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Posts from — December 2009

SPIN-Farming: advancing urban agriculture from pipe dream to populist movement

Photo by Martin Barrett, City Garden Farms, Dan Bravin, here using a seeder, farms about a dozen backyard lots in Portland, Oregon, using an approach referred to as SPIN Farming.

Roxanne Christensen
Fall 2007
Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy Volume 3 Issue 2
Co-author, SPIN-Farming, an online learning series on subacre farming

Author’s Personal Statement

I began advocating for urban agriculture in Philadelphia in 1998. What appealed to me is what draws many people to the cause: its social and environmental benefits are obvious and easy to understand. But it quickly became apparent that, compelling though they are, these benefits were not enough to motivate policy makers in a position to help urban agriculture succeed on any kind of scale. Instead, the economic benefits that many proponents had long acknowledged in theory, but few were able to demonstrate, had to be proven. SPIN-Farming is a very powerful tool for validating the economic viability of urban agriculture.

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December 30, 2009   1 Comment

BK Farmyards

bkStrip Mall Farming

By Stacey Murphy Landmines Productions
for The Buckminster Fuller Challenge

BK Farmyard reconnects farmers and consumers as co-producers of the landscape and food culture. The strategy takes advantage of the existing urban fabric of Brooklyn neighborhoods to reclaim privately held green spaces as farms. Residents pay for a yard-farming service that delivers produce to their doors, while others without green space pay for produce cultivated in these farmyards. Additionally, some lots would be converted to Dinner Party structures, public spaces for community dinner parties

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December 29, 2009   Comments Off

Urban Plant

urban plantThe Urban Terrace

By Ellen Depoorter
For The Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Population growth is leading to an ever accelerating urbanization. Densely built cities are very effective in providing housing, transport, work and culture since they are shared by a large population. Concentrating population in cities leaves land open for nature: O2 creating and CO2 absorbing plants.

While providing numerous benefits, cities don’t provide food or energy for their population. Energy is mostly carbon based and needs to be transported into the city. Food production as well is based on carbon: chemical fertilizers, pesticides, farm machinery, modern food processing, packaging and transportation. Processed food is also rich in fat and sugar and has less useful nutrients like vitamins and minerals, contributing to an obesity epidemic.

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December 29, 2009   1 Comment

Vertically Integrated Greenhouse

Vertically Integrated Greenhouse in Cafe with Strawberries
By Arup Engineers, Kiss + Cathcart Architects,New York Sun Works, The Vertical Farm Project, Dickson Despommier
for The Buckminster Fuller Challenge
The Vertically Integrated Greenhouse (VIG) combines a double-skin building facade with a hydroponic greenhouse, offering one pathway toward energy-efficient cities that can grow their own food.

strawberryverticalVertically Integrated Greenhouse in Cafe with Strawberries

By Arup Engineers, Kiss + Cathcart Architects, New York Sun Works, The Vertical Farm Project, Dickson Despommier for The Buckminster Fuller Challenge


The Vertically Integrated Greenhouse (VIG) combines a double-skin building facade with a hydroponic greenhouse, offering one pathway toward energy-efficient cities that can grow their own food.

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December 28, 2009   Comments Off

Urban foraging in London: ‘It’s day two and I’m going to die’


Is it possible to feed yourself for a week simply with food you find growing wild – in London? Bella Bathurst takes up the urban foraging challenge

By Bella Bathhurst
The Observer
Dec. 6, 2009

Foraging is very now. On trend and magnificently seasonal, all you need is a pair of gumboots, a set of Kilner jars, and the time and inclination to preserve everything you see. There’s wine out there, and gin, and beer, soups, salads and soufflés – a whole great Waitrose of stuff all just waiting to be turned into chutney.

“Everyone,” says one wild food expert glumly, “is making jam this year.”

So why, when it all sounds such fun, should the cities be left behind?

By Bella Bathurst
The Observer,
6 December 2009

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December 28, 2009   Comments Off

Spreading Seeds – short documentary – a campaign for urban agriculture in Vancouver, Canada

Spreading Seeds from Alex Burr on Vimeo.

The Three Green Citizens

Three SFU Communication students aiming for social change in Vancouver through Urban Agriculture: Alex Burr, Jeremy Addleman and Isabelle Jacques. Our interest for Urban Agriculture grew out of a desire to engage Vancouverites in a grassroots movement supportive of food security and sustainability.

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December 27, 2009   Comments Off

Urban farming will be part of Detroit’s long-term redevelopment plan says Detroit Mayor


Investors see farms as way to grow Detroit

Acres of vacant land are eyed for urban agriculture under an ambitious plan that aims to turn the struggling Rust Belt city into a green mecca.

By P.J. Huffstutter
December 27, 2009
Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Detroit – On the city’s east side, where auto workers once assembled cars by the millions, nature is taking back the land.

Cottonwood trees grow through the collapsed roofs of homes stripped clean for scrap metal. Wild grasses carpet the rusty shells of empty factories, now home to pheasants and wild turkeys.

This green veil is proof of how far this city has fallen from its industrial heyday and, to a small group of investors, a clear sign. Detroit, they say, needs to get back to what it was before Henry Ford moved to town: farmland.

