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Indianapolis Hoosier Gardener: Urban gardening, steampunk style

Amy Mullen’s front yard in Irvington is the home of vegetables and fruit trees. (Photo: Photo provided by Amy Mullen)

Is there a relationship between growing your own food on a small city lot and steampunking? Yes, she said.

Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
Indy Star
February 19, 2015
Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp ( is secretary of Garden Writers Association and co-author of “The Indiana Gardener’s Guide.”


Steampunk celebrates the individual craftsman and appreciates technology you can look at and see how it works. The farm-to-fork movement is one response to outsourcing growing food to industrial agriculture.

“With gardening, we recapture the skills we lost. There’s a streak of individualism and creativity that runs through both gardening and steampunking,” Mullen said.

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February 27, 2015   No Comments

‘Freight Farms’ Grow Local Flavor, Year-Round

Containers on roof.

At this point, their business is breaking even.

By Jeremy Hobson
Here and Now
Feb 17, 2015


In a city, you can grow enough produce using this technology to make a scaleable business. So you can sell wholesale as well as retail and have a real business,” Shawn told Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.

The couple is currently growing greens including kale, cilantro, mustard greens and wild mint. Like a library of plants, the greens are neatly organized in towers of leafy green. Mustard greens, with their wasabi-like finish are something that restaurants request.

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February 27, 2015   No Comments

‘Potager urbain’ – Urban Food Gardens


Book in French on city farming

de Nicolas Bel (Auteur)
Relié: 288 pages
Editeur : Hachette Pratique (20 août 2014)

Excerpt from Brooklyn Grange article:

In addition to being the founder of Topager, Nicolas is also the author of the book on French urban ag (Potager Urbain), and an academic researcher at AgroParisTech (from what I gather, the French equivalent of Cornell’s College of Agriculture) and the farm I visited was essentially his data collection facility. At this particular location, he studies every measurable variable. First, he blended several soil mixes side-by-side to measure their productivity and health.

He also captures runoff via a simple “out spout” which drains into gallon water bottles, from which he collects samples on a regular basis. His methodology is incredibly thorough and it was exhilarating to meet such a focused and serious practitioner of our incredibly unique type of cultivation. We have a lot to learn from Nicolas and his colleagues at Topager, and only through an open exchange of information can we pioneers truly make progress.

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February 26, 2015   No Comments

New York Community Gardens Threatened – Again

Community garden advocates at a rally on Tuesday on the plaza of City Hall. Credit William Alatriste

20 of the potential building sites contain gardens, places with names like Electric Ladybug Garden, Tranquility Farm and Isabahlia.

By Michael Tortorello
New York Times
Feb 11, 2015


Ena K. McPherson, a community-garden leader in Bed-Stuy, voiced the hopes of the other tillers. “We want our garden to be taken off the list and negotiate an agreement with the city,” she said. “We want to be conveyed to Parks Department.” GreenThumb gardens that are part of the parks inventory (some 300 gardens) are shielded from development.

What about the license she and the other gardeners sign each year, agreeing to leave H.P.D.’s land without grievance? “Nobody reads the contract,” Ms. McPherson said. “It’s just paperwork.” If you did, she added, you would “realize you just signed your life away.”

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February 26, 2015   No Comments

Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems


Features 51 poems written by 34 writers from seven countries

Editor Carol-Ann Hoyte

Bursting with flavor and just the right infusion of insight, Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems presents a collection of poems from thirty-four writers on the most universal topic of all: food. Featuring a wide assortment of styles, from haiku to acrostics to free verse, these poems touch on topics that range from lighthearted to seriously thought-provoking. Whether the focus of the poem is a child’s battle over eating peas or a celebration of fair trade, this collection introduces kids to a fresh new view of where their food comes from.

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February 26, 2015   No Comments

Film: Portrait of an Urban Beekeeper

Portrait of an Urban Beekeeper from Steve Ellington on Vimeo.

