New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'

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Keeping Philadelphia’s soil safe

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Stephen P. Peterson has been examining the presence of lead and other potentially harmful heavy metals in the soil in Fairmount Park—the largest inner-city park system in the U.S. and the site of some urban agriculture. Photo by Joseph V. Labolito.

Older industrial cities like Philadelphia tend to have higher lead and heavy-metals concentrations in their soil than the national average.

By Preston Moretz
Temple University
News Center

Excerpt:

“Everywhere I went in the park—no matter how old the area was or how dense the woods were—the levels of lead and other metals were well above Philadelphia’s normal level, which is already above the national average,” he said.

All but one of the urban gardens tested were in raised planting beds where the soil had been brought in from elsewhere, so heavy-metals levels were low. “The Fairmount Park people are doing it right bringing in fresh topsoil, but these raised beds can still see their lead levels increase, because they can be influenced by the areas around them,” he explained.

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April 19, 2014   No Comments

Big city farming in Chicago

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Green goodies: Farm supervisor Maureen Maitland works with micro greens at Urban Till in Chicago. David Pierini/staff photographer.

Neighborhood-based urban farm aims to revolutionize food supply chain

By Timothy Inklebarger
Austin Weekly News
April 8th, 2014

Excerpt:

The owners of Urban Till, which operates the 30,000-square-foot urban farm, opened their doors to a select group of about 100 restaurateurs, chefs, sustainable food advocates and industry insiders for the first time on March 21. The facility gives them a glimpse into what the budding entrepreneurs say is the future of farming

Participants met at a bar in Chicago’s West Loop and were bused out to the location, which Urban Till’s owners want to remain secret for now. They were treated with gourmet delicacies and high-end cocktails using the farm’s myriad variety of greens and herbs.

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April 19, 2014   No Comments

RUAF: Urban Agriculture as a Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy

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RUAF Urban Agriculture Magazine No. 27, March 2014

RUAF-Foundation (International network of Resource centres on Urban Agriculture and Food security)
March 2014

Excerpts:

This issue is prepared with support of the UN Habitat Cities and Climate Change Initiative. It reports on the joint urban agriculture programme implemented by RUAF and UN Habitat. This issue also shares findings of a CDKN funded innovation project on monitoring urban agriculture impacts on climate change.

Cities and climate change are virtually inseparable. Cities are major contributors to Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and thus climate change.

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April 18, 2014   No Comments

A Kale of Two Cities: Cultivating Social Justice

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La Finca Del Sur.

Urban agriculture pioneers have repurposed vacant land, greened the city, created community space, and introduced city dwellers to fresh local food.

By Nevin Cohen and Kristin Reynolds
Huffington Press
Apr 14, 2014

Excerpt:

In many ways, cultivating social justice is more important than bringing in a bountiful harvest because simply growing more food in the city, as healthy and delicious as it may be, will never feed all those in need. Even a vastly expanded urban agriculture system will not ensure healthy communities until cities address the roots of food system disparities: poverty, discrimination, and unequal power and privilege. That’s how urban agriculture can really make a difference.

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April 18, 2014   No Comments

Reflections on Urban Farming in Russia

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“When we started making Growing Cities, a new documentary about urban farming in America, we never imagined where it would take us.”

By Dan Susman
Growing Cities
April 17, 2014

Excerpt:

Most recently, we had the opportunity to travel to Moscow, Russia, as part of the Ecocup Film Festival and with the support of the US Embassy. I spoke with many students and citizens there about urban agriculture, which is a relatively new concept for Russians. However, that isn’t to say they don’t have a long history tied to the land.

Almost every time we showed the film, someone would ask, ‘have you heard of dachas?’ At first, I had no idea, though by the third or fourth time I had a pretty good understanding. Dachas (literally meaning ‘something given’ in ancient Russian) are peri-urban seasonal homes, which usually have small land allotments attached. These plots were first given out to loyal vassals starting in the late 17th century with Peter the Great, though now Russians from all classes have these plots.

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April 17, 2014   No Comments

Would a District of Columbia “food czar” help urban farmers?

