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Urban and peri-urban horticulture (UPH) includes all horticultural crops grown for human consumption and ornamental use within and in the immediate surroundings of cities. Although crops have always been grown inside the city, the practice is expanding and gaining more attention. The products of UPH include a large variety of vegetables, cereals, flowers, ornamental trees, aromatic vegetables and mushrooms.
Generally, the types of crops cultivated vary according to the area, influenced by culture and tradition. In cities, short-cycle (annual) crops are preferred, while in the surroundings of the city more crops with longer cycles (perennials) can be cultivated, for example orchards. However, perennial crops can also be grown in the city centre trained against walls or in roof-top containers, for example so-called urban orchards.
There are many different economic benefits from gardening from saving money purchasing food and even on the utility bills. Developing countries can spend up to 60-80 percent of income on buying food alone. In Barbara Lake, Milfront Taciano and Gavin Michaels Journal of Psychology title "The Relative Influence of Psycho-Social Factors on Urban Gardening," they say that while people are saving money on buying food, having roof top gardens are also becoming popular. Having green roofs can reduce the cost of heating in the winter and help stay cool in the summer. Green roofs also can lower the cost of roof replacement. While green roofs are an addition to urban horticulture people are eating healthy while also improving the value of their property. Other benefits include increased employment from non-commercial jobs where producers include reductions on the cost of food, (Lake, Taciano, and Michael).1
In summary urban horticulture is defined as the production, functional use and impact of horticultural crops under urban conditions.
Crops are grown in small gardens or larger fields, using traditional or high-tech and innovative practices. Some new techniques that have been adapted to the urban situation and tackle the main city restrictions are also documented. These include horticultural production on built-up land using various types of substrates (e.g. roof top, organic production and hydroponic production).
A report of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Growing greener cities in Africa,2 states that market gardening – i.e. irrigated, commercial production of fruit and vegetables in areas designated for the purpose, or in other urban open spaces – is the single most important source of locally grown, fresh produce in 10 out of 27 African countries for which data are available. Market gardening produces most of all the leafy vegetables consumed in Accra, Dakar, Bangui, Brazzaville, Ibadan, Kinshasa and Yaoundé, cities that, between them, have a total population of 22.5 million. Market gardens provide around half of the leafy vegetable supply in Addis Ababa, Bissau and Libreville. The report says that in most of urban Africa, market gardening is an informal and often illegal activity, which has grown with little official recognition, regulation or support. Most gardeners have no formal title to their land, and many lose it overnight. Land suitable for horticulture is being taken for housing, industry and infrastructure. To maximize earnings from insecure livelihoods, many gardeners are overusing pesticide and urban waste water.
- Tixier, Philippe and de Bon, Hubert; 2006.Ch. 11. "Urban Horticulture" in Cities Farming for the Future - Urban Agriculture for Green and Productive Cities by René van Veenhuizen (Ed.), International Development Research Centre (Canada)
- Garden Culture, A magazine that focuses on growing food in an urban environment.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Urban horticulture.|
- Growing greener cities: FAO programme for urban and peri-urban horticulture
- Periurban Vegetable Project, Philippines
- Urban Horticulture at Humboldt University Berlin, Germany
- Brooklyn Botanical Gardens - Urban Gardening Resources
- Guerilla and organic city gardening information by Journeytoforever
- Watch My Urban Garden - a National Film Board of Canada documentary