We are weeks away from the world reaching a population of 7 billion (31 October, apparently), which adds up to a lot of mouths to feed. The conclusion, by institutional investors who have been snaffling up farmland around the world, is that food security is the ‘next big thing’. So, it’s not enough for them to speculate on agricultural commodities; they’re now making the land expensive as well. I suppose it’s also an extension of next-to-zero interest rates and rather dismal markets. The money has to go somewhere, at least from an investor’s perspective agricultural land has a tangible output. Factor in scarcity value as a result of population growth, and it looks like a reasonably safe – if unexciting – play.
Fortunately, my family is well-positioned for this. The arable patches around our house are busy getting extended by the addition of plastic milk crates, converted to planters with the addition of soil and compost, positioned in sunny spots around the garden. I haven’t yet promised fresh edamame or white asparagus, but rocket and spinach appear to be growing in abundance.
The next phase of this project is to set up a grey water system, so that our bath and shower water can be used to irrigate our little urban farm.
OK, so this may not be as sexy as the various urban produce farms sprouting on rooftops around the world, but it’s a start. Their rationale is that transportation and storage costs comprise between 40 and 60 per cent of the selling price of fresh produce. Anything grown onsite saves both the monetary and environmental cost of this component.
What I can attest to is the quality of something that’s been grown three metres from my kitchen door. It’s impossible to have anything fresher, which also means it tastes fantastic. And, if the whole family has been involved in its production, I find that everyone has a greater interest in eating vegetables.