These days, down on the farm can mean downtown too.

You might not be able to see rooftop gardens on the tallest buildings in your city, but what about community gardens at street level? Or backyard gardens in residential neighborhoods? Or pots and planter boxes in windowsills and patios? All are part of a groundswell of interest in growing food in urban environments. Large or small, long-established or just getting started, urban farming is on the rise. And for good reason. Fresh produce. Local achievement. Green space among pavement. Dozens of initiatives are digging in.

Cultivating a hands-on appreciation for food.

The metropolitan area of Minneapolis and St. Paul is home to a thriving group of community gardens. Several work with local young people to manage production and in doing so gain valuable job experience and provide access to fresh produce within their communities. Just BARE Chicken supports two such organizations, Urban Roots and Roots For The Home Team. From produce grown with their own hands, teens create and sell salads at weekend home games for the Minnesota Twins. These young people serve as powerful inspiration for everything a garden can produce, not just healthy food but also creativity and a growing sense of accomplishment.

Windowsill to stovetop. Now that’s local.

Is the potential huge for urban food production? Absolutely. Does that mean you need a huge amount of space? Not at all. A sunny windowsill, patio or front porch is acreage enough. Growing a few favorite, hearty herbs in flower pots or planter boxes is easy and space efficient, and you’re saving money on store-bought produce as well. Seeds or starter plants for the five herbs shown here are typically available at local garden shops or hardware stores in early summer. Fresh basil. Steaming pasta. Grilled chicken. Who’s hungry?

Snip, savor. Snip, savor.

Herbs vary in terms of harvest and handling. Harvesting the small quantities needed for a meal such as Herbed Chicken & Farro Caprese takes seconds, and the plant will stay productive for months. Your local extension office is a good resource to better understand growing conditions in your area. And if your herb plants grow beyond your immediate needs, consider drying the surplus for great local flavor even in the coldest months.

Farmer to farmer, grower to grower.

Healthy food doesn’t just happen. It’s intentional. Some growers work at a scale that spans counties. Your garden could flourish on a balcony. Either way, it’s the hands-on effort that forges a bond among everyone who wants good food for more people. A new growing season is here. With every delicious meal, it’s your invitation to enjoy the benefits of homegrown food.