Conservation agriculture in urban deserts
Williams, Mark A.
Reyes, Manuel R.
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Limited access to nutritious and affordable food is experienced by 23 million people in the US as they live in 'food desserts' making them food and health insecure. Resources such as land, water, labor and capital are used not in the context of sustainability making the problem more severe. Urban conservation agriculture will be an ‘oasis’ or a sustainable solution to this problem on food desserts and unsustainable resource use. A part of a human disturbed landscape, a turf grass lawn, was converted into ‘oasis sofas’, a 3’ by 6’ vegetable production area outlined by wood, following conservation agriculture principles of minimum soil disturbance, continuous mulch and diverse species at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Rainwater was used for irrigation and leguminous cover crops used to increase soil fertility. The cost of maintaining oasis sofas’ were seen to be lower than maintaining an equal amount of turf lawn. Oasis sofas’ adds beauty and diversity to the lawn while it gives nutritious food to the household. Fall yield of unfertilized vegetables; broccoli, collard greens, kale and lettuce were 4.5, 2.8, 1.7 and 2.6 kilograms, respectively, per ‘oasis sofa’. Part of the capital and hired labor to maintain turf grass lawns may be used to maintain oasis sofa’s which would lead to greater benefits as it brings nutritious food to the household. Oasis sofas ease access to homegrown healthy food which would likely improve the household’s food and health security.