New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'

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Urban Farmers Trade Goods and Stories at ‘Crop Swaps’

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Lila Skye, far left, and other city farmers swapped goods this month in her driveway in Richmond, Calif. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Charles Daniels, an 80-year-old retired lawn and garden shop owner, came with apples, sorrel and pepino dulce, a South American fruit that tastes like a blend of honeydew and cantaloupe.

By Patricia Leigh Brown
New York Times
Nov. 27, 2014

Excerpt:

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Bay Area is a culinary never-never land, a place where aspiring apiarists hire beekeeping coaches, and even 7-year-olds can discuss the virtues of Himalayan salt.

That is why, on a recent Sunday, a motley group of gardeners bearing windfall harvests of habanero chiles, persimmons and prickly pear cactus fruit gathered for a “crop swap,” an urban agricultural ritual in which city farmers get together to share their surplus bounty.

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November 28, 2014   No Comments

Complaints prompt Cambridge to evict synagogue’s bees

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Rabbi Liza Stern checked on her bees, mostly dormant now with the cold, which she keeps on the roof next to her synagogue in Cambridge. Photo by Joanne Rathe.

“We have children and pets, and it can be fatal. And her answer is, ‘Well, we have an EpiPen.’?”

By Billy Baker
Boston Globe
Nov 20, 2014

Excerpt:

She said they provide an educational component for children at the school, and offer a palpable connection to honey, which has an ancient symbolism in Judaism. For the Jewish new year, Stern presented homemade honey to the congregation, a tradition to symbolize a sweet new year.

The neighbors who oppose the hives say they respect all of this. But they say that the hives, how they were installed, and the impact they have had on the neighborhood are far from harmonious.

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November 28, 2014   No Comments

Australia: Urban fringe agriculture under threat

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Ben And Mark Honey Are Facing Urban Encroachment Near Their Dairy Farm In Kiama, Nsw (Sarina Locke)

Agricultural land on the fringes of our major cities is some of the most productive in the country, but urban encroachment is putting it at risk

Producer Cathy Pryor
ABC.AU
Nov 26, 2014

Excerpt:

Wayne Shields’ farm has been in his family since the 1970s, when his father first bought the fertile patch of land on the Mornington Peninsula to Melbourne’s east. In those days, the Peninsula was a quiet rural retreat from city life, frequented by holiday makers making a pilgrimage to the coast.

Forty years later, 30 per cent of the Mornington Peninsula is classified as urban and the boundary of metropolitan Melbourne is only 500 metres from the Shields farm.

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November 27, 2014   No Comments

Examining California’s Urban Farms

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University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

By Rick Paulas
KCET
November 18, 2014

Excerpts:

Do California’s policies promote urban farming or hinder it?

Rachel: Until recently there wasn’t a lot of state level policies that promoted urban farming. But we do see more of that. For example, last fall the Governor signed AD-551, which is the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Act. That’s a new law that allows private landowners to get a tax break if they lease their land for urban ag. Another example is, one area of confusion for urban farmers, particularly if they’re trying to sell to a restaurant, is you have to be what’s called an “approved source” per the California retail food code. Trying to figure out how to become an “approved source” is very confusing, it’s sort of different for every county, it’s this gray area of regulation. But the state is now dealing with that with a new law that clarifies things.

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November 27, 2014   No Comments

Vienna, Austria has added 530 hectares (1,310 acres) of fields and forests since WW2

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A mangalitsa piglet costing 250 euros can fetch as much as 10,000 euros when served in Vienna’s finest restaurants, according to Christoph Wiesner.

After his election in 1994, Mayor Michael Haeupl expanded urban-farming initiatives that took root in the 1980s.

By Jonathan Tirone
Bloomburg
Nov 25, 2014

Excerpt:

After his election in 1994, Mayor Michael Haeupl expanded urban-farming initiatives that took root in the 1980s. A biologist who worked at the Natural History Museum before jumping into politics, he added tracts zoned for organic farming and leased them to small businesses, turning the city into one of Austria’s biggest vegetable producers.

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November 26, 2014   No Comments

Cows in your Backyard? The challenges and opportunities of near urban agriculture

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Painting bycCarrie Marill.

Only five per cent of Ontario’s land base is suitable for farming and we are losing agriculturally productive land at an alarming rate. According to Statistics Canada, we lost 260,000 hectares of farmland between 2006 and 2011. Our food security depends on us protecting farmlands for future generations.

Greenbelt Program Manager
Environmental Defence
Nov 18, 2014

Excerpt:

Consider the case of Vaughan resident and farm owner Gilllian Evans. Located in the Greenbelt, Gill’s family farm has been in the family for generations. The farm is right next door, to a proposed housing development. The development includes land within the Greenbelt but as the development application pre-dated the Greenbelt legislation it can go ahead. Gill has been trying to gain support from Vaughan Council to provide buffers between the new housing development and her existing farm.

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November 26, 2014   No Comments

Norwegian TV Show: “Farmer in the City”

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Farmers attempt to teach urban families how respect for agriculture can make their lives better

TBI Vision
The show: Farmer in the City
The producer: Strix Television
The distributor: DRG Formats
The broadcaster: TV2 (Norway)
(Must see. Mike)

Farmer in the City follows three farmers as they enter cities to meet families with “terrible” attitudes to good food and healthy living. Gardens and fridges are investigated before the farmer sets the family tasks such as creating a chicken coop or growing their own food, with a larger task following. Later, the farmer returns to see if the intervention has led to lasting change.

