Category: ENGLISH

A strange article was published

Food from urban agriculture has carbon footprint six times larger than conventional produce, study shows.

I received an article in English about the carbon footprint of urban agriculture and community gardens. The basic thesis of the study is that vegetables grown in urban gardens have six times the average CO2 load of outdoor, large-scale production.

The argument is that the materials used in the construction of gardens (raised beds, walkways, fencing, water systems), the CO2 generated in their production, all add to the CO2 load of the crops, and thus represent a greater environmental burden compared to large-scale industrial agriculture. It has been calculated that the carbon load is six times greater. Of course, the article goes on to look at phenomena such as asparagus transported by plane and the environmental impact of vegetables grown in greenhouses, and finds that urban gardens are better off with a smaller ecological footprint.

One of the main findings of the study:

„On average, food produced through urban agriculture emitted 0.42 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents per serving, six times higher than the 0.07 kg CO2e per serving of conventionally grown produce.”

The other very clever sentence is:

“Most of the climate impacts at urban farms are driven by the materials used to construct them—the infrastructure,” Goldstein said. “These farms typically only operate for a few years or a decade, so the greenhouse gases used to produce those materials are not used effectively. Conventional agriculture, on the other hand, is very efficient and hard to compete with.”

Now, let’s add some practical observations:

Urban gardens and community gardens must be built. There is no such thing as open field cultivation in the city, apart from private gardens. Raised beds should be used in urban gardens because the soil is unsuitable for growing crops. Other built elements of community gardens are: fencing, water systems, walkways, tool storage, sandboxes for children, etc. These also need to be built, and of course have a carbon footprint. Urban parks also need to be built, they also have a carbon footprint, so if we go further along the argument, parks should also be demolished, perhaps concreted over, because building and maintaining parks also has an environmental impact.

Another important aspect is that gardens should look good, be safe and easy to maintain. Garden design is essential, and good quality workmanship is perhaps even more important. Urban gardens are essentially civic urban green spaces, and aesthetic appearance and usability are essential. Most community gardens use a lot of recycled materials in their construction, such as demolished bricks, paving slabs, pallets. All of these had to be manufactured once, which has a carbon footprint, transported to site, which has a carbon footprint, and the garden had to be built, which also has a carbon footprint. Recycling, on the other hand, does not create new emissions, at most during transport. Community gardens are essentially energy-efficient facilities.

The large-scale cultivation mentioned in the article means monocultures, optimised cultivation methods and, above all, huge sizes. And urban agriculture is all about small scale, with no endless arable land and instead individual beds. The article makes the mistake of not including in the CO2 value the CO2 burden of manufacturing and operating agricultural machinery. If we add to this the CO2 burden of the long journey from field to plate, transport, refrigeration and processing, the benefits of large-scale production are immediately not so great. Urban agriculture is all about variety and high biodiversity. In 2023, the Böszi Community Garden had 47 species of plants grown by gardeners, and that’s not counting the variety of species. For example, there were at least 10-12 varieties of tomatoes in the garden. In the supermarket, you can buy one or at most two types of tomatoes, the quality and nutrition of which are far below those of your own garden.

Blog post: Numbers in the Community Gardens

The list of arguments against the study could go on for a long time, but it is unnecessary. The really disturbing thing is that this research talks about negligible amounts of carbon dioxide, when on a global scale it is nothing. To show that urban gardens cost a few molecules of CO2 more than outdoor production, while megatonnes of methane are released from permafrost and deep-sea methane ice, while global transport, aviation, shipping, heating buildings, industry, our very existence, is a burden on the planet, is pathetic. They are taking one negligibly small element and projecting it onto the big picture. Why? Yet again, research that would have been better not done, not moved the world forward at all, a complete end in itself, with worthless results. Or, it all has a distinctly foul smell to it, namely an anti self-sufficiency, anti self-determination attitude. Don’t grow your own food, don’t strive for self-sufficiency, don’t please yourself, instead buy large-scale crops because it’s better and more environmentally conscious than small-scale urban agriculture. Bad taste, a very damaging way of thinking.

I watch the farmers’ protests in Europe, from Germany to the Netherlands to France, and I see something terribly wrong. The misunderstood “eco-consciousness”, this “How dare you?!” mentality, the totally misguided planet-saving, the unprofessional activist attitude, will eventually lead to either nothing to eat or it will be incredibly expensive. I’m telling you now that the hunger riots will mean far more CO2 emissions than the carbon production of community gardens.

Finally, what is missing from the research is how much excess carbon dioxide emissions, such as CO2 exhaled by the authors, were involved in the production of this great research! Now that is waste and pollution!

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Numbers in the community garden

The first season of the Böszi Garden ended. I have made all kinds of summaries and now I would like to present a different approach. What numbers can we put on the garden in the year of the garden’s creation?

There are many different numbers, let’s see some of them:

Number of garden meetings, trainings, garden events: 28 occasions

Municipal consultations, designer meetings, building contractor site visits: 19 occasions

Press releases in figures:

9 articles in the local newspaper Hegyvidék

8 news reports in Hegyvidék Tv

1 article in the Magyar Mezőgazdaság newspaper

1 lecture at the MOME, about the creation of a garden, including the creation of the Böszi garden

7 blog posts, mixed in Hungarian and English (I’m a lazy pig for writing so little, I’ll make up for it.)

I was interviewed by 3 graduate students, mainly about the Böszi garden and how I got involved in garden creation and community gardens.

