New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
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Soil Survey Says: Testing Community Gardens


Soil is collected for sampling in Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Hart to Hart community garden. Photo courtesy of Cornell.

“Don’t even dig. Buy a box and new soil. You’re better off with a clean area,” she said. “People have been living there for 300 years. It’s better to build up than dig down.”

By Georgia Kral
MetroFocus
August 20, 2012

Excerpt:

But all this toiling in the urban soil begs the question: is it safe?

The answer isn’t crystal clear — yet, but Green Thumb, the Parks Department organization that organizes gardens, distributes mulch and compost and offers education about gardening is currently investigating soil quality. In 2009, a consortium made up of Cornell University, Cornell’s Cooperative Extension in NYC, the New York State Department of Health and Green Thumb formed to determine the extent and distribution of metal elements in the soil and whether or not the produce grown in gardens is safe to eat. Just a fraction of the city’s community gardens are part of the study.

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August 20, 2012   Comments Off

Urban farming gains foothold in Seattle


Most of Nina Finley’s rabbits live in a large cage in her backyard and like to pile on top of one another. Photo by Hallie Golden.

From different corners in the city, the urban agriculture movement grows and grows.

By Hallie Golden
Crosscut
Aug 20, 2012

Excerpt:

When Wallingford resident Nina Finley was 9 years old she decided she wanted to be a farmer. She drew up a detailed blueprint of all the animals and plants she would have and announced that her family should move to the country. But when her mom, a pediatrician, and dad, a Boeing engineer, were not so inclined, she did the next best thing — she transformed her backyard into its own farm.

“Coleslaw was my entrance to the whole thing,” said Finley, referring to her first rabbit, a Netherland Dwarf rabbit. “He came with the Easter bunny in the Easter basket 10 years ago.”

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August 20, 2012   Comments Off

Urban Agriculture’s Right Wing


Allotments in Leith, Edinburgh. Photo by By Christian Eriksson.

Towards an agenda for Green communitarianism

By Christian Eriksson
From his blog
20 Aug, 2012

Excerpt:

Of the many political movements to have sprung up over the past century, none have encompassed such a diverse range of beliefs as urban agriculture. Movements have taken Green, liberal, communitarian – even libertarian – forms, at once a testament to the movement’s flexibility and its apolitical nature. In this series of articles, I’ll be examining the many grandiose claims made on behalf of urban agriculture, and exposing a selection of delusions to which some of its adherents have been subject, beginning with the strange case of libertarian urban agriculture.

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August 20, 2012   Comments Off

To bee or not to bee: Endangered species vanishing without explanation


Kristin Wazbinski and Pollinator program project leader Sheila Colla of Wildlife Preservation Canada catch bees near Webster’s Falls in Greensville, Ont. Photograph by: Glenn Lowson.

The rusty-patched bumble bee, known to scientists as Bombus affinis, is the first bee in North America to be officially declared an endangered species.

By Margaret Munro
Postmedia News
August 19, 2012

Excerpt:

Packer and his graduate students focus on wild bees – about 19,500 species in the world, 808 of them in Canada. They say the insects deserve more attention and appreciation, in part because they are such sensitive environmental indicators. “They’re like the canary in the coal mine,” says Packer.

And when a common species such as the rusty-patched bumble bee disappears, he says, “it’s a warning signal that things are going wrong in the great outdoors.”

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August 20, 2012   Comments Off