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Category — Environment

RUAF: Urban Agriculture as a Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy


RUAF Urban Agriculture Magazine No. 27, March 2014

RUAF-Foundation (International network of Resource centres on Urban Agriculture and Food security)
March 2014


This issue is prepared with support of the UN Habitat Cities and Climate Change Initiative. It reports on the joint urban agriculture programme implemented by RUAF and UN Habitat. This issue also shares findings of a CDKN funded innovation project on monitoring urban agriculture impacts on climate change.

Cities and climate change are virtually inseparable. Cities are major contributors to Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and thus climate change.

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April 18, 2014   No Comments

ARUP’s ‘Cities Alive’ – 3.1 Integrating Urban Food

Eco-city, China by Arup.

Report envisages cities of the future as integrated networks of intelligent green spaces, designed to improve the health and wellbeing of citizens.

Cities Alive
April 2014
160 pages

Excerpt: Pages. 85-89

“Rooftop farms in some of the world’s most crowded cities, including Hong Kong, New York and Tokyo, are adding green to the gray. They are reconnecting city dwellers with nature, teaching consumers about homegrown food and offering a glimpse, perhaps, of a more secure and sustainable food supply.”
—Mary Hui, New York Times (2012)

Many commentors now predict that we will see peak food around the world in the next two decades— we will begin to consume more food than we can possibly produce. Following that, alternatives to the current model of mass agriculture will have to be found. A big potential for an alternative model lies within the idea of the natural city.

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April 9, 2014   Comments Off

Adapting our food system to climate change is about more than just guacamole

Project Hope volunteer Sylina Alton, 16, harvests beets from a garden last September. Photo by Young Kwak.

The sky may not be falling, but 2014 could be the year when global climatic shifts finally hit home for the drastically under-prepared U.S. population.

By Taylor Weech
The Inlander
Mar 7, 2014


The people need their guacamole. Or so it seemed when the Internet exploded in rage and disbelief this week over a line in an otherwise mundane risk assessment sent to investors in Chipotle, the popular Mexican fast food chain. It concluded that climate change is affecting the price of some ingredients, like avocados and tomatoes, and Chipotle could be forced to cut out guacamole, at least temporarily.

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March 16, 2014   Comments Off

Melbourne Australia’s Community Hop Ale

Beer rep Steven Germain with We Make Beer partner in crime Dan.

The Circle Of Hops

Crafty Pint


One half of Make Beer is beer rep Steven Germain (above right with We Make Beer partner in crime Dan). At his home, he has 12 hop plants that he will be harvesting this weekend. His intention was always to create a fresh hop beer with them and, in part inspired by the fact he may not have enough flowers to do a 100 litre batch justice and also by a desire to launch a community project, he decided it would be even more fun if said beer featured hops grown by other people in their respective backyards.

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March 12, 2014   Comments Off

‘I cycled 5000 miles guerrilla gardening, trading seeds’

Our Urban Soil

By Tom Boyden
Trending City
Dec 19, 2013

I cycled 5000 miles guerilla gardening, trading seeds and working with organic and urban farmers in 9 countries. I filmed everything with the idea that I’d make a 3 minute action movie to get people thinking about our soil and the huge part it plays in the sustainability of our cities.

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December 22, 2013   Comments Off

Urban Gardening: Managing the Risks of Contaminated Soil

In 2012, 35% of U.S. households grew food, spending $3.3 billion in the process, up from 31% of households spending $2.5 billion in 2008. One million households participated in community gardens in 2008.

Former parking lots and car washes often carry metals, PAHs, petroleum products, solvents, or surfactants. Demolished commercial or industrial buildings may leave behind asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls, petroleum products, or lead-based paint chips, dust, or debris. High-traffic roadways have a legacy of lead and PAHs from vehicle exhaust. Former parks and lands adjacent to railroad rights-of-way can bear pesticide residues.

By Rebecca Kessler
Environ Health Perspectives; DOI:10.1289/ehp.121-A326
(Must Read. Mike)

Author Rebecca Kessler is all too familiar with the difficulties and uncertainties of cleaning up dirty urban soil, having embarked on a multiyear project to convert a paved parking lot at her Providence, Rhode Island, home into a beautiful and fruitful garden.


The most thorough solution to cleaning up a garden is to remove the contaminated soil, then lay down a special fabric barrier topped with clean soil.4 But that’s a huge undertaking that can cost thousands of dollars, even for a small yard, putting it out of reach for most gardeners.

Simply installing the barrier fabric and new soil on top of the old is a more feasible option. So is building raised beds filled with clean soil—especially for root crops—and covering any exposed contaminated soil with mulch or grass. Less problematic soils can be amended by mixing in plenty of compost to dilute contaminants and bind them to soil particles. Gardeners can further reduce their exposure by peeling root crops, removing the outer leaves of leafy crops, washing their produce and hands before eating, and leaving dirty garden gear outside.

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December 3, 2013   Comments Off

New Scottish Bill proposes that local authority must provide allotments where there is demand

Edinburgh Allotments.

‘Consultation on the Community Empowerment Bill’

The Scottish Government
Riaghaltas na h-Alba
November 06, 2013

This consultation seeks views on a range of proposals intended to give people in communities, and those supporting them in the public sector, a range of new ways to help deliver a better Scotland.

Chapter 4 – Excerpt from Allotments section:

Local Authority Duty to Provide Allotments

173. Under existing legislation, where the local authority considers there to be a demand for allotments in their area, it is under a duty to acquire any suitable land for the purpose of letting as allotments. We intend to retain a similar duty which is set out in this section. Respondents to the Allotments consultation indicated that provision of allotments by the local authority should be linked to and triggered by demand.

