I live in New York City, the concrete jungle of the world where the streets are gritty, making a trip to greenery requires a subway ride to Central Park and Farmer’s Markets in the “urban areas” are conducted on sidewalks one-block in length. My historic Harlem neighborhood is riddled with fast food restaurants, “chicken spots” and the occasional super market where shoppers come to inspect food, hopeful that their meats and produce expiration dates.

Given my busy travel schedule, stocking my home with fresh produce and healthy treats can be quite the burden. Grocery shopping is not a task that I typically enjoy and since my cooking skills aren’t really up to par, getting creative with meals requires little more than an organic banana-peanut butter-and- whole grain bread -type concoction.

The truth is, between eating on the go and settling for some pre-packaged belly-fill, I couldn’t feel further away from my food. Even scoring easy to make finds at my favorite Trader Joe’s has been called into question as I contemplate the sustainability of the food options flown in from some factory in California. It’s hard out here folks, which has led me to consider growing my own food. What better way to save money, go local and establish a better relationship with my food than to grow my own in the comfort of my own home?

As gas prices and food prices rise, Americans growing their own produce has increased by 25 percent this year. Community gardens are growing exponentially and the rise of urban farming nationwide is creating a new society of both young and old getting their hands dirty to help drive sustainability in their communities and find new ways to survive in this recession. And how much more local can you get than your own garden?

Outside of planting a few flowers in the backyard with my mom backyard during childhood, I know nothing about growing fruits or vegetables. This hasn’t stopped the surge of young farmers in their 20s and 30s learning how to grow their own food despite having no roots in the farming trade industry. The National Young Farmers’ Coalition is a network of regional young farmers providing practical and technical assistance and advocates for policies that enable young farmers to thrive.

Even if you’re just beginning, all you need is a little creativity and a passion for turning your resources into a fruitful (no pun intended) operation. Apartment dwellers can find solace in growing their food indoors with the help of a windowsill or well-lit kitchen surface. The Organic Consumers Association provides step-by-step tips on how to grow food in doors year-round here. Mike Liberman, publisher of the Urban Organic Gardener, shows people how to start growing their own food even if space is an issue.

With the available resources to assist anyone on the food-growing journey, it is not entirely impossible to grow a simple food garden.

Do you currently grow any of your own fruits or vegetables?


  1. LemonNLime

    One of the coolest things I have ever done is grow my own garden. Seriously, it is up there is graduating from college and backpacking around Europe.

    I had only a 12×9 plot and let me tell you it gave me SO much appreciation for farmers. It was WORK. Between clearing the land, starting the seedlings, coming up with organic ways to ward off pests, and protecting them from the elements and critters, it was a lot of dedication. But the excitement you feel when the seeds spout or the pride you feel when you can share something that you have grown with you own hands with a loved one are amazing!

    Everyone should try it at least once. You’ll truly gain an appreciation for your food and the people and families that grow it.

  2. One of the easiest things to plant are those green onions/scallions you get at the supermarket. Use the tops and then stick the white bulb in dirt. I keep mine in a pot inside the house. I don’t have a green thumb, but all you need to do is give them some water and they’ll keep giving you new sprouts to use in your cooking.

  3. If you’ve taken the time to figure out what grows best in the space that you have available, it’s crazy easy. I only regret that I didn’t plant a winter crop this year, but I’m still picking peppers.

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