Facing the Challenges of Urban Gardening

comments (0) April 28th, 2016

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ladenzie ladenzie, member
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Urban gardening, whether you want to call it that or any of a number of similar terms, is quickly becoming the rage in societies around the world. Regardless of what you want to call it, however, it relates to gardening within an urban environment and incorporating many similar practices in its effective implementation. The good news is that urban gardening has many benefits, including providing food to city residents, reducing the energy consumption normally needed in traditional methods, reduced carbon footprint, and practical uses for open ground space.


It's astounding when you consider the possibilities of food production in cities where there was formerly a reliance on rural and suburban sources to provide for urban consumers.


The Challenges of Urban Gardening

Just as is the case with practically anything else, there are downsides to consider when you look to urban gardening to solve problems, There are challenges on their own, much less those that are encountered when urban gardening is done incorrectly.


Diminishing Returns

Urban gardening faces one huge problem and several others associated with it: lack of space. There just isn't enough space to realistically expect gardening to take place. Further, where there might be space, there is also the problem of diminishing returns. Stated otherwise, the open ground that might be found and available for gardening in an urban environment is simply too costly to let a less profitable venture such as gardening take over the space.


Water Requirements

Many urban gardeners use water that is potable and drawn from the municipal water supply, thereby reducing the available water sources. According to some studies, even in societies where greywater is used for gardening, part of the water for such purposes (up to 86 percent) is still taken from drinking water sources. It stands to reason that the overuse of surface or groundwater reduces available potable water supplies.


One solution to this problem is rainwater harvesting, which is gathering rainwater from an impervious surface and diverting it to a place where it can be used or stored for later use. Rainwater harvesting is classified in two ways: passive and active. The process that utilizes storage tanks to provide for residential or commercial use is called active rainwater harvesting.


Soil and Water Pollution

Another important challenge to urban gardening is soil and water pollution. Obviously, where there are issues with water and soil that has already been polluted being added to an urban garden, there is an obvious problem. There is also the reverse situation of contaminants of fertilizers, pesticides, nitrogen, and raw organic matter making its way into the urban soil and water. These substances can accumulate in urban soil, making it less productive and even toxic in the long run. Even runoff water from urban gardens can carry with it several waterborne diseases such as dysentery, cholera, salmonella and others.


Food Contamination

Urban areas that are used as farms are highly susceptible to harboring toxic materials such as heavy metals, including zinc, copper, tin, arsenic, lead, and mercury. These substances are usually the result of emissions from automobiles, sewage, and factories. These are critical factors in many human health problems. This is made even worse when there are food-borne parasitic diseases caused by poor hygiene in the area.


Air Pollution

Even with as much improvement that has been accomplished in reductions of air pollution in urban environments, there are still important considerations that must be taken in an urban gardening situation. For example, chemicals that are applied to a garden in an urban setting can end up being carried by the atmosphere to harm the population. The harm in these situations includes well-documented instances of cancers, allergies, birth defects, contamination of breast milk, male sterility, and others, if the chemicals are not handled properly.



There are, quite simply, people who enjoy the city to be away from rural matters such as gardens. Further, these people complain that urban gardening encourages images of corals, poorly tended gardens, squawking chickens, and other things they consider to be offensive. Proponents of urban gardening stress that urban agriculture is a plus instead of a negative influence, adding to the aesthetics of the urban environment instead of negative factors.


Obviously, whenever you have an issue that is placed before a community, there will be detractors. Such is obviously the case for urban gardening. The end proof, as they say, will be the final result.

posted in: Water, Urban Gardening, problems, air pollution