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Posts from — October 2009

“Agriburbia” sprouts on Colorado’s Front Range

Matthew “Quint” Redmond walks a lettuce field in Lakewood. Redmond sees a future where homes are engulfed by farms that feed them — and make income by also selling to local restaurants. His 944-home project in Milliken is ready to break ground. (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post)

“Agriburbia” sprouts on Colorado’s Front Range

Six years ago, Matthew “Quint” Redmond suggested to Milliken planners that a corn farm north of Denver could increase its agricultural value and still anchor nearly a thousand homes.

“I got laughed out of the room,” Redmond said.

Today, Milliken’s 618-acre Platte River Village is ready for construction, with 944 planned homes surrounded by 108 acres of backyard farms and 152 acres of drip- irrigated community farms. The plan is for the farms to feed local residents and supply restaurants while paying for community upkeep. And Redmond, a 47-year-old planner-farmer, has 13 other Front Range projects mulling his “agriburbia” concept.

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October 31, 2009   1 Comment

An Assessment of the Potential for Urban Agriculture on Oakland’s Public Lands


New Report Reveals Untapped Potential for Food Production on Oakland’s Public Land

Oakland, CA (October 30, 2009) – A new report released today identifies 1,200 acres of vacant and underutilized public land in Oakland, California, that could potentially be used for food production. If only half of this land were cultivated using intensive ecological farming methods, the authors conclude that these “commons” could contribute at least five percent of the city’s recommended vegetable needs to the local food system, a significant step towards Oakland’s goal sourcing a third of its food locally.

The report, entitled “Cultivating the Commons: An Assessment of the Potential for Urban Agriculture on Oakland’s Public Land”, also emphasizes urban agriculture’s potential contributions to Oakland’s sustainability goals. In addition to producing fresh and nutritious food, urban farming creates green jobs, and provides and other environmental services, green space, and educational opportunities.

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October 30, 2009   Comments Off on An Assessment of the Potential for Urban Agriculture on Oakland’s Public Lands

Kitchen Garden inspired Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904).

Beatrix Potter, ‘Benjamin Bunny nibbling lettuce leaf’ © Frederick Warne & Co. 2006

The Real Mr. McGregor’s Garden

Written by Victoria and Albert Museum

“Before she married in 1913, Beatrix Potter would accompany her family on three-month summer holidays in the countryside. In 1903 the Potters rented Fawe Park, a large, comfortable house in the Lake District, on the edge of Lake Derwentwater. Here, Potter was able to escape outdoors, sketching the terraced gardens that sloped down towards the lake and the beautiful fells beyond. The kitchen garden, with its greenhouses, cold frames and potting shed was a favourite retreat and inspired the setting for The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904).

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October 30, 2009   3 Comments

The Victorian Kitchen Garden – BBC TV 1987

10 minutes from the Introduction to Victorian Kitchen Garden.

The Victorian Kitchen Garden

The Victorian Kitchen Garden was a 13-part television series produced in 1987 for BBC Two (Must see. Mike). It recreated a kitchen garden of the Victorian era at Chilton Foliat in Wiltshire. The presenter was the horticultural lecturer, Peter Thoday, the master gardener was Harry Dodson.

Harry James Dodson (1919 – 2005) was an English gardener who became a celebrity as a result of the BBC television documentary series, which featured his professional expertise and his reminiscences.

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October 29, 2009   9 Comments

A Flemish Kitchen Garden – about 1864

Larger image here.

A Flemish Kitchen Garden: La Coupeuse de Choux

By Henri De Braekeleer (1840-88)
ca. 1864 (painted)
oil on canvas
Place of origin:
Antwerp (possibly, painted)

The Antwerp artist Henri de Braekeleer belonged to a family of painters. Influenced by 17th-century Dutch genre paintings, he specialised in humble scenes of everyday life, as in this example, in which a woman in peasant dress bends over to cut a cabbage. These were popular in a period of increasing industrialisation.

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October 28, 2009   Comments Off on A Flemish Kitchen Garden – about 1864

Can New York City grow enough food to become self-sufficient?


Re-Imagining New York: Designing Urban Farms to Feed New York City

Forum by The Municipal Art Society of New York
2009 MAS Jane Jacobs Forum, November 3, 2009

Is farming amidst New York City’s concrete jungle–through small urban garden plots or multi-story buildings–a realistic possibility? Or will we rely on large farms on the periphery of the city? Our panelists delve into the economic development and urban design implications of the fundamental question: Can New York, a city whose population is growing while its acreage is shrinking, eventually grow enough food within its boundaries to become self-sufficient?

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October 28, 2009   Comments Off on Can New York City grow enough food to become self-sufficient?

Kitchen Garden at Trengwainton Garden, Britain

Trengwainton House, near Penzance, Cornwall. Gardens are open to the public. All photos. NTPL/Andrew Butler

Kitchen garden crops are gradually being reintroduced into the productive area. Visitors can climb on to a raised platform to take in the scale of the walled gardens and their unique raised beds, built to the dimensions of Noah’s Ark, as described in The Bible.

See photos of the Kitchen Garden. Follow – “Read More”.

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October 28, 2009   Comments Off on Kitchen Garden at Trengwainton Garden, Britain

Carrot City: Designing for Urban Agriculture – goes on the road


Carrot City: Designing for Urban Agriculture

Curators: June Komisar, Mark Gorgolewski and Joe Nasr

The exhibition Carrot City: Designing for Urban Agriculture, was shown at the Design Exchange (DX) in Toronto earlier this year. The exhibition explores the relationship of design and urban food systems as well as the impact that agricultural issues have on the design of urban spaces and buildings as society addresses the issues of a more sustainable pattern of living.

