The Benefits of Ecological Land Stewardship in Urban Farming
The benefits of ecological land stewardship in urban farming include improved soil health and fertility. Moreover, enhanced water management and preservation, increased biodiversity, resilience to climate change, and community engagement are also there.
To improve ecosystem stability and human benefits, environmental stewardship involves conserving and endurable practices to protect the environment. And when it comes to urban farming, practices like crop rotation, cover cropping, composting, and IPM are widely used in ecological land stewardship.
It’s important to understand these practices clearly before diving into the benefits. And in this article, I am following this procedure to make things easy for you.
Land stewardship is based in the spiritual concepts of reciprocity and relationship. To adopt these methods is to inculcate a different view of the world and environment you live in - understanding how various parts contribute to the larger organism. Prior to the catchy name, indigenous peoples of the Earth practiced these things as a part of their culture. Proper management of people, land and natural resources was not just something cool to do, it was an obligation to the Creator.
Precisely What Does Ecological Land Stewardship Entail in Urban Farming?
Ecological land stewardship entails managing land holistically to promote ecological health and produce food, thread, and other aids. Regarding urban farming, land stewardship practices include-
Crop cycling refers to growing diverse crops in a particular area in a controlled sequence. Pests and infections can be decreased, soil health can be improved, and crop yields can be increased as a result.
We practice both intense planting and crop rotation in our garden spaces. This means that in any given space you may find up to 4 species of plants complimenting each other. In addition we typically do not grow the same crop in the same place from one growing season to the next. Tomatoes for example are heavy feeders and are susceptible to soil borne diseases or pests that can live in the soil for some time. For that reason, planting them in the same place consecutively increases the crop’s vulnerability.
In this practice, plants are grown between main crop cycles to prevent soil decay, reduce nutrient loss, and shield the soil.
We owe the widespread adoption of this practice to the genius of Dr. Washington Carver who discovered that by using leguminous crops you could rather rapidly help regenerate severely degraded soil lacking nitrogen specifically which is a main building block in plant growth. It also helps to reduce soil erosion. At our farm as we rotate crops, during our somewhat dormant season we use cover crop mixes to replenish nutrients back into the soil after a growing period. Crops such as hairy vetch, rye, oats, fava beans etc., when cut right before fruiting will send the energy and nutrients to be used in that fruit production back into the soil. The clippings can be used to heat up and feed your compost as well or can be used as a great healthy snack for your chickens.
Composting is the process of transforming organic materials like food debris and yard trash into nutrients.
The art of composting is likened to alchemy as it takes waste materials, that together with the aid of natural elements and organisms, alters their composition creating something new and of great value.
A thermophilic compost pile is the traditional method and one of 3 main methods we employ at the farm. By combining green waste, food scraps and other yard debris, essentially forms of nitrogen and carbon, heat and moisture breakdown the matter into rich humus.
Integrated Pest Management
This ecological approach to controlling pests includes many formulas like biologically reducing the pests. This ensures the usage of minimum pesticides and the reduction of pest inhabitants.
One of the practices mentioned above is a part of pest management as you read that crop rotation can deter or prevent certain pests from taking hold to your crops. Another means we use are organic pesticides which normally use natural bacteria and other compounds to eradicate pests. In addition to that, incorporating a variety of plant species in a space that will attract insects that will predate other harmful insects is very effective biological control. These predatory organisms are part of what are called beneficial insects in the garden.
What Are The Benefits of Ecological Land Stewardship in Urban Farming?
Let’s discuss some of the benefits of ecological land stewardship in urban farming.
Enhanced Soil Condition And Productivity
The practices that we discussed beforehand can increase the presence of helpful microorganisms. They can also enhance soil configuration, and increase the availability of nutrients for plants.
Furthermore, compost and organic fertilizers can enhance soil condition since they help increase soil organic matter and enhance soil structure.
Overall, the productivity of the soil gets a massive boost.
Remember, the Earth loves to be covered and though the soil needs occasional rest, otherwise keeping something growing at all times is good for soil business!
Raised Ecosystem Diversity And Ecosystem Services
Urban farms can incorporate a diverse range of plant and animal species through ecological land stewardship. Moreover, practices like crop cycling and intercropping allow the farms to assist many unharmful insects, pollinators, and some more eco-friendly organisms.
Additionally, by using sustainable farming practices urban farms can help to reduce the negative impacts of farming on the surrounding ecosystem. The practices include composting and lowering chemical inputs.
An example of this could be alley cropping. In this practice you have a combination of annuals and perennials that can serve multiple purposes including more than just food. You can be producing compost feed, animal feed, firewood, and medicine all in the same area while contributing to a very biodiverse and robust ecosystem.
Decreased Usage of Artificial Fertilizers And Pesticides
One of the main focuses of ecological land stewardship in urban farming is to increase the usage of organic procedures whenever possible.
Hence, this whole process is inversely proportional to the usage of synthetic materials. This not only improves the health of the farmers but also is environment-friendly.
The usage of integrated pest management brings the usage of artificial pesticides to a minimum.
Remember there are also many organic pesticides out there that are not harmful at all to the environment or to your plants!
Enhanced Water Administration And Preservation
Ecological land stewardship practices can improve water management and conservation in urban farming. This can be done through practices such as-
- Drought-tolerant plants
- Rainwater harvesting
- Drip irrigation etc.
- Grey water systems
With these techniques, urban farmers can decrease the amount of water lost through evaporation and runoff. They can also reduce their reliance on municipal water sources.
Improved Solidity Against Climate Change
Ecological land stewardship could be used to increase resilience to climate change. This is achievable by promoting practices such as water preservation, soil protection, and the use of native plants.
These practices can help to reduce the impact of extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods. They can also increase the ability of urban farming systems to adapt to changing climate conditions.
You could take the composting example for instance as a testament to this truth. It is estimated that out of a million metric tons of food waste produced in this country about 470 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent to methane is release. Composting could reduce that by 50% some studies have shown.
Ecological land stewardship in urban farming can provide a number of economic benefits. This includes reducing the costs of inputs (e.g. water, fertilizer) and increasing yields.
Moreover, by growing food in the city, urban farmers can cut down on transportation costs and increase access to fresh, locally-grown produce for consumers.
Enhanced Community Engagement And Education
By incorporating ecological land stewardship practices, urban farming can produce not only healthy and nutritious food but also provide educational opportunities for community members. It can also enhance community engagement through workshops and volunteer opportunities.
Land stewardship promotes family values and communal efforts to better the quality of living for everyone and everything in any given environment. The better we serve what gives us life, the better our lives and those of our progeny will be.
Let’s look at some of the frequently asked questions and their answers on the benefits of ecological land stewardship in urban farming
Is there any instance of success in urban farming projects utilizing ecological land stewardship practices?
Ans. There are plenty of instances. Brooklyn Grange in New York, the largest rooftop farm on the planet, is one of them.
Who is responsible for environmental stewardship?
Ans. According to the EPA, each person and organization that impacts the environment has a responsibility to preserve the environment. Environmental stewardship is therefore a shared responsibility.
Urban farming can address food security by increasing access to fresh produce in cities and reducing dependence on long-distance food transportation. It can also help to mitigate environmental challenges by reducing carbon emissions, decreasing stormwater runoff, and improving air quality.
Ecological land stewardship in urban farming improves soil health, increases biodiversity, reduces pollution, and creates sustainable food systems, promoting healthier and more resilient communities.
By incorporating ecological land stewardship practices, you can improve the health and productivity of your urban farm while also benefiting the environment. And this article will help you to understand all of the benefits.