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December 26, 2009   Comments Off

Worker-owned urban agriculture cooperative venture

cooperativeUrban activist Majora Carter, second from right, talks about ideas for farming in the city during a recent visit to Detroit. She met with local officials and members of nonprofits at Catherine Ferguson Academy on Dec. 2. (JAMES BURLING CHASE/Majora Carter Group)

Activist sows seeds for farm co-op owned by workers, venture could reap profits for Detroit

By John Gallagher
Free Press Business Writer
Dec. 26, 2009

The Mo’ Green Town proposal by New York City activist Majora Carter just might hit the sweet spot in Detroit urban agriculture.

Carter visited Detroit recently to talk up her plan to create a worker-owned urban agriculture cooperative venture. By pooling the efforts of numerous small growers in Detroit, it would attempt to grow big enough to generate real profits and a return for investors. But it would be run by local community growers themselves.

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December 26, 2009   Comments Off

Agro-Housing – vertical greenhouse space within high-rise apartments


2007 – Winner of the 2nd International Competition for Sustainable Housing by Knafo Klimor Architects and Town Planners, Israel

Excerpts from Living Steels’ competition design website.

Agro-housing, the winning design for construction in China, blends urban and rural living by creating vertical greenhouse space within high-rise apartments. Designed by Knafo Klimor Architects, the Agro-housing concept allows tenants to produce their own food, reducing commuting needs and providing a green neighbourhood.

Knafo Klimor Architects developed this concept with concern for predictions that 50% of China’s one billion people will live in its cities, a trend mirrored in many developing countries in the world. The architects observe that massive urbanisation displaces communities, dissipating existing traditions and heritage, as well as placing a strain on energy resources and infrastructure.

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December 23, 2009   3 Comments

City of Portland’s Urban Growth Bounty sustainable food courses


Urban Growth Bounty 2010

“Portland residents know that growing and preserving their own food is great for our personal, environmental and community health,” says Portland Mayor Sam Adams. “The Urban Growth Bounty classes are a great value. There’s always more to learn about how to grow, preserve and eat sustainably on a budget.”

From urban chickens and beekeeping to year-round food gardening, fermentation and preservation, City of Portland’s Urban Growth Bounty triples 2010 class offerings.

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December 22, 2009   Comments Off

Urban farm brings kids full circle with food they eat

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Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale

Karina Rusk
December 21, 2009
KGO-TV San Franscisco

SUNNYVALE, CA (KGO) — Hands on learning for school kids is nothing new, but in Silicon Valley amid all the high-tech companies and housing development, there is something you do not see a lot of in the Bay Area anymore — a farm. It is giving kids a whole new appreciation for what they eat.

Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale is an independent non-profit organization. It is a rare working farm in the heart of Silicon Valley, but it is also an outdoor classroom for a new generation of gardeners.

“I really like farming, being in the sunshine and having fun,” said student Cindy Lenhu.

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December 22, 2009   Comments Off

New video clips from the forthcoming film Edible City

New trailer for Edible City.

Support Edible City‘s fundraising efforts.

Hidden between buildings and across networks of backyards, germinating in classrooms and sprouting up in city centers, a grassroots movement is thriving in the Bay Area.

Edible City, the forthcoming documentary from East Bay Pictures, follows the stories of folks who are digging their hands into the dirt, fighting for sustainability and social justice by doing something truly revolutionary: growing a local food system.

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December 22, 2009   Comments Off

Interview with an Urban Ag High School Student


Jesse Kurtz-Nicholl’s Interview with Urban Ag High School Student, Ana Araujo

Center for Livable Future
Dec 18, 2009


In October 2009, Jesse Kurtz-Nicholl sat down with Ana Araujo to discuss the Urban Agriculture and Food Systems class she participated in at Richmond High School in 2008/2009. The class was a pilot program, which gave the students graduation credit and was centered around the creation of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and direct sale of produce from a middle school farm and the school garden at Richmond High. 10 families received a bi-weekly box of produce for $5, which was planted, tended and grown completely by Richmond High students.

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December 21, 2009   Comments Off

33 year old Windmill Hill City Farm in Bristol, England, saved

windmillSee larger map image here.

Celebrations As Bristol City Farm Is Saved By Hitting £50K Target

Bristol Evening News
December 21, 2009,

A city farm in Bedminster has been saved from closure thanks to the public, who have helped raise £50,000 in just five months.

The four-and-a-half-acre farm was started on derelict land in 1976 as a result of the demands of local people, and has grown to an attraction visited by 200,000 people every year.

Windmill Hill City Farm, which currently employs 80 people, is a registered charity, so there is no charge for entry, but every donation helps to keep the farm operating as a free community facility for the enjoyment of the public.

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December 21, 2009   Comments Off

Vegetable Garden at Cook County Jail in Chicago

By Mr. Brown Thumb of Chicago Garden
See more great urban agriculture stories by Mr. Brown Thumb by following the ‘reading more’ link.


The last place you expect to see a vegetable garden is behind tall fences topped off with razor wire, but at the Cook County Jail there is a 13 thousand square-foot vegetable garden grown by inmates. This vegetable garden is a joint effort by The Cook County Sheriff’s Department of Community Supervision and Intervention and The University of Illinois Extension. The inmates who work the garden are non-violent offenders serving time under county sentencing guidelines for cases involving drugs or a DUI.

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December 20, 2009   Comments Off