Edible Oasis in the City

Since its founding, leaders in Chicago have been trying to preserve and make new green space in the city. Being able to escape the city noise and hustle and bustle and enjoy nature at work can be very beneficial. Along with enjoying nature more, there is an urban farming trend that seems to be getting more and more popular. Growing one’s own food can have a ton of health benefits and greatly reduce emissions by food not having to travel as far into the city. Even though these trends are increasing in popularity, there is still an overall lack of education and practice in the local food market and what it could mean for reducing carbon emissions. Grocery store food travels from all corners of the globe at all times of the year to get to the local Jewel and often times the food is picked before being ripe and it is falsey ripened so it looks pretty on the grocery store shelf. We should educate more people on food systems and motivate them to make a conscious change in their eating habits not only as it relates to their health but the health of the environment.


At this point in the problem, I do not think small scale urban farming like community gardens will put a large dent in solving the problem. I think we need to go a step further and practice regenerative agriculture principals in the city. Regenerative agriculture goes one step further than sustainable agriculture because it returns the soil/ a plot of land to better conditions than it was in before. One way to do this is taking empty lots and setting up a permaculture oasis in the city. The idea of permaculture is “ development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient”. So instead of gardening raised beds, we can take a site and grow food directly in the soil using a wide range of perennials and annuals that work in harmony and self sustain itself while producing food. The use of perennials, plants and that grow back every year, will help establish an ecosystem and sequester carbon back into the soil year after year. This would set up an edible oasis in the city and could benefit not only the environment but the health of the citizens. Rather than walking through a park that is perfectly mowed these edible gardens would provide nature and education to citizens.


 Eric Toensmeier’s, author of Paradise lot, edible oasis in Massachusetts, 

A good way to institute these gardens could be taking empty lots and sheet composting the site to allow plants to start to grow. Through the use of nitrogen fixing trees and compost, the site would slowly become a carbon sequestering machine that produces food for the community. Depending on where these gardens would go this could help solve the problem of food deserts as they are significantly more productive than a raised bed community garden. Setting up these oases  in the city would help the environment, local food systems, and citizens mental and physical health.







8 thoughts on “Edible Oasis in the City

  1. You brought up some good points and I like the thought of revitalizing land that otherwise isn’t being used. Especially in a city like Chicago where there isn’t a whole lot of space that hasn’t been used at some point. I looked up vacant lots in Chicago and got this map: (http://chicagolots.org/#/?address=5643%20normandy%20avenue%2C%20Chicago&pin=17173250070000), of course just cause it’s vacant, doesn’t mean it’s a lot that isn’t being used. It could just be an empty building, but it’s interesting to think about where this could be done.


  2. This is a really great idea. It teaches people how to be sustainable in growing their own food all while bringing to food that may be good deserts. This is a great idea because where the food deserts are most prominent in the areas that are seemingly forgotten, people can take things into their own hands and combat the food problem.


  3. I love how this post identifies that smaller solutions that everyone voices such as food gardens are shown hat although it would hep out the community and food deserts, we need to take a larger step to action.


  4. I really love your idea! It provides a healthy food source for the whole community to enjoy while at the same time sequestering carbon emissions. This would be especially great for food deserts around the city as it can serve as a program for the whole neighborhood to get involved in.


  5. I love this idea so much! Food is such a large issue in communities all around the globe and yet it’s not a well known issue for many people. Most people only think about food when they’re about to eat, they don’t often think about the impact that the food has on the environment. They don’t realize that they’re probably consuming a product that has traveled hundreds of miles or that has been injected with GMOs to make them last longer. Local garden/farm industries could really make a large impact on not only the environment like you said, but on our health!


  6. Edible gardens are a great way to educate the public on sustainable, healthy lifestyles. It shows them that anybody can do it! If you’d like to investigate more, I’d suggest talking to the volunteers and employees who maintain Lincoln Park Zoo’s edible garden. They are very knowledgeable about what types of foods we can easily grow in Chicago. They also have existing learning and development programs surrounding the food they are able to grow. If the sites are available, I think these gardens would be a wonderful addition to our city’s landscape.


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