New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
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Kitchen Gardens in Colonial Virginia

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Photo: Williamsburg

By Wesley Greene, garden historian in the Landscape Department at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Most plantation accounts refer to kitchen gardens, but it is far more difficult to determine how common kitchen gardens were in an urban setting and, in particular, in eighteenth-century Williamsburg. The 1782 Desandrouins map of Williamsburg does show garden areas on several properties, particularly on the fringes of town where the larger estates were located. Thomas Jefferson, in a 1776 letter to John Page, compares Annapolis, Maryland, to Williamsburg and concedes that the buildings in Annapolis were “in general better than those at Williamsburg, but the gardens are more indifferent.” All of the stores in eighteenth-century Williamsburg offered vegetable seeds for sale, so there were certainly a number of fine gardens in town that were most likely vegetable gardens.

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September 15, 2008   Comments Off

Urban Gleaners

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Photo: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Food Banks Finding Aid in Bounty of Backyard

By Patricia Leigh Brown, New York Times
September 13, 2008

Thus was born North Berkeley Harvest, part of a small but expanding movement of backyard urban gleaners — they might be called fruit philanthropists — who voluntarily harvest surplus fruit and then donate it to food banks, centers for the elderly and other nonprofit organizations.

The concept of gleaning, or collecting a portion of crops on farmers’ fields for the needy, before or after harvesting, goes back to ancient cultures. But it has more recently been taken up by people like Joni Diserens, a 43-year-old program manager for Hewlett-Packard and founder of Village Harvest in Silicon Valley.

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September 15, 2008   Comments Off

Church, Mosque, Synagogue, and Temple Gardens

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Photo: Members of Redeemer Covenant Church help plant a community garden in Dutton.

Urban Agriculture is Supporting Faith, the Environment and Community

By Jac Smit © Sept 13, 2008

It is fair to say that faith-based groups have been leading urban agriculture for 25 or more years. Something has changed this movement in the 21st century. It is the merger of religion, social science and natural science. We now see faith based groups working with groups concerned with our civilization’s environmental survival as well as community building organizations. There may well be a new leadership for farming the city.

Church and other religious property is a major land use in urban areas. In general religious property does not pay taxes. Often it is a purposed gift not a purchase. Commonly the place of worship is centrally located within a community, town or city. This ‘idle’ land has a substantial potential to contribute to locally-based food systems.

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September 15, 2008   Comments Off

Money Talks News: Home Gardens Reduce Food Costs

More mainstream news media are promoting home food production.

September 15, 2008   Comments Off