Inbound Ambassador

How to Grow Your Own Food in Cities

Kiwi Jon Walsh is a Tokyo-based Urban Gardening Coach passionate about helping people get started in growing their own food.

Food Security

Jon said he had no interest in gardening or farming as he grew up, but appreciated the food his mother and his wife grew as they were both avid gardeners and farmers. But when Christchurch, New Zealand was hit by a massive earthquake in 2011 and then the Tohoku earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster happened a month later, it became clear that food supply chains are tenuous.

Like many countries around the world, Japan relies on food imports for the majority of its food supply. The country is also prone to natural disasters. These are two very good reasons to start to grow at least some of your own food.

Teaching and Coaching

Jon has been teaching students at schools and coaching individuals on how to grow their own food for the last 9 years.

Jon’s school garden programs train kids in how to reuse their discarded drink containers to create planter, fill it with soil and seeds and learn how plants grow. In the video, he talks of teaching kids the “magic” of growing their own food as they get excited about interacting with nature.

He has recently transitioned from face-to-face seminars and programs to online tutorials and personalized sessions with people unsure about how to start growing their own food in Japan’s capital and beyond.

Organic Farming

Whether you have planters on your veranda or a patch of land in your garden, or at a community garden space, you can grow your own food. The benefit of growing food at home is you don’t have to use sprays or chemicals and can create organic vegetables and fruits easily.

In terms of growing plants stronger without sprays, Jon mentioned the Native American concept to grow the 3 sisters together: corn, beans, and squash.

The farmer’s almanac says,

By the time European settlers arrived in America in the early 1600s, the Iroquois had been growing the “three sisters” for over three centuries. The vegetable trio sustained the Native Americans both physically and spiritually. In legend, the plants were a gift from the gods, always to be grown together, eaten together, and celebrated together.

Reuse and Compost

We talked about composting and how kitchen scraps can be reused in compost as weeds, kitchen waste and other organic materials can be broken down over time into compost which when added back to the soil can make plants healthier and grow better.

Jon also told me how he teaches kids to take seeds from the food they eat and try planting them to see the full cycle of how plants can regenerate and regrow. Jon told me there are more than twenty varieties of plants including tomatoes, celery, potatoes, and carrots which easily regenerate when their stems are put back in the ground.

So, why not try to reuse some of your own containers, buy some soil and seeds – or try using seeds from your food- and get started. If you want some helpful expert guidance and friendly support, I’d recommend getting in touch with Urban Gardening Coach Jon Walsh. Jon has many years of gardening experience and know-how in Japan he is happy to pass on to you.

Big thanks to Jon Walsh for taking the time to do the interview and for providing use of the photos in the video and for this article. Photo credit also to Daniel Calvert.