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On Growing Food in the Big Apple | The Dirt Issue

Anyone who has made the big move from country to city life knows that fresh fertile ground is often a sacrifice in the transition. Today, NYC dweller and photographer, Ashley Revell, shares her experience growing greens in the Big Apple.

urban gardening in NYC

Before my husband, Philip, and I got married and uprooted ourselves to New York City, I rented out a house planted on ten acres in a small town in Kentucky. It was there that I planted my first garden. Living in that house and planting that garden is one of my favorite memories. When we knew we would be moving to NYC I knew I wanted to try to get involved with a community garden in our neighborhood or research other urban gardens or farms in the area.

urban gardening in NYC | the dirt issue
urban gardening in NYC | the dirt issue
urban gardening in NYC | the dirt issue

Philip made me a custom window box to fit perfectly on our back windowsill for Christmas this year, so I decided I would try to grow a few things from our own (500 square feet/balcony-less) urban home this spring. After considering the time of year and researching container gardens I decided on romaine, dinosaur kale, butterhead lettuce, wild arugula, and radish. Aware of the limited space, I knew we wouldn’t get meals upon meals of salad greens from the harvest, but planting the seeds and watching them grow is something that’s certainly life-giving to me. Not to mention how lovely it is to look out our bedroom window and see some green--it’s quite warming.

urban gardening in NYC | the dirt issue
urban gardening in NYC | the dirt issue
urban gardening in NYC | the dirt issue

I have always loved having fresh herbs on hand, so I picked up a few of my favorites--mint, basil, lavender, and chive. It’s so convenient to grab the herb snips, lean out the window and throw some chive on our eggs in the morning. I’m also looking forward to using my lavender for baked goods to share with friends and using the mint for cocktails!

urban gardening in NYC | the dirt issue

There are a lot of sacrifices to be made when moving to a large city (space is a big one!),  but the experiences we’ve gained by being in New York have been invaluable--both the amazing cultural opportunities as well as the harder parts of city living. Living here has challenged the things I’ve taken for granted, and has widened my appreciation for what I’ve been given. As for our container garden, it certainly isn’t anything like my 10 x 10 foot garden in Kentucky, but it’s been a little taste of country living here in the city.

urban gardening in NYC | the dirt issue
urban gardening in NYC | the dirt issue

Ashley Revell is a film+digital photographer based in NYC. You can see her photography work at her website and follow her big city adventures on Instagram @ashleylynrevell. Images and story by Ashley Revell

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