New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'

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Canada: Embracing ‘citified’ agriculture means rethinking land use priorities, says U of A researcher

Michael Granzow says projects like community gardens in cities are beneficial, but they need to be part of longer-term planning that also looks at issues like land use, housing and income inequality. (Photo: Supplied)

“Urban agriculture isn’t going to be the answer to all of our problems, but it’s a space of hope—a small but crucial part of a larger move towards ecologically and socially inspired models of urbanism.”

By Bev Betkowski
May 18, 2018


“It’s important we think about how urban agriculture projects are working in a larger context and how they’re actually addressing social, environmental and food-related concerns, as opposed to how we assume they’re doing this.

“There’s a need to specifically define what urban agriculture is and how it might differ from one urban context to another.”

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May 26, 2018   No Comments

Urban Bee Farms Transform Detroit’s Vacant Lots

Photo courtesy of Detroit Hives

As the city removes thousands of blighted properties, this couple saw an opportunity to support a cooperative economy.

By J. Gabriel Ware
May 17, 2018


Last year, Paule and his partner, Nicole Lindsey, bought a 32,000-square-foot lot on the city’s east side from the Detroit Land Bank Authority for $350 and turned it into an urban bee farm. And they say more bee farms are coming.

Paule and Lindsey run Detroit Hives, a nonprofit organization they use to transform vacant lots into honeybee farms. Beyond reducing blight, its mission is also to conserve honeybees, whose drastic declines worldwide have been attributed partly to pesticides and herbicides, and to educate the community about the bees’ vital contribution as pollinators necessary for food production.

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May 26, 2018   No Comments

Adopt an AgLanta “Grows-A-Lot”

AgLanta “Grows-A-Lot” is a City of Atlanta program that invites entrepreneurs, non-profits, and residents to apply for a 5-year renewable license to adopt a vacant, city-owned property to start a new urban garden or urban farm in AgLanta.

Jordan Johnson | Communications Manager
City of Atlanta | Mayor’s Office of Resilience

Together, we are producing healthy food and rich compost on rooftops to energy right-of-ways.

Cities and residents around the world are recognizing the growing demand for local food coupled with an ever-growing urban population. As a result, urban and controlled environment agriculture has emerged as a promising and viable solution. Urban agriculture and CEA can work together to drive food access, economic development, as well as social, environmental, and health benefits.

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May 26, 2018   No Comments

Canada: These Vancouver millennials are getting their hands dirty and growing local food, one veggie at a time

Camil Dumont, head farmer and executive director of Inner City Farms, stands in a backyard plot in East Vancouver where he grows some of his veggies. (Jennifer Gauthier / For StarMetro)

“Young farmers need clear action that encourages small-scale regenerative farming through land trusts, start-up grants, caps on home size, and changes to the ALR,” Levy said.

By Melanie Green
May 24, 2018


Eight years later, Dumont is the executive director of Inner City Farms, a non-profit sprouted from the desire to grow food locally.

“New farmers tend to be chomping at the bit to get in the sustainable food game,” Dumont said. “But that mountain of enthusiasm is not always a mountain of realism.”

Dumont is part of the rising urban agricultural movement, where there’s been a spike of millennials and first-generation farmers getting their hands dirty. Unlike other Canadian cities, Vancouver is the one urban centre with a younger farming age, according to the 2016 Statistics Canada census.

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May 25, 2018   No Comments

Yes! In My Backyard: A Home Composting Guide for Local Government

The 90-page report found that for every 10,000 households composting at home, between 1,400 and 5,000 tons per year could be diverted from curbside collection, with potential savings in avoided disposal costs alone ranging from $72,000 to $250,000.

By Brenda Platt
Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR)
22 MAY 2018

Co-authors Brenda Platt and Colton Fagundes profile 11 city and county home composting initiatives (10 in the U.S. and 1 in Canada) to share lessons learned and expand adoption. Training, education, and offering bins for free or at discounted prices topped the replication tips. The guide is not intended as a manual on how to compost at home.

