New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
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Category — England

The Poison Garden at England’s Alnwick Garden is filled with plants that can kill you

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The ornate black gates to the Poison Garden warn visitors of the deadly plants that grow within. Photo by Duncan Andison/Corbis.

Visitors to the Poison Garden are prohibited from smelling, touching or tasting any of them.

By Natasha Geiling
smithsonian.com
September 22, 2014

Excerpt:

“What’s extraordinary about the plants is that it’s the most common ones that people don’t know are killers,” the duchess says. Visitors are often surprised to learn that the laurel hedge, nearly ubiquitous in English gardens, can be highly toxic. But some visitors have had experience with laurel’s sinister side—the duchess has heard a few talk about how, after loading up their cars with pruned laurel leaves to take to the dump, drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel of their car from the toxic fumes the branches emit.

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October 19, 2014   No Comments

Roaming city farm on derelict Hull sites aims to combat food poverty in UK

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Grand Design: An artist’s impression of how the farm could look.

“Empty land doesn’t do anything for the aesthetic of the city and our idea is to use these derelict spaces to create something that will add value.”

By Hull Daily Mail
October 08, 2014

Excerpt:

The mobile farm will be housed in ship containers that reflect Hull’s shipping heritage, which can be easily moved to different locations around the city.

Mark said: “The concept is simple – we build a temporary site on unused land and if a developer wants the site back, we can simply pick it up and shift it to a new home.”

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October 18, 2014   No Comments

United Kingdom farm park attracts 100,000 visitors a year, with city dwellers learning about agriculture

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The thing about opening up your farm to the public, is that sometimes raising livestock isn’t as picture perfect as city dwellers think.

By Laura Poole
ABC Australia
Oct 3, 2014

Excerpt:

Farmers know that sometimes new born lambs will die.

Despite the home truths, lambing time at Cotswold Farm Park in England, is one of its most popular times for visitors to come through the gates.

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October 11, 2014   Comments Off

The allotment holder, Bristol

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Pete Clee: ‘I’ve had my plot for 30 years.’ Photograph: Sophia Evans for the Guardian.

Pete Clee: ‘Experienced and lazy is my gardening style. I know what I don’t have to do’

By Lia Leendertz
The Guardian
6 September 2014

Excerpt:

I’ve had my plot for 30 years, and walk around the other plots here most mornings, so I’ve always known what’s going on. I would report problems to the secretary and eventually someone said, “Why don’t you join the committee?” I said, “Because you’re a load of old codgers!” – they were pretty clueless and unwelcoming, the old guard: dig for victory types. They frowned on women having plots.

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October 2, 2014   Comments Off

Chas Hodges’ rock ‘n’ roll allotment: From Chas & Dave to growing his own

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Chas Hodges from pop duo Chas & Dave in his Hertfordshire allotment. Photo by Luke Santilli.

Chas of the popular British rock/cockney (or rockney for short) band Chas & Dave.

By Jane Clinton
Express
June 22, 2014

Excerpt:

He is clearly in his element as he gives me a guided tour: “Come and smell this wild garlic,” he says pulling a piece from the earth. “It doesn’t get fresher than that.”

Next he holds up some newly unearthed spring onions: “You get them in the supermarket and there’s no smell. Hmm lovely,” he sniffs, and smiles. “Here, you can have that as a present.” He laughs as he hands me the first of many such gifts.

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September 25, 2014   Comments Off

Bristol, England to provide urban farming inspiration as EU Green Capital

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Steve Glover, pioneer of Bristol’s urban agriculture. Photograph by Elisabeth Braw.

Gearing up for its role as EU Green Capital 2015, Bristol’s agricultural scene is growing

By Elisabeth Braw
The Guardian
9 September 2014

Excerpt:

Steve Glover doesn’t mind being called an unlikely pioneer of sustainable urban agriculture. A few years ago he didn’t even know how to grow organic vegetables, let alone on a deserted piece of land next to Bristol’s train station.

Today, Glover is supplying high-end local restaurants with vegetables and salads from his farm, the Severn Project. His staff, those that grow and pick the produce are recovering drug addicts.

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September 20, 2014   Comments Off

Future Farmers: a guide to running an urban food growing traineeship

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The sky’s the limit for London’s future farmers

By Sustain: The Alliance For Better Food And Farming
Sept. 2014

A new guide aimed at organisations hoping to train the next generation of urban farmers, is being launched today on a rooftop farm in central London. The document – titled Future Farmers; a guide for running an urban food growing traineeship – is being launched by the Mayor of London’s food advisor, Rosie Boycott, as part of Urban Food Fortnight, which will see London’s food growers selling produce at over 100 events and outlet.

Chair of London Food Board, Rosie Boycott, said: “Training and apprenticeships are key to making sure there are enough skilled people to start food growing enterprises and help to meet the demand for locally produced, great quality food that we see here in London. This new initiative provides a comprehensive and practical guide to help nurture the next generation of professional urban growers.”

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September 16, 2014   Comments Off

Young citizen scientists reveal urban bee ‘surprise’

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Dallas Campbell with survey participant. BBC presenter Dallas Campbell said children were “natural-born scientists”.

A patch of lavender in a city centre sees more bumblebees than a patch in the country, according to preliminary results from a citizen science project

By Jonathan Webb
BBC News
Sept 9, 2014

Excerpt:

“Within cities, there are fewer floral resources,” said Dr Michael Pocock from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, who led the analysis of the data with colleague Dr Helen Roy.

“And so one of the likely explanations is that there’s a concentration effect – the bumblebees in the area are concentrated on floral resources which are provided through pots of lavender and beds of lavender.”

