Urban practitioner, Mary Zemach of Los Alamos, NM, gardens on 1/3 acre plot. With a limited number of fruit trees, she uses grafting techniques to increase productivity and diversify her plant pallette. Some of her trees have four or five varieties grafted onto the same rootstock.
In urban situations, space is limited, there may be little or no access to land, and various regulatory restrictions when it comes to gardening or backyard animals. We want to share some of the concepts that people have used in urban settings which allow them to circumnavigate these obsticles. Below is a list of some solutions practiced by various groups in cities across the nation. It is a mix of approaches, ranging from gardening to co-parenting, going across of aspects of sustainability.
Cooperative Arrangements: in Santa Fe, a community group is applying for a variance from the city to start using a small open space in their neigborhood for keeping chickens and bees and to plant an orchard. Combining their negotiating power helps with getting a variance, and distributing responsibilities as well as financial burden of setting up a productive environment ensures its stability and long-term success.
Co-Ownership of Assets: in Albuquerque, a group of people that live near each other decided to downsize and now own one truck, which is shared by several households.
Grafting Fruit Trees: in limited spaces one can still get a variety of fruit, when using a technique of grafting. A desirable variety (early ripening, or developed for storage, etc) is grafted onto an existing rootstock, resulting a trees that bears several types of fruit (now, apples don't become oranges, but there can be several different apples on the same tree!).
Worm Composting: a plastic bin with holes can house a family of red wiggler worms, who will be happy to eat your kitchen waste (eliminating it from the urban waste stream), and these critters will make it into good odor-free compost.
The BackYard Forester In Los Angeles, a fantastic project TreePeople will lead you towards greening the city, restoring watersheds, ecosystems and neigborhoods. Turn your yard into a wildlife or bird refuge - the National Wildlife Federation has a special program to encourage exactly that - or create an orchard that produces a surplus to share with food banks. Don't discount this idea if you are a renter. Not all landlords will pay for your garden improvements, but many will welcome your work. They may ultimately benefit, but you're the first beneficiary, and approaching life with a giving spirit invariably sets you up to receive at least as much as you give. (from The Urban Forest Possible, by Andy and Katie Lipkis, TreePeople)
The Citizen Pruner in New York, you can get trained in tree care and pruning, and be able to take care of any trees, whenever and whereever needed. Visit Trees NY to get inspired to do similar work in your area.
Chickens in a City depending on your location, you may be allowed to keep chickens in your urban yard! See The City Chicken - this is fabulous website, which includes every answer plus city by city listing of regulations for keeping chickens!