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Posts from — March 2008

The Role of Food and Agriculture in the Design and Planning of Buildings and Cities


A Symposium that will be held at Ryerson
University, Toronto, Canada. May 2-4, 2008

Some of the presentations:

  • Planning the Edible Landscape: Challenges & Opportunities in Toronto
  • On zoning and building regulations and urban agriculture – lessons from East Africa
  • Ravine City / Farm City: gardening and density in Toronto
  • Urban agriculture in the community design studio: The Detroit Studio example
  • From international development to a more edible Montréal – urban agriculture and urban design at McGill
  • From community garden to community food security: Grupo Motivos and Penn Planning
  • Linking urban agriculture and built form to carbon cycles, energy use and nutrient flows
  • Urban agriculture in the design charrette: The Black Creek Urban Farm example

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March 31, 2008   Comments Off on The Role of Food and Agriculture in the Design and Planning of Buildings and Cities

Edible Roof Garden in Reading, England


“Planting was completed in Spring 2002 and the garden is now well established. In an area of 200 m2, over 120 species of perennial plants from around the world thrive in soil only 30cm deep. The garden supports a range of layers, from roots, through small shrubs to our miniature version of a canopy layer. Most have multiple uses: food, medicine, fuel, fibre, construction, dye, scent.

“The garden demonstrates many ways we can all reduce our environmental footprint. Features include: composting of kitchen waste from the Global Cafe, irrigation using harvested rainwater pumped by renewable energy from a solar array and wind turbine, use of recovered soil and recycled newspaper, wood, stone and plastic in its construction.”

Link to roof garden here.

March 31, 2008   Comments Off on Edible Roof Garden in Reading, England

Leopoldo’s Garden from Barcelona, Spain


“Bringing the countryside to the city. Adapting the classic vegetable garden, a space dedicated to growing edible plants in an urban environment. With these basic ideas, expressed in his end of degree project thesis at the industrial design school ESDI, Marc Gispert Vidal developed a project called ‘City Vegetable Garden’.

“Leopoldos’ Garden is made from a tubular structure of anodised aluminium and growing trays of waterproof artificial raffia, flexible and very resistant, in black. Technological plastic knots and conical nuts enable the structure to be set up with an Allen key. It comes with wheels included and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor growing. It has a drainage system incorporated which prevents the harm that excess watering can do to plants.”

More about the product here.

March 30, 2008   Comments Off on Leopoldo’s Garden from Barcelona, Spain

School Year Gardens: A Toolkit for High Schools to Grow Food from September to June


By Paris Marshall Smith and Arzeena Hamir
Richmond Fruit Tree Project, BC, Canada, 2007

“Imagine growing greens in the dead of winter and sharing the bounty with a group of eager students. Once harvested, the food from the garden becomes a resource for the kitchen, the next stop in the seed to table cycle. Students have the opportunity to further their garden experience by learning about their taste palates, culturally diverse food preparation techniques, historical methods of food processing (fermentation, canning, pickling), nutrition and food combining and, of course, the pleasure of eating and working together.”

Toolkit is available on-line. Be aware it is a large download (30MB PDF).

March 29, 2008   2 Comments

Urbanization and class-produced natures: Vegetable gardens in the Barcelona Metropolitan Region (MRB), Spain


Photo: Terrassa under the clouds by Paco CT.

“The empirical analysis was carried out in the municipality of Terrassa, one of the largest cities in the MRB, and also one with a higher number of vegetable gardens. We interviewed 132 plot users and obtained data about the legal status of gardens, their size and appearance, and crops grown, as well as the reasons for pursuing this activity. Our results show that, in general, this is an activity undertaken by people over 60 years old, often retired members of the working class that migrated to Catalonia from other Spanish regions in the 1960s and 1970s, and that use these spaces for a variety of reasons (personal goals, support to their families, and also as a bond to their rural past).”

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March 27, 2008   1 Comment

Harvest of the Suburbs : An Environmental History of Growing Food in Australian Cities     


Book by Andrea Gaynor
2006 – 264 pages

Drawing upon sources ranging from gardening books and magazines to statistics and oral history, Gaynor presents an environmental history of non-commercial suburban food production in Australia. Her narrative traces animal, fruit, and vegetable production from the close of the 19th century to the present day. Particular attention is paid to the effects of economic conditions on home food production. Gaynor teaches at the U. of Western Australia. The text is based upon her PhD thesis.

Ch. 1 Into the suburbs
Ch. 2 Fecund and fetid : 1880-1918
Ch. 3 ‘His own vine and fig tree’
Ch. 4 Prudence and preference : 1919-37
Ch. 5 Fear and pride : 1938-54
Ch. 6 The contemporary and the cautious : 1955-73
Ch. 7 Circles and cycles : 1974-2000
Ch. 8 Conclusion : a diverse harvest

Purchase at Amazon here.

March 26, 2008   Comments Off on Harvest of the Suburbs : An Environmental History of Growing Food in Australian Cities     

Cows Grazing in the Rumpus Room


New York Times article. March 19, 2008
By Allison Arieff, the former Editor in Chief of Dwell magazine
132 comments on this article already.
Photo: Marion Brenner

“Not long ago, any visions of an agrarian return would have been chalked up to nostalgia: today, such conjurings don’t seem so far-fetched. And indeed, the purposeful reclamation of urban and suburban lands is serious fodder for artists, architects and academics alike.

“Creating open space where others wouldn’t think to look for it is a trademark of architect David Baker, who, for Curran House, an affordable housing project in San Francisco’s gritty Tenderloin neighborhood, designed roof gardens with small individual container garden plots allowing residents to cultivate their own crops.

See article in the New York Times here.

March 25, 2008   Comments Off on Cows Grazing in the Rumpus Room

Australia: City Farms – Finding Your Urban Oasis


“As a community centre, CERES is also about helping people break through cultural barriers. They offer international cooking classes, migrant training programmes and set up education villages from the likes of Indonesian, African or Aboriginal cultures. Volunteer workers try to ensure that multiculturalism in Australia is not lost, but respected.

“While CERES’s programme is unique in its range of programmes, the urban farm trend is catching on around Australia, with city farms sprouting up in almost every major city. There is the Northey Street City Farm in Brisbane, established in 1994, where an education centre and a Sunday morning farmers market are a popular retreat.

Read the complete article in The Epoch Times, Mar 11, 2008

Link to CERES.
CERES farm demonstrates how an urban city farm can contribute to the local community by providing locally grown organic food, education in community food systems, a happening & ethical market place and employment for farmers, teachers and market workers.

March 24, 2008   1 Comment

Mad City Chickens – The Film


This has to be the year of the chicken in the city. Move over dogs and cats. You are about to be outshone.

From the filmmakers’ blog:
“In the spring of 2004, Madison, Wisconsin passed a law reflecting a growing trend in municipalities across the country. Single-family homes within the city limits were now able to raise chickens in their backyards. A year later, we started filming.

“From the underground to about town, chickens take the city by storm. Backyard poultry owners came out of hiding, and with them the chicken supporters came out of the woodwork. These beautiful birds are celebrated in art, music, and an ever-expanding community.

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March 22, 2008   Comments Off on Mad City Chickens – The Film

“The Good Earth” – British Columbia Magazine


City Farmer head gardener, Sharon Slack, in British Columbia Magazine, “The Good Earth”, 2008 (spring issue)

” … Sharon Slack maintains an incredible garden in her Dunbar district backyard. The earth, she says, is in her bones. Around her on this warm June day – squeezed onto her residential lot – are at least 100 species of flowers, five dwarf apple trees, a pond and bog garden, a patch of half-metre-high garlic plants, rows of salad greens and beans, potted herbs, two dozen blueberry bushes, a greenhouse full of tomatoes, more than two dozen bee boxes, and two well-tended composters. There are basketball-sized cabbages growing on her carport roof.

