Grow your own culinary herbs, seasonal vegetables and fresh fruits on communal urban plots, balconies or rooftop gardens.
With today’s emphasis on sustainable living, organic produce and a short supply chain, it’s time to bring food production closer to consumers through urban agriculture. For the good of the planet, eating local is in vogue, and now we are seeing chefs at hotels and restaurants across southern Europe buying directly from local growers or creating their own fruit and vegetable gardens.
And you can do the same. Shorten the journey from field to plate by stocking up on fresh produce at local farmers’ markets, or lower your food miles by foregoing supermarket visits and growing your own vegetables, fruit and herbs.
Start a balcony herb garden
Living in a city apartment without a garden plot? There’s still plenty you can grow, so why not start with fresh herbs on the balcony? Potted plants don’t require much room and don’t need masses of attention. So buy some young plants (or grow them from seed), pop them into container with potting soil and just wait for them to grow! Within weeks, you’ll have a constant supply to use in your recipes.
Herbs that grow easily in containers include basil, coriander, mint, oregano, parsley, thyme and rosemary. If possible, place them facing south, as direct sunlight will help them flourish. Water once a week and add liquid fertiliser roughly once a month. To promote a bushier plant, pinch off the top leaves.
Grow fruit and veg on a patio
If you have just limited outdoor space, growing seasonal fruit and vegetables on a patio make sense. Raised beds take up little room, the produce tastes great and their journey from soil to plate is as short as can be. As the bed is above ground level, it’s easy to weed and water. In addition, the soil warms up quickly, giving tender young plants a good start. Further reduce your carbon footprint by making the beds from recycled timber.
For soft fruits over summer, plant blackberries, raspberries and strawberries in late spring. Root vegetables – carrots, parsnips, potatoes, turnips – grow nicely in raised beds, while onions, radishes and spinach also do well, along with salad crops like lettuce, rocket and tomatoes.
Join a city garden
An asset to city dwellers are communal gardens, providing green spaces to grow sustainable food and building a sense of community among fellow gardeners. Whether you choose to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs, or simply flowers for cutting, an urban garden helps beautify and enliven a forgotten corner of a city while creating a habitat for bees and butterflies. On a personal level, your health will improve – and your stress levels fall – as you eat organic produce, work your plot and reconnect with nature.
And of course, growing your own produce drastically reduces the food miles it has to travel before it appears on your table.
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(*) Average meal price calculated on the basis of starter and main course or main course and dessert, excluding drinks, menu and promotional offers. The average price is an estimate only, calculated according to the prices provided by the restaurant. Depending on the country, the average price may or may not include all taxes.
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