New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'

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Berlin, Germany – First commercial aquaponics farm offering fish and vegetables has opened its doors.

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Berliner Start-Up ECF (photo: Maximilian Grosser)

Just a few days ago, he put 2,000 tilapia in the tanks.

DW
March 2015

The first commercial aquaponics farm offering fish and vegetables has opened its doors in Berlin. The small farm could be part of a bigger picture, as the world looks for sustainable ways to feed the world.

Tucked away behind a furniture store, a hardware store and a post office, you’ll find what could be the future of urban farming: What once was a brewery in Berlin has been turned into a creative hub for artists, startups – and a city farm.

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March 30, 2015   No Comments

GroCycle Online Course Will Bring Network of Mushroom Growers

Step-by-step instructions to turn anyone into a used coffee ground mushroom farmer

We decided to bring this ultra eco-friendly idea to the rest of the world with our GroCycle Online course. People from 15 countries have already joined us. It’s the first DIY program that gives step-by-step instructions to turn anyone into a used coffee ground mushroom farmer! We recently rolled out our Kickstarter campaign and received an amazing response from all over the world.

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March 30, 2015   No Comments

Michigan Panel opposes legal shield for city, suburban livestock

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“Why can’t I have 10 rabbits in my back yard in the city if my neighbor can have four barking Rottweilers?”

By John Flesher
Associated Press
Mar 15, 2015

Excerpt:

Traverse City — People who raise chickens or other livestock in cities and suburban residential areas should not have the protection from nuisance lawsuits that Michigan grants to farmers in the countryside, says a report to the state’s agricultural policymakers released Sunday.

Backyard farming should continue to be regulated through local zoning ordinances, although the state should encourage the practice and develop guidelines on matters such as proper animal care, waste management and slaughter methods, said the document by the Urban Livestock Workgroup.

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March 29, 2015   No Comments

In pinched Soviet times ‘dacha gardens’ grew some 90 percent of Russia’s vegetables

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German Shingel fills a tub for watering the garden under the watchful eye of his father, Yevgeniy. To outwit Russia’s short growing season, many dacha owners set flats of seedlings on their urban windowsills in March. Photograph by Jonas Bendiksen.

One out of three Russians owns a dacha. In the Moscow region, where there are some one million dachas. Boris’s dacha, like most in Valday, is a garden plot with a cabin. Such plots, originally six sotkas (.15 acre), date back to Soviet-era land distribution programs that allowed Russians to endure postwar food shortages made worse by the disaster of centrally planned agriculture.

By Cathy Newman
Photograph by Jonas Bendiksen
National Geographic
July 2012
(Must see. Mike)

Excerpt:

The soil is sacred, almost mystical to Russians, a legacy of pagan beliefs and peasant tradition. “The religion of the soil,” philosopher Nikolay Berdyayev called it. A dacha provides the opportunity to dig in that soil and be close to nature. “By the end of the day I am tired and stressed,” a Valday woman tells me. “I go to the garden, touch the ground, and bad things go away.”

In July the soil yields cucumbers and feathery dill, also squash, peas, and green onions. July is for berries: black, red, and white currants; blueberries; blackberries; raspberries; gooseberries; and delicately perfumed wild strawberries, which, even more than the resinous astringency of pine, is the smell of summer. August brings mushrooms (a light rain is known as a “mushroom rain”): the prized beliy, or white mushroom, and boletes that grow near birch trees and can be dried. Also potatoes—always potatoes. A Valday garden is unthinkable without them, although they cost less to buy than grow.

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March 29, 2015   No Comments

Surat, India: Urban ag centre to train people in wholesome harvesting

serat

We need pure vegetables and fruits. If we can grow them in our small premises, it would go a long way in improving the health of the people.”

India Times
Mar 17, 2015

SURAT: Urban Health and Climate Resilience Centre (UHCRC) will set up an urban agriculture cell and a food craft centre in the city in the next few months to check environmental degradation and bring about improvement in the quality of life of the people. It will also work to motivate sakhi mandals and other women organizations to meet its objectives.

UHCRC technical director Vikas Desai told TOI, “Impure air, polluted water and lack of nutritious food are the reasons for health problems among a majority of people, particularly those belonging to lower strata of society. The urban agriculture cell and food craft centre would help people get nutritious vegetables and fruits.”

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March 28, 2015   No Comments

Canadian Institutions Supported ‘City Farmer’ in Formative Years

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City Farmer poster created by Environment Canada.

