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.
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.