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Posts from — September 2010

New York’s largest rooftop farm takes root in Long Island City, thanks to a bunch of Brooklynites


Green skies ahead

Written by Rebecca Flint Marx
Photographed by Donnelly Marks
Edible Queens
Fall 2010


When all was said and done, it cost $200,000 to get the Grange up and running. According to Parachini, the farm has some 20 bona fide shareholder, with two or three people making private loans. This is not to mention the support of hundreds of smaller donors from around the country and the world, each planting their own cash seeds in the new farm’s soil.

Even with funding and a roof, Brooklyn Grange wasn’t quite out of the woods. In mid-May, as a small army of volunteers was helping to spread 600 tons of soil across the Standard Motor Products roof, the Department of Buildings showed up. They brought a stop-work order, slapping its founders with a violation for working without a permit. After paying a fine of about $5000, filing architectural plans and securing the necessary permit, the Grange was allowed to proceed with the installation.

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September 30, 2010   Comments Off

Denver Urban-farming group in running for $4,000 grant

Bhutanese refugees Chuda Zaudam, left, and Iccha Dhungel tend to the winter crops at Feed Denver as part of the required community service under their resettlement agreement.

Digging for donations

By Yesenia Robles
The Denver Post
Sept. 30, 2010


An organization in Denver that usually dedicates its time to growing gardens spent the past month cultivating donors to help it win a challenge grant.

Feed Denver is one of eight urban-farming organizations nationwide chasing a carrot dangled by Bonterra, an organic winery, and Growing Power, a Milwaukee nonprofit that promotes sustainable urban agriculture.

To win the matching grant, Feed Denver had four weeks to raise $4,000 from 50 donors. Seven days from the end of the competition, Feed Denver is in second place and has raised $1,335 from 16 donors.

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September 30, 2010   Comments Off

The White Dragon – a mid-scale electric composter

Video shows us adding restaurant food scraps to the Dragon.

Trying out a mid-scale composter at our Compost Garden in Vancouver

We finally started up the White Dragon composter and have been adding garbage bins full of food scraps to it from a local restaurant for the past three weeks. We’ve successfully been using its younger brother, the Red Dragon, a smaller, family sized bin, for the past 12 months. Both bins change food scraps into compost in 24 hours using microbes in a heated holding tank in which stirring wings mix the material a few times every hour.

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September 29, 2010   3 Comments

Historical Urban Agriculture: Food Production and Access to Land in Swedish Towns before 1900 – PhD Thesis

Uppsala in 1858. The majority of the town land in Uppsala consisted of arable fields in 1858.

The food produced on the town lands was important in relation to urban food provision

By Annika Björklund
PhD Thesis
Annika Björklund has a Licentiate of Philosophy in Human Geography and a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning from Stockholm University. This book is her Doctoral Thesis in Human Geography.
September 2010
303 pages


This doctoral thesis analyses the role of historical urban agriculture in a long-time perspective, through a combination of overarching surveys of Swedish towns and detailed studies of one town – Uppsala in east-central Sweden. The study shows how agricultural land – town land – of various sizes was donated to towns repeatedly during medieval times and in the 16th and 17th centuries.

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September 29, 2010   Comments Off

Home Gardens and Lead – University of California Cooperative Extension


What You Should Know about Growing Plants in Lead-Contaminated Soil

By Arthur Craigmill, University of California Cooperative Extension Environmental Toxicology Specialist, UC Davis; Ali Harivandi, University of California Cooperative Extension Environmental Horticulture Advisor, San Francisco Bay Area.
Publication 8424
September, 2010


Can I do anything to reduce the amount of lead my vegetables take up from the soil?

Yes, you can! You can reduce the amount of lead uptake by plants by providing amendments that promote binding of the lead with other components of the soil, and also manage the soil acidity (pH).

Organic matter has been proven to bind and hold lead effectively, making it less available to plants. However, organic matter eventually breaks down, so the soil should be frequently amended with organic matter (compost, decomposing leaves, or well-rotted manure).

