At the University of Oregon, there is a class titled “Urban Farm.” Essentially during the course, students participate, intending to the University’s garden. Students are able to learn about the importance of growing their food while participating in the planting, tending to, and harvesting process. I have currently enrolled in this class this spring term… and may I say… it has been life-changing!
I initially enrolled in Urban Farm because I needed a four-credit elective for my last term of college, and the class is held in person, so I figured I should get my last in-person class before graduating. But what started as a randomly selected elective has genuinely changed my viewpoint on food. This class has taught me how simple and nutritious growing your food can be; it leaves me wondering why more colleges or cities, or apartment complexes do not have a shared urban farm or garden.
My teacher brought up a fantastic point on the first day of class. She said, “Why do we waste money and water on useless green shrubs in parking lots when we could plant blueberry trees or rosemary bushes?” This was a question that stuck into my brain. Why do we waste our limited water supply and money supply on green shrubs that do nothing but take up space?
If we think about it, the use of parking lots could become more than to park your car. If we were to grow fruit or vegetables with the space taken up by bushes, we could provide free food to the residents or to the homeless people in that surrounding city. If we had accessible food for everyone, a lot in our society would change.
Planting a tiny blueberry bush seed could lead to so many notable societal changes.
Along with repurposing parking lots, this class has taught me to pay attention to what I am buying and where I am buying it. At the end of every class, we are able to take home vegetables or fruits that have been harvested. On the first day, I was able to take home fresh cilantro from the garden. Later that night, I made salsa, and wow, did that fresh cilantro change my taste pallet. This class has taught me the benefits of growing your own food. And if you are unable to grow your own food, buy local from the farmer’s markets. It is a win-win buying local. The ingredients are always fresher, and you are able to support a local business.
If you attend the University of Oregon or your college has an urban farm; I highly recommend taking the class. It will truly change your perspective on food production and food waste. I hope that we see some implementation of urban farming in our society one day and remember to buy and eat locally whenever available to you!