Bringing Green to a City Near You
Article by Brooklyn Williams – We take a look at methods for bringing green back to the city, some of which you can do yourself today to make an instant impact.
The first inquiry in a game of twenty questions tends to be “is it animal, vegetable or mineral?” Here “vegetable” means all kinds of plant life, not just the broccoli and cauliflower mom tried to get us to eat as a child. Whether for food, exercise or recreation we humans have a need to interact with the plant life around us. Human ingenuity has created ways for those of us in urban and suburban areas to bring some of the greenery closer to us.
Bringing Green to a City Near You
UP ON THE ROOF
Besides being a classic song by The Drifters, “up on the roof” is where architects and city planners are creating green areas. Take a close look of an aerial photograph of any urban/suburban center in the world and two things really jump out.
One, there is a lot of empty space on the roofs of all those buildings; acres upon acres of tar and asphalt. Imagine a one-mile square overlaid upon that picture and you have 640 acres (for people who like big numbers that is nearly 28,000,000 square feet) of mostly blank space just waiting for some landscaper to plant trees and scatter some grass seed. Two, as an adjunct, there is very little green area at ground level.
Somebody, somewhere saw that and decided they could utilize all that area and bring some vegetation into the concrete jungle. Around the world there are rooftops that have been converted (some designed from square one) into places for grass, trees and plants to flourish to different purposes, such as:
Community Parks—Here you may find pathways winding among trees, through areas of topiary (living sculptures) and even along manmade lakes.
College Quad—A place for the students to gather to study, toss a Frisbee® or just soak up some rays.
Reduce Carbon Footprint—Green spaces help reduce the effects of Urban Heat Islands (UHIs) on our health and world. From asthma to regional weather patterns, UHIs can impact many aspects of our lives.
In many cities around the country, urban dwellers are finding ways to grow their own foodstuff. Every nook and cranny like apartment building roofs, scattered vacant lots and empty spaces between buildings can be, and are, used these days to grow vegetables. With concerns like genetically modified plants (GMOs) being introduced into the food chain and illness-causing pesticides used on larger commercial farms people are concerned with what they are putting in their bodies. Keeping control of what is planted and where it’s grown is becoming more important in our society.
Freshness and cost can also be factors in deciding to grow an urban garden. Going just outside the front door and picking some tomatoes or peppers gives us sure knowledge on how old they are and how much they’re going to cost.
Even if there is no access to outdoor areas to plant gardens, there are ways of growing fresh herbs and vegetables inside. Examples here can include:
Aeroponic—Something simple like the “as seen on TV” hanging planters that grow tomatoes and peppers year-round is one idea.
Aquaponic—A simple and affordable idea I have seen is an enclosed symbiotic tabletop herb garden. A planter is set on a small fish tank, the plant bi-products feed the fish (typically a beta fish) and the fish cleans the water.
Window Box—We’ve all seen the wood boxes hung outside off the window sills somewhere in our life. Today, there are pre-made systems where a small planter and a soil pod with seeds implanted are boxed together. Stick the dirt pod in the planter, water it, provide light and grow basil or lemon grass right over the kitchen sink.
From macro to micro there are ways to bring greenery and food into the urban environments we have created.
- Becoming an Urban Planner: A Guide to Careers in Planning and Urban Design by Michael Bayer
- Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature by Douglas Farrs
Article by Brooklyn Williams
Featured Image: By Ryan Somma – source
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