A short documentary that follows the life of an urban beekeeper in Pittsburgh, PA.

Directed by Steve Ellington
Featuring Steve Repasky
(Must see. Mike.)

Excerpt from Meadow Sweet Apiaries:

Stephen Repasky – EAS Master Beekeeper, Author and Consultant

Stephen Repasky is a second generation beekeeper living in Pittsburgh, Pa. He is a Certified Master Beekeeper through the Eastern Apicultural Society and also the current President for Burgh Bees, Pittsburgh’s Urban Beekeeping Organization as well as the 2nd Vice-President for the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association and sits on the Board of Directors for the American Beekeeping Federation. As Stephen began getting more involved with honey bees in the Pittsburgh area and beyond, the number of colonies also grew and the need for a formal name arose. Meadow Sweet Apiaries, was then established as the popularity of his honey, removal services and educational presentations grew.

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February 25, 2015   No Comments

Urban pollinators get the job done, San Francisco State study finds

To artificially pollinate some of the tomato plants floral clusters, researchers used tuning forks to reproduce the frequency at which bees buzz, releasing pollen. Photo by Drew Potter.

Wild bees provide adequate pollination service to tomato plants in San Francisco, researchers find

San Francisco State University
Eureka Alert
Public Release: 12-Feb-2015


Even more surprising, neither the size of the garden nor the amount of green space in the surrounding area impacted the amount of pollinator service a plant received. Instead, the key factor was the “floral resource density,” or the abundance of flowers present within the garden in which the tomato plant was located. The more densely flowers were grown within each garden, the higher the yield of tomatoes.

“This is good news in San Francisco, because we have very limited space for urban agriculture,” said Potter, now an environmental consultant. “Small gardens with lots of flowers are enough to attract bees.”

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February 25, 2015   No Comments

City Bees Are Actually More Diverse Than Country Bees

beeredA honeybee visits a flower in Bath, England (Nick Upton).

Other pollinators don’t like urban areas as much as rural, but bees live in similar numbers across different landscapes

By Marissa Fessenden
February 12, 2015


Katherine Baldock, of the University of Bristol, surveyed pollinator abundance across 36 different sites that spanned farmland, nature reserves and urban areas. Her team counted honey bees, bumble bees and other flying pollinators. The group found that each area had about the same amount of total pollinators. Even though urban areas might not seem like the ideal place for flower-loving bees, those landscapes held more diverse bee species, though the other pollinators were less diverse and numerous. Baldock and her colleagues published their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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February 24, 2015   No Comments

Cincinnati man starts mushroom farm

cinmushEnright Ridge Urban Ecovillage resident Romain Picasso holds a jar of shiitake mushroom spawn in the propagation room he’s built at the Ecovillage’s greenhouse complex.
(Photo: Thanks to Nancy Sullivan)

Picasso said some of the mushroom varieties he plans to grow include oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, lion’s mane mushrooms and portobello mushrooms.

Kurt Backscheider
Cincinnati Com
Feb 12, 2015


In addition to growing and selling edible organic mushrooms, Picasso said the objectives of his farm operation are to help local restoration and conservation efforts by using fungi as natural bio-remediation agents and to create meaningful educational programs for all ages.

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February 24, 2015   No Comments

Downtown St. Louis To Sprout Its First Rooftop Farm

Urban Harvest STL’s new farm will cover 10,000 sq. ft. on the roof of a two-story building in downtown St. Louis.
Credit Artist’s rendition courtesy of HOK. Click on image for larger image.

The project received $33,000 in seed funding from Rally Saint Louis, a crowdfunding platform.

By Véronique Lacapra
St Louis Public Radio
Feb 12, 2015


The non-profit’s founding director, Mary Ostafi, said the 10,000 sq. ft. rooftop will be more than just a community garden. “We’re going to have an outdoor classroom, as well as a gathering space for community events,” Ostafi said. “We’ll be raising chickens and tending bees.”