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September 28, 2010   1 Comment

Bloomington, Indiana’s budding community orchard boosted by $20,000 award


$20,000 From Tom’s of Maine

By Bertrand Teo
Indiana Economic Digest
Sept. 26, 2010

A $20,000 gift will help turn Bloomington’s budding community orchard into a “dream,” organizers say.

Right now heaps of compost and diggings greet visitors at the site of the orchard situated across South Highland Avenue from the Winslow Sports Park. An unfinished gravel walkway has been laid out, and orange spray paint and other markings delineating a orchard layout.

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September 28, 2010   Comments Off

You Don’t Want to Work on a Farm and I Don’t Either, but Urban Farming Could Change that Perception

Comedian Stephen Colbert testifies on Capitol Hill in front of the House Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration. (The Associated Press) See article here.

Laugh at Stephen Colbert If You Want To, I Think that Some of Us Would Farm If We Had To, Just Not in the Country Away from the Action

By Christopher
Associated Content
September 27, 2010


Thanks to Stephen Colbert and a number of articles on farm work we now know what we already know, and that is that most Americans do not want to work out in the fields. So when someone says “I’ll take any job”, make a wager with them for $20 that they won’t last a day out in the fields doing back breaking hard labor. I can almost guarantee you that you will get that $20 back, and if you’re lucky, they’ll actually last long enough on the job to earn the $20.

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September 28, 2010   Comments Off

Urban Gardeners Beware: There May Be Lead in Your Soil and Food

Map of lead in soil in Indianapolis shows lead levels that should be of concern to urban gardeners. Credit: Gabriel Filippelli, Ph.D., professor of earth sciences at the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Environmental awareness can ensure that a garden is a healthy place to work

Cindy Fox Aisen
Sept. 27, 2010


As city dwellers across the country are harvesting fruits and vegetables for family consumption and planning ahead for the next planting season, geochemist Gabriel Filippelli, Ph.D., professor of earth sciences at the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, warns that urban soil may be contaminated with lead. He advises investigating the legacy of contamination in soil before planting and eating.

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September 28, 2010   Comments Off

Leberecht Migge (1881-1935) an urban agriculture pioneer

When Modern Was Green: Life and Work of Landscape Architect Leberecht Miggeby. By David Haney. 2010

Leberecht Migge’s “Green Manifesto”: Envisioning a Revolution of Gardens

By David H. Haney
In Landscape Jrnl. 26(2):201-218 (2007)

Leberecht Migge’s “Green Manifesto,” published in Germany in 1919, represents one of the most overtly political tracts ever written by a landscape architect. In this document, Migge proposed that all social and economic problems of the German nation could be solved by creating as many gardens as possible, which included parks, but most importantly, small, intensive vegetable gardens where everyone could grow their own food. If “everyman” could be self-sufficient, then they supposedly would enjoy relative freedom from the domination of the capitalist system.

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September 27, 2010   Comments Off

Fish Farms, With a Side of Greens

Sweet Water Organics, an aquaponics company in Milwaukee, raises perch and leafy green vegetables. Photo by Jeff Redmon.

Aquaponics — a combination of aquaculture, or fish cultivation, and hydroponics

By Genevieve Roberts
New York Times
September 27, 2010


In Australia, where farmers have struggled with drought for the past decade, backyard aquaponic systems have grown in popularity. Joel Malcolm, who opened the world’s first aquaponics retail store, Backyard Aquaponics, in the Australian city of Perth, sells about 300 systems a year.

“With water restrictions enforced in almost every city around the country, people just can’t have their traditional vegetable garden,” he said. “Being able to produce your own chemical-free fish and vegetables in your own backyard not only saves money but also provides enjoyment and satisfaction. Lately there have been quite a few schools installing systems here as learning tools for the kids.”