Crop statistics

We have also done “garden statistics” in other gardens in previous years. The idea is to measure all the vegetables and fruits that were grown in the garden that year. The gardeners themselves keep an online crop diary, and then at the end of the season you can add up how much produce the garden and the beds separately have had that season. This is what “garden statistics” looks like.

böszi community garden crops in 2023

Although five bed holders did not fill in the table, it appears that there was a large harvest of nearly a tonne. With a total of 47 varieties of vegetables and herbs grown in the garden, it seems that many people have already started experimenting with plants in the first season, which has resulted in a diverse garden and crops.

Clearly the most tomatoes produced was 380.9 kg, with 30.6 kg of green tomatoes, good for pickling. This is true for all gardens, tomatoes are the most popular product. In the Böszi garden, the courgettes produced a very good 154.8 kg, followed immediately by the cucumbers 147.4 kg. Although I think they only planted batatas in 2-3 beds, they still came in at 36.5 kg.

Böszi garden crops in the year 2023

This Excel is interesting, Vazul one of the members from the garden has done a very good job of showing the quantity of crops in the beds. Somewhere very funny. In the Böszi garden the average yield was 29 kg per bed.

Aggregated crops of the beds

How much does this mean in HUF? I started to look for prices for the harvests, but there is a lot of variation, in fact I could only add up the main crops, which came to nearly 2 million forints. In other words, in lower terms, they produced nearly sixty thousand forints per bed, which is more like how much money the gardeners saved by growing what they would otherwise have bought in the shop or market. By comparison, the size of the beds is 6+1 square metres, so it is not at all an underestimate of what can be made from an urban garden. And that’s not to mention the quality, the community, this whole phenomenon on Böszörményi út.

The gardeners also had their costs, this year if I remember correctly the annual bed rent was 5000 Ft, they bought their own cattle manure (2500 Ft/bag, roughly one bag per bed), seeds and seedlings, and their own tools.

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Planting day in the Böszi garden (Böszörményi úti közösségi kert)

Yesterday we were very lucky with the weather, Saturday was rain-free and we could plant. On Thursday evening the seedlings were delivered, this was organised by the community itself, very good, there will be many more in the coming months. The home-grown seedlings were strong enough for planting, everything was in place to get the plants in the ground on the agreed day. Many had already prepared their planting plans for their beds, and Zsuzsa came to give advice to all the garden members on planting and positioning the plants. With 34 beds, Zsuzsa had a lot to do, she went to each bed and with the gardener she put the seedlings in the right place, it was like a kind of weird chess where the seedlings are the pieces and the bed is the horseshoe shaped board. Although it’s not chess, it’s more suited to the game of Go.

The day begins
The first step was to move the soil and work in the cattle manure. Luckily it had rained the day before, the soil was soft and easy to work with.

That’s it! First you have to place the plants on the bed, like pieces on a chess board, imagine how big each one will grow, and if they will push each other away.
The mayor of the district also dropped by.
I imagine that by July, August, these high beds will all be filled with mature plants, walking through the beds will be like a better kind of labyrinth.
We also need the stink plant, it’s a good protection plant and it will be beautiful.

On the side of the garden around this strip will be the common cultivated areas that we tend to divide up, so the very spreading plants like zucchini or squashes will go here, and then we’ll try to get them to spread up the strip. You can see the pallets in the background, we’ll be using them to build more garden furniture in the near future.

In parallel with the planting, the garden keys were distributed, so now each garden member has their own key and can go to the garden whenever they want.  We have also divided up the common cultivated areas, although this is still a bit ad-hoc, it will be finalised at the next garden meeting. We have also put together the compost bins, but compost education is still to be done, this will be done soon.

Now it’s going to be a week of lousy weather, with rain and overcast skies, I’m a bit worried about how the plants will cope.

The more important tasks for the coming period will be to build pallet furniture, figure out the garden sign, the sponsor sign and the garden visitor’s garden sign. Now at the planting day many people came in and looked around asking questions, we need a Visitors Rules sign. Soon the sun sails will be put up in the garden, we need them very much because in summer we need shade over the sandpit and the community area, the garden is very wet, it gets hot as hell in the summer heat.

We still need to buy some hoses for the garden, maybe some basins under the taps, and one of the garden members promised a tarpaulin for the sandpit, so the local cats have already found the garden.

We will be planting a lot more: there will be a flower area by the entrance and other places. What we need to work on a lot is the grating, where we plan to put a flower meadow to cover the sloping walls reinforced with jute netting. In any case I have sprinkled sunflower and ornamental sunflower seeds, if they survive and sprout they will make a pretty picture.

It was the first real gardening day, we’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s still the beginning, there’s a lot to do.

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Community gardens in Hungary – research

Dear Reader,

The attached article based on a research carried out into the area of mediation which is a peaceful conflict resolution method, as well as several externalities exerted by people in connection with a community garden in Hungary. The espected reader can get a short insight into the misterious world of fragrant spices, delicious vegetables and fruits, and explore mainly the human characteristics of this special milieu.

I definitely would like to thank the people supported my work in choosing potential professional responders and community gardens, gave pieces of advice, and shared their own experiences: Gábor Rosta, Ágnes Szabó and Mária Nagy.

On the other hand I definitely want to thank all the people participated in this research and gave valuable pieces of information or in any way contributed to my work.

Gabriella Lovász Ph.D.

Lovász Gabriella közösségi kertész, és persze tudományos kutató is, ezt a kutatást tavaly végezte a magyarországi közösségi kertekben.

Download (PDF, 231KB)

kertek találkozója


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Power to the people

Britain’s villages are in the front line in a new battle over energy, with investors seeking big profits. But this is not about fracking for shale gas – this row is about hydro-electric power.

Supporters believe that a network of small hydro-electric generators in village streams and rivers could provide enough electricity to power one in 20 households.

Elég jó cikk arról, hogy megpróbálnak önellátóak lenni.


Waterwheel on a 17th century tudor building

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