Wednesday, June 13, 2018

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {Irrigation: Urban Agriculture}

This is the third part in Frannie's exploration of irrigation. Check out the previous post here!

If you have a garden at home, think about what kinds of things you grow. Do you grow pretty bushes and flowers? Maybe some fruits and veggies to eat?

If you don’t have enough space for your garden at home, you might take part in a community garden.  A community garden provides a space for many people to grow fresh produce or raise small livestock like chickens and ducks on shared land. While each person is responsible for their own plot, they may choose to assist their neighbors and split their products or sell surplus at local markets.

Many communities, especially cities, are looking to take community gardening to the next level.  A food desert is a region within a city where it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh produce.  Many people who live in cities either choose not to have or can’t afford a car and the only locations to buy food within walking distances are convenience stores, bodegas, or gas stations.  Most of these places carry cheap, processed foods that aren’t healthy compared to fresher fruits, vegetables, and meat.

Urban agriculture is a part of that solution. While community gardens are a part of urban agriculture, the term more broadly includes things like beekeeping, farming, raising animals, aquaculture, and growing orchards all within an urban setting.

Just like in rural agriculture, urban farms need water sources to irrigate the plants. Many of these come from hook-ups to city wells or pumps. Cities can’t usually allow big irrigation systems like center pivot sprinklers for obvious reasons. Can you imagine one of those huge sprinklers rolling through the streets?
In relatively large plots of land, some sprinkler systems can be adapted to move or be moved through the field. Many smaller lots find drip irrigation or use of rain barrels to be a better, less expensive, more efficient solutions.  The labor-intensive irrigation methods that are so impractical on huge tracts of farmland can be more easily applied in urban environments.

Two very different and interesting kinds of urban agriculture are aquaculture and hydroponics.  Join Frannie as she learns more about them in her next blog!  In the meantime, share pictures of your garden or your community’s garden with us or check out previous blogs to learn more about irrigation.

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