New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'

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How One Of Washington D.C.’s Worst Heroin Markets Became A Sustainable Food Source

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A 100-square-meter plot in a 130-day temperate growing season “can provide most of a four-person household’s total yearly vegetable needs, including much of the household’s nutritional requirements for vitamins A, C, and B complex and iron.”

By Jeff Spross
Think Progress
September 18, 2014

Excerpt:

Thirteen years ago, Marvin Gaye Park was a mess.
The park sits in Lincoln Heights, a neighborhood in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 7, just east of the Anacostia River. The community is overwhelmingly poor and non-white, and suffers some of the worst rates of crime, unemployment and social breakdown in the city. The park itself had succumbed to disuse. One of the worst PCP and heroin markets in the city had cropped up nearby.

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September 22, 2014   No Comments

1876 – Vick’s flower and vegetable garden

1876 Vick's Flower and Vegetable Garden Book

Excerpt:

The Vegetable Department is, to many of our readers, exceedingly interesting, and should be to all; for while we have no sympathy with those who say they “see more beauty in a Cabbage or hill of Potatoes than in the finest flower that ever grew,” we do most heartily agree with those who take pride and pleasure in culture of choice vegetables, and their improvement, and who are ready to say, with Diocletian, “Were you to come to my garden, and see the vegetables I raise with my own hands, you would no longer talk to me of empire.”

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September 22, 2014   No Comments

Making farming work in the big city, Manila, Philippines

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The main demo farm of Quezon City’s “Joy of Urban Farming” program. All photos by Fritzie Rodriguez/Rappler.com.

“The main goal is to improve nutrition, while also trying to reduce poverty,”

By Fritzie Rodriguez
Rappler
09/09/2014

Excerpt:

Unknown to many, right smack in the middle of the Quezon Memorial Circle, rows of vegetables line the 1,500-square-meter space.

This main demo farm is just one of the many sites under Quezon City’s “Joy of Urban Farming” program launched in 2010 by Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte. Until today, the program tries to spread green thumbs among city-dwellers.

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September 22, 2014   No Comments

Urban Farming’s Grande Dame: Karen Washington

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During the growing seasonn, Karen Washington works nearly every day in the Garden of Happiness, the community garden that she helped found in 1988 across the street from her home in the Bronx. Photo by Chester Higgins Jr.

A Believer in Vacant Lots

By Dan Shaw
New York Times
Sept 19, 2014

Excerpt:

Karen Washington, a community activist who has been called “urban farming’s de facto godmother,” found her bliss when she moved to the Bronx nearly 30 years ago and began growing vegetables in her backyard. Gardening was not part of her heritage.

“My parents and grandparents were not farmers,” said Ms. Washington, who recently retired after 37 years from her day job as a physical therapist. “I took out books from the library and learned what to do.”

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September 21, 2014   No Comments

Help Feed Yourself. Make back yards and vacant lots productive. ca. 1917 – ca. 1919

helpfeedClick on image for larger file.

Work a garden – Raise children… Somebody has to raise or pack everything you eat. Do Your Share! Make every jar help feed your family

By U.S. Food Administration. Educational Division. Advertising Section. 1917 -1919

Excerpt:

Grow Vegetables and Fruit
If Your Soil is Fertile and Sunny

Don’t let your land loaf. Keep it working all seasons.
Don’t assume that the season is too far advanced to begin garden operations. Some vegetables may be planted at practically any time until past the middle of summer.

Start new crops between the rows of others that are soon to be removed.

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September 21, 2014   No Comments

NPR – Tax Breaks May Turn San Francisco’s Vacant Lots Into Urban Farms

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Urban farmers turning a vacant lot into a garden plot in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. Photo by Chris Martin/Flickr.

Thanks to the new tax break, Roland will begin saving about $6,000 per year.

By Alastair Bland
NPR
September 09, 2014

Excerpt:

Here’s how the tax break works: Property owners who are willing to turn uninhabited land into farms would get that land assessed at the going tax rate for the state’s irrigated farmland. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that was about $12,500 per acre in 2013.

If accepted into the program, the property owner’s annual dues to the city would drop from $10,000 or more to roughly $100. But the landowner would have to keep the land as an agricultural operation for at least five years or pay back the balance of the tax reduction, plus interest.

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September 21, 2014   No Comments

Should Tokyo Build Methane-Powered Cow Farms in the Sky?

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Mushin thinks urban farming in future Tokyo … will be “corporations that set up high-tech, dense, multi-story production systems on the edges of towns.”

By Cameron Allan Mckean
Resilient Cities – Next City
September 17, 2014

Excerpt:

Farms in Tokyo produce enough food to feed less than one million of the city’s residents, according to a 2010 survey by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Data suggest, however, that 85 percent of the city’s residents want urban farmland to give them access to fresh foods and green space. Cowships might be a fantastical solution, but Mushin says that’s beside the point. “There’s nothing wrong with these ideas. The only problem is that there is a huge lack of imagination and interest,” he says. “Humans can change, it’s just that we’re not inspired to change. No one cares about (energy) efficient lightbulbs – it’s got to be something you can be delighted by.”

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September 20, 2014   No Comments

Bristol, England to provide urban farming inspiration as EU Green Capital

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Steve Glover, pioneer of Bristol’s urban agriculture. Photograph by Elisabeth Braw.

Gearing up for its role as EU Green Capital 2015, Bristol’s agricultural scene is growing

By Elisabeth Braw
The Guardian
9 September 2014

Excerpt:

Steve Glover doesn’t mind being called an unlikely pioneer of sustainable urban agriculture. A few years ago he didn’t even know how to grow organic vegetables, let alone on a deserted piece of land next to Bristol’s train station.

