Sunday, 10 August 2008

Urban Agriculture in Mexico City / Sembradores Urbanos para Lily Foster, Carolina Lukac & Gabriela Vargas

Sembradores Urbanos se dedica a promover la agricultura urbana en la Ciudad de México. Sabemos que cultivar tus propios alimentos – hortaliza orgánica, hierbas medicinales y flores comestibles – es posible, aun viviendo en uno de los centros urbanos más grandes del mundo. Ahora consideramos que nuestra misión es difundir técnicas de agricultura urbana y apoyar a las personas interesadas en sembrar alimentos sanos.

Nuestra propuesta de trabajo incluye una variedad de actividades – desde talleres de capacitación, instalaciones de huertos urbanos, diseño y difusión de material didáctico, pláticas y programas en escuelas, entre otros.

Te invitamos a explorar esta página y a sembrar semillas de conciencia y vida en la ciudad.


We are three young women dedicated to promoting urban agriculture in Mexico City, working under the name Sembradores Urbanos (“Urban Cultivators” in English). In August 2007, we inaugurated the first urban agriculture demonstration center in the country, believing that people need to see real examples of how to grow food in the city. The Romita Urban Garden has become our “show garden” – an office, edible garden, education center, workshop site, and a gardening supply store, all on less than 80 square meters of concrete.”

Mexico City is one of the urban centers that generate the most garbage in the world, with over 20 million inhabitants producing an average of 1.35 kilos every day. This translates into a massive 12,000 tons of garbage per day and serious environmental imbalances. However, this garbage is actually a valuable resource, especially in the language and application of urban agriculture.

Our garden mantra has become “transforming ‘waste’ into fertile soil, clean food, and family incomes”. We are rethinking the life cycle of materials and applying the “waste equals food” parallel to regenerate soil, feed ourselves, and create sustainable markets from 12,000 tons of “waste”.

At Romita we have set up a variety of urban agriculture techniques which include: a container composting area, worm bins and a worm bench, a vertical garden, a sheet mulching garden bed, a wall-hugging hydroponic installation, raised and ground level gardening beds, and an organoponic garden installation.

Romita Urban Garden.jpg

“Organoponics” is the perfect expression of our mantra – it is an urban agriculture technique that reuses organic and inorganic materials to grow clean, healthy food in limited space. We use old tires and buckets as containers, leaf litter as bedding material, kitchen wastes in the form of compost, and urine as an organic liquid fertilizer. Instead of taking rich soil out of the few forests that surround Mexico City, we use leaf litter as the main substrate in which we transplant seedlings and rely upon liquid fertilizers to add nutrients to the plants. After a year long season of urban gardening, we are we not only harvesting vegetables, herbs, and flowers – we are also harvesting the decomposed leaf litter that has turned into nutrient rich soil. So in addition to growing healthy food, we are showing how it is possible to produce fertile soil in the city.

In a landscape where information and experiences in urban agriculture are very limited, Sembradores Urbanos is establishing itself as a local resource center. In addition to hosting workshops in urban agriculture, the Romita Urban Garden site has also hosted screenings of environmental documentaries, storytelling events for neighbors, yoga in the garden, a green architecture conference, and hosts a weekly garden club for kids in the neighborhood. We sell handbooks on gardening techniques in Spanish (compiled and designed by us), organic seeds from a seed cooperative in the state of Veracruz, and our own compost and worms, among other urban garden accessories.

We have no doubt that we are participating in a blossoming moment for urban agriculture in Mexico City. As government secretariats are finally taking initiatives to fund urban agriculture pilot projects, we celebrate our own process of teaching the urban population about the magic of transforming “waste” into soil and food.

See also Michael Levenson's City Farmer News with stories from many countries.

No comments: