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Posts from — May 2008

“Urban Carbon Farming” – From the Desk of Jac Smit


Photo: Jac Smit standing in blue shirt on far left. (photo taken in New York, 2001, at a meeting of the Support Group For Urban Agriculture. Beside Jac standing, Luc Mougeot IDRC, Yves Cabanne UNCHS/UNDP, Gordon Prain CGIAR, sitting l to r, Michael Levenston City Farmer, Olivia Argenti FAO.

Jac Smit is one of the world’s leading thinkers on the subject of urban agriculture. His seminal book “Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs and Sustainable Cities” is a classic.

The Climate-Neutral Post-Carbon City
May 30 2008

A decade ago, late 1990s, we engaged in the establishment of the urban agriculture industry. A visit to Google tomorrow will find 1,740,000 entries. It was then targeted at food security and building community. Since then we have added farming the city as an economic generator and as an element of Urban Greening.

The next step is to add carbon farming as a core or foundational element of this industry. Another turn of phrase, we are adding a core commodity to those we are familiar with such as vegetables, poultry, herbs, fruit and flowers.

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May 31, 2008   Comments Off on “Urban Carbon Farming” – From the Desk of Jac Smit

Portland Restaurant Composts Its Food Waste

Rebecca Gerendasy makes great videos for her web site “Cooking Up A Story”. This one features the Bijou Café, which now composts all its kitchen waste.

Rebecca writes: “I had heard about a program at the Office of Sustainable Development called Portland Composts! This makes so much sense, but how does one go about learning how and what’s entailed? I set out to learn from one who knew firsthand, and I found that one of the best local and organic breakfast places in town has been participating in this program since its early days, the Bijou Café.

“Kathleen Hagberg and the crew at the Bijou have made the change from going to the dump to going to the composter. And it wasn’t all that hard for them. It seems to be working in Seattle, and San Francisco too.”

See more about “Commercial Composting” on “Cooking Up a Story”.

May 30, 2008   Comments Off on Portland Restaurant Composts Its Food Waste

Nelson Mandela- Prisoner, Rooftop Food Gardener


Photo from “A Prisoner in the Garden”.

Excerpt from his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”.

“The Bible tells us that gardens preceded gardeners, but that was not the case at Pollsmoor, where I cultivated a garden that became one of my happiest diversions. It was my way of escaping from the monolithic concrete world that surrounded us. Within a few weeks of surveying all the empty space we had on the building’s roof and how it was bathed the whole day, I decided to start a garden and received permission to do so from the commanding officer.

“Each morning, I put on a straw hat and rough gloves and worked in the garden for two hours. Every Sunday, I would supply vegetables to the kitchen so that they could cook a special meal for the common-law prisoners. I also gave quite a lot of my harvest to the warders, who used to bring satchels to take away their fresh vegetables.”

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May 30, 2008   Comments Off on Nelson Mandela- Prisoner, Rooftop Food Gardener

Space Farming – To boldly grow where no one has grown before


“Plants such as lettuce, peppers and tomatoes will be on the menu at Moon Base One.” Photo by CNN.

Article By Mark Tutton CNN May 22, 2008

“Wheeler sees this development of space farming as a gradual process in which space outposts become increasingly self-sufficient. “It would probably be evolutionary,” he said. “The first human missions to Mars might set out with everything stowed, but they might set up the beginnings of an in-situ production system — maybe a plant chamber — that you could use to grow perishable foods.

“So what’s on the menu at Moon Base One? Well, initial crops would need to be small in stature and grow well in controlled environments with artificial light. Plants such as peppers and tomatoes are already extensively grown hydroponically, while lettuce, with its short lifecycle, would yield fast returns for pioneering space colonists.

See complete CNN article here.

See The Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) here.

May 29, 2008   Comments Off on Space Farming – To boldly grow where no one has grown before

Rooftop Vegetable Gardener at Rocket Rooftop Garden takes us on a tour!