The new farm will be planted on the roof of a storage facility at the corner of 14th Street and Constitution Plaza.

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February 23, 2015   No Comments

Growing Power awarded $250,000. from USDA


Hands-on, intensive six-week program to train 30 beginning farmers in urban and peri-urban agriculture

Wisconsin Ag Connection
Feb 11 2015

The USDA announced that a combined $1 million in grants are being awarded to two Wisconsin organizations that implement programs to train beginning farmers. U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin’s office said the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship in Seymour and Growing Power of Milwaukee will share the funds, which are being provided through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

“Our strong agricultural tradition is a driver of economic growth and these grants are an opportunity to boost our agriculture economy by ensuring the next generation of farmers can get their start,” Baldwin said. “The average age of Wisconsin farmers is almost 60 years old. Now more than ever, it is critical that aspiring farmers have the financial tools and technical assistance they need get up and running on their own farms.”

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February 23, 2015   No Comments

Nine-city assessment of Urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) in Africa and Asia.


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Kampala, Uganda
Dakar, Senegal
Ibadan, Nigeria
Tamale, Ghana,
Chennai, India
Kathmandu, Nepal
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Enhancing scientific capacity to inspire informed action on global environmental change

Urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) faces significant pressures from rapid urban expansion and related stresses. START and UNEP recently partnered with several organizations to undertake a nine-city assessment of UPA in Africa and Asia. The assessments examined key environmental and governance dimensions of UPA to advance understanding of how increasing urban pressures on land and water resources, and intensifying climate risks, are undermining the resilience of UPA in the face of rapid urban development.

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February 22, 2015   No Comments

Ghana, Africa – Hunger looms; Due to unregulated sale of farmlands for housing around cities

Market in the city of Tamale, Ghana

“A few years ago, peri-urban farming provided enough vegetables to feed Accra, but today we import vegetables from Burkina Faso.”

Feb 21, 2015


Ghana’s 1.7 million housing deficit means that increasing demand for housing is competing with farmlands particularly in peri-urban areas such as Dodowa, Pokuase, Amasaman, Ningo-Prampram and Afienya where farmlands are shrinking.

Although data on how much farmlands the country is losing is hard to come by, the country’s estimated 14 million-hectare agriculture land, out of which six million is lying fallow, continues to be under threat due to the urban drift that has increased demand for homes.

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February 22, 2015   No Comments

‘City Seeds’ documentary – Urban Farming in Nepal and Uganda

City Seeds from Kyle Robinson on Vimeo.

Excellent 25 minute documentary!

Film by Kyle Robinson
Sustainable Seas Trust
Funding from START, European Commission, UN Environment Program, US Agency for International Development
(Must see! Mike)

A film about urban and peri-urban agriculture in cities across the world.

This film investigates the use of urban and peri-urban agriculture in developing cities in Africa and Asia, such as Kathmandu in Nepal, and Kampala in Uganda. The film assesses its value to a country’s economy and combating environmental threats such as climate change, as well as addressing the challenges involved in nurturing and sustaining effective urban and peri-urban agriculture.

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February 22, 2015   No Comments

Alberta writer has close relationship with food, farming

foodsh Her book can be found here.

dee Hobsbawn-Smith is winning international literary awards for her portrayal of Alberta farmers

By Steven Biggs
Country Guide
Feb 11, 2015


In 1998, she started giving “Foodie Tootle” tours to city folks, taking them by bus to farms and ranches, ending the tours with on-farm dinners. Over the 12 years she did the tours, she took more than 600 people to over 50 farms and ranches.

Her own story is deeply entwined with food and farming. “I grew up drinking raw milk,” says Hobsbawn-Smith as she talks about being a farmer’s daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter. Raised in Saskatchewan, she moved to Calgary in the 1980s, becoming a cook, caterer, restaurateur, and classically trained chef.

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February 21, 2015   No Comments