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November 15, 2013   Comments Off

Louis Albert de Broglie, the Gardener Prince

Prince Louis Albert de Broglie, wearing a vest from his own Le Prince Jardinier line. Photo by Beatriz da Costa.

“Land is being treated as a dead body. We should be using our land to re-create local economy, and to give families a chance to eat healthy foods.”

By Anna Watson Carl
Wall Street Journal
Oct. 10, 2013


Friends also thought he was crazy, toiling away in his gardener’s hat, and they nicknamed him “Le Prince Jardinier” ( The Gardener Prince ). The name stuck. Soon he created a line of handmade gardening tools, clothing and furniture emblazoned with his nickname and embellished with a trowel and a straw hat. Originally carried by high-end stores like Bergdorf Goodman, today the line is sold at La Bourdaisière’s gardening boutique and on the ground floor of Deyrolle.

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October 30, 2013   Comments Off

Living lab tests urban food farming in Manchester

Slideshow production by Mark Kinver and Steven Connor. See it here.

Vincent Walsh, founder and director of the Biospheric Foundation, explains the project

8 October 2013

An innovative “living lab” has been set up in a former warehouse in the heart of Greater Manchester to research the best ways for people in urban areas to feed themselves in the future.

The Biospheric Project in Salford asks: “With rising food prices, climate change and growing urban populations, how do we make sure we can continue to put food on our tables?”

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October 27, 2013   Comments Off

Space Farming: NASA looks to grow fresh veggies

NASA’s Nicole Dufour (left) and Gioia Massa perform prelaunch testing on lettuce sprouts, under LED grow lights. Photograph by Stephen Allen.

No one is allowed to eat anything before the plants are thoroughly vetted for cosmic microbes.

By Jesse Hirsch
Modern Farming
September 10, 2013
(Must read. Mike)


Levine and Massa are part of the team developing the Vegetable Production System (VEGGIE) program, set to hit the ISS later this year. This December, NASA plans to launch a set of Kevlar pillow-packs, filled with a material akin to kitty litter, functioning as planters for six romaine lettuce plants. The burgundy-hued lettuce (NASA favors the “Outredgeous” strain) will be grown under bright-pink LED lights, ready to harvest after just 28 days.

NASA has a long history of testing plant growth in space, but the goals have been largely academic. Experiments have included figuring out the effects of zero-gravity on plant growth, testing quick-grow sprouts on shuttle missions and assessing the viability of different kinds of artificial light. But VEGGIE is NASA’s first attempt to grow produce that could actually sustain space travelers.

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October 2, 2013   Comments Off

EPA Provides Grant for Urban Gardening and Green Infrastructure Program in Newark, New Jersey

Mayor Cory Booker Visits ICC Community Gardens at Cortland Street

Grant to educate residents on approaches to soil restoration, strategies to reduce toxic substances and ways to foster sustainable urban gardening and green infrastructure

Contact John Martin
Release Date: 09/11/2013


(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $30,000 to the Ironbound Community Corporation to provide community residents in the Ironbound section of Newark, New Jersey the skills needed to create urban gardens in vacant city lots. The grant was awarded under the EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, which supports communities working on solutions to local environmental and public health issues.

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September 24, 2013   Comments Off

Rain Gardens, Permeable Pavement, Bioswales, Rain Water Harvesting, Green Roofs, Downspout Planters, Enhanced Tree Pits for Homes, Gardens, and Communities

Every year, more than 27 billion gallons of sewage and dirty rainwater are discharged into New York Harbor during CSOs.

Green Infrastructure Toolkit
By Grow New York City


This guide is designed to educate homeowners, community gardeners and others interested in storm water management techniques which can help minimize water pollution as it results from rainfall in cities that have combined sewers and other locations that experience flooding and storm water problems. The photographs, detailed drawings, material lists and descriptions provide a starting point for those interested in utilizing these practices in their homes, gardens and communities.

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September 20, 2013   Comments Off

Turning Plastic into Produce: TogetherFarm Blocks

Build custom raised beds for gardening with interlocking blocks made from lightweight recycled materials.

By TogetherFarm – Doug H, Joe A, Matt S

TogetherFarm Blocks are a modular garden box system (Made in the USA) manufactured from 100% recycled materials with the goal of making gardening more accessible to all. With an elegant design that is packed full of features, these lightweight, interlocking blocks empower more people to take back their food by growing produce in their own raised garden beds.

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September 15, 2013   Comments Off

Since 2009, the Los Angeles has paid $1.4 million to homeowners willing to rip out their front lawns

Jessica Seglar and her fiancé, Dominic Nguyen, of Long Beach, Calif., decided to replace their lawn with Ceanothus, a lilac native to California, and other drought-tolerant plants. Photo by Monica Almeida/The New York Times.

Arid Southwest Cities’ Plea: Lose the Lawn

By Ian Lovett
New York Times
August 11, 2013


In Mesa, Ariz., the city has paid to turn nearly 250,000 square feet of residential lawn into desertscape.

More than one million square feet of grass has been moved from Los Angeles residences since the rebate program began here in 2009. New parks provide only token patches of grass, surrounded by native plants. Outside City Hall, what was once a grassy park has been transformed into a garden of succulents.

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August 15, 2013   Comments Off

Tear down 14 blocks of houses in Detroit – Build an urban farm

Motor City Blight Busters

By John Hendren
Al Jazeera
June 28, 2013
(Must see. Mike)

Many US cities have a long way to go before the housing market recovers fully. In Detroit, demolition teams are tearing down thousands of abandoned homes in a bid to increase the value of occupied homes in the city’s neighbourhoods. The scheme is working, and Detroit’s housing market gains are outpacing the rest of the nation.

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July 3, 2013   Comments Off