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Gail Taylor says her urban farming is a “hobby” because current laws can’t support it as a business.

D.C. council mulls adding a “food czar”–which could mean more urban farms, local food, and green initiatives for all.

By Whitney Pipkin
Elevation
April 08, 2014

Excerpt:

The food czar and council could help establish a better business and tax structure for small farms like Gail Taylor’s Three Part Harmony Farm in the city. Taylor says she considers her business more of a hobby right now because it’s not a 501(c)(3) and, therefore, she can’t afford the D.C. taxes or apply for grants that would help pay her bills.

“I have another job to pay my bills and buy supplies,” Taylor testified at the hearing. “The city has not developed the necessary laws to support [urban] farms outside of that nonprofit framework.”

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April 17, 2014   No Comments

2nd Spanish Congress for Organic Urban Farms

Grupo4yo

By Chris Wilkes and Paolo Mulotto
April 2014

The city of Utrera was the setting for the 2nd Spanish Congress for Organic Urban Agriculture from the 13th-15th March.

The congress was organised by the Spanish Society of Organic Agriculture (SEAE) in collaboration with the local government of Utrera and the Ecoparques organisation.

The purpose of the congress was to exchange ideas and experiences, and to inspire ecological innovation for the growth of urban and local “Huertos” (allotments) assessing the current status of organic agriculture, seeing what advances have been made and providing recommendations for future development in the sector.

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April 17, 2014   No Comments

Farming the Roofs of Paris

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Tentative Draft Farm over Paris Montsouris reservoir. Eelv – Assoc. Living Roofs.

In total, 100 hectares of rooftops could be transformed into farms

By Krisztina Kupi
Green Fudge
Apr 6, 2014

Excerpt:

District 14 of Paris, notably rue de la Tombe-Issoire, may be the first area of the French capital to see the revival of urban agriculture. Establishing gardens and farms on the roofs would improve the supply of city dwellers.

With the technical support of the Living Roofs (Toits Verts) association, French ecologist Celia Blauel is promoting the idea of the establishment of a farm on one of the five principal water tanks of Paris, near Parc Montsouris. Their long-term goal is to create the country’s biggest urban agricultural surface.

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April 16, 2014   No Comments

Urban farmers dig in for spring planting at Providence community gardens

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Mypeth Phommsarath, of Providence, levels out freshly composted soil to prepare the beds for vegetable plantings at the Manton Avenue Community Garden. Photo by Bob Breidenbach/The Providence Journal.

“There’s a desperate need (for community gardens). You see people growing food in the cracks in their yard.”

By Felice J. Freyer
The Providence Journal
April 6, 2014

Excerpt:

Mypeth Phommarath was tilling the black soil in his two 4-foot-by-16-foot beds at the Joslin Park Community Garden. He plans to grow cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce. Phommarath, 59, emigrated from Laos in 1990. He was laid off from his last job and hasn’t been able to find another; the garden will help feed his family.

Nelson Rocha, shoveling fresh compost onto his plot nearby, said he favors kale. Growing it himself, he can be sure it’s organic. And delicious. Rocha, 41, a financial analyst, blanches and freezes the kale to last the winter. He juices it. He uses it in muffins and sauces. He also enjoys coming to Joslin Park to meet other urban farmers while his 3-year-old twins play in the nearby playground.

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April 16, 2014   No Comments

‘Food Patriots’ film documents family’s struggle to raise backyard chickens, grow food

Explores the sustainable food movement through urban gardens and commercial aquaculture in Chicago

By Lindsay Christians
Cap times
April 05, 2014

Excerpt:

To hear Jeff Spitz tell it, his documentary “Food Patriots” started as an excuse to get out of yard work.

“I thought she was doing something,” Spitz said of his wife, Jennifer Amdur Spitz, when she decided to plant a backyard garden and build a coop for a tiny flock of hens.

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April 16, 2014   No Comments

Edible Schoolyards teach students at five First Line Schools

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A student shows the sweet potato he unearthed at Arthur Ashe’s fall Sweet Potato Fest, a school community event that included harvesting of more than 350 pounds of sweet potatoes. Photo of Edible Schoolyard New Orleans.

