Gardening has always been a popular activity, and it became even more popular during the pandemic, both as an activity homebound families could share and as a way to prepare for anticipated food shortages.
Of course, those living in rural or suburban areas were more likely to have the room to plant gardens — but urban gardeners proved adaptable, too, joining community garden plots, or planting in empty lots, on balconies and rooftops, even on fire escapes.
Urban gardening serves social and economic roles as well as providing a measure of food security. Small neighborhood gardens can provide opportunities for economic exchange between neighbors and encourage community engagement and mutual aid. In addition, studies show that children often get excited about eating produce that they helped grow, improving their nutrition. Here are the most common nutritional deficiencies among Americans.
Urban gardening is also good for the environment, cutting down on the carbon footprint of the foods we eat, and allowing for pesticide- and herbicide-free growing — not to mention the fact that homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers and the like, picked at peak ripeness, often taste better than the store-bought equivalent. In addition to growing your own produce — here are 30 easy ways to be more environmentally friendly.
Of course, some cities are more suitable for urban gardening than others. 24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of the best ones, drawing on rankings computed by the lawn care start-up Lawnstarter. The site scored 150 U.S. cities according to categories conducive to a good urban gardening environment, including number of days in the growing season, average amount of sunshine, average yard size, and number of nurseries and garden supply stores, community gardens, and gardening clubs per capita.
Most cities on the list are in the western and southern states, not surprisingly, where the climate is milder and the growing season may be longer. Almost half are in California — 21 in all — followed by eight in Florida, and five in Arizona. St. Louis, Jersey City, and Cincinnati are the northernmost outliers.