Over seven billion people call Earth home these days. Feeding all those hungry people is no small task. Fortunately, scientific advances have helped to modernize agriculture to the point where billions of pounds of food can be produced year after year.

Intensive agricultural use of land takes its toll on Earth’s resources, though. From demands on the land and bodies of water to pollution associated with chemical fertilizers, it can be a challenge to maintain the health of Earth as we seek to maintain the health of its peoples.

Today, many people have started to take a greater interest in where their food comes from. Rather than eating food that has been shipped hundreds or thousands of miles, many people now prefer locally-grown foods. Not only do local foods result in less pollution from shipping, but they’re also fresher and taste better.

A desire for fresh, local foods has led many people to create their own gardens to grow their own food. If you’ve ever seen a corn or soybean field, you know that most farms that produce food are quite large. That’s why they tend to be out in the country where large tracts of land are available. What are people who live in cities to do?

As many people who have tried urban gardening have learned, you don’t have to own a tractor or thousands of acres of land to grow your own food. Using new and creative techniques, you can easily create vegetable gardens in the city.

In the urban environment, land can be scarce. Large, open spaces can be few and far between and larger tracts of land can command a premium price for other uses, such as housing and business development.

If you live in a city and have a backyard, you’re set. Even the smallest patches of land can be developed into thriving vegetable gardens. You simply have to set reasonable goals for the land you have to use. You might not be able to grow enough vegetables to feed hundreds, thousands, or millions of people, but you can probably grow enough food to make many meals for your family.

If you don’t have a backyard or access to even a small patch of land, don’t fret. You can still grow vegetables in containers. Even a simple windowsill is large enough to host small containers full of herbs. Larger containers, such as five-gallon buckets, can be used to grow a wide variety of vegetables, such as tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, beans, peppers, and cucumbers.

Where would you put the containers? Take stock of your environment and find a suitable place. Windows, patios, balconies, decks, and even rooftops that get at least six hours of sunlight each day make great spots for containers of vegetables to grow. In large cities, such as New York City, you’ll find many rooftops that have been turned into thriving gardens that produce a bountiful supply of vegetables each season.

So, if you want to grow your own vegetables, think outside the farm! Evaluate the land and spaces available to you and make the most of them! You won’t regret getting your hands dirty, raising some homegrown food, and feeling more connected to Earth.

11 Join the Discussion

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    • Pumpkins are fun to grow! Have you heard of pumpkin-growing contests where the winning entries can weigh hundreds (or even thousands) of pounds? Those pumpkins would make some pretty BIG pies for Thanksgiving! :-)

    • HOORAY, we’re so excited you’re thinking of growing some cucumbers, Madelyn! We bet you’ll have a green thumb in no time! :)

      We recommend you talk to an adult or family member about planting your cucumber seeds– together you can decide when it’s the right time to start! Check out this cool site from the University of Illinois: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/firstgarden/fundamentals/index.cfm This will be a great place to start! :)

  1. it is very possible; you could grow them any where with sun. you could plant them on a wall or in water in dirt any where.

    • Thanks for commenting, Juliana! You shared WONDERful ideas for gardening in the city. We WONDER if you have your own garden in the city? Have a WONDERful day! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Can you garden in the city?
  • What kinds of vegetables can you grow in a container?
  • Are rooftops a good place for an urban garden?

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Try It Out

We hope you really DUG today’s Wonder of the Day! Dig even deeper when you check out the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Ready for a field trip? Ask an adult friend or family member to take you to your local grocery store. Your task? Buy only fresh fruits and vegetables to make your next family meal. Branch out and try some new fruits and vegetables you’ve never tried before. Have fun cooking together and enjoying the freshest, healthiest foods you can find!
  • People are more enthusiastic and connected to their food when given the opportunity to get hands-on. A fresh way tocultivate excitement for trying new foods in your household is by raising your own homegrown veggies. You can learn so much as you nurture a vegetable plant through each phase of the growth cycle — from seedling to dinner plate. Be it a tiny herb garden on your windowsill or a large plot in the backyard — whether you live in the city, country or somewhere in between — there is a garden for every lifestyle. Take some time today to plan out a simple garden plot with an adult friend or family member. Whether you plant herbs on the kitchen windowsill or tomatoes in the backyard, you’re sure to enjoy the fruits — oops…we mean vegetables, of course! — of your labors!
  • Growing fruits and vegetables as a family is the perfect way to encourage nutritional choices. In fact, doing so can encourage a lifelong appreciation for fresh foods. As you get ready to plan a family gardening adventure, you might need some inspiration. Visit The New York Botanical Garden’s The Edible Garden for helpful tips on how to help your family’s kitchen garden take root. What are you waiting for? Grab a shovel! Grab a fork! Dig in!

Still Wondering

Visit Science NetLinks’ Crops 2: What Plants Need to Grow lesson to learn more about the kinds of things that plants need to grow well.

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