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Promoting Urban Agriculture in Mexico City – Sembradores Urbanos

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“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.”


Sembradores Urbanos (“Urban Cultivators” in English)

By Lily Foster, Carolina Lukac and Gabriela Vargas

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”.

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. 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.

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“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.

To contact us:
Lily Foster, Carolina Lukac and Gabriela Vargas
Web Site: www.sembradoresurbanos.org
Email: sembradoresurbanos@gmail.com

3 comments

1 iceicekatie { 08.05.08 at 8:05 pm }

These women are super inspirational, if you are ever in Mexico you must look them up! We are lucky to have them here making our lives greener!

2 Nancy Dominguez { 12.22.11 at 1:39 pm }

hola quiero comentarles que en las escuelas se estan formando grupos de padres de familia (participacion social) y yo quiero formar un club con los pequeñitos del quinder de mi hija de jardineria ya que la escuela tiene un espacio de areas verdes para que niños y papas aprendan a resiclar los desperdicios de comida tambien me interesa el manual de jardineria que venden cuanto cuesta y como lo puedo adquirir, de antemano les agradesco la atencion gracias

3 Akanksha Kohli { 01.23.12 at 8:44 pm }

Hello!
I’m trying to design a center that teaches Urban agriculture in India (New Delhi). It would be really helpful if we could get in touch! :)