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Posts from — July 2009

Truck Farm is a new film – a food project featuring the Old Grey Dodge

Truck Farmer teaser – 2 minutes

How do you grow your own food in the big city if you ain’t got land?

Truck Farm, a film by Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney. Episodes 1 and 2 are now complete and on the web.

“We’ve combined green roof technology, organic compost, and heirloom seeds to create a living, mobile garden on the streets of Brooklyn, NY. A solar-powered timelapse camera will monitor the crop’s progress throughout the summer, and every month we’ll release a short excerpt from the film – and with any luck a bunch of very local produce.”

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July 31, 2009   Comments Off on Truck Farm is a new film – a food project featuring the Old Grey Dodge

Just published – Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

by Novella Carpenter, 288 pages, Penguin Press HC

Living Off the Land, Surrounded by Asphalt

Book Review By Dwight Garner
New York Times, June 11, 2009

I had a feeling I might like this memoir when I came upon on its first sentence, a gentle twist on the opening of Isak Dinesen’s “Out of Africa.” Here is Novella Carpenter: “I have a farm on a dead-end street in the ghetto.”

But I didn’t truly fall in love with “Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer” until I hit Page 38. That’s when the bees that Ms. Carpenter has purchased from a mail order company arrive at her post office in Oakland, Calif. A panicked postal employee calls, begging her to pick them up because they’re attracting other bees and “freaking everyone out.”

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July 30, 2009   Comments Off on Just published – Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

Brooklyn Farm in Trouble

Photo: The Rev. DeVanie Jackson (l.) and the Rev. Robert Jackson, founders of Brooklyn Rescue Mission, stand among plants at their Bed-Stuy Farm on Decatur St.

By Elizabeh Lazarowitz
July 29th 2009

Brooklyn Rescue Mission could lose half of it’s Bed-Stuy Farm property to developmment plans

They turned a vacant lot into an edible Eden that provides freshly grown food to thousands of needy Brooklynites.

But the Brooklyn Rescue Mission, an emergency food pantry in Bedford-Stuyvesant, could lose half of Bed-Stuy Farm – its 5,000-square-foot facility on a long-neglected lot – if plans go through to build on it.

“We have this really thriving, amazing farm that’s feeding people,” said the Rev. DeVanie Jackson, who runs the mission with her husband, the Rev. Robert Jackson. “They’re trying to get us to move it, but the other places they wanted to move it to, it wasn’t the same.”

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July 30, 2009   Comments Off on Brooklyn Farm in Trouble

Bronwyn’s Kale Muffins

Watch higher quality video by clicking on the YouTube icon.

Bronwyn picks some Russian kale leaves at the Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden and walks us through the steps to make her unique muffins. She created this recipe last summer while working on an organic farm where there was nothing to eat but kale.

Kale-Carrot Muffins

½ cup vegetable or grape seed oil
½ cup honey
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ cup milk
1 tsp almond flavouring
½ cup carrots, shredded
1 cup young kale leaves, (when steamed and pureed with 1-2 tbsp of milk, it produces approximately ½ cup of puree)

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July 28, 2009   1 Comment

North Vancouver city considers plan for farms on boulevards

Presentation to the City Council of North Vancouver: Edible Boulevards – Professional Urban Agriculture

Edible Boulevards – Professional Urban Agriculture in North Vancouver

By Kim Davis
The Vancouver Sun, 25 Jul 2009
Kim Davis is a Vancouver environmental affairs consultant.

UBC lab is ‘trying to create something that doesn’t exist anywhere else’

From the Victory gardens of the last century’s two world wars to the community-garden movement started in the 1970s, urban agriculture has played an important role in the security of the food supply.

Metro Vancouver is no stranger to the urban harvest. According to City Farmer, 44 per cent of Vancouver’s population is involved in some form of urban agriculture.

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July 25, 2009   1 Comment

Unusual Chinese vegetable grows in city backyard

Watch higher quality video by clicking the YouTube icon.

“Orsun” – an unusual Chinese vegetable

My friends have a large, productive, backyard food garden in Richmond, B.C. One vegetable they grow is most unusual and delicious. At dinner the other night, I asked my generous hostess to tell me about this Chinese vegetable, which she both grows and cooks. They call it “Orsun” in Mandarin.

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July 20, 2009   Comments Off on Unusual Chinese vegetable grows in city backyard

Backyard Growing and Selling in Vancouver

CTV News report
July 20, 2009

Many people in Vancouver grow their own food in pots or in community gardens. But some businesses are putting those small plots together for a big harvest.

Kitsilano Farms website here.

CityFarmBoy website here.

Southlands Farms website here.

FarmCity website here.

July 20, 2009   Comments Off on Backyard Growing and Selling in Vancouver

Antiquated Canning Makes a Comeback – Canwest News Service

1943 Poster. Artist: Parker, Alfred, 1906-1985. United States. Office of War Information.

Antiquated canning makes a comeback

By Misty Harris
CanWest News Service
July 15, 2009

For a generation that made instant gratification its raison d’etre, the recent reclamation of canning – a domestic art that could be timed with a sundial – is nothing short of astounding.

Nielsen Canada reports this week that sales of canning accessories were up nearly 70 per cent in May over the same month last year, while June saw the category swell a whopping 88 per cent compared to the same period in 2008.