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September 27, 2010   Comments Off

Speaking about Ben Affleck, his wife Jennifer Garner filmed in a community garden too

garner2 copy.jpg
Jennifer Garner and Timothy Olyphant filming “Catch and Release” in Vancouver, BC. Photo by Michael Levenston.

Paparazzi alert! Garner photographed in the community garden next to City Farmer’s garden in 2005

Along 6th Avenue in Vancouver, next to our Compost Demonstration Garden, is the Maple Street Community Garden on city boulevard land next to the no-longer-used CPR railway tracks. In July, 2005, Jennifer Garner and crew turned up to film a segment of “Catch And Release”.

Of course we were there, gawking from the rooftop of our building. I got a few zoom shots off before they spotted me and yelled “stop”. The larger versions of the photos include a good number of unusual models of compost bins that we’d donated to the gardens over the years.

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September 26, 2010   1 Comment

Actors Ben Affleck and Rebecca Hall in a community garden in “The Town”

(L-r) Rebecca Hall as Claire Keesey and Ben Affleck as Doug MacRay in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ crime drama ‘The Town,’ distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Photo by Claire Folger

It’s a Boston community garden but which one?

Excerpt from a review in the Observer by Phillip French
Sept 26, 2010

Based on a novel by Chuck Hogan called Prince of Thieves, Ben Affleck’s The Town is a violent crime story set in the Charlestown area of north-east Boston, which boasts more bank and armoured car robbers than any other square mile in America. Forty years ago one might have been surprised by this, as to outsiders Boston was thought of as a sedate city, rich in revolutionary history and the setting for respectable novels of upper-class manners.

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September 26, 2010   Comments Off

Lake City Farm – Dartmouth, Nova Scotia


These backyard veggies can wind up on the menus of local restaurants

By Lizzie Hill
Spacing Atlantic
Sept. 24, 2010


DARTMOUTH – When I meet Jean Snow, she’s gardening behind a group home near downtown Dartmouth. She sits in her garden, snipping off green mizuna leaves to put in the weekly vegetable boxes she gives her Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members. The greens are an ideal crop for an urban farmer with limited space, as they grow quickly and can be harvested every week, explains Snow.

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September 26, 2010   Comments Off

The urban picturesque

Self-sufficient garden for one family, 1925. Lebrecht Migge. Photo from Adolf Loss: Works & Projects via Fantastic Journal.

A reverse-urbanism at work

By Charles Holland
Fantastic Journal
September 21, 2010

Fantastic Journal is a blog about architecture, design and other things too. It is written by Charles Holland who is an architect and a director of FAT, an architecture practice based in London.


Our cities are growing. Growing, that is, in the horticultural sense. Recent years have seen a minor infestation of urban gardens and inner city allotments, typified by MUF’s recently opened Dalston Barn (formerly Dalston Mill) and Union Street Urban Orchard on London’s South Bank. What both these projects have in common, along with a certain ad-hoc, DIY charm, is a desire to invert urban/rural distinctions and bring aspects of the countryside into the city.

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September 25, 2010   Comments Off

A bloody lesson for backyard chicken enthusiasts

Instructor Jordan Dawdy, 33, helps Elizabeth Lameyer, 23, cut off a chicken’s head at the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture’s “Yard to Skillet” workshop in Columbia, Mo. The town began allowing urban residents to raise chickens in February. Photo by Eva Dou.

‘Yard to Skillet’ is one of many workshops offering backyard poultry farmers and eco-conscious city-dwellers

By Eva Dou,
Los Angeles Times
September 25, 2010


Reporting from Columbia, Mo. — Fluffy, white broiler chickens pecked around the backyard while a group of two dozen people — a set of knives laid out before them — eyed them warily.

Jordan Dawdy, his arm bearing tattoos of chickens and other farm animals, gave the crowd the run-down: Snap the neck, cut off the head, drain the blood, pluck, gut, done. He has the whole process down to seven minutes.

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September 25, 2010   Comments Off