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Category — Environment

Air farming: The lucrative business of selling fresh air to those in polluted cities

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In heavily-polluted cities like Beijing and Shanghai, people are paying upwards of $160 for a single jar of air

By Paige Cockburn
ABC Australia
Feb 8, 2016

Excerpt:

Leo De Watts from Britain has jumped on the bandwagon; selling jars of air collected from locations like Yorkshire, Somerset and Wales.

The air from each region is described in elaborate detail that may be surprising for those who do not consider themselves “air connoisseurs”.

Welsh air for example has a “morning dew feel to it” with “vibrant and flavoursome undertones” whilst air originating from Somerset has “unblemished qualities”.

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February 9, 2016   No Comments

Will climate change move agriculture indoors? And will that be a good thing?

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Agrilyst is the intelligence platform for indoor farms.

By Heather Smith
Grist
3 Feb 2016

Excerpt:

Kopf went to Lightfoot, and told him that she was leaving to start a greenhouse software company — or, as she put it, “Hey. I’m going to do this. Buy it.” She found a programmer and cofounder, a Google engineer named Jason Camp, through a family friend. Agrilyst launched in spring of 2015. By autumn of 2015, the duo had beat out 1,000 other companies and were standing onstage as one of 25 finalists at the TechCrunch Disrupt startup competition in San Francisco. Much to their surprise, they won.

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February 8, 2016   No Comments

Is it safe to eat apples picked off city trees?

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Wellesley College student Ciaran Gallagher checks the lead content in an apple tree in Cambridge.

Urban canners and college researchers are testing city-grown fruit to see if it is safe

By Bella English
Boston Globe
Nov 23, 2015

Excerpt:

Last month, the Wellesley researchers announced some unexpected results of their early tests: Not only are they safe, but fruits off city trees — or sidewalks — may be more nutritious than those on store shelves.

“We’re excited about these initial results, and the biggest surprise is the micronutrients,” says Brabander. “I think there’s a growing realization that urban environments can support a wide range of agricultural activities, from food projects to community gardens to foraging.” He and his students presented their methodology and preliminary results to the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting in Baltimore.

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February 8, 2016   No Comments

Risk of lead poisoning from urban gardening is low, new study finds

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Kids get creative with kale in an urban garden in Tacoma, Washington.Kristen McIvor

“It is highly unlikely that urban agriculture will increase incidences of elevated blood Pb for children in urban areas. This is due to the high likelihood that agriculture will improve soils in urban areas, resulting in reduced bioavailability of soil Pb and reduced fugitive dust.”

By Michelle Ma
University of Washington
Feb 2, 2016
(Must see. Mike)

Excerpt:

Using compost is the single best thing you can do to protect your family from any danger associated with lead in urban soils. Good compost will also guarantee that you will have plenty of vegetables to harvest.

That’s the main finding of a paper appearing this month in the Journal of Environmental Quality. The University of Washington-led study looked at potential risks associated with growing vegetables in urban gardens and determined that the benefits of locally produced vegetables in cities outweigh any risks from gardening in contaminated soils.

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February 3, 2016   No Comments

Rodent control is essential for urban agriculture farmers

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Control of rodents is essential for food safety and financial success on urban farms.

By Frank Gublo Michigan State University Extension
and Hal Hudson
MSU Extension
December 30, 2015

Excerpt:

It is essential for beginning farmers, home gardeners and experienced farmers to prevent rodent infestations on the farm. Rodents affect the farm in several ways. First and foremost, they are disease carriers. Rodents can cause, but not limited to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, Leptospirosis, Salmonellosis and Rat Bite Fever. Additionally they contribute to the spread of other diseases caused by the parasites that infect rodents. Rodents also cause physical damage to structures. Rat’s teeth never stop growing and to keep them from getting to long, a rat must chew to grind them off. The chewing can cause damage to wood, plastics and concrete used in the urban farming operation. Finally, rodents cause financial loss due to crop damage, and damage to facilities.

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January 3, 2016   Comments Off on Rodent control is essential for urban agriculture farmers

Highline College program — with new $80K grant—brings urban agriculture classes and resources to area residents

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Andy Satkowski waters the edible garden at Highline College earlier this year. The garden gives students like Satkowski, who is enrolled in the college’s new Urban Agriculture certificate program, hands-on practice growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables.

Des Moines, Washington. Highline will recruit participants from the area’s immigrant and refugee communities.

