Category — Environment
Our Urban Soil
By Tom Boyden
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.
December 22, 2013 Comments Off
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.
December 3, 2013 Comments Off
‘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.
November 15, 2013 Comments Off
“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.
October 30, 2013 Comments Off
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?”
October 27, 2013 Comments Off
No one is allowed to eat anything before the plants are thoroughly vetted for cosmic microbes.
By Jesse Hirsch
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.
October 2, 2013 Comments Off
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.
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.
September 20, 2013 Comments Off
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.
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.
August 15, 2013 Comments Off
Motor City Blight Busters
By John Hendren
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.
July 3, 2013 Comments Off
“I don’t like the goal of self-sufficiency, I think it’s a fool’s errand to chase that goal.”
Filmed by Johnny Sanphillippo
May 20, 2013
(Must See. Mike.)
Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne have been farming their yard in Los Angeles for over a decade. In addition to a mini orchard and extensive veggie garden, they have all the instruments of an urban homestead: chickens, bees, rainwater capture, DIY greywater, solar fruit preserver, humanure toilet, rocket stove, adobe oven. But they don’t like to talk about sustainability of self-sufficiency, instead they prefer the term self-reliance.
“I don’t like the goal of self-sufficiency, I think it’s a fool’s errand to chase that goal,” explains Knutzen. “I think we live in communities, human beings are meant to live, and trade and work together. I think self-reliance is okay, in other words, knowing how to do things.”
May 23, 2013 Comments Off
The Green Dragons program teaches about mental, physical and agricultural benefits in a combined program.
By Steve Annear
May 8, 2013
Here’s how it works: the Green Dragon approach starts with students growing their own seedlings that eventually get transplanted for full harvest either in an outdoor raised bed or garden, or in indoor greenhouses in Boston. The group has five agricultural sites around the city, including their largest one located at the South West Boston Community Garden in Roslindale.
According to Mike Cermak, one of the co-founders of Green Dragons, some of the earliest weapons used in martial arts were developed from modified farming tools, as a means of defense, something the program highlights when connecting the “common roots” of their teachings.
May 10, 2013 Comments Off
When we eat food that’s been grown without chemicals, close to where we live, we reduce our fossil inputs and our emissions by 70%.
By Philip Be’er
Home Harvest Farms
What are we not being told about the short term impacts of global warming on the Vancouver area!! Learn how urban farming will contribute to the deceleration of global warming and could protect the value of property in Richmond and Delta while creating a billion green jobs around the world.
February 26, 2013 Comments Off
The Badger Rock Middle School currently has 100 sixth and seventh-graders but will expand to 150 students next year. Students learn in a state-of-the-art building on Madison’s south side. The Center for Resilient Cities hosted a grand opening celebration on Sept. 18, 2012.
“Every single plant on this site — trees, shrubs and ground cover — is edible,” she said. “To my knowledge it is the only 100 percent edible landscape in the state. There’s not one blade of turf grass.”
By Jim Massey
The Country Today
Jan 15, 2013
MADISON — Middle school students on Madison’s south side don’t have to go far to learn how to grow, process and prepare their own food.
The students are immersed in the topic of food at Madison’s newest charter school, Badger Rock Middle School. The school, which opened in a state-of-the art building last fall, has an urban agriculture focus in conjunction with Growing Power, a nonprofit urban agriculture organization headquartered in Milwaukee. Growing Power has its Madison office in the Resilience Research Center, which also houses the school and the Resilience Neighborhood Center.
January 18, 2013 Comments Off