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Posts from — June 2008

“My Farm” – San Franscico firm harvests potential of unused land


Article by Tara Duggan, Chronicle Staff Writer
June 23, 2008

“Last month, Vollen, 44, and her husband, Gary Vollen, 45, turned to MyFarm, a new San Francisco business that took the family’s local and organic diet to a new level: by designing and planting an organic vegetable garden in their Marina district backyard. The Vollens pay MyFarm a weekly fee to maintain and harvest the vegetables that have just started to mature. They can gaze at their garden and dig into just-picked lettuce without so much as touching dirt.

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June 28, 2008   1 Comment

Washington Post series – Community Plotlines


Click on this link to see videos. They are well produced and over 9 minutes each.

Glover Park Community Garden in Northwest Washington.

Mixing articles, photos and videos has caught on with the mainstream print media. This excellent series began April 17 and has reached Episode Three. (I just object to the ads at the beginning of the videos.)

And here are the articles:

Following a Growing Drama, With Many Plots
By Adrian Higgins
Thursday, April 17, 2008

Harvesting Food And Knowledge
By Adrian Higgins
Thursday, June 26, 2008

June 27, 2008   Comments Off on Washington Post series – Community Plotlines

Canada’s Famous Environmentalist, David Suzuki, Looks for “Voluminous Vegetables”


2007 Photo # 2 submission by Paule Hjertaas – Regina, SK

“This is a photo of part of a one day harvest from my home garden and my 2 community garden plots (1800 ft2) to reflect the diversity of crops. I am chemically sensitive and pesticides trigger severe reactions. I must eat organic food. I have also surrounded my home, a pond and a moist area with Saskatchewan native species. Many butterflies are now occurring, including home-raised Monarchs this year! Over the twenty years of my illness, working in my vegetable and native wildflowers garden provided me with a lot of healing. Leaves are composted on site in low-maintenance flower beds. I dig weeds, use corn gluten and fertilize with manure, home-grown compost, alfalfa and seaweed emulsion. Row covers exclude pests from my vegetables, and I hand-pick slugs.”

2008 “David Suzuki Digs My Garden–Photo Contest” details here.

June 26, 2008   Comments Off on Canada’s Famous Environmentalist, David Suzuki, Looks for “Voluminous Vegetables”

CNN Video: Urban farmers living off land


June 15, 2008. CNN’s Thelma Gutierrez reports on a family living the ultimate green lifestyle on an urban farm in Pasadena, California.

Click on this link to go to the video.

“At Path to Freedom, the Dervaes family has steadily transformed their ordinary city lot in Pasadena, California, into an integral urban homestead. And, along the way, they are striving to become earth stewards, taking care of the precious gift we all have been given.

“These eco-pioneers regard their 1/5 acre urban homestead as a sustainable living resource center where they are setting out to live by example while also inspiring others to “just do it!”

Visit Path to Freedom web site here.

June 19, 2008   Comments Off on CNN Video: Urban farmers living off land

Wasabi at City Farmer’s Garden – The Taste Test.

Seven years ago Sharon, Head Gardener, brought a small Wasabi plant at a local nursery and tucked it away in a back corner of our City Farmer Demonstration Garden. This spring I noticed how beautiful its leaves looked and thought – wouldn’t it be great if this was more than just a decorative plant. But is it anything like the Wasabi we eat with our sushi at Japanese restaurants?

Maria takes the taste test. Watch the video above.

Learn more about Wasabi here.

June 17, 2008   Comments Off on Wasabi at City Farmer’s Garden – The Taste Test.

NPR Radio – Gardens Bulldozed to make way for the 2012 London Olympics


Photo: Jan Stradtmann’s ghostly image of an illuminated Manor Garden allotment shed.

The story will air June 26th on NPR’s Morning Edition.
The story is about the (former) Manor Garden Allotments in East London, which were bulldozed in October, 2007 to make way for the 2012 London Olympics.

