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Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City

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Eric Toensmeier has studied and practiced permaculture since 1990.

By Eric Toensmeier, Jonathan Bates
Chelsea Green
February, 2013

When Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates moved into a duplex in a run-down part of Holyoke, Massachusetts, the tenth-of-an-acre lot was barren ground and bad soil, peppered with broken pieces of concrete, asphalt, and brick. The two friends got to work designing what would become not just another urban farm, but a “permaculture paradise” replete with perennial broccoli, paw paws, bananas, and moringa—all told, more than two hundred low-maintenance edible plants in an innovative food forest on a small city lot. The garden—intended to function like a natural ecosystem with the plants themselves providing most of the garden’s needs for fertility, pest control, and weed suppression—also features an edible water garden, a year-round unheated greenhouse, tropical crops, urban poultry, and even silkworms.

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March 2, 2013   Comments Off on Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City

Chinese farmers continue to wage a battle for farmland in the heart of the tech industry, Silicon Valley


While the Silicon Valley of Apple and Facebook is no longer a land of blossoms and orchards, Chinese farmers like the Kuangs continue to wage a battle for farmland preservation in Santa Clara County.

Farming Silicon Valley

By Li Miao Lovett
HYPHEN – Asia America Unabridged
Issue Number 26
Li Miao Lovett is an award-winning writer who has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED’s Perspectives and Narrative Magazine, Earth Island Journal, China Rights Forum and National Radio Project’s Making Contact.

Excerpt:

Bob and Judy Kuang’s farm begins where a cul-de-sac ends in the tiny town of San Martin, CA. It’s about 30 miles south of San Jose and home to some of the country’s most expensive real estate. At first glance, it might not even be recognizable as a working farm.

The vegetables grown there Chinese celery (gao choy or chives) gau gei (leaves of Chinese wolfberry) and gai lan, which looks and tastes nothing like Western broccoli despite its common nickname (“Chinese broccoli”) are hidden from sight in a greenhouse. The only thing that catches the eye is a cottage with corrugated tin panels. That’s where the field hand lives.

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March 2, 2013   Comments Off on Chinese farmers continue to wage a battle for farmland in the heart of the tech industry, Silicon Valley

City-dwellers in LA are transforming unused plots into miniature farmland

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Jeanne Kelly in Rockdale, a community garden in Los Angeles. Photo by Ryan Robert Miller.

Just in Los Angeles alone, more than 70 community gardens are spudding and feeding about 3,900 local families.

By Sophia Lee
World Magazine
Feb 28, 2013

Excerpt:

Jeanne Kelley has a big bowl of salad for dinner every night.

She lives across from a giant supermarket in Eagle Rock, a hill-studded neighborhood northeast of Los Angeles. But instead of driving to the store, she walks three minutes down the hill to a community garden called Rockdale, where she picks arugula, lettuce, snow peas, spinach, tomatoes or kale—whatever is in season and ready to harvest.

Kelley, a cookbook author and food stylist, owns a few feet of beds in Rockdale. The community garden forms a long stretch of 50 plots on what used to be light-rail tracks. One sunny Tuesday afternoon, Kelley walked me through the shady garden, snapping emerald snow peas from their stem.

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March 2, 2013   Comments Off on City-dwellers in LA are transforming unused plots into miniature farmland