Des Moines News
12/29/2015

Excerpt:

The college’s 80-acre campus provides plenty of space for demonstrating and practicing urban agriculture, agroforestry and edible landscaping. Through these efforts, Highline will promote deeper understanding of and support for community-wide food security.

The total cost of Highline’s two-year project is $194,000. The college is funding the balance of the project, which it expects to become self-sustaining through tuition revenue.

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January 3, 2016   Comments Off on Highline College program — with new $80K grant—brings urban agriculture classes and resources to area residents

A ‘climatarian’ is someone who eats with climate change in mind

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A ‘reducetarian’ is a “make-your-own-rules” version of climatarianism.

By Lydia O’Connor
Huffington Post
Dec 31, 2015

Excerpt:

CLIMATARIAN (n.) A diet whose primary goal is to reverse climate change. This includes eating locally produced food (to reduce energy spent in transportation), choosing pork and poultry instead of beef and lamb (to limit gas emissions), and using every part of ingredients (apple cores, cheese rinds, etc.) to limit food waste.

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January 1, 2016   Comments Off on A ‘climatarian’ is someone who eats with climate change in mind

Film online: Follows a Kenyan farmer for four years – captures the human impact of climate change

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In “Kisilu: The Climate Diaries”, we witness a groundbreaking portrait of a Kenyan family on the front line of climate change.

By Julia Dahr
Aljazeera
Dec 2, 2015
(Must see! Mike)

Excerpt from the filmmaker:

During my first two weeks in Kenya, I met with a great number of small-scale farmer families to find a good match for the film, but it was difficult to find someone that I connected well with, that knew English – and at the same time had farming as their main income generating activity. I had started to lose hope of finding a family to make this film together with, but finally on the last day of the research trip I was introduced to Kisilu and his family and it was “love at first sight”.

Kisilu’s passion when he talked about his vision for his family and his village captivated me and right away I knew I had found the right person and family for the film. Luckily enough, Kisilu and the family also felt a connection with me and agreed to having my photographer and I stay with them, day in and day out, for the next month.

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December 4, 2015   Comments Off on Film online: Follows a Kenyan farmer for four years – captures the human impact of climate change

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid researchers assess potential risk for human health associated with metals in urban gardens

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Results show that there exist significant differences in the average total concentration of the elements among the studied urban gardens depending on their localization and previous uses of the soil.

News-medical
Nov 11, 2015

Excerpt:

Researchers from the School of Mining and Energy Engineering at UPM collected samples of arable soil layers of different urban gardens and assessed the metal content and the physicochemical properties of the soil. Most of the risk assessment models are based on the total concentration of pollutants in the environment, but they do not consider that just one part is really absorbed by our organism.

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November 19, 2015   Comments Off on Universidad Politécnica de Madrid researchers assess potential risk for human health associated with metals in urban gardens

Urban Agriculture for Ethiopian Immigrants in Be’er Sheva, Israel

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The Earth’s Promise initiative in action. Credit: Courtesy JNF.

The garden, attached to the absorption center, began with 10 furrows (trenches used to plant seeds)—one per family—then grew to 50, and eventually to 100, with more currently being planned.

By June Glaze
JNS.org
Nov 6, 2015

Excerpt:

“They can plant whatever they want, including fruits and vegetables they had in Ethiopia that they miss in Israel. It’s wonderful to see families working together, using their skills, feeling proud of themselves. And when they leave the absorption center for new homes, they bequeath their furrows to new families coming in,” Katzenell said.

“These are people who came here with no jobs, no Hebrew, and with traditional [agrarian] knowledge that, living in an urban environment, they couldn’t pass on to their children,” said Moran Slakmon, co-director of Earth’s Promise with her husband, Adam Ganson.

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November 13, 2015   Comments Off on Urban Agriculture for Ethiopian Immigrants in Be’er Sheva, Israel

Hunting down hidden dangers and health benefits of urban fruit in Baltimore, Maryland

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A pear hanging from a LUrC sampled urban fruit tree in Dudley Triangle. Dan Brabander and student Ciaran Gallagher taking in-situ measurement of fruit tree bark with XRF-NITON. Credit: Ciaran Gallagher and Dan Brabander.

“The intersection of urban geohealth and citizen science is an emerging research paradigm for prioritizing projects that have immediate implications for designing best practices that promote a wide expression of safe and sustainable urban agriculture.”