City Farmer’s Funding Sources 1978 – 1984

By Michael Levenston
Executive Director
City Farmer
March 27, 2015

Looking back to the beginning of our ‘activist’ non-profit society, we see that many funding agencies took a chance with our ideas and gave us money. Rather than urban agriculture being seen as something threatening, all levels of government and many independent funding bodies encouraged it. The dollar amounts were not large but they sustained us and allowed us to do our work without interference.

City Farmer held courses at the University of British Columbia, (later our website was also hosted by the University); we were leased a large portion of land belonging to the Vancouver Park Board for a community garden; our Demonstration Food Garden is on City of Vancouver land; our initial funding came from the Federal Ministry of Energy, Mines and Resources; other Ministries such as Employment & Immigration Canada and Secretary of State of Canada also funded us; Environment Canada produced our large colour poster; the private sector funding included MacMillan Bloedel Ltd., Gulf Canada Ltd. and TD Bank; and major independent funders such as the Vancouver Foundation, the Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation, and the McLean Foundation came through for us.

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March 28, 2015   No Comments

‘Crates to Plates Garden’ In Columbia, Missouri

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Outside of Lucky’s Market in Columbia you will find dozens of milk crates filled with vegetables and plants.

For eight-weeks during the summer, low income high school students will be employed to attend garden based classes

By Courtny Jodon
Connect Missouri
Mar 15, 2015

Excerpt:

Outside of Lucky’s Market in Columbia you will find dozens of milk crates filled with vegetables and plants.

Saturday, it hosted the first-ever Crates to Plates Garden work day. During this work day, volunteers in the community lined milk crates, filled them with soil and planted the garden’s first seeds. Members of the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture helped volunteers install the milk crate garden.

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March 27, 2015   No Comments

A massive online conference (for FREE) about home grown food

Home Grown Food Summit 2015, Apr 6-12, 2015

25+ speakers giving over 30 presentations on all different aspects of producing healthier food from your home.

Mike Adams – NaturalNews.com
8 Reasons You Are Insane If You Aren’t Growing Some Of Your Own Food

Toby Hemenway – Patternliteracy.com
Permaculture Guilds: The Building Blocks For Food Forests

Paul Wheaton – Permies.com
Gardening Without Irrigation

Joel Karsten – StrawBaleGardens.com
Straw Bale Gardening

Marjory Wildcraft – GrowYourOwnGroceries.com
How To Produce Half Of Your Food In Your Backyard In Less Than An Hour Per Day

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March 27, 2015   No Comments

Urban Agriculture in Cuba: Parts One and Two

organoOrganoponicos. Image by Alice Claydon.

Growing more food in cities improves biodiversity, air pollution, green space, public health, food literacy, community engagement, employment prospects and urban regeneration.

By Alice Claydon
Landscape Institute
Mar 6, 2015
Alice Claydon is one of three Student Travel Award 2014 recipients. She recently visited Cuba to investigate urban agriculture.

Excerpt:

During my trip I discovered some of the secrets to the success of Cuba’s urban agricultural movement:

1. State support: Over forty government departments are dedicated to every aspect of low carbon organic food production providing support, training and research. Learning how to grow food is entrenched in education from nursery school upwards. Schools, hospitals and elderly care homes all have organic gardens which teach people how to grow and prepare healthy food. Widespread political propaganda also re-enforces the message that self sufficiency contributes to national security.

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March 27, 2015   No Comments

Rooftop Urban Agriculture Centre Opens on a Shopping Mall in Bangkok

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Siam Green Sky.

Chulalongkorn University has invested about 5.6 million baht to turn the 1 rai rooftop space of the seven-storey Siam Square One shopping mall into an urban agriculture learning centre.

By Karnjana Karnjanatawe
Bangkok Post
Mar 26, 2015

Excerpt:

“We will expand the green project to cover a total of 28 rai of space in and outside buildings belonging to the university in the future,” he said. Siam Green Sky is segmented into three zones. First is an innovative area consisting of a solar cell system for farming, a demonstration room showing how to produce fertiliser from organic waste and gardening plots for growing herbal, decorative plants and rice.

The second zone shows plants from many countries while the last zone is an easy-care garden for those who do not have much time, but want to plant vegetables.

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March 26, 2015   No Comments

Community Gardener finds 1984 Harrowsmith Magazine with article about City Farmer

harrowsmith1984012Cover of 1984 issue.

