5 Reasons Why Urban Farming Rocks: Apply Today to Win the $15k Gardens for Good Grant
From a few containers full of soil and seeds to acres of rooftop overflowing with greens, urban farming has taken the nation by storm—and we couldn’t be happier. From putting food justice back in the hands of the people to transforming blighted urban landscapes, farming the city is the way of the future.
Urban farming is a growing movement, and here’s why it’s awesome:
1. Urban Farming is Sustainable For People and Planet
It strengthens local economies by creating jobs and access to healthy food. It strengthens local ecologies by sequestering carbon and creating green spaces that add shade and counter the “heat island” effect of so much concrete. Urban farms also provide a much-needed respite for the pollinators that are so vital to our food system. As an added bonus, growing food where you live cuts out the food miles that cucumber travelled to get from Mexico to your plate.
2. Urban Farms Put Nutrition Back On the Table
Urban food deserts are a serious issue facing many inner city communities. Without access to fresh, healthy food, many families end up surviving on the Wonder Bread and Kraft Dinner available at their local CVS. Urban farms help them thrive by putting healthy produce at their doorsteps and on their plates. And kids who grow up growing food are inspired to eat more vegetables. They’ll end up passing these healthy habits on to others in their community, and eventually their own kids.
3. Growing Together Builds Community
There’s nothing quite like bonding with your neighbors over this summer’s epic tomato harvest. Many cultures revolve around food – growing, cooking, and eating it. Food connects people, and growing food together is one of the best ways to connect. Even people who don’t get their hands dirty feel an increased sense of community thanks to urban farms – especially when they can help their urban farmers thrive in other ways, like supporting local projects in Nature’s Path’s Gardens for Good grant contest, where urban farms can win $15,000 to put back into their projects and communities.
4. Urban Farms and Organic—a Match Made in Heaven
Organic urban farming means no pesticides. Urban farmers often have less pressure from pests and weeds, so they can easily grow organic. And that means fewer toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers entering our environment and our food supply. Organically grown fruit and vegetables also contain higher levels of some nutrients, such as antioxidants.
5. Urban Farming Brings Nature Back to the City
Green spacing sprouting an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies is a sight for sore eye after miles of dull concrete roads and sidewalks. So many of us city dwellers are starved for nature, and urban farming brings it back in a big way. The benefits: connecting with nature is good for us. Growing food in your city gets you moving, and gets your hands in the dirt, which is shown to have therapeutic benefits.
Plus, you get strawberries. And tomatoes, and green beans, and melons, and lettuce, and hot peppers and more giant zucchini than you know what to do with. That’s a win right there. Help score a win for your neighborhood. Do you have an urban farm project, or know someone who does? Apply for a Gardens for Good grant before June 22 and you could win $15,000 to help grow your organic urban garden—and your community.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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