“Kids get the idea they can make a living doing gardening and farming, but there is also work in food justice and food access.”

By Judy Walker
NOLA.com
April 04, 2014

Excerpt:

After Hurricane Katrina, Alice Waters wanted to do a service project for New Orleans. Now, the first Edible Schoolyard at Samuel J. Green Charter School, just off Freret Street, is a lush and lovely space that just hosted the fifth annual Edible Evening fundraiser. And Green is no longer the only Edible Schoolyard in New Orleans.

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April 16, 2014   No Comments

Largest community garden in U.S. feeds the hungry in Denton, Texas

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Volunteer Rebekah Jackson from Texas Woman’s University plants broccoli at Shiloh Field community garden. Photo by Ron Baselice.

Organizers hope to raise 30,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables on the 14.5-acre plot for needy families in Denton County.

By Melissa Wylie
Daily News
4 April 2014

Excerpt:

The garden helps feed those living in poverty in Denton County, where 1 in 5 people lives at or below the federal poverty line and nearly one-third of residents do not earn a livable income.

Last year, volunteers harvested nearly 24,000 pounds of produce at Shiloh Field Community Garden. This year, they expect to harvest more than 30,000 pounds of fruit, vegetables and eggs to donate to nonprofit organizations, such as Our Daily Bread soup kitchen, crisis center Friends of the Family and child care center Fred Moore Day Nursery.

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April 14, 2014   No Comments

City Folk’s Farm Shop in Columbus, Ohio

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“When we talk about sustainable living and urban homesteading, people think of hippy-dippy types,” she says. “But we’re really not in that category.”

By Emily Thompson
Columbus Monthly
April 2014

Excerpt:

Amid the many businesses that sprawl up High Street, City Folk’s Farm Shop stands out with a bright orange awning and large logo boasting a chicken on the window. At first glance, the inside of the shop looks like a small-town garden supply store—standard gardening tools line the walls, birdhouses sit atop shelves and trashcans are off to the side. But a closer look reveals those trashcans are actually composting bins, and some of the products are even less recognizable. What exactly is a Nut Wizard, anyway? Customers frequent the store for this nut- and seed-gathering gadget, along with cheese-making kits, how-to books about fermenting, food dehydrators and the Farmer’s Almanac.

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April 14, 2014   No Comments

‘Farm City’ author’s new book ‘Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild’

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Author Novella Carpenter on the success of ‘Farm City,’ being a mother and her newest book (release date June 17, 2014)

By John Liberty
Mlive
April 12, 2014

Excerpt:

The topics of urban farming, eating healthier and, when possible, buying locally, are very popular right now, but the conversation can be tricky, too, Carpenter said. The success of “Farm City” has propelled her into an advocacy role.

Carpenter said she avoids “preaching” to people about the virtues of eating locally, or establishing your own garden. She said in low income communities such as hers, families are struggling to make ends meet. As such, many people are eating foods high in sugar leading to an “epidemic” where one in three children have diabetes. Carpenter said one in every two children in her community have diabetes.

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April 14, 2014   No Comments

Vancouver’s new Victory Gardeners transform Vancouver’s backyards and rooftop

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At Victory Gardens, Samantha Phillips, Sandra Lopuch and Lisa Giroday are helping to transform Vancouver’s backyards and rooftops into gardens that provide residents and businesses with their own vegetables. Photo by Rob Newell.

Victory Gardens harkens back to the days when people did their patriotic duty by growing their own food

By Martha Perkins
Westender
April 9, 2014

Excerpt:

So the three friends decided to start their own gardening business and called it Victory Gardens. Not only do they hire themselves out to create gardens — they just established a rooftop garden at HootSuite’s headquarters and one for Acorn, the vegetarian restaurant — but they also host workshops and seminars on growing your own vegetables.

Winning the $25,000 prize from the Co-operators’ National Co-op Challenge will help them spread the message even further. They’re using the money to produce an educational series of YouTube videos that show people how to create and nurture their own urban vegetable gardens.

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April 14, 2014   No Comments