How Britain's city gardens could be just as productive as regular farms

  • Living
  • Monday, 03 Jan 2022

The plants grown in urban vegetable gardens in Britain were largely cultivated with limited use of pesticides, thus preserving biodiversity in the city. Photo: AFP

In Britain, urban gardeners can grow and harvest 1kg of insect-pollinated fruit and vegetables per square meter from March to October. Such yields are within a range comparable to conventional farming, according to an English study.

From zucchini and tomatoes to blackberries and beans, urban agriculture seems to be bearing fruit – and vegetables! Or so suggests a two-year pilot study conducted in the English city of Brighton and Hove. The project analysed the yields of 34 urban fruit and vegetable gardens (both private and shared).

According to the study, each of these city growers yielded an average harvest of 70kg between March and October. That is, yields that are within the range of traditional farms, note the researchers from the University of Sussex who led the study.

The plants grown in these urban vegetable gardens were also largely cultivated with limited use of pesticides, thus preserving biodiversity in the city. This is a considerable advantage compared to traditional agricultural practices.

Over the two-year period, the volunteers counted more than 2,000 pollinating insects in their crops. The most common were bees, which accounted for 43% of all flower visits.

"The UK imports approximately £8bil (RM45bil) of fruit and vegetables each year, but our results show that green spaces in cities, such as allotments and community gardens, could play an important role in meeting that demand at a local scale," explains the study's lead author, Beth Nicholls in a news release.

"In a world of increasing urbanisation in both the developing and developed worlds, producing food in and around cities has the potential to improve both nutritional and health outcomes, alleviate poverty and simultaneously provide habitat for wildlife and create sustainable cities," adds the researcher. – AFP Relaxnews

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