support for busy citysiders
Urban Edibles was essentially born out of the frustrations of one of our founders Marten Witkamp. Over lunch at the Hub Rotterdam one day Marten was lamenting to Eefje Ernst that he couldn’t understand why even the basil plants he bought from the supermarket always died on him. Eefje being a social designer immediately threw up various ideas for what kind of products and services could support someone like Marten. Fellow Hub member Sophia van Ruth was quickly drawn into the conversation to provide the plant knowledge and Urban Edibles was born (and by the way, Sophia immediately solved the dying basil issue – click here to see).
Our products and services continue to develop underpinned by a desire to cater to busy citysiders who may not have gardens. We believe in a personal approach and not a generic quick fix and we provide solutions for apartment balconies and rooftops – or even windowsills. The core of our philosophy rests on matching solutions to people – both to their lifestyles, their motivations and their physical situation. We are direct and to the point, if you don’t have the time to read two books on the issues and just want the lowdown from someone who has, then our products and services are for you! We want to play a part in transforming the way people live in cities. To this end we keep abreast of trends and issues surrounding food production with the aim of building healthier urban communities.
of course we are motivated by the broader issues too…
The reason why us citysiders were trying to grow food in the first place has everything to do with broader issues over where our food comes from and how disconnected our lives can become from the process.
More than 50% of the world’s population lives and eats in cities. Their food typically travels thousands of kilometres before it is served. The oil-based transport of all this food contributes about 5 to 10% to our greenhouse gas emissions (source). Oil, and thus food, will likely become much more expensive in the years to come. Our capacity to feed ourselves should we wish or need to, meanwhile, is at a historic low: roughly 50% of the global commercial seed market is dominated by just 9 companies (source). And much of their seed is patented.
Many people are aware of this and have started to pay more attention to the food miles of what they consume. Their search for more local sources of food has led them to rediscover how good freshly grown fruit and vegetables can taste and how gratifying it is to harvest the plant which you have sown and will soon eat. We believe that, for a healthy future, the people in the world’s cities should have a diversity of food sources at their disposal.
Local food does not necessarily have to come from nearby farms or large city gardens. It can also come from your own garden, balcony, rooftop or even windowsill. Although the quantity of harvested food depends on the size of the plot you grow it on, even a small plot can yield significant amounts of food. An urban farmer from London saved £750/€1000 on groceries in a year from just a balcony farm (source). With growing techniques such as polyculture , vertical farming or hydroponics, you can often grow even more than you can eat.
and all the other reasons
We believe that urban farming not only improves the taste of our food and the security of our food supply, but also provides health benefits – from working with your hands, to eating good food, to knowing where your food comes from – and has the potential to strengthen communities – by facilitating interaction and sharing and by adding colour and life to the street.