Today, Glover is supplying high-end local restaurants with vegetables and salads from his farm, the Severn Project. His staff, those that grow and pick the produce are recovering drug addicts.

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September 20, 2014   No Comments

Santa Fe Urban farm creates Land Trust to preserve land and affordable housing for future generations

This 3.5-acre rental property is now threatened with foreclosure

Excerpt from Indiegogo site:

Since 2012 we have been operating Gaia Gardens, a nonprofit certified organic farm, on a leased parcel of land in Santa Fe. With the support of a large group of friends and neighbors, we have turned a parched and neglected landscape into a colorful urban oasis, cultivating an acre of land in the middle of town and galvanizing a powerful community around it. This 3.5-acre rental property is now threatened with foreclosure. To preserve this unique piece of land, continue our educational mission and provide affordable housing for future generations, we intend to buy the farm property and hold it clear of real estate speculation. To do so, we have created the Mil Abrazos (One Thousand Hugs) Community Land Trust, a nonprofit, to purchase the property.

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September 20, 2014   No Comments

Big Cricket Farms – the only farm in America to raise crickets exclusively for human consumption

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Big Cricket Farms holds nearly six million crickets in a compact, urban setting, raising and slaughtering them without a single complaint from the next-door neighbors.

By Nicola Twilley
New Yorker
September 16, 2014

Excerpt:

Big Cricket Farms, of Youngstown, Ohio, opened six months ago. It is the first (and, so far, only) farm in America to raise crickets exclusively for human consumption. The farm, which was founded by Kevin Bachhuber, is housed in a formerly abandoned warehouse in the Rust Belt city. Inside, several hundred white reinforced fibreglass troughs sit on the floor, housing between three thousand and four thousand crickets each.

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September 19, 2014   No Comments

Irrigated Urban Vegetable Production In Ghana:

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Characteristics, Benefits And Risk Mitigation

Edited by Pay Drechsel and Bernard Keraita
Second Edition
IWMI
September 2014

The second edition of this book presents updated research findings on urban and peri-urban agriculture and vegetable farming in Ghana’s major cities with a special focus on the risks and risk mitigation related to the use of polluted water sources as it is common across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Foreword to the Second Edition

Over the last 10 years, the International Water Management Institute’s research in Ghana has had a major thrust in urban agriculture in general and (wastewater) irrigated vegetable farming in particular. The first edition of this book was published in 2006 under the title Irrigated Urban Vegetable Production in Ghana: Characteristics, Benefits and Risks –demand was high and it eventually ran out of print but the research resulted in many new studies that have improved our knowledge of the subject.

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September 19, 2014   No Comments

Concordia’s City Farm school in Montreal grows gorgeous greens on campus

loyal

Stop by the farmer’s market at Loyola to taste the fruits of their labour

By Pauline Nesbitt
The Concordian
Sept 9, 2014

Excerpt:

Did you know that those delicious-looking tomatoes in the farm garden on the Loyola campus can be purchased at Concordia’s farmer’s market? The market stand is literally a few steps away from the garden, and on market days the produce is harvested just before it opens at 11 a.m. This is food that is truly market-fresh and organically grown.

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September 18, 2014   No Comments

Grand Rapids women appeal city crackdown on backyard farm animals

piggy
A pig named “Lord Bacon Dispenser the Third Duke of Hamelot” inside the “urban farm” behind Claire McGinn and Kendra Ritter’s Grand Rapids home on Coit Ave NE. The couple was cited for an odor violation and will appeal to the city next week. They have 10 chickens, five ducks, two bunnies, one turkey and one pig. Photo by Cory Morse.

Meet Spencer the pig

By Matt Vande Bunte
Mlive
September 05, 2014

Excerpt:

McGinn got ticketed this summer for violating city property maintenance code that prohibits livestock within 100 feet of any dwelling. She was also cited for “strong animal waste odor from the chickens, ducks and rabbit defecating in the yard,” according to the report of a city inspector.

McGinn appealed to the city’s Housing Board of Appeals, which started hearing the case last month and will reconvene 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10, at the city’s Development Center, 1120 Monroe Ave. NW.

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September 18, 2014   No Comments

So You Want To Be a Farmer

farmmapIllustrations by Julia Rothman. Click on image for larger file.

Ever dream of chucking it all for the simple life? Read this first.

By Jesse Hirsch
Modern Farmer
September 15, 2014

Excerpt:
Many small farms take in apprentices or interns (a largely semantic distinction) for a growing season. According to Thistlethwaite, this is an all but mandatory step in your farm journey. And not just for one season. She suggests apprenticing for three to four years before you even consider starting your own farm. This will not only provide a basic knowledge base, but also ensure that farming is something you enjoy. “[Apprenticing] is gut check time,” she says. “It gives you the chance to ask yourself: ‘Is this really who I am?’”

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September 17, 2014   No Comments

This startup in Beijing buys old shipping containers and turns them into urban hydroponic farms

techin
From left to right: Kazuho Komoda, Young Ha, and Stuart Oda.

The initial market will be limited to China.

By Paul Bischoff
Techinasia
September 8, 2014

Excerpt:

This 13-year-old shipping container in the middle of a field in Beijing’s Shunyi district might not be easy on the eyes, but it’s shaping up to be a godsend for the tongue. On the inside, it’s been completely renovated to house a fully automated hydroponic farm with 1,600 heads of lettuce, celery, and other leafy greens for human consumption.

The facility was designed and built by the three founders of Alesca Life Technologies, a Beijing-based sustainable agriculture startup. The team spent an entire year designing the unit for maximum efficiency and output. They just conducted their first full harvest about three weeks ago.

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September 17, 2014   No Comments