Food from urban gardens or from food aid? : my comment

I am really impressed by the nice ideas expressed in the article:

Urban farms empower Africa

Aid providers in Congo and elsewhere are discovering that lessons in farming can succeed where food handouts have not.

| Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

(see my former posting)

I agree fully that urban farming has a lot of potentialities to solve a number of problems about malnutrition in the cities of the developing countries. Provision of food and nutrition becomes a fast-growing major problem in the slums. Transport of fresh food from the rural areas to the cities and the high prizes at the city markets cause a serious barrier for most of the city dwellers.

Projects to encourage these poor people to start producing food crops in small gardens (UNICEF, WFP, FAO and NGOs) merit our full support. Urban agriculture networks should be built on all continents, particularly in the developing countries of the drylands.

Taking into account that not all these city dwellers of the slums get a chance to find a small piece of land to start urban gardening, I would like to recommend considering the type of “bottle gardening” I have described in former posting on this blog.

2007-03 : 4 bottles
Different vegetables simply growing in a plastic bottle: a method to have food produced by any family in any place of the world, also in the cities, but also a method to get rid of littered plastic (bottles and bags).

I am convinced that collecting empty plastic bottles and bags will never be a problem in the cities. Billions (trillions?) of those are littered continuously. Should the agencies and organizations, concerned with urban gardening, also teach the undernourished people and the kids at school how to grow their fresh food and herbs in plastic bags or bottles, a big step forward would easily be put forward in the shortest time.

Combating malnutrition, even hunger or famine, to improve public health does not demand considerable investment. It suffices to teach the people of the slums and the school children some “bottle gardening skills” to see food production taking off, even in the poorest parts of the quickly growing cities. It would offer numerous possibilities to significantly improve the quality of the meals at school.

Looking forward for reactions on this suggestion.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

One thought on “Food from urban gardens or from food aid? : my comment”

  1. Willem, I have been using bottles myself on my balcony for some time with much success. I usually try to recycle what I can – see the link to my Flickr photos showing a bottle with 4 pepper plants (now flowering), 2 Tomatoes in a home-made plastic bag and some Lettuce growing in a supermarket yoghurt tray lined with a large plastic bag – 2 party cups in the middle with shoe-laces provide automatic watering.

    I don’t claim originality – some of the ideas are from others with some development.

    I think it’s great you’re promoting this idea which is so simple, practically free and, if enough people do it, will certainly help somewhat towards a cleaner world. Keep it up!

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