Science Codex
Via the Geological Society of America
Nov 2, 2015

Excerpt:

The League of Urban Canners study investigated the concentrations of lead in urban fruits when they were peeled and unpeeled as well as washed and unwashed. That was intended to distinguish whether the fruits were taking up lead internally or being contaminated by dry deposition from the air or from soil dust.

“We found there was no difference between these variables,” said Ciaran Gallagher, an undergraduate researcher majoring in Environmental Chemistry at Wellesley College, who will be presenting the research on Monday, Nov. 2 at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Baltimore. Gallagher will be co-presenting with geoscience undergraduates Hannah Oettgen and Disha Okhai.

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November 9, 2015   Comments Off on Hunting down hidden dangers and health benefits of urban fruit in Baltimore, Maryland

Climate Change Urban Food Initiative – Webinars Oct/Nov 2015

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Launched by: Fondation Nicolas Hulot (FNH), the International Urban Food Network (IUFN) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Highlighting the strategic links between SUSTAINABLE FOOD, SUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT and CLIMATE CHANGE, this initiative will showcase successful mechanisms and approaches to help respond to the challenges of achieving sustainable urban food systems in a changing climate. And it will usefully add to policy discussions for COP21, and beyond.

What will CLIMATE CHANGE URBAN FOOD initiative bring you?

4 webinars (2 in English, 2 in French) featuring international experts and practitioners discussing keys of implementing synergies between climate and food action at local level.

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September 30, 2015   Comments Off on Climate Change Urban Food Initiative – Webinars Oct/Nov 2015

Enhancing gardens as habitats for flower-visiting aerial insects (pollinators): should we plant native or exotic species?

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This experiment has shown that flowering garden plant assemblages can provide a resource for pollinators regardless of the plants’ origin and that the greater the resource available the more pollinators will visit.

By Andrew Salisbury, James Armitage1, Helen Bostock1, Joe Perry, Mark Tatchell and Ken Thompson
Journal of Applied Ecology
Aug 11, 2015

Excerpt:

Summary:

1. Domestic gardens typically consist of a mixture of native and non-native plants which support biodiversity and provide valuable ecosystem services, particularly in urban environments. Many gardeners wish to encourage biodiversity by choosing appropriate plant taxa. The value of native and non-native plants in supporting animal biodiversity is, however, largely unknown.

2. The relative value of native and non-native garden plants to invertebrates was investigated in a replicated field experiment. Plots (deliberately akin to garden borders) were planted with one of three treatments, representing assemblages of plants based on origin (native, near-native and exotic). Invertebrates and resource measurements were recorded over four years. This paper reports the abundance of flower-visiting aerial insects (‘pollinators’) associated with the three plant assemblages.

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August 18, 2015   Comments Off on Enhancing gardens as habitats for flower-visiting aerial insects (pollinators): should we plant native or exotic species?

Raw Human Waste As Fertiliser For Urban Agriculture In Zimbabwe Linked To Typhoid And Cholera

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In terms of the new draft law, no person would be allowed to use or allow the use of human excreta as fertiliser, while people would also be barred from irrigating vegetables and plants with raw waste water.

By Andrew Kunambura
All Africa
Aug 6, 2015

Excerpt:

THE Harare City Council (HCC) is set for renewed tension with residents after it approved the amendment of a by-law that seeks to halt the rampant use of raw human waste as fertiliser.

The new by-law sailed through a full council meeting last Thursday and now awaits ministerial approval.

At law, all council by-laws have to be approved by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

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August 17, 2015   Comments Off on Raw Human Waste As Fertiliser For Urban Agriculture In Zimbabwe Linked To Typhoid And Cholera

A Walk on the Wild (Edibles) Side in Berkeley

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Mark Bittman samples plants growing along the sidewalks of Oakland, Calif., with Philip Stark and Tom Carlson from the University of California, Berkeley.
Not only can wild edibles be sold at markets and to restaurants, they’re essential in maintaining soil health

By Mark Bittman
New York Times
Jul. 9, 2015
(Must see. Mike)

Excerpt:

With Stark and Carlson, everything was different. We parked our car at a corner in West Oakland and within seconds these gents were pointing out sow thistle, mallow, dock, sourgrass, and nearly everything else you see here. Most of it was good enough to eat on the spot; some of it would’ve benefited from cooking. A portion … well, I’d ignore.

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July 10, 2015   Comments Off on A Walk on the Wild (Edibles) Side in Berkeley