With Jay living in New York City this year, and me in Oregon, we are making many cross-country trips this year. This past weekend I was out visiting and was continually surprised that New Yorkers, as urban as they come, are still fascinated with things that grow. Did you know that New York City has one of the highest ratios of parks to people in the US?

Although I spent time walking through a very crowded Central Park, New Yorkers are not depending on parks alone to interact with nature. I noticed several lush and healthy rooftop gardens are I walked through the streets of Manhattan. With such sizable rent prices, I would expect to have a posh private rooftop garden myself.

What I was perhaps the most delighted to see were the many gardens on the footsteps of Brooklyn apartments. It seems most apartment buildings have an entrance gate separating the front door from the sidewalk. Within this space is a small concrete area that I found planted with container gardens. With close proximity to the garden hose, a collection of 8-10 vegetable containers would be fairly easy maintenance and a great way to grow your own organic produce.

Some entrance areas even had real live dirt! The beds I saw were roughly 5′ x 5′ patches that were probably original to the construction of the apartments. Concrete was not poured in this little area so residents could have a tree or a couple shrubs for curb appeal. The best use of this area I saw was home to a lovely fig tree. Figs, as you may know, grow well in containers and therefore make very good candidates for a fruit tree in this small space.

In other yards I saw determined grape vines climbing along iron railings. I bet someone could squeeze a portable composter in there somewhere as well. When I see a portable chicken coop in there, then my mind will be officially blown.

I can’t wait to see what these guys have in store come Spring time, as the vegetable season gets rolling again. It sure makes my Oregon life seem incredibly lush, having so much space and a backyard of my very own. But come next summer, I’ll be spending a few months living in Brooklyn and can’t wait to tackle this neglected, sparse concrete section outside our apartment.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson