It would seem rurbanites is one of those conflated buzz words that’s filling column inches. It even has a book dedicated to the idea.

Promotional blurb for The Rurbanite: Living in the Country without Leaving the City states:

Do you live in the city but dream of keeping chickens? Do you look at derelict patches of ground on your way to work and see their potential as vegetable patches? If you do then you’re a rurbanite. You have a passion for the countryside but no intention of leaving the city. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. You’re part of a growing band of people who want the best of both worlds. From Brooklyn to Berlin, city dwellers are connecting with the local community and redefining urban living; sharing gardens, sprucing up bus stops and derelict areas, transforming balconies and creating rooftop paradises.

It all feels achingly hip, with the photo-articles predictably illustrated by gorgeous bohemians in just right gingham or ‘Paisley’ frocks and floppy hats, or in cotton jackets and beards for the blokes:



The images are beguiling but also slick, as if it’s easy for anyone to turn a corner and become a beautiful rurbanite over night. It’s easy to dismiss it all as the latest Sunday suppliment fad. Yet perhaps – just perhaps – beneath a veneer of superficial Photoshopped glamour there’s something interesting going on?


Something to do with a genuine desire for reconnection with the food we eat; or with a wish to introduce our children to where food comes from and the responsibilities and joys of growing? In schools we’re valuing recycling and upcycling, we’re re-using resources that once would have been thrown away without a second thought… It feels more optimistic than a simple style statement; and it’s happening when there are no cotton dresses or green wellies in sight.


I’m fully in favour of a more general focus on low-impact, environmentally friendly living and the simple pleasure of getting the soil once more between my fingers.

One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure.

…seems a good maxim to me, with bean cans and milk cartons becoming perfect containers for herbs; with plastic bags tacked to the walls becoming growbags for strawberries and tomatoes…

Our balcony approx. 3m x 2m, and five floors up in a Victorian mansion block is north facing and receives little in the way of direct sunlight. It’s by no means a perfect site for a garden. I’m not sure what we’ll be able to grow, but we’re going to give it a go.

So here’s to optimism, recycling and seed packets…

This is more like it, old cans providing perfect containers to help make good use of a bare wall as a herb garden…
Recycling on an industrial scale, they sure drink a lot of milk!
A brilliant use of wire coat hangers and milk cartons to give Geranium cuttings a start in life…
Tufnell Park Balcony Owner: Mark Risdill-Smith The Edible Balcony, 7/7/10
I think I may be suffering from balcony envy!



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