5 Ways to Farm the City
We recently attended the Green Living Show where we had a great green setup in the "Urban Agriculture Pavilion." This area was new to the show this year, and was an interactive garden space designed to illuminate the healthy local food systems available to Torontonians. We really loved the concept behind this space, and were inspired to share some ideas on urban gardening possibilities with you. Whether you live in a small space in the heart of the city or have access to an outdoor area, there are so many ways to access hyper-local food and ‘farm the city’. Here are some:
No yard? No problem. Apartment and condo dwellers can farm the city too. Before you start, you’ll want to understand the growing environment on your balcony and then figure out what plants will grow and thrive in those conditions. You will also want to look into plants that don’t require too much space to grow! There are lots of great online resources to help get you started, or you can take Fresh City’s Organic Balcony Gardening workshop for a more hands-on experience.
Of course, those with access to outdoor space might need help too! Whether you have a patch of land beside your walkway, or a field of opportunities out back, the possibilities are endless (and sometimes overwhelming)! The city of Toronto has a ton of great resources on growing food on your property. Fresh City also offers an Urban Gardening Workshop for anyone interested in an introduction to gardening, or a more advanced class on Garden Planning & Design for the more experienced. If you have the space for a garden, but lack the time/desire to work on it, a garden share could be the perfect solution. Sharing Backyards is an online compendium of city gardens – you can list your own for someone else to farm (and share in the rewards). Sounds like a win win!
Short on outdoor space but love gardening? Planting indoors could be the right answer for you, and all you need is a window! And when it comes to window farming – dream BIG. Gone are the days of a few pots of herbs or flowers on the windowsill. With vertical farming you can literally take growing to the next level. There are tons of different container tutorials/methods available on the web so we recommend doing your own research to find something that works for your space and requirements. Here are a couple of great resources to get you started: window gardening tips & container gardening ideas .
If growing in your space is just not an option (or you want to supplement what you’re growing), foraging is a great option for access to free, local food. There are tons of edible treats growing wild across the city, and they’re ripe for the taking. When foraging you must proceed with caution – know your plants, and be careful about what you’re picking. Pick sustainably: only pick as much as you need, don’t uproot anything, and avoid gathering anything that won’t grow back, like wild garlic. Eat Locally, Blog Globally has a great list of foods that can be foraged in the city, and you can join the Wild Foragers Society group on Facebook for more updates. If you want to tag along with a group, Not Far From the Tree is always looking for volunteers to help pick fruit trees and share in the bounty.
Farm Shares & Markets
Don’t have the time for gardening but still want to support local farming? Farm shares and farmer’s markets are a great option too. Even if you are growing your own food, it’s great to have some local food options for the times of year when you’re not harvesting, and to supplement your diet when you are. Toronto has lots of great farmer’s markets , and you can check out a list of Ontario CSA farms . You can also have city-farmed, local and organically grown food delivered right to your door - Fresh City delivers to thousands of Torontonians year-round.