It’s a common question I get asked from time to time in relation to growing food in the city for consumption, especially in the urban permaculture garden that I was up until recently managing in the heart of Berlin, tucked away behind a very busy road, and a stone’s throw away from the highway. ‘Don’t we need to be careful of contaminants and pollution levels when growing in an urban environment?’. And the answer is yes, but only to a certain degree. So what is that degree? And what should we be mindful of?
One slightly warmer and sunnier day at a time spring is arriving, which means it is… drumroll please… planting season! This means it is time to get all hands working and all plants in the dirt…
For many, it is taught from a young age to stay as far away from soil as possible – getting dirty is a bad thing and therefore soil is a bad thing. But soil is an important part of our lives and history and we wouldn’t be here without it. It is the birthplace of the vast array of plants we see covering the earth, including the ones in our gardens.
Starting out growing things of your own can be a daunting task if it’s your first time. I am a firm believer that having a green thumb is not something that you are necessarily born with, like being a talented musician. Rather it’s something that can be built up over time with experience, observation, and enthusiastic interest. And having the correct information and knowing how to plan is one of the key cornerstones to success.
Urban gardening is nothing new. In fact, it’s been around for as long as humans have lived in cities! Through time, the significance of urban gardening has taken on different levels of meaning; serving as tools for social reform, as subsistence in times of food insecurity, and even as a simple pastime in times of prosperity.