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Category — History

1660 – New York City (New Amsterdam) Map Depicts Urban Farms

See full 1660 city map of downtown New York City.

The Castello Plan-Evidence of Horticulture in New Netherland or Cartographer’s Whimsy?

Schaefer, Richard and Janowitz, Meta Fayden (2005)
“The Castello Plan-Evidence of Horticulture in New Netherland or Cartographer’s Whimsy?,”
Northeast Historical Archaeology: Vol. 34 34, Article 3.
(Must read. Mike)

Excerpts:

In his Journal, which covered the years 1679-1680, Danckaerts described the lands through which they traveled and the people they encountered.He was most impressed by the abundance of fruit, especially the apples and peaches in New York City gardens (Danckaerts 1913: 44 and passim). He noted that in one year (1679) the peaches were so numerous that they could not all be harvested; free-roaming pigs feasted on those that dropped to the ground.

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June 16, 2018   No Comments

Carrot City: Designing for Urban Agriculture

View over 100 Carrot City case studies!

By Joe Nasr, Mark Gorgolewski, June Komisar

Ten years ago this month, a pioneering event took place. As the description below states, this may have been the first gathering that connected urban design and planning issues to food and agriculture. This symposium was accompanied by an exhibition that inspired its coordinators to organize the Carrot City exhibit less than a year later.

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June 11, 2018   No Comments

3,000-Year-Old Olive Tree on the Island of Crete Still Produces Olives Today

Image by David Hