How To Grow More Food Using The Space Around Your Home
Issues like food miles, water waste, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides continually plague the modern agricultural industry as farms attempt to meet the rising demand of more and more mouths to feed. While it’s easy to shrug off the issue for farmers and government authorities to grapple with, there are actually quite a few things that can be done to help on the home-front as well.
Why the Industry Is Struggling
There’s no doubt that the agricultural industry is under pressure. As global populations continue to rise, the need for more food is dire.
The immediate dangers of this threat are often difficult to see on the surface. With so many people living in urban areas, it’s easy to think that true overpopulation is decades away. However, for every square meter of city space, 10 times the amount of agricultural land is required. So for the 3% of the Earth’s surface that cities occupy, roughly 30% of the Earth is needed in agricultural land. In other words, we’re farming our planet to death as we sit in our cities and largely turn a blind eye.
That’s not to say that the issue isn’t being addressed. Efforts are being made to revolutionize the agricultural industry with new sustainable agriculture priorities that include maintaining the health of the soil, helping foster biodiverse ecosystems, and minimizing pollution and water waste.
Growing More Food at Home
While larger companies and governments strive to answer the greater agricultural issues that face us in the modern era, the rest of humanity doesn’t need to sit on the sidelines. There are still plenty of ways for individual households to do their part too.
The benefits of getting involved are numerous. Not only does growing food allow you to reduce your dependence on damaging agricultural practices, but it can also reduce your grocery bills, help you stay physically fit, promote mindfulness, and improve overall mental health when done wisely.
Even in densely populated urban areas, tt’s common to have a garden of some sort or another. But there are many ways that those who take their gardening seriously can elevate their efforts to be more productive and more sustainable:
Container gardening: Using smaller containers such as terra cotta planters to house your garden. This allows you to grow a garden in urban and suburban areas where space may be limited.
Square foot gardening: This effective gardening option has been popular since the early ‘80s. Careful planning is required to use very small garden beds to their maximum potential.
Hydroponic gardening: Hydroponic gardening is a system that utilizes and recycles nutrient-rich water rather than soil. It is incredibly efficient and uses substantially less water.
Community gardens: Creating a garden for those around you to partake in can enable you to scale your efforts and help create a closer community in the process.
Tower farm systems: If you have no yard but have a rooftop or other limited space, tower farming allows you to create a productive vertical garden with a minimal footprint.
Mulching: Rather than raking up all of your leaves, consider mowing over them to create a mulch that will eventually decompose and add nutrients to the soil.
Prefabricated homes: If you’re feeling ambitious, you may want to consider getting a prefabricated home. These structures are built to hold gardens on top of them, with the space below serving as a usable, waterproof living space.
The Future of Home Gardening
In addition to the practices outlined above, the concept of growing your food in and around your home is being taken to even further lengths, as demonstrated through a project by graduates of the University of Maryland. They built a $250,000 fully sustainable, “off-the-grid” home integrating solar heating, hydroponic gardening, and even a porch that can convert into a greenhouse. While the home wasn’t made commercially available after the project was finished, advanced gardening techniques like these do continue to slowly find their way to the marketplace in one form or another.
In the meantime, it’s critical to take the time to invest in tips like the ones outlined above. Efforts to maximize output and sustainability in home gardens are critical to the future success of agriculture, as they liberate consumers from dependence of harmful agricultural practices, as well as the numerous costs involved in growing and transporting produce.