“On Thursday, June 26, Hidden Kitchens travels to London to explore the tradition of urban communal garden plots known as allotments. Wedged in between buildings, planted in abandoned open spaces, carved into hillsides, scattered across the city by the hundreds, these plots of open space have been reserved for neighborhood gardening since the industrialization of England when rural people poured into the city.

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June 17, 2008   Comments Off on NPR Radio – Gardens Bulldozed to make way for the 2012 London Olympics

City Farmer’s Wormshops – “Composting is Creepy”


Photo by Ian Lindsay. City Farmer’s instructor Lauren Welch in centre. Alexander Dallin and Maren Gilbert Stewart are the students.

[Since 1990, City Farmer and the City of Vancouver have held worm composting workshops for City of Vancouver residents who live in apartments. For $25 participants get a worm bin, 500 worms, Mary Appelhof’s book “Worms Eat My Garbage”, a trowel, bedding and a one-hour class. City Farmer also holds classes for school kids who come with their class.]

“Decay: It’s bad enough you need to compost organic waste; now you need to have worms eat it for you.”

Article by Denise Ryan
Vancouver Sun June 14, 2008

Since our cat, Gordito, died last year, and hard on the heels of the end of our morbidly bloated gerbil population, my son has been lobbying hard for a pet. Preferably a dog. It doesn’t need to be a big dog, Alexander says. A terrier, a wiener dog, even a chihuahua would do.

When I announce that as part of greening our home we are going to get some pets — 500 of them — he is pretty excited.

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June 14, 2008   1 Comment

Cuba’s Urban Farming Program a Stunning Success


With Food Prices Soaring, Cuba’s Urban Farms Could be a Model for the World

Niko Price, Associated Press
June 9, 2008
Photo by Javier Galeano/

“Ms. Bouza was a research biologist, living a solidly middle-class existence, when the collapse of the Soviet Union — and the halt of its subsidized food shipments to Cuba — effectively cut her government salary to $3 a month. Suddenly, a trip to the grocery store was out of reach.

“So she quit her job, and under a program championed by then-Defence Minister Raul Castro, asked the government for the right to farm an overgrown, half-acre lot near her Havana home. Now, her husband tends rows of tomatoes, sweet potatoes and spinach, while Ms. Bouza, 48, sells the produce at a stall on a busy street.

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June 13, 2008   Comments Off on Cuba’s Urban Farming Program a Stunning Success

22 Years Later, Lord Roberts School Garden, Vancouver BC

Video: Lina speaks about her school’s food garden. She’s in Grade 5.

What a great thrill to revisit the school garden we (City Farmer) helped create back in 1986 in the West End of Vancouver. Twenty-two years later and the excitement is still present. Young children pick and wash lettuce, radishes and onions, cut them up carefully into small pieces before placing the vegetables in a large salad bowl. Their teacher mixes the spring harvest with dressing and serves the enthusiastic children who come back for seconds. When does that happen at home?

For a city farmer like me, this is “headline” news – kids growing and eating their food amongst the high-rises of inner city Vancouver where they live – parents watching, sometimes taking a nibble themselves, happy to see their children so focused.

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June 13, 2008   1 Comment

Urban Farming Grows on Vancouver


Photo of her deck garden by Sharon Slack.

Article by Isabelle Groc
“Granville Magazine” June 2008

“Mark Bomford, program coordinator of the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at UBC, has quantified the capacity of urban agriculture to feed Vancouver residents. While the city contains about 11,500 hectares of land, the total arable land is estimated to be about 4,400 hectares. However only 81 hectares of public land have urban agriculture capability, according to a 2006 inventory. On the other hand, using a “bio-intensive” method which claims high yields in a small scale, the amount of land required to sustain the population of Vancouver with a nutritionally complete vegan diet for one year would be close to 29,000 hectares.”

See complete article here.

