Reducing the Urban Garden Carbon Footprint
Grow Greener! A Guide to Sustainable Urban Gardening
Love your urban garden, but want to minimize its environmental impact? A recent University of Michigan study found that urban-grown produce generally has a higher carbon footprint than store-bought options. However, don’t despair! Here are some tips inspired by the study’s findings to make your urban garden more sustainable:
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in the Garden:
- Extend the life of your garden structures: The study highlights that materials used for raised beds, composters, and sheds contribute significantly to the carbon footprint. Opt for durable materials and aim for at least 20 years of use – the longer they last, the lower their footprint per serving! (This aligns with the study’s finding that raised beds used for 5 years have 4 times the impact as those used for 20 years.)
- Give “urban waste” a new life: Repurpose used materials like construction debris for paths or raised beds, following the study’s suggestion of “urban symbiosis.” Collect rainwater and greywater for irrigation instead of relying on tap water. It’s all about reducing waste and giving materials a second life! Including livestock such as chickens can actually aid in the recycling of food waste and yield valuable high nitrogen fertilizer.
- Choose wisely what you buy: Opt for compost and fertilizers made with recycled materials, minimizing the use of non-biodegradable petroleum-based products. Remember, the study emphasizes the importance of reducing resource inputs.
Grow Smart, Grow Sustainable:
- Select strategic crops: The study suggests focusing on varieties typically grown in greenhouses or requiring airfreight (like asparagus) for a potentially lower carbon footprint compared to conventionally grown options. Choose crops suited to your local climate and minimize the need for additional resources like heating or transportation.
- Embrace open-air growing: The study found that tomatoes grown in open-air urban plots had a lower carbon footprint than their greenhouse counterparts. Consider alternatives to high energy consumption greenhouses whenever possible, especially for suitable crops.
- Compost kitchen scraps: It’s free fertilizer, reduces waste going to landfills, and contributes to a closed-loop system within your garden, aligning with the study’s emphasis on resource efficiency. Our partner company Locally Laid builds raised beds and chicken coops with Greg Burghardt being available for consultations and demonstrates what crops to grow, how to compost and improve your resource efficiencies.
Remember, the Social Side Matters Too:
- Grow with your community: Community gardens foster social connections and shared knowledge, creating a more sustainable and vibrant urban environment, as highlighted in the study’s mention of the social benefits of urban agriculture. Community gardening influencer Nathan Ballentine, aka Man in Overalls is likewise a wealth of knowledge with a passion for teaching.
- Enjoy the benefits: Studies show urban gardening improves mental health, diet, and social networks. These “non-food outputs,” while not directly reducing the carbon footprint, contribute to a holistic, engaging, and sustainable approach to urban living, echoing the study’s conclusion about the broader value of urban agriculture.
By following these tips, you can reduce your urban garden carbon footprint, which minimizes its environmental impact while enjoying the benefits of more home grown food on your table.
Happy Sustainable Gardening!
From our office in Atlantic Beach and satellites throughout Northeast Florida, Rockaway Inc proudly serves both commercial and residential landscape design,maintenance, lawn care, irrigation, and outdoor living carpentry client needs in Jacksonville, St Augustine, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Ponte Vedra, Nocatee, St. Johns, and Fernandina Beach.