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July 16, 2009   1 Comment

Composer writes song – ‘The Family Farm in My Front Yard’

Photo of Jean Elliott Manning, writer/composer.

Jean Elliott Manning writes, “This song is the finale of an entire musical I’ve written about how an urban lawn becomes a Food Farm. It’s called Daisy and the Wonder Weeds.” The songwriter is looking for a producer.

The Farm in My Front Yard 

By J.E. Manning
SOCAN 2009

Key of G major

Ever since I lost my job, I’m making other plans
Yes, I’m changing my direction,
Now I’m headed for the land
Time to get back to my roots; it shouldn’t be too hard
Walking out my own front door
to the farm in my front yard  

Refrain: Diggy diggy don, do-si-do
         Plant a little seed then watch it grow,
         Eieieioh On the farm in my front yard

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July 14, 2009   3 Comments

Borage flowers attract pollinators to the garden

Once again Maria takes us up close to insects at the Compost Demonstration Garden. In this video she captures honey bees drinking nectar from Borage

More on Borage here.

July 14, 2009   Comments Off on Borage flowers attract pollinators to the garden

Building Resilient Cities – UA Magazine no. 22


UA Magazine is published two times a year by the Network of Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security (RUAF), under the Cities Farming for the Future Programme, which is financed by DGIS, the Netherlands, and IDRC, Canada.

Issue 22

“Resilient cities are cities that can effectively operate and provide services under conditions of distress. Resilient cities can better absorb the type of shocks and stresses as identified above. Rather than focusing on vulnerability, a focus on resilience means putting emphasis on what can be done by a city or a community itself, building on existing natural, social, political, human, financial, and physical capital, while at the same time strengthening its capacities.

“Urban agriculture can play a role in building more resilient cities. Growing food in cities reduces the dependency on (rural) food supplies, which can easily be affected by disrupted transport, armed conflicts, droughts or flooding and increasing food prices.

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July 14, 2009   Comments Off on Building Resilient Cities – UA Magazine no. 22

Aphids on Fava Beans attract beneficial insects

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Maria uses her macro lens to close in on our Fava Beans, which are covered in black aphids. Instead of reporting a bad news story, she points out all the beneficial insects dining on the aphids and shows us a bucket of ripe beans that survived despite the pest attack. Later she turned the harvested beans into a delicious Fava Bean humous.

More on Fava Beans here.

July 13, 2009   1 Comment

Rosie Boycott’s grow-your-own food revolution – London, England


By Liz Hoggard
London Evening Standard
June 11, 2009

Rosie Boycott — career feminist, newspaper supremo and Mayor Boris Johnson’s “Food Tsar” — is proof you can start gardening at any age.

She was 51 before she picked up a spade. “Six years ago, I’d never grown a single vegetable,” she laughs.

Like many frazzled Londoners, she thought growing your own was some boring activity reserved for dullards and oldies with nothing better to do. Back then her life was full of smart parties and TV appearances. The first female editor of The Independent newspapers, she socialised with actors and politicians. In 1998 she became the editor of the Daily Express. But then in 2001 she lost her job when the paper was acquired by Richard Desmond.

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July 12, 2009   Comments Off on Rosie Boycott’s grow-your-own food revolution – London, England

Two Little Gardeners – 1951 children’s book

Written by Margaret Wise Brown and Edith Thacher Hurd. Pictures by Gertrude Elliott. 1951.

Famous children’s author Margaret Wise Brown (1910 – 1952). Author of children’s classics Good Night Moon (1947) and The Runaway Bunny (1942).

From her biography:

Her social circle included the famous and royalty. She dated the then Prince of Spain, Juan Carlos, and was friends with John Barrymore and his one of wives, Michael Strange. She was reputed to have had a long term affair with a prominent New York attorney and with Michael Strang. Her Vinylhaven, Maine retreat was purchased to be near the attorney, but it became legendary because of Margaret’s touches of hospitality and humor.

Since there was no electricity on the property, her well served as a refrigerator. Butter, milk and other perishables could be had simply by pulling up the appropriately labled rope. She stored wine in the streams, strategically placing bottles to refresh her guests on hikes around the property.

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July 11, 2009   Comments Off on Two Little Gardeners – 1951 children’s book

The Abundance Handbook – A guide to Urban Fruit Harvesting

Illustration by Monika Mitkute

The Abundance Handbook – A guide to Urban Fruit Harvesting (Learning from our experiences of harvesting in Sheffield, England)

The Abundance Handbook
Published by Grow Sheffield, 2009
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England

Abundance harvests trees across the city on industrial waste sites, roadsides, the grounds of mansions and back yards. We harvest a range of soft fruit, top fruit and nuts. Over fifty volunteers of all ages and from many different backgrounds harvest and process the fruit. Fruit is distributed to Surestarts, community groups, community cafes and individuals across Sheffield.

We receive tip-offs by word of mouth, text and email as to where to find ripe fruit trees. The greatest journey any fruit travels from tree to mouth is five miles often by bike and trailer. We have found at least fifty varieties of apples and more than twenty varieties of pears. We give away hundreds of fruits and lots of freshly pressed juice. Tree owners are offered the first share of fresh fruit.

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July 11, 2009   Comments Off on The Abundance Handbook – A guide to Urban Fruit Harvesting