Ah, London life - being crammed into a small flat above a chicken shop. This is the reality that most Londoners (and large city dwellers) find themselves in.
So how in these tiny spaces, tucked away in the middle of a city can you get your green fix? How do you experience nature in a place where it's not always available.
In suburbia - where sometimes there isn't much in the way of parks or open green space, people have gardens. But that's not always the case in bigger cities. The majority of residents in London have only indoor space, or perhaps a small balcony.
This means that citizens of large cities often miss out on the health, wellbeing and economic benefits of having a greenery in and around their homes.
The practice of creating green spaces in cities and populated areas is known as urban gardening. I would like to share a few of the benefits that I've come to know since I started gardening in my small London flat. Hopefully, it'll really help you get back to your roots (sorry for the pun).
What is urban gardening?
Urban gardening is sometimes also known as urban farming. Depending on your motivation, there's a whole range of names and terms for it. At it's most basic is simply means growing and raising plants in highly populated areas.
As cities offer a huge variety of spaces which people live and work in, there are lots of different versions of urban gardening. Depending on space, urban gardening can appear in many forms. From a restaurant planting a small herb garden to try and become more sustainable. To a young professional cultivating indoor plants to improve mental health and wellbeing.
It could mean filling your balcony with fruit and veg bearing plants with the intention to cook with. Or it could just mean growing some plans inside your flat that brighten up your day.
Why should you start urban gardening?
There's a whole load of community-based benefits that come with urban gardening. But I would like to focus on the individual benefits of getting stuck in with urban gardening.
If you've ever plucked a tomato straight from the vine and added it to your lunch you'll know what it means to grow your own food. In large cities such as London, this can be difficult - but that only adds to the satisfaction once you get it right.
You'd be surprised at how easy it can be to start cultivating produce in a big city, no matter how small your living space is. It's common to think that because you live in a big city what you produce won't be fresh. But that's not true. I've produced lots of great looking produce in my tiny flat in London. And you know what - it tasted much better than the supermarket equivalent.
Here's the big one for the green leaning out there. Eating local produce is one of the best things that you can do for the planet. Growing food for consumption in your own flat is even better. That's why it's important to talk about urban gardening in the context of sustainability. Cities are getting bigger and more populated. Urban gardening is one attempt (albeit small) to answer the question - how can we make large metropolitan areas more sustainable?
But even on a personal level, it feels great to be able to provide your own food for consumption. There are no carbon emissions transporting veg from your garden to your kitchen. It's even possible to do your bit if you have an indoor garden.
People's preference for organic and local foods are aligning, and this will lead to demand for urban food production.
Quality of life
For some, the main reason for urban gardening is to create beautiful living spaces that will make you feel better about yourself. Just take a quick look at #urbangarden and you'll be inspired to get started. My flat looks one hundred times better since I started if I do say so myself.
A lot of us live hectic city lives and it can be difficult to sometimes switch off. Gardening can help you relax and unwind. It's a solitary, meditative experience that will help you to deal with everything that city life can throw at you.
If you are in it for the food, rather than just growing to feel good and improve the interior of your flat, there's another benefit. If you can produce fruit and veg constantly, it can save you quite a bit of money in the long run.
How to get started
It doesn't matter what your space is like. City gardening is unique for each person. It can be indoor gardening that works for you. Or you can create a thriving balcony of container vegetables to feed yourself sustainably.
Undoubtedly, there are a few tools that you will need to get started with city gardening. Often people are highly motivated to start apartment gardening but don't go out and get the right tools for the job. This leads to their produce and plants dying. And bad morale then sets in.
Urban gardening is a mindset. But once you get started you'll be able to grow your own food. Feel better about your city flat or space. Waking up with all those plants will brighten up your mornings.