Post by Eliza Barclay, The Salt at NPR Food (7/9/13)
Most urban consumers are happy to leave farming to the farmers, but for those with a green thumb, it is getting easier to garden in the city. That's thanks, in part, to DIYers sharing ideas for the creative reuse of old materials and a new range of tools designed to get many more people involved with growing some of their own food.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has lately been talking about micro-gardens as critical way to help the urban poor get more food on the table. The FAO defines micro-gardens as small spaces — such as balconies, small yards, patios and rooftops — cultivated with containers such as plastic-lined wooden boxes, trash cans and even old car tires.
While it's probably tough to sustain a family on a micro-garden, FAO research shows that a well-tended micro-garden of 11 square feet can produce as much as 200 tomatoes a year, 36 heads of lettuce every 60 days, 10 cabbages every 90 days, and 100 onions every 120 days.
Sure, micro-gardens can easily be created out of plenty of scrap materials: potatoes grown in a bucket or trash can, for example, or wooden pallets turned into an herb garden. Anne Gibson, an Australian who runs The Micro Gardener website, has aggregated many of the most creative ideas. And for folks who don't want to DIY it, several companies are also making it easy to start a micro-garden with an array of new products.