City soil is some of the most fertile soil around. That’s why we’ve built cities where they are. Here in Toronto, for example, 80% of land is classified as prime for agriculture. But much of that soil is hard to find these days, buried under concrete. How can we bring it back to life, both agriculturally and ecologically?


Not Far from the Tree asks: How will city soil come alive again?
Clemens Poloczek answers: The Earth’s 510 million square kilometers of surface–70.8% of that number is covered in water–has to be shared by humans and nature. Although metropolises are growing, this does not necessarily mean they can just take space from nature without replacing it. Thus, considerate behavior is absolutely essential.

Although the peace and quiet of untouched nature is a strong opposite to the fast, hectic movements of our cities, it seems that there is some attraction between them. It is no doubt that flora would be better off without us, but we have to search for a realistic alternative. Instead of constantly loosing territory, nature should flourish along with the growth of cities. The exact piece of nature taken away by building a house can be given back on its roof. Open spaces, vertical gardens and urban park areas are also fundamental in bringing city soil, now buried in concrete, back to life.

Projects like Prinzessinengärten in Berlin and Urban Physic Garden in London, in which urban wastelands have been transformed into blooming gardens, are great examples of how easy it is to transform unproductive, urban spaces into positive environments.  I believe that city soil can only stay alive if the inhabitants of our cities stay in touch with it.  It is part of our commitment as citizens of a lively metropolis to make sure that not only its people, but also its nature, received their deserved attention.