. Growing food in urban spaces can also help reduce the amount of food that needs to be stored or transported in temperature-controlled storage facilities. Whether you grow vegetables, herbs, or other plants in your home or city garden will depend on what you plan to grow.
Growing food vertically
Growing food vertically in a small urban space can help solve many of the problems associated with limited space and light. Tall plants can be trained upward or downward to grow large and productive despite having a tiny horizontal footprint. Light can also be found higher up in the vertical space than at ground level. Shorter plants can be placed in front of taller plants to catch the sunlight before it reaches the lower layers. This is particularly advantageous in areas with limited outdoor space.
The benefits of vertical farming are plentiful. One of the main benefits is accessibility and the reduction of reliance on distant food sources. In addition to offering year-round produce, vertical farming allows for year-round access to food grown in extreme climates. It also allows farmers to control conditions and offer more than traditional methods. This is especially useful for urban farms with limited space. Growing food vertically in small urban spaces is a practical, cost-effective, and attractive option for urban dwellers who wish to grow organic food.
A vertical farm can be built in any space, even an underused urban space. It can be built in a used warehouse, old shipping containers, or even a pork-packing plant. In this way, underutilized space can be transformed into local farms. By building vertical farms, communities become more involved in food production and consumption. In fact, a recent Brookings article on urban land revitalization emphasizes the importance of vertical farms. Plenty is planning its next vertical farm in Compton, California.
The USDA and Department of Energy recently held a stakeholder workshop on vertical farming and sustainable urban ecosystems. During the workshop, experts in the field shared thought-provoking presentations. Small-group discussions focused on engineering, plant breeding, and pest management brought together attendees from the public and private sectors to identify needs and challenges associated with vertical farming. The report generated from the workshop will help guide Departmental research priorities. Growing food vertically in small urban spaces can make a huge difference in the food supply chain in the U.S.
Vertical farming can also be beneficial to the leafy greens industry, as it allows farmers to grow more leafy greens throughout the year, regardless of weather conditions. It can also reduce the food loss in transportation. Vertical farming will improve crop diversity and focus on higher-nutrient and nutrient-rich products. It will also support local food systems and help meet the growing demands of global population. While vertical farming isn’t feasible in every city, the benefits of urban production are worth considering.
Urban agriculture has the potential to solve some of the world’s greatest food shortage problems. By moving production closer to the point of consumption, vertical farming can significantly reduce the number of food miles, thereby ensuring more people have access to fresh vegetables. Most Americans eat leafy greens, which can be grown vertically, but most of this production occurs as outdoor crops in places such as Arizona and California. Leafy greens are water-dense and must travel many miles to be consumed.
Investing in vertical farming is one way to mitigate disparities and create new employment opportunities. Incorporating community members in vertical farming initiatives is an important component of energy justice and development. A successful vertical farm will create jobs in the community, including the workers and residents who work on it. The benefits of growing food vertically are endless. The benefits are numerous and they can be a lifesaver in urban settings.
Growing food in areas with less sun
Regardless of the location of your garden, most vegetables and fruits do better when they receive a full day’s worth of sun. In a definition of “full sun,” an area gets at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. In a garden, however, partial sun and dappled sunlight are both perfectly acceptable for growing many types of plants. Vegetables that grow for the leaves and stems are often fine in areas where they do not receive as much direct sun. If you live in a shady area, consider growing root vegetables instead.
If your front or back yard gets no sun, you can still grow most vegetables and herbs. Alternatively, you can grow flowers in containers and use vertical supports. While growing vegetables and herbs in areas with less sunlight, it’s important to remember that they require three hours of direct sunlight each day. Avoid planting plants too close together as they will be shaded by each other. Consider using grow bags or containers if you can’t afford to move your plants regularly. Moreover, be aware of the micro-climates of your garden and plant accordingly. Also, remember that there’s a limit to how much you can water your plants.
Some vegetables, such as cucumbers and squash, do well in partially shaded areas. In general, these crops require at least eight hours of sunlight per day. Partially shaded areas can be a challenge, but there are methods to grow vegetables in areas with partial shade. For example, cucumbers and pole beans do well in areas where the sun isn’t as strong. They grow well in partially shaded areas, too, because their growth depends on the amount of sunlight they receive.
Some vegetables and fruits do very well in shaded areas, but their crops are small and won’t be as large as those grown in full sun. Some professionals plant cauliflower in the afternoon to protect light-sensitive curds. The rest of the vegetables and herbs do well in less sun. Leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, and spinach will grow just fine. It’s also possible to grow potatoes and peppers if you have the space.