Seja em Nova York ou em Londres o movimento está a crescer. Cada vez mais pessoas optam por cultivar os seus alimentos, seja em hortas urbanas ou nas suas varandas e janelas.
O movimento ganha adeptos todos os dias. Ter a nossa própria horta na cidade já não é mais uma utopia. Inglaterra já contabiliza 300.000 lotes de hortas urbana e já estão mais 100.000 pessoas em listas de espera. De que está à espera? Não precisa de esperar pelo seu lote, pode começar já na sua varanda ou janela.
Leia aqui, na integra, o artigo publicado em 2011 no The Guardian:
There's nothing like a British allotment – particularly in the middle of a big city, where the contemplative weeding session is broken by the sound of sirens, and where strangers swap seed stories and share recipes. It's not about instant gratification; it's the journey allotment holders cherish, the moveable feast that evolves year on year, stocking larders with free bounty.
There's no substitute when it comes to flavour, they'll tell you, as you greedily gobble the lovingly nurtured carrot plucked straight from the ground, which seems to taste better than anything you have had before. Add to that the sense of achievement, all that exercise and fresh air, not to mention a significant boost to your fruit and vegetable intake (and money saved), and growing your own has never looked so appealing.
In fact, more than 100,000 people have joined waiting lists for a patch of land to grow their own. The National Trust is even getting involved, creating up to 1,000 new plots for use as allotments or community gardens, which add to the 300,000 allotment plots already in use. This is part of a wider campaign, called Food Glorious Food, which is attempting to involve more people in the growing, preparation and enjoyment of fresh food. Through the website, the National Trust is giving away thousands of rocket, courgette and radish seeds, and it even has an interactive online vegetable patch where you can tend your own virtual plants, which remind you what you need to do and when.
So where to start? And what to do if you don't have a garden? Think containers. From ceramic pots to woven plastic potato bags donated from your friendly local greengrocer, there are dozens of different container options. Large tins, tubs and buckets work a treat – just remember to pierce holes in their bottoms.
What to grow in them? There are plenty of seeds, plants and rootstocks specially adapted for containers – just ask your local garden centre, or consult one of the many grow-your-own websites, magazines and books.
Even a window ledge (preferably south-facing) can work well. Fill pots with summer herbs such as basil, mint and parsley, or winter herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage, and try salad leaves, radishes, and spring onions – even tomato plants. Just remember you need access to at least six hours of sun a day to succeed.
Best, though, is your own outside space – a garden, or if you're really serious, an allotment. Freshly plucked produce on tap in your kitchen is a wonderful thing, and while aesthetics aren't as important on the allotment, you can make a feature of your kitchen garden, incorporating produce into existing borders and flowerbeds.
A raised bed works well in small gardens. Mark out a rectangle of lawn, framing it with planks, digging in some organic compost – autumn is the best time to do this. Use it for permanent crops such as rhubarb or asparagus, or follow the principles of crop rotation, dividing your space into three sections for the three general categories – roots, brassicas and others, such as pumpkins or onions.
If you really want to go to town, then secure an allotment – which is no easy task, such is its current popularity. The most common size of allotment is 10 rods – an ancient measurement that is equivalent to 253 square metres. The majority are owned by local councils but there are plenty that are self-managed and owned by allotment holders through associations. Rental costs can vary enormously, from £8 per year to £80, with most between £20-£40 a year.
Allotments date back over a 1,000 years – back to when the Saxons cleared woodland to be used as common land. But they were at their most popular during the second world war when food shortages ruled, and even public parks were used for food production. At their peak, in 1943, there were an estimated 1.4m allotments. This was followed by a sharp decline, until the 1970s, which saw an upsurge – thanks to TV show The Good Life. And now the allotment is popular once more, as the recession continues to bite, and our appetite for fresh food grown sustainably continues to rise. The Observer has its own organic allotment – follow the blog at guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/allotment
If you've exhausted your local council allotment options, then Landshare is a good place to start. It brings together people who have a passion for home-grown food, connecting those who have land to share with those who need land for cultivating food. Since its launch through River Cottage in 2009, it has grown into a thriving community of nearly 60,000 growers, sharers and helpers. And yes, there are plenty of city plots available to share, delivering a slice of rural bliss into our urban environments.