Even though I come from farm family stock (my paternal grandparents had their own little Grapes of Wrath operation going most of my life), I have trouble just getting the crabgrass to grow in my tiny inner-city backyard. Not so with many of my neighbors — and an increasing number of “urban homesteaders” across the country — who are turning their city space into mini-farms.
And businesses geared toward their needs are sprouting up everywhere.
“The past few years have seen increasing interest in growing and preserving food, backyard chicken-keeping, urban beekeeping and traditional skills such as cheese-making and canning. The National Gardening Association reported a 19 percent rise in vegetable gardening in 2009. Seed sales were up 20 to 30 percent, and the maker of Ball canning supplies reported a 40 percent increase in sales as well. People are interested in eating locally and organically and are increasingly willing to learn to do it themselves. In 2009, the word ‘locavore’ entered the national lexicon, meaning a person who strives to eat locally grown food. Books such as Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and movies such as Food Inc. and Fresh have brought backyard food gardening as well as concerns about food safety and support for family farms and farmer’s markets into the mainstream.”
Farming–and farm culture–is rapidly developing a more urban vibe. Terms like sustainable, farminista, foodie-driven, art-to-table, heirloom and CSA are cropping up more and more in day-to-day urban discourse, even in New York City, arguably the most urban atmosphere in America. Urban farm supplies in the Big Apple are big business:
“Urban farming is hotter than hot. Therefore it is not a surprise that the first DIY urban farming/gardening store in New York City is a huge succes. City Hydroponic is a full service shop that offers a complete range of gardening products for indoor as well as outdoor gardeners and farmers. The shop has all what it takes to grow fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs in the Big Apple. Whether you want innovative aeroponic or hydroponic growing kits, hi-tech gardening equipment for intricate green roofing systems and indoor grow room to a plain old fashion dirt and guano for a modest apartment window box…”
Urban farmers are becoming a noticeable demographic presence for businesses to target. They blog, they hawk their produce on twitter and gather at conferences. They are an evolving modern entity my grandparents would hardly recognize.
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