Hipsters Didn't Invent City Gardens

More

Urban agriculture actually dates back 10,000 years to the dawn of farming. Big cities arose alongside farms, not after them, according to an in-depth article about the origins of urban gardening by Tom Philpott on the environmental news site Grist. The past century's explosive growth created an artificial division between urban and rural, and today's garden hot spots in Brooklyn and San Francisco may, in fact, be a return to tradition:

Cities didn't just innovate techniques that would later become associated with large-scale, chemical-dependent agriculture, they also incubated sustainable ones. The so-called "French-intensive" method of growing vegetables -- in which large amounts of compost are added annually to densely planted raised beds -- is one of the most productive and sustainable forms of organic agriculture used today. And guess what? It developed not in the countryside, but rather within the crowded arrondissements of 19th century Paris. Maine farmer Eliot Coleman, one of the leading U.S. practitioners of the French-intensive style, credits those pioneering Parisian farmers with ingenious methods of extending growing seasons that are only just now coming into widespread use in the United States.

The French-intensive method hinges on a principle identified by Jane Jacobs, one that modern-day city residents (and planners) should take to heart: that cities are fantastic reservoirs of waste resources waiting to be "mined."

Read the full story at Grist.

Jump to comments
Presented by

John Hendel is a writer based in Washington, DC, and a former producer at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Ghost Trains of America

Can a band of locomotive experts save vintage railcars from ruin?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Video

How Is Social Media Changing Journalism?

How new platforms are transforming radio, TV, print, and digital

Video

The Place Where Silent Movies Sing

How an antique, wind-powered pipe organ brings films to life

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In