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March 20, 2008   Comments Off on “The Good Earth” – British Columbia Magazine

City Farmers – Survival in the Urban Landscape – Documentary Film


Update: January 2009
CITY FARMERS has been selected to be in the ReFrame collection (sponsored by Tribeca Film Institute). It is linked to Amazon for sales.
For purchasing info and trailer, see ReFrame here.

1996 Documentary, re-issued on DVD in 2005.

City Farmers takes a deep and startling look at the community gardening movement in New York where determined inner-city residents overcome the threat of drug wars, murder, and decay to create gardens that are compelling metaphors of survival.

The gardeners themselves narrate vivid and poignant stories of their experiences. They describe personal visions about the struggle for life that exists both in and out of the gardens.

“A horror, a war zone, you couldn’t walk on the sidewalk – all the furniture, the refrigerators, stoves, the meat, rotten meat, the vegetables – the stink, the bees, the flies, the worms – it was gross.” (Gladys Gonzales, East New York, Brooklyn)

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March 13, 2008   Comments Off on City Farmers – Survival in the Urban Landscape – Documentary Film

Urban Agriculture Research and Education Centre – Concept Paper – Richmond BC Canada


“Kwantlen University College, School of Horticulture and its research/outreach arm, the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture, in partnership with the City of Richmond and its citizen groups working in food sustainability, will develop and implement North America’s first formal, post-secondary centre and programming expressly focused on urban and urban-rural interface agriculture food systems.”

“The centre’s overarching goal will be to support and advance with research, expertise and educational support, a viable, sustainable, food production sector in the urban and urban-rural interface as a critical element of vital and sustainable 21st century society. Key to program function and success will be the development of a Research, Teaching and Demonstration Farm facility and emphasis on practical skill and knowledge development and application.”

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March 12, 2008   Comments Off on Urban Agriculture Research and Education Centre – Concept Paper – Richmond BC Canada

Backyard Eating


“It was a bit of an oxymoron,” he recalls. “If agriculture, you’re rural; if urban, you’re a modern consumer. Our outlook at City Farmer was mostly aimed at the backyard farmers who had veggie gardens. It was the non-commercial demographic and we wanted to teach them about the environment through our organization.”

“Back in 1978, urban agriculture didn’t have a place in the world as an important topic, but that has changed so dramatically. It is now a serious subject of discussion in the United Nations and development groups, in food and agriculture groups, in the World Bank and in academia.”

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March 11, 2008   Comments Off on Backyard Eating

Edible Backyards: Residential land use for food production in Toronto


By Robin Kortright, Master of Arts 2007, Department of Geography, University of Toronto (139 pages)

“Of the 125 people who were originally contacted, just over half (54%) grew food, meaning vegetables, fruit, nuts, or herbs. Of the people who grew food, almost three quarters grew herbs, nearly two thirds grew vegetables, and just over a quarter grew fruit. Almost everyone grew food only in their backyards, with just three people growing food in their front yard and two in a community garden.

“65 percent of Toronto households have a lawn or garden. Owning your home, gardening skills, and a sunny garden are important parts of being able to grow food in a back garden. There is far more land in home gardens than will likely be available for community gardens in the near future. Home food gardens are an important part of urban food systems. They would benefit from more support, such as information about and access to compost, mulch, rain gauges and soil testing resources.”

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March 10, 2008   Comments Off on Edible Backyards: Residential land use for food production in Toronto

Brantford Ontario Man’s Food Garden Blog


Durgan has been blogging his backyard gardening efforts for a number of years and sharing his extensive knowledge of food gardening with readers. He has many interests and his excellent photographs are instructive. Subjects include: Making Juice from Fruit and Vegetables; Stiff Neck Snake Garlic; Japanese Beetle on Grape Vine; Preparing Horseradish condiment.

“The 0.4 acre garden is located in Brampton, Ontario, Canada in Zone 5. This is my sixth year gardening on this property. It was covered in grass and the soil is heavy clay of fairly good quality, but poorly drained. The property was a wet mess after any heavy rain.The first year I put in drainage pipe across and down the yard for about 300 feet all by hand alone.

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March 10, 2008   Comments Off on Brantford Ontario Man’s Food Garden Blog