Part 1 provides an overview of and lessons learned from the 11 featured programs. Austin, Texas, Cheverly, Md., Los Angeles County, Miami-Dade County, Fla., Napa, Calif., New York City, Oregon Metro (Portland area), Orlando, Fla., San Diego, Seattle, Vancouver, British Columbia.

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May 25, 2018   No Comments

Canada: City Farmer Sets Up Community Ping Pong Table At Entrance Gate

City Farmer's Ping Pong Table from Michael Levenston on Vimeo.

Ping Pong will be a permanent fixture along the Arbutus Greenway transportation corridor in Vancouver

Michael Levenston
City Farmer
May 24, 2018

Our Compost Garden entrance attracts more visitors than ever before. Ellie and Ryme from ‘frida&frank’ set up our new ping pong table, which attracted young students travelling along the Arbutus transportation corridor, previously a railway line. The children’s excitement, at being able to play ping pong out in the sun, is infectious.

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May 24, 2018   No Comments

Kale, Not Jail: Urban Farming Nonprofit Helps Ex-Cons Re-enter Society

Gavin Raders, one of the founders of Planting Justice, an Oakland, Calif., nonprofit that combines urban farming with environmental education and jobs for ex-offenders. CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

Planting Justice’s Rolling River Nursery now sells and ships some 1,100 varieties of potted trees and plants — among them, 65 different kinds of pomegranates, 60 varieties of figs, and loads of harder-to-find species such as jujubes (Chinese dates), Japanese ume plums and rue, an aromatic herb used in Ethiopian coffee.

By Patricia Leigh Brown
New York Times
May 17


Even by the standards of the Bay Area, where sourcing local, organic chicken feed is seen as something of a political act, the spectacle of 30,000 fruit and nut trees being tended by formerly incarcerated orchardists is novel.

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May 24, 2018   No Comments

Soaring farmland prices threaten future of farming in Canada

The average price of farmland in Canada has more than doubled in the last 10 years, leading to concerns about the future of agriculture in this country as a large group of farmers retires over the next decade.

Consumers demand cheap food, but land prices and other factors make that impossible in Canada, she said.

By Meredith MacLeod,
May 16, 2018


That makes farm ownership all but impossible for the next generation of farmers, says Mel Luymes, outreach and engagement coordinator for FarmLINK, which she describes as “farm realty site meets online dating.”

“I was thinking about going into farming in 2011 and the headline of the Ontario Farmer was that the first (100-acre) farm had reached $1 million and I thought maybe this is not the right time to get into farming, but in the next five years it just doubled,” she told CTV’s Your Morning Wednesday.

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May 23, 2018   No Comments

Canada: City slickers move to Alberta farm, document their new life on YouTube

The parents are finally feeling the zen in their new rural surroundings with ample space to do what they couldn’t in the city. They had always done a lot of gardening at home, but the plants quickly took over in the small backyard. “We kind of needed something bigger,” she said. Now they’ve got acres.

By Jonathan Forani
February 15, 2018

In a move that would make any city slicker’s polluted lungs seize, an Alberta family decided to adopt the country life and move out of their downtown Leduc home.

They needed wide open spaces. “I really wanted goats and some horses,” said Ashley Berndt, who with partner Shayne Kirkland packed up and moved with their blended family from Leduc, a city of more than 55,000 people to a farm outside the small town of Millet, home to around 2,000 people. The kids were enthusiastic about the move, drawing pictures of their vision for the farm, coming up with names for their future horses, dogs and cats.

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May 23, 2018   No Comments

Vancouver Urban Sketchers Visit City Farmer

Painting by Denise Tonner.

Beautiful May Flowers Were in Bloom for the Artists

All art shown in this post are by Vancouver Urban Sketchers
A link to their site follows this post.
May 2018

The artists came through the Arbutus Greenway gate, followed our wood chip paths, and set up their paper and painting tools in our verdant, colourful, garden setting.

Artists photographed in our garden ‘selfie’ mirror. Click image to see larger file.

