More Than Meets The Eye – The Real Value of Urban Farming

*This month Mellany Motivates is focused on different aspects of Environmental Wellness. How can you get more in touch with nature? How can your surroundings heal you?

In recent years, US cities like New York have set up programs encouraging urban farms in empty lots and plots between communities. Michelle Obama is responsible for the surge of community gardens during Obama’s presidency. You’re probably sitting there thinking, ok what does this have to do with me and my health, I am not into urban farming.

I am glad you think this because being ‘environmentally well’ does not require you to be an urban farmer, not by any means, but it does require you to connect with nature. Just knowing where the nearest farm in your neighborhood is located takes the guesswork out of seeking healthy, low-cost produce, while connecting with nature and members of your community.

In keeping with this month’s theme, I had the opportunity last Thursday to chat with Ilona de Jongh of Sprout by Design. Ilona is a designer and educator advancing Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) through urban farming here in New York. Companies like Sprout have become vehicles for healing, community, and outreach. As Ilona says,

“Food is what brings us together. It’s a great equalizer.” ~ Ilona de Jongh

So her work is basically serving the City of New York schools, non-profits, and nursing homes – helping them build indoor gardens (hydroponics and aquaponics) while introducing to healthy food options like juice for instance – carrot instead of carton orange juice, and raising livestock.

Take a listen to our conversation below.

Oh, she also shared some sage advice for starting your own kitchen garden. Gardening is a creative way to connect with earth while growing healthy food. Here are three quick tips she gave:

  1. The bigger the container, the better to grow in
  2. Place  your plant(s)where they can get max sunlight, like in a window
  3. Don’t use too much water and make sure the soil dries out between watering

I needed these quick reminders. I grew up gardening but lately, I have given in to the concrete jungle that has become my life.

N.B. If you’re looking to take on a more holistic approach to your wellness, I have just the thing. Take advantage of this Creative Wellness Toolbox to take control of your wellness journey today! Maybe you need to add a day with your nearest neighborhood farm to get your hands a little dirty! Just saying…

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