8 September 2021

California shows golden rules for urban agriculture and sustainable gardening


Urban gardening is experiencing a growing popularity since 2020. It’s a relaxing hobby and a great opportunity to preserve food security. Managing urban gardens, however, requires attention to reduce waste and take care of soil

by Matteo Cavallito


Gardening it’ s a hobby and a passion. But it’ also a best practice that can provide “us with organic, nutritious food and reduce our reliance on industrial agriculture”, according to Kaitlyn Kalua, Policy Manager at the California Coastkeeper Alliance (CCKA), an environmental organization founded in 1999. It’s a meaningful message, especially today while popularity is growing and climate challenges remain. In a world shaped by pandemic and climate emergency, caring for personal green spaces is no longer a simple recreational issue. From the backyard to the balcony, gardening – especially in urban spaces – is almost a way of life. With many remarkable implications.

Early lockdowns have given gardening a boost

“People around the world are turning to gardening as a soothing, family friendly hobby that also eases concerns over food security as lockdowns slow the harvesting and distribution of some crops,” said Reuters in the first weeks of Covid emergency. In March 2020, the news agency said, American W. Atlee Burpee & Co, a long-standing seed company, recorded the highest sales since its inception, 144 years earlier. In Russia, during the same period, purchases in the sector increased by 20-30% on an annual basis. In Canada and US, some companies reported triple-digit percentage sales increases.

The rising time spent at home – a consequence of restrictions and growing smart working – gave gardening a brand new boost. The trend has been confirmed in the following months. In other words, in short, everybody’s gotta a feeling that urban gardens are here to stay.

Sustainable climate-friendly gardens

The growing passion for gardening, however, is threatened by climate change. The recent drought in the United States, Kalua says, is a reminder that we should adopt good practices for the “responsible” management of our green spaces. For this reason, the CCKA Policy Manager says, we need to follow some very important rules. First of all, for example, it is important to reduce waste by optimizing irrigation. Watering, in particular, “should only be done early in the morning or late in the evening.” At the same time “allow the top inch of soil to dry before watering again.”

The goal: “Preserve soil health”

Also crucial is soil mulching through the use of fine-textured organic material. This material, she explains, “will slowly decay into the soil, increase water retention, minimize weeds, and reduce plant stress by moderating soil temperatures.” The recommendation list includes keep weeds under control since they compete with plants for sunlight, nutrients and water. Is also important to rest to preserve soil health and to take out your lawn, which, unlike native plants, “take resources without giving back to nature.”