There are many opportunities to grow food in the city. It is interesting to see that the opportunities actually abound. Here are some of the best ways to grow more plants for food in the city.
Urban Food Forest
If you have a backyard, even just 15 by 15feet, and even if it is north facing, you can plant an urban food forest. Create raised concrete, stone or wooden planters around all your fence lines in your backyard. Leave an innermost courtyard space to enjoy the future food forest.
Mix in great soil and compost and choose a high density of various fruit trees right for your growing zone.
- Zones 7 through 8: nectarines, figs, cherries
- Zones 4 through 5: mulberries, apricots, pears
- Zones 2 through 3: plums, apples, saskatoons
These will grow up around the courtyard and eventually shade it. In the meantime, plant other herbs and ground covers that like partial shade and even some that can eventually enjoy full shade.
Always plant more than you will need so varieties that do best can be left. Varieties that are less well-suited (you’ll only learn this with time) can be cut out and removed.
You can also grow in moveable planters on the sidewalk in front of your row home, apartment, etc. These planters can be built out of thick wood with pallet style bottoms for moving with a fork. You can also use large horse troughs to move with a dolly-type set up.
Alternatively, these can also be built right into the ground by removing a square of concrete (make you you apply for this if its city-owned) to create a permanent tree spot. Plant tree fruits, berries and herbs ideally on a sunny side of your house.
Read more: Concerned about lead in city soil? This study looks at ways to get the lead out!
Remove a thin (3- to 6-inch) piece of concrete from along your stoop and plant climbing plants like hardy kiwi, grapes, peas, beans, red runner beans, or other vining edible or medicinal plants.
You could do this using planter pots. You could also remove thin slices of concrete along the front of the building where there are no stairs and railing. Here, you can allow narrow strips of wildflowers or edible herbs to grow along the brick or stone façade of your apartment.
Community Garden/Allotment Plot
Get a community garden plot or allotment in your neighborhood. The best suggestion here is to steer away from a more typical design that involves lots of bricks, stone, cinderblock or wooden walls around the entire plot to separate it from the neighbors.
Instead, prioritize the space to a series of 48-foot wide, 8-foot tall and 15-foot long (or longer) Permabeds with chip mulch paths. A lot of space is wasted in abiotic materials (like stone or brick walls) in your community gardens, so prioritize square footage for plants.
Rooftops & Balconies
Rooftops and balconies also provide great opportunities for growing food in the city. Here, large planters, pots and custom boxed beds can have special water proof liners and be filled with pot herbs like basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley, etc.
You can also grow cherry tomatoes, basil and other pasta/salsa garden plants! Make use of your spaces.
Read more: Growing in the city is more than possible—it’s beautiful and sustaining.
Windowsills & Boxes
Windowsills and window boxes also provide great opportunities for city growing. Inside or outside the window is an area of light. Light equals photosynthesis, and that, put simply, is how food is made. So grow in your window environment!
Those are some of my top picks for growing more in the city, but there are surely other creative ways to grow food in a city or urban environment. Get creative, and get growing!