By Marc Boucher-Colbert 2008

I’m Marc Boucher-Colbert, the rooftop vegetable gardener at Rocket Restaurant at 1111 E. Burnside in Portland, OR. I’d like to take you on a brief tour of Rocket’s garden, but it’s a tour that will not be limited to the mere physical – the beds and crops – but will encompass the vision, history, and philosophy of that garden. After all, doesn’t everything in the outer world have its ongoing conversation with the inner?

And, yes, if you haven’t already guessed, I’m one of those gardener/farmers who came to the profession from a solidly liberal arts background, hence the philosophical musings. I have a B.A. in religious studies and a master’s in education, but my gardener’s training has come from the field, which I came to later in life. Thankfully, I had a latent talent for growing things. For many years I ran Urban Bounty Farm, a city-based CSA farm, and now, in addition to my rooftop duties at Rocket, am Garden Specialist at Franciscan Montessori Earth School in Portland. But I digress – on to the garden!

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May 28, 2008   8 Comments

Growing Food for London: Can London Feed Itself? – A Conference


New August 30, 2008
See: Report of Growing Food For London Conference – June 2008

“This event will look at urban agriculture: its impact on the food security of London, its role in preserving the capital’s open space, educating and improving the health of Londoners and potentially reducing the distance that London’s food has travelled.

“Through a series of presentations from British and international experts, including academics, growers, and other experts we hope to explore what opportunities there are for producing more food and how this can be achieved in a sustainable way.

Speakers include:

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May 28, 2008   Comments Off on Growing Food for London: Can London Feed Itself? – A Conference

The Urban Farmer – Newspaper writer discovers first hand what it takes to raise a vegetable crop in the city


Major Canadian newspaper starts a weekly how-to series about city farming.
Nicholas Read, Vancouver Sun
Published: Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Photo by Bill Keay

“I’m 51 years old and I can’t grow a carrot. That is a shameful thing. Growing food is the most vital skill anyone can have, and here I am, well past mid life, and I don’t have it. In many cultures, survival in the face of such appalling ignorance would be a miracle.

“But not this one. Thanks to the miracle of western civilization, I have been afforded the constant luxury of having food delivered to me on a platter. Whether in a grocery store or a restaurant, it’s always been there. And as long I’ve had the wherewithal to pay for it, I have seldom given it a thought. Until now.

Read author’s story here.

And the author’s Blog.

May 28, 2008   Comments Off on The Urban Farmer – Newspaper writer discovers first hand what it takes to raise a vegetable crop in the city

Grow Bags: Urban Allotments – London, 20 June – 20 July

“Grow Bag installations promote the use of vacant, neglected and undefined spaces in the inner city of London for the growing of vegetables.

“To see a working inner city allotment initiated by the What-if team in 2007, visit VACANT LOT on Chart Street N1. A formerly inaccessible and run-down plot of housing estate land has been transformed into a beautiful oasis of green. Seventy 1/2 tonne bags of soil have been arranged to form this allotment space. Within their individual plots, local residents are carefully tending a spectacular array of vegetables, salads, fruit and flowers. The VACANT LOT has become a space for growing food, socialising, picnics and BBQs.’

Link to the London Festival of Architecture event.

Link to the What If Vacant Lot site.

May 28, 2008   Comments Off on Grow Bags: Urban Allotments – London, 20 June – 20 July

Rocket Science – An edible rooftop garden in Portland


Photo by Kym Pokorny from her blog “Dig in with Kym”.

Article by Kym Pokorny
The Oregonian October 2007

From atop the Rocket building, there’s no doubt you’re smack in the middle of a city. Swing around in a circle and you’ll see the sun going down on Big Pink, the arching Fremont Bridge thronged with traffic, the new aerial tram creeping up the hill to OHSU and the green-and-white 7-UP building plunked down squarely to the east.

When you scrape your eyes off Portland’s skyline and focus on what’s going on just below eye level, you may begin to doubt your urban sureness. The usual flat-topped, tar-papered city rooftop has been overtaken by edible productiveness, food that ends up in front of customers at the new Rocket restaurant.

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May 26, 2008   Comments Off on Rocket Science – An edible rooftop garden in Portland

Edible Cities – A report (2008) of a visit to urban agriculture projects in the U.S.A.