June 11, 2008   Comments Off on Urban Farming Grows on Vancouver

California Food Garden Irrigated with Greywater

Video: Rethinking Water: Greywater Guerillas Workshop

Petaluma home is first in the county (Sonoma) with a permitted system that uses old wash water for irrigation.

May 8, 2008

When it goes online, the system should funnel 36,000 gallons of water a year into the back yard, Heckman said. The average four-person household in Petaluma uses more than 100,000 gallons of potable water a year, so the savings from a greywater system can be significant, he said.

Once cleaned, the water will be distributed to three locations in Heckman’s back yard, where the roots of berry bushes, shade trees and other plants will soak up it up. Heckman is growing pomegranates, blackberries, raspberries, edible flowers and more as part of a more sustainable lifestyle. “Tens of thousands of gallons of water, instead of going away, is being used to grow your food and shade your house,” Heckman said.

Link to article, “Going green with greywater”.

June 5, 2008   1 Comment

Urban Beekeeper in Los Angeles – Kirk Anderson


Interview with Kirk on Michael Olson’s Food Chain RadioShow #591.
Michael is the author of the award-winning book “MetroFarm”, a 576-page guide to metropolitan agriculture.

“Bees are so sensitive they appear to die at the first sign of trouble. As such, they have become the canaries in the mine of our environment. But this leads us to ask, ‘Why are bees thriving in the unnatural environment of Los Angeles?’

“Topics include the difference between keeping bees in the city and in the country; how urban bee keepers are creating communities of bee people in cities around the world; and what it takes to become involved in urban bee keeping.”

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June 5, 2008   2 Comments

“Jamie at Home” takes up organic gardening


Excerpt from “Hello Magazine”
June 2008

“The family bought a farmhouse near his old stomping ground, fixed it up and started spending weekends there unwinding. After coming across some seeds from Italy, he planted them and was utterly amazed when they bore plump, delicious tomatoes.

“Jamie had a professional gardener come and show him the ropes, and from there he was hooked. The produce that came out of his backyard was so sumptuous, it drove him back to the kitchen. Suddenly he was cooking some of the most inspired meals of his life for his loved ones.

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June 2, 2008   Comments Off on “Jamie at Home” takes up organic gardening

The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City


Book by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen
April 2008

“The Urban Homestead is the essential handbook for a fast-growing new movement: urbanites are becoming gardeners and farmers. Rejecting both end-times hand wringing and dewy-eyed faith that technology will save us from ourselves, urban homesteaders choose instead to act. By growing their own food and harnessing natural energy, they are planting seeds for the future of our cities.

“If you would like to harvest your own vegetables, raise city chickens, or convert to solar energy, this practical, hands-on book is full of step-by-step projects that will get you started homesteading immediately, whether you live in an apartment or a house. It is also a guidebook to the larger movement and will point you to the best books and Internet resources on self-sufficiency topics.”

Link to book on Amazon here.

Link to the authors’ web site: Homegrown Evolution.

June 2, 2008   Comments Off on The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City

Guerrilla gardener movement takes root in L.A. area

Film Clip: Perhaps the original guerrilla (chimpanzee) gardener in this WW2 Victory Garden clip.

Article By Joe Robinson,
LA Times May 29, 2008

“The activists see themselves as 21st century Johnny Appleseeds, harvesting a natural bounty of daffodils or organic green beans from forgotten dirt. It’s a step into more self-reliant living in the city,” says Erik Knutzen, coauthor with his wife, Kelly Coyne, of “The Urban Homestead” to be released in June. The Echo Park couple have chronicled “pirate farming” on their blog, Homegrown Evolution. Guerrilla gardening, Knutzen says, is a reaction to the wasteful use of land, such as vacant lots and sidewalk parkways. He’s turned the parkway in front of his home into a vegetable garden.

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June 2, 2008   Comments Off on Guerrilla gardener movement takes root in L.A. area