That isn’t necessarily bad news, Dr Roy added, because it suggests that planting more flowers in cities will help boost bumblebee numbers.

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September 13, 2014   Comments Off

Young volunteers ‘excluded’ from working at City Farm in London

kidsdisShola Fellows and Claudia Cruz at the Farm Family protest.

30 children and young people with disabilities looked after animals at Brooks Farm

By Natalie Glanvill
This is Local London
19th August 2014

Excerpt:

A group of young volunteers, which has helped out at a city farm for 30 years, will not be allowed to work there after it changed hands, it has emerged.

The ‘Farm Family’, which includes about 30 children and young people with disabilities, or those at risk of getting involved in crime, looked after animals at Brooks Farm in Skeltons Lane Park, Leyton, when it was managed by Waltham Forest council.

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August 26, 2014   Comments Off

Create a world class urban agriculture hub on Bristol’s Blue Finger – Britain

Petition to Mayor of Bristol to Protect Bristol’s highly fertile food growing land from road building and other damaging development.

Petition by
The Blue Finger Alliance
August 2014

Excerpt:

Any city that wishes to thrive in an unpredictable future must act now to upscale sustainable food production in ways that directly benefit the health and wellbeing, and the local economy of that city. We should not be endorsing a public transport system that undermines our ability to do this.

The area under threat is part of an area known as the Blue Finger (Grade 1 is coded blue on agricultural classification maps). Soil of this quality covers less than 3% of the UK and this is set to diminish as sea levels rise and extremes of climate increase.

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August 13, 2014   Comments Off

Report predicts value of London’s edible gardens at £1.4 million – and counting

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“We know that London can’t feed itself but the aim of this initiative was to see just how much food we can grow…”

Capital Growth
A Sustain Publication
July 2014

London’s food growing gardens and urban farms are producing food worth at least £1.4 million per year, according to a new report published today by Capital Growth, London’s food growing network. Using data collected by a sample of 160 food growing spaces located in community gardens, schools, allotments, parks and farms across the capital, the report shows how veg patches all over London are putting fresh, seasonal and ultra-local food on thousands (and potentially millions) of plates.

The weights of community-grown fruit, vegetables, honey and eggs were recorded by members of the Capital Growth food growing network, which has over 2,000 registered spaces, many based in low-income areas of London. “We know that London can’t feed itself but the aim of this initiative was to see just how much food we can grow, and we have been able to use our innovative online Harvest-ometer tool to record the harvest of a wide range of different growing spaces,” explained Sarah Williams from Capital Growth. “The response has been extremely positive, with about one tenth of our member spaces clocking up over £150,000 of produce during the course of a year, and contributing portions of healthy fruit and veg to over a quarter-of-a-million meals”

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August 13, 2014   Comments Off

The Big Allotment Challenge: The Patch – Grow Make Eat

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By Tessa Evelegh
Hodder & Stoughton
10 April 2014

Growing your own fruit and vegetables is surprisingly easy whatever the size of your garden or allotment. You don’t need to be entirely self-sufficient but there’s nothing more satisfying than being able to harvest your own tomatoes, snip a few leaves from a salad bed or make strawberry jam from home-grown strawberries. And by planting some easy-to-grow flowering plants it’s perfectly possible to have freshly picked cut flowers to decorate your table.

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July 9, 2014   Comments Off

Hampton Court Palace’s Kitchen Garden

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The gardens produced horticultural baubles, edible novelties and actual food between 1702 and 1840

By Sandra Lawrence
Londonist
June 12, 2014

Excerpt:

King Hal’s jousting fields were ripped up and turned into six one-acre, up-to-the-minute kitchen gardens. They were given plenty of walls to provide warmth and shelter for tender new delicacies such as apricots and peaches, and plenty of room for Her Majesty’s every other veg-related whim.

Expensive luxuries like potatoes, tomatoes and runner beans. Tender peas, fresh from the pod, not the dried up pebbles that peasants ate. Asparagus, squashes, fancy salad. A lot of fancy salad.

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June 22, 2014   Comments Off

London’s growing heroes – urban farming in the city

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People benefit from coming to the farm and slowing down a bit. Photo by Jonathan Cherry.

Grab a pitchfork and pitch in with your local community food growers

The Guardian
June 21, 2014

Excerpt:

Jack Astbury leads Keats Community Organics, an organically certified urban farm on five disused acres in Welling, south-east London. It’s early days – the project was launched on Big Dig Day this March – but the current salad crop will soon be boosted by courgettes, French beans, runner beans, tomatoes and chillies, then kale and winter salads.

Jack is one of an expanding, and youthful, band of community food growers, whose former project, Food From the Sky, was an innovative garden on the roof of a Crouch End supermarket.

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June 21, 2014   Comments Off

A Conversation With Oscar Rodriguez On Urban Farming

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Oscar Rodriguez, the founder of Architecture & Food, which is a company that works with organizations on building vertical farming.

By Emy Muzzi
Urban Times
June 4, 2014

Excerpt:

Here’s a basic, ‘ridiculous’ calculation: London has 20,000 hectares (200,000,000 sqm) of roofscape, most of it pitched, and a population of 8.2 million people. By retrofitting horticultural greenhouses employing high productivity growing tech with a conservative 40kg/sqm/yr productivity onto half that area (10,000 hectares) you could produce enough to supply 1.3 kg of vegetables per person per day which is 380 percent of the average daily U.K. fruit and vegetable consumption of 350g.

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June 13, 2014   Comments Off