If, in the past, gardening was generally reserved for people from the countryside with large spaces, today the situation is quite different. For some years now – and even more so since the beginning of the pandemic – there has been a growing interest in urban agriculture. Whether commercial, community-based or private, this trend is creating local agriculture through the local production of fresh food.
The desire for self-sufficiency had been gaining popularity for some time, but it was the arrival of the pandemic that created a meteoric rise in the gardening and urban agriculture craze. “Proximity, eating local, [all of that] was already on the rise. With the pandemic, it’s grown a lot,” says Ancolie Séguin.
Access to fresh, quality food is also part of the motivation to develop a green thumb. “The taste of a grocery store tomato and the taste of a tomato that you grow yourself, it’s completely different,” adds Simon Paquet.
Creating a contact with nature
Urban agriculture also creates a close link with nature. “It’s a return to our roots, in the sense that we can grow something fresh and available at home,” says Paquet. It’s also an opportunity to reclaim your outdoor space while being grateful for what nature has to offer. “There’s pride in that to see it all grow. […] It gives meaning to your efforts to be outside and beautify your yard,” adds Ancolie Seguin.
This trend is here to stay, according to both experts, who explain that once you taste the fruits of your labor, the passion for gardening doesn’t dissipate easily. “Someone who starts growing their vegetables and gets a taste for it won’t want to go back. Every year, they’ll at least replicate the little thing they did [grow], and usually it becomes exponential,” the project manager explains.
In addition, there are many environmental benefits of urban agriculture. Reducing heat islands, improving air quality and maintaining biodiversity are just a few examples. In fact, according to Ms. Séguin, this is what is driving more and more people to become urban gardeners. “I think there is a desire to reduce one’s environmental impact, to make a difference. Reducing your ecological footprint makes sense to a lot of people,” she says.
“To witness this process [of gardening] from start to finish is something very gratifying and rewarding for people who are often connected and in front of their screens.”
One thing urban agriculture has changed from a gardening perspective is the marriage of aesthetics and edibles, a change that can be attributed to front yard gardens in particular. “I think the shift we’re seeing right now in urban agriculture is there,” believes Seguin, who confides that at least 90% of her clients’ projects contain edible plants.
“We’re really seeing a big shift in the [urban agriculture] movement. If you go back to 10 years ago, it was harder to convince our clients in the city to plant a fruit tree in their yard. People were really reluctant. Simon Paquet agrees, “With urban agriculture, people are willing to make the effort and try it.”
This change is also seen in the landscaping in front of municipal buildings and their green spaces. “We’re starting to see more and more plants like apple trees or plum trees in parks. That could complement urban agriculture at home,” he points out.
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