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November 25, 2014   No Comments

Concordia University Greenhouses Provide Students with a Year-Round Urban Refuge

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Sprouting Green Thumbs on Campus

By Jessica Cabana
The Link
November 18, 2014

Excerpt:

Since the Concordia Greenhouse focuses on urban sustainability and community building and raising awareness of the issues surrounding food security, the new greenhouse would focus on food production and urban agriculture.

Summer is the best growing season in Montreal and, to maximize growth production, seedlings can be started in greenhouses.

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November 25, 2014   No Comments

Canada’s largest urban farm feeds the needy

Our future is growing right in your backyard

Alberta Primetime
Nov 2014

On an 11-acre parcel of land just west of Canada Olympic Park, a group of dedicated volunteers turned the soil and harvested the first crop on Canada’s largest urban agricultural farm. Our goal is to grow fresh produce for the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank to ensure all Calgarians have access to healthy, local food.

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November 24, 2014   No Comments

Nancy Coleman’s tomato plant went berserk with fruit – Victory Gardener

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Movie Stars 1943

By Jessie Henderson
Fun on The Farm
Photoplay Magazine 1943

On the day Nancy Coleman found she was to be a star, she bought a house and an acre of land in the Valley. It’s near the homes of Marsha Hunt and Richard Carlson. To greet their fellow actor, they each sent her a gift, with a card that said, “Welcome, Neighbour!”

From the Carlson home came a tomato plant; from Marsha Hunt lettuce seeds. The tomato plant went berserk with fruit (or is it vegetables?), till one day it broke in two from the weight of its yield – Nancy knowing naught about propping it up with sticks. The lettuce seeds, to the surprise of Nancy and Marsha both, turned into virulent weeds with yellow flowers.

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November 24, 2014   No Comments

In Pursuit of Resilient Community Gardens

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A Comparison between Bottom-Up and Hybrid Initiatives in New York and Amsterdam

By Beatriz Pineda,
Spanish urban planner and architect living in Amsterdam
This academic article is the final product of the Research Master’s in Urban Studies conducted at the University of Amsterdam (2012-2014).

Except from Abstract:

The numerous bottom-up initiatives appearing in Western cities, especially since the outbreak of the economic crisis in 2008, leads this research to focus on the future and endurance of these projects. Sometimes implemented and maintained only by citizens, other times supported by institutions, all of these initiatives aim at becoming successful and resilient. But how to measure the resilience of these grassroots efforts is still open to debate.

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November 23, 2014   No Comments

LA Urban Farms Growing Cheap, Healthy, Delicious Food for Residents

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A rooftop garden on the Jonathan Club building in downtown Los Angeles on Nov. 11, 2014. The garden was built by Jason McClain, the executive chef of the Jonathan Club, and the produce is used at the club’s restaurant. (Sarah Le/Epoch Times)

The Los Angeles Food Policy Council estimates that 8,600 parcels would be eligible if the bill, AB 551, is approved by the County Board of Supervisors.

By Sarah Le,
Epoch Times
November 16, 2014

Excerpt:

LOS ANGELES—Nestled in re-purposed horse troughs are rows of fresh, organic spinach, cilantro, and basil on top of the Jonathan Club in downtown L.A.

Jason McClain, executive chef of the Jonathan Club built the garden with his father, a retired 72-year-old landscape architect, one and a half years ago.

“When you come up here, and you pick it, and then you cook it, and you make it, and you taste it, you see the difference, and that is just extraordinary,” said McClain.

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November 23, 2014   No Comments

Twins who keep urban chickens score wins at Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

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Matthew Patel, left, holds a Light Sussex, and twin brother Andrew holds a Red Dorking in the backyard of their Leaside home. They got into the backyard chicken business a few years back — and this year they exhibited 17 chickens at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair — scoring a number of wins. Photo by David Cooper.

Andrew and Matthew Patel have an unusual hobby – they are backyard chicken farmers

By: Vanessa Lu Business
Vancouver Sun
Nov 15 2014

Excerpt:

“It was the most amazing thing ever,” said Andrew, who has become an advocate for the underground chicken farming movement. “We didn’t expect to win anything,” added Matthew, in a fast-paced interview where the twins finish each other’s sentences.

They had been to the fair for the last few years, fascinated by the poultry competition, but decided this year was their last chance because they are planning to head off to university next fall.

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November 22, 2014   No Comments

Student Entrepreneur Earning Buzz in Effort to Feed World’s Hungry

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He thinks the use of “vertical agriculture” will allow agriculture to expand into previously non-agricultural areas – places like cities.

By Michael Martin Garrett
State College
November 17, 2014

Excerpt:

Zeangle, and the rest of the Green Towers team, has been getting a lot of attention for a design that Zeangle thinks can solve the problem – or at least get agriculture moving in the right direction. He calls it a “living wall.”

He describes it as a vertical conveyer belt that moves around a central point powered by a water wheel. All along the wall are boxes for plants grown using hydroponics – a technique that uses water and nutrients without the need for soil.

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November 22, 2014   No Comments

Montreal cubic farmer aims to grow 500 heads of lettuce a year in a single square foot

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Richard Groome, president and CEO of Les Aliments Urban Barns Inc., shows his Cubic Farming facility in Mirabel, Quebec. Photo by Christinne Muschi for National Post.

Where ‘Star Trek meets farming’

Excerpt:

Urban Barns, opened this past June, is home to the first realized cubic farm from which, it is expected, as many as 500 heads of lettuce will grow each year from a single square foot of industrial space. It takes less than 30 days to grow a head of greens here, where conditions are always optimum. The produce is organic, and pesticide, herbicide and fungicide-free and if the playbook is followed, they will be picked and, within hours, be on a shelf at a nearby IGA.

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November 21, 2014   No Comments