urban garden photo

Urban Gardening: The Benefits of Urban Gardening and Supporting Local Produce

As the weather in Las Vegas has warmed in March, please enjoy this three-piece series dedicated to urban gardening and the benefits of supporting local produce in the Southern Nevada community. This first article will discuss the many benefits of choosing to garden and/or buy local produce. The second article will provide tips and advice for successful gardening in the city. Finally, the third article will show how Las Vegans are embracing urban gardening, including exciting examples from local non-profit organizations, schools, and businesses.

When a person decides to grow their own food or buy locally through nearby farms or farmers markets, they will almost always be eating fruits and vegetables that are better tasting, fresher, healthier, more nutritious, and safer to eat(Grubinger). Why is this? For fruits and vegetables to be ripe and look good in the grocery store, they need to be picked before they are ripe. Not only will these fruits and vegetables not taste as good, the longer it takes to get them from the farm to the kitchen, the more likely they are to lose nutrients (Klavinski). When food safety is considered, it is important to know what chemicals are being. This is difficult to determine when buying from a massive agricultural plant a thousand miles away from home.

Urban gardening and local produce have advantages that go beyond the actual food. fresh 52 operates two farmers markets in Las Vegas and they state:

When farmers sell to agribusinesses and grocery stores, they only receive an average of 20 cents for each dollar spent on their items. The rest goes to distributors, marketers, and the store itself. When you buy produce from your local farmer at the market, that farmer receives 100% of the profits and you help a local small business.

Therefore, when you buy local, not only are you getting higher quality produce, you are also helping  local farms and businesses.

farmers market

Buying local produce and urban gardening also benefits the environment. By reducing the amount of produce trucked to grocery stores over long distances,  pollution caused by transportation is decreased. A report on locally grown food from University of Florida added,

One-fifth of all petroleum used in the United States is used in agriculture…By learning to eat foods that are locally available and in season, families can do their part to save energy. By buying local, you can conserve the large amount of energy used in both the packaging and shipping of food.

Other benefits of urban gardening include reduced run-off of stormwater, as gardens absorb the rain water. Adding plants and trees also reduces CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, improving air quality.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, consider the impact on the future! By supporting local farms, you are helping ensure the future of local and sustainable agriculture in our community. Urban gardening can also help reduce hunger in the local community. While many public agencies, non-profit organizations, and churches organizations spearhead canned food drives for the poor, what is most needed by those in poverty is fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables (SF non-profit Urban Farmers discusses their effort to bring local produce to the hungry here). The Union of Concerned Scientists recently reported the dramatic link between increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and reducing medical costs, with the benefits being most pronounced among those who rarely are able to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, such as the poor.

consumption of veggies and fruits usda 2013

The next article in our Sustainable Living – Urban Gardening series will delve into how to get started growing your own fruits and vegetables in a city environment. If you live in Southern Nevada, lucky for you! Our region has no shortage of the most important contributor to a successful garden-sun!

-Ryan Kelsch

Green Chips Staff Writer

email: [email protected]

twitter: @UNLVryan

 

About the Author: Ryan Kelsch

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