New report shows edible cities are the future – Edible Cities, looks at examples of urban agriculture projects in cities and identifies a series of opportunities that other cities could be adopting.

The British group visited an inspiring range of projects in Milwaukee, Chicago and New York and noted a number of similarities to and differences from urban agriculture initiatives in London, including:

• A commercial element to many of the US projects, which is much less common in the UK;

• A more liberal situation in the US than in the UK to encourage composting, but less willingness than in the UK to include animals in some urban agriculture projects;

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May 25, 2008   1 Comment

Making the Edible Campus (Montreal) Wins 2008 National Urban Design Awards


Photo by Ismael Hautecoeur.

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Canadian Institute of Planners, and Canadian Society of Landscape Architects are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2008 National Urban Design Awards. Making the Edible Campus.

“With simple, direct layouts it aims to employ underused corners and spaces within the public realm to grow produce linked to a food collection and meal delivery system, creating a sustainable prototype that could potentially be expanded to other university campuses and across the city.

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May 23, 2008   Comments Off on Making the Edible Campus (Montreal) Wins 2008 National Urban Design Awards

Montréal Closes 167 Garden Plots Due to Soil Contamination


“The tests were performed as part of the health department’s analysis of soil samples from all of Montreal’s nearly 100 community gardens. Beausoleil said about 30 gardens city-wide are contaminated. However, only 11 gardens have been closed – nine of them last year. The other affected gardens will be made public this year by the boroughs in which they are located, Beausoleil said.

“We can tell you right now, there is no worry for your health as a result of eating vegetables from this soil,” Monique Beausoleil, a toxicologist with the department — She explained that most of the contaminants were found in soil lower than the roots that most typical vegetables grow, so their absorption rate was very low.”

Montréal Gazette article, April 1, 2008.

Links to official tests and reports.

Montréal’s community gardening program – description, 14 page PDF.

May 22, 2008   Comments Off on Montréal Closes 167 Garden Plots Due to Soil Contamination

Tilapia Farming at Home


“I currently have in my backyard, a facility that I designed and built myself, that is capable of producing about 2000 pounds of tilapia per year. That is over 38 pounds of fish per week!

“These are the 500 gallon pools; the big 5000 gallon tank and the 400 gallon ‘catch of the day’ tank are on the other side of the storage sheds. Check out the tomato plants on the left, the fruit bearing banana in the center, and the papaya right in front of it. What you don’t see are the red onions, the pineapple, the chilli peppers, the red and green bell peppers, the thyme, parsley, greek oregano, sugar cane, and cilantro plants. Outside I have Mandarin oranges, Valencia oranges, grapefruit, Japanese plum, cassava (yuca), and blackberry plants.”

Go to the web site of Edgar F. Sanchez, Orlando, Florida; owner of Tilapia Vita Farms.

May 21, 2008   10 Comments

CBC’s Dispatches reports on “Food crisis: City Farming” – Uganda, Ghana


IDRC Photo: Monica Rucki
Urban Farming in Accra

“While we in the urban West congratulate ourselves on innovations like the 100-Mile Diet and eating food raised close to home, much of Africa has been quietly surviving on the 100-metre version.

“Their produce isn’t trucked halfway across the continent. Some of it grows in greenspace hacked right out of city landscapes.

“That’s why you’ll see lettuce under power lines, and cassavas in the culverts.

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May 20, 2008   Comments Off on CBC’s Dispatches reports on “Food crisis: City Farming” – Uganda, Ghana

Quality Assessment Of Soils Under Irrigation Along The Jakara Stream In Metropolitan Kano, Nigeria

Paper produced for the Department of Geography, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria (4731 words)

“— a system of land use that is being practiced in metropolitan Kano will be considered. This system of land use that has been going on for centuries involves the use of stream water to irrigate land at the banks. Principal of these streams are Challawa, Getsi, Jakara and Salanta. The main objective is to produce fruits and vegetables for the consumption of the city dwellers. This system of land use has been called by Binns et al (2003), by the name urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA).”

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May 15, 2008   Comments Off on Quality Assessment Of Soils Under Irrigation Along The Jakara Stream In Metropolitan Kano, Nigeria