The exhibit generated a huge amount of interest, including press articles, blog entries, YouTube submissions, and thousands of visitors.

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October 26, 2009   Comments Off on Carrot City: Designing for Urban Agriculture – goes on the road

Electric Indoor Compost Unit – The Red Dragon

This electric, indoor compost unit comes from Korea. Photo Michael Levenston

The Red Dragon

You plug it in and hook up the exhaust pipe so that it vents outdoors. Then add a sawdust/enzyme mix and 2 litres of water to the machine. That’s it. You can add any food waste AND DOG WASTE to the mix and it will decompose the organic material.

That’s the promise. We are presently testing the machine at the Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden to see if it lives up to that promise.

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October 24, 2009   6 Comments

New York Times – When the Problems Come Home to Roost

Sharon Lane with one of her three chickens in the coop atop her garage in Berkeley, Calif. “I’m discouraged but I’m determined to figure this out,” she said of her flock’s mystery ailments. Photo by Dean C.K. Cox

By Kim Severson
October 22, 2009
The New York Times

THE Bay Area is unmatched in its embrace of the urban backyard chicken trend. But raising chickens, which promises delicious, untainted eggs and instant membership in the local food movement, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Chickens, it turns out, have issues.

They get diseases with odd names, like pasty butt and the fowl plague. Rats and raccoons appear out of nowhere. Hens suddenly stop laying eggs or never produce them at all. Crowing roosters disturb neighbors.

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October 24, 2009   Comments Off on New York Times – When the Problems Come Home to Roost

Popular Mini-Gardens in Berlin May Soon Be Paved Over

Berlin. An oasis in the middle of the city: All over the country — whether on the outskirts of cities or in otherwise hard-to-use spaces, such as next to train tracks — you will find little garden plots, known as Schrebergarten, which can be rented from cities for a few hundred euros per year. By Verlag W. Wächter / Brigitte Einführ

Urban Farming Under Threat
Popular Mini-Gardens in Berlin May Soon Be Paved Over

By Christian Schwägerl
Spiegel Online
Oct 15, 2009

Tiny urban gardens are everywhere in Berlin and they have been for decades. But now, the city government is threatening to level many of them to make way for new construction. A battle is looming.

Berlin prides itself on being in the vanguard of a number of trends — and it might have found itself another one. In this case, it’s what climate experts and city planners call “urban farming.” Many see the drive to produce foodstuffs within cities — rather than carting them in from far away — as the farming of the future.

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October 18, 2009   Comments Off on Popular Mini-Gardens in Berlin May Soon Be Paved Over

New biological pest control laboratory at the forefront of a global revolution in urban food production.

Deborah Henderson, director of the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Langley. Photo By Bill Keay. Vancouver Sun

Food Production: Kwantlen lab on cutting edge of pest control. Langley university to work on process that uses predators, parasites and microbes to fight destructive insects

By Randy Shore
16 Oct 2009
The Vancouver Sun

A new biological pest control laboratory opening today at Kwantlen Polytechnic University will place B.C. at the forefront of a global revolution in urban food production.

The lab — the first of its kind in North America — will develop insect-and microbe-based pest control systems for use on small-scale farms and in areas where farming and housing share space.

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October 16, 2009   1 Comment

The City Farmers of Thomas More’s Utopia – 1516

Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535) sketch by Holbein. Thomas More’s Utopia was written in Latin towards the close of 1515.

The gardens in Amaurot, the capital city of Utopia

“There lie gardens behind all their houses.  These are large, but enclosed with buildings, that on all hands face the streets, so that every house has both a door to the street and a back door to the garden. 

“They cultivate their gardens with great care, so that they have both vines, fruits, herbs, and flowers in them; and all is so well ordered and so finely kept that I never saw gardens anywhere that were both so fruitful and so beautiful as theirs.  And this humour of ordering their gardens so well is not only kept up by the pleasure they find in it, but also by an emulation between the inhabitants of the several streets, who vie with each other.  And there is, indeed, nothing belonging to the whole town that is both more useful and more pleasant. 

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October 15, 2009   Comments Off on The City Farmers of Thomas More’s Utopia – 1516

TED Talks: Carolyn Steel: How food shapes our cities

Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives
By Carolyn Steel: Food urbanist
Published: 26 Mar 2009

“The question of how to feed cities may be one of the biggest contemporary questions, yet it’s never asked: we take for granted that if we walk into a store or a restaurant, food will be there, magically coming from somewhere. Yet, think of it this way: just in London, every single day, 30 million meals must be provided. Without a reliable food supply, even the most modern city would collapse quickly. And most people today eat food of whose provenance they are unaware.

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October 14, 2009   Comments Off on TED Talks: Carolyn Steel: How food shapes our cities

Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City, Vietnam – Agriculture urged to go Urban

by Rock Portrait Photography. Urban-rural Vietnam. “Fish, shrimp and rice farms from my balcony.” Larger image here.

Developing urban agriculture is one of the targets for Ho Chi Minh City.

Oct 1, 2009
Vietnam News

HCM CITY — Switching from traditional crops to urban farming is an inevitable process due to the rapid urbanisation taking place in HCM City, an expert has said.

Speaking at a conference in the city’s Binh Chanh District yesterday, Truong Hoang, deputy director of the municipal Steering Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development, said farmlands have been shrinking by an average of 1,176 ha every year since 2000 and what is left is not enough for normal agriculture.

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October 14, 2009   Comments Off on Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City, Vietnam – Agriculture urged to go Urban