Red Celery in the Sunshine talks about setting up City Farmer’s gardens in the backyard of the Vancouver Energy Information Centre, near Maple Street and Sixth Avenue … where it still is!!”

By Maureen Temme
Webkeeper: Community Gardens London, Ontario
March 25, 2015

Excerpts from her blog “Saving the world in my spare time”:

Now, if you follow these columns, you’ll have heard me mention – thank – Michael Levenston for articles I’ve run across on his site City Farmer. City Farmer must surely be Canada’s longest running urban agriculture website, and even non-profit (1978!): City Farmer, Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture.

The article I just ran across is titled Red Celery in the Sunshine, and is from Harrowsmith, April/May 1984.

The article talks about urban agriculture, biodynamics, food in the community, the importance of living soil, volunteers … all the things some of us are trying to get across to some people today!

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March 26, 2015   No Comments

Profile of an Urban Homesteader in Corvallis, Oregon

Profile of an Urban Homesteader from Cooking Up a Story on Vimeo.

As an urban homesteader—she was chosen in 2012 as 1 of 7 “Homesteaders of the Year” by Mother Earth News

By Rebecca Gerendasy
co-founder
Cooking Up a Story
Food.Farmer.Earth.
March 2015

Excerpt:

As Charlyn Ellis explains in the video, she grows a variety of fruits and vegetables on her property and tries to stay within a 100 mile radius of her home to meet her family’s year-round needs. Everything she grows is eaten on a daily basis: “the soft fruits, the herbs, the lettuces, [and] the greens”. In winter, she augments what she needs at other farms, her CSA and at the farmer’s market. Often she eats what’s in season because that’s when foods are fresh and local, and when they’re out of season—like apples from Chile, she feels they don’t taste as sweet, so she says “why bother”?

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March 25, 2015   No Comments

Sacramento City Council approves urban farm ordinance

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Yada Yisreal, 8, and Tirtsah Yisreal of Yisreal Family Farms tend to their family’s half-acre of vegetable garden in October. The Yisreal family is at the forefront of the urban farming and sustainable agriculture movement, which was aided Tuesday by Sacramento’s City Council passing a city farming ordiance. Andrew Seng Aseng@Sacbee.Com

In a 6-1 vote, the city effectively opened the door to minifarms

By Marissa Lang
Sacramento Bee
03/24/2015

Excerpt:

In a 6-1 vote, the city effectively opened the door to minifarms on private properties and in vacant lots that would be able to sell produce out of urban farm stands, despite reservations from some council members about urban beekeeping and how urban agriculture may affect those who live close to the new farms.

The new ordinance enables city residents to grow and sell food directly from their properties and offers tax incentives to landowners who allow their properties, including vacant lots in residential, commercial, industrial and manufacturing zones throughout the city, to be turned into minifarms. The farms would be restricted to 3 acres.

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March 25, 2015   No Comments

Mushroom Mini Farm Sold in Whole Foods, Home Depot

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What started as curiosity about urban farming has turned into a passion for “undoing food”

From Back to the Roots website:

In a college class, we learned that mushrooms could grow on recycled coffee grounds. After watching hours of how-to videos and turning our fraternity kitchen into a big science experiment, we eventually decided to give up our corporate job offers to instead become full-time mushroom farmers. What started as curiosity about urban farming has turned into a passion for “undoing food” and reconnecting families to it through fun, delicious and sustainable “ready to grow” and “ready to eat” products.

What type of mushroom does the Mushroom Mini Farm grow?

Our mushroom mini farm grows gourmet Pearl Oyster mushrooms. They’re commonly found in Europe and Asia and are used increasingly in a variety of cuisines for their velvety texture, smooth taste, and dense nutrient content.

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March 24, 2015   No Comments

Will Brixton City Farm in the UK be a reality?

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Brixton City Farm day by Liam N. Cohen.

The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (FCFCG), a charity which supports and represents community managed farms, gardens and allotments, has nearly 200 city and school farm members from across the UK, and an estimated 200 city farms and community gardens in development.

Written by Katrin Magnussen
Brixton Blog
March 14, 2015

Excerpt:

“It all started when I house sat for a friend who keeps quails in his kitchen. I got hooked,” Tamara Russell, the chair of Brixton City Farm tells Brixton Blog’s Shelley Phelps.

Russell is part of a group of local people who have been farming animals in their homes and gardens.

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March 23, 2015   No Comments