Doubtful of the origin of the fruits and vegetables you purchase and consume every day? Choose local products. Have you heard of urban farming? It means growing what we need, near places where we live. In Albania it’s was a well-known practice and it’s coming back. You can get the freshest products money can buy, from your own balcony or backyard.
Urban farming adds greenery to cities, reduces harmful runoffs, increases shading and counters the unpleasant heat. Garden plots can help you reconnect with the Earth, and appreciate more the food you consume.
“A lovely experience,” that’s how Rezarta Delisula, journalist from Tirana, describes, the feeling of planting and harvesting within the 4 meter balcony of her apartment.
‘I chose to plant products in my balcony because I want to feel the real taste of vegetables. I want at least my child to try some organic products grown based to their natural cycle and seasonality. My balcony is about 4 meters in length. I have grown in there plant vegetables mainly, while I have created two shelves where I’ve put some other pots for herbs’, Rezarta proudly states for AgroWeb.
Her balcony is a real mini-farm; she has planted strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and all kind of herbs, a lemon that has 7 production-cycles a year and an olive tree as well. She plans to add a pumpkin variety in her “farm” too. During the winter she plants green onion, leeks, arugula and Brussels sprouts.
Where to find the seeds? There are several places in Tirana but Rezarta prefers local vendors. “Usually I buy seedlings; I choose not to get them at big markets but at the farmers that have only few of them. I do not go at the big vendors. I use seeds only for planting herbs and spices like dill, parsley, celery, basil. I prefer to purchase the seeds at the farmers who usually use bottle caps as a measure unit.
My balcony has a modest production quantity, however I could make fresh vegetable soup through all the production period, she says, adding that everyone can contribute to a green home and a greener city.
“Instead of slabs of concrete it’s good to see green at every building terrace. As I live on the top floor, this September I will invest to turn the concrete roof into a place of production. Actually I have started with about 10 citrus trees planted in large pots ready for harvest, and I will plant also olive trees. Greener roofs have a great positive effect for the air purification of the cities filled with soot.
Planting and then harvesting your products, is a lovable feeling, is a stress reducing activity and you don’t have to spend too much of your daily time. While experiencing the strong-pleasant aroma mixed with the real flavour of your products you have a great desire to plant plenty of fruits and vegetables”, she says.
Explaining the interesting experience, she wants to share something funny; until the moment I planted my own strawberries I had the idea that it was a sour fruit. But then, I realized that those I had eaten until that moment were everything but strawberries, says Rezarta while encouraging everyone to do a favour to themselves and to the city by planting trees or vegetables everywhere they can.
Highly productive, easily managed Micro-gardens
Highly productive, easily managed micro-gardens can be easily managed by anyone, from the elderly to the youngest. Where no land is available, vegetables can be planted in a container filled with garden soil.
Water requirements are modest. In a year, a one square metre micro-garden consumes about 1 000 litres of water, or less than 3 litres per day.
FAO studies show that a micro-garden of one square metre can produce any one of the following:
Around 200 tomatoes (30 kg) a year
36 heads of lettuce every 60 days
10 cabbages every 90 days
100 onions every 120 days
Urban agriculture is practiced by 800 million people worldwide
It helps low-income urban residents save money on food purchases
In many countries, urban agriculture is still informal and sometimes illegal FAO promotes policies that recognize urban food production as a legitimate land use and economic activity
Don’t be afraid to try and cultivate any kind of product at home. You will have your personalfarm or at least you will have fun with growing and harvesting./AgroWeb.org