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May 22, 2018   No Comments

Canada: Regina community garden grows to welcome refugee families

Organizers, refugees and a translator pose beside the new community garden plots. The plots are 20 by 25 feet and each family receives their own to grow what they choose. Majority of the families taking part in the project were farmers back in their home countries of Syria or Tanzania. ‘It’s an ideal project for them,’ said organizer Zahid Sheikh. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Majority of the 24 refugee families given plots were farmers in their home countries

By Heidi Atter
CBC News
May 15, 2018


“I garden back home,” he said. “Actually not just garden, I farm. We farmed maize, we farmed cassavas, potatoes, a lot.”

He said he was excited for the opportunity to grow his own food because buying fresh produce for his family is expensive.

Fawzi Almazalma is from Syria and had a farm there with about 120 olive trees back. He said he is looking forward to gardening here, even if growing olives is not a likely prospect.

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May 22, 2018   No Comments

Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance: Reflections on a Life of Raising Chickens

Updated second edition features new photographs and a new chapter.

By Gurdon Martin
CompanionHouse Books
May 29, 2018

Owning chickens is fast becoming the latest in metropolitan chic. If you can’t own them, you’ll still want to read about them. Primal urges, the quest for ultimate power, sex, death, gender bending, and huge vet bills—these are the things that chickens are made of. Martin Gurdon’s hilarious Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance relives the highs and lows of chicken ownership. This unique chicken memoir follows the Gurdon family through the ups and downs of a wonderful hobby.

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May 21, 2018   No Comments

Ghana: Urban Agriculture in Tamale: a policy narrative

The core of the suggested Tamale plan involves municipal assemblies purchasing larger areas of flood prone land and specifically dedicating them to agriculture so that they cannot be reallocated or sold.

For URBANET UrbanFoodPlus RUAF Foundation Ghana WASH Programme University for Development Studies and International Water Management Institute by I. Bellwood-Howard, E. Chimsi, S. Abdul-Ganiyu and R. van Veenhuisen
Institute of Development Studies
Jan 24, 2016

Executive summary:

Tamale, the capital of Ghana’s Northern region, is a fast-growing metropolis situated in the Guinea savannah. It has a tradition of urban and peri-urban cultivation, and its current rapid growth means that there is a need to analyse the role of urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) in the city’s sustainable development. UPA in and around Tamale takes many forms, with various crop farm types characterised by different spatial and tenure arrangements and access to irrigation facilities. These can be broadly categorised as open space intra-urban sites, open space peri-urban sites, intra-urban backyard farms, isolated farms in interstitial intra-urban spaces, formal peri-urban irrigation schemes and peri-urban non-irrigated farming.

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May 21, 2018   No Comments

Is it really safe to eat food grown in urban gardens?

Devan King/The Nature Conservancy

On the bright side, the scientists all seemed to agree on one thing: As long as I use compost and wash my vegetables, I can totally start an urban garden.

By Ilana Strauss
May 14, 2018


I wanted to start a vegetable garden in my backyard. But my yard is in Brooklyn, a land of street garbage, truck exhaust, and stray cats. So I decided to figure it out: Was it really safe to grow food there? I had no idea that the rabbit hole I burrowed in urban gardens would lead to dead cows in Georgia, a global contamination meeting in Sweden, and the strange price we pay to make sure kids don’t catch on fire.

I started by calling Murray McBride, a professor at Cornell University who researches contamination, to find out if city gardens are really safe. According to McBride, I should be worried about one main thing:

“We found lead to be the biggest problem,” he told me. “There can be high concentrations of lead even in the garden beds.”

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May 21, 2018   No Comments

New York City GreenThumb urban gardening program celebrates 40th anniversary with tree giveaway

GreenThumb supports more than 550 community gardens with materials and workshops to help them grow.

By Max Parrott
am New York
May 13, 2018


GreenThumb helps provide them with lumber for raised bed planters, plants and workshops, but the new stewards have also taken advantage of materials, services and grants offered by an array of programs and nonprofits around the city.

Vulcain and Sowkey’s efforts seemed to be paying off. Community members steadily streamed in throughout the morning to pick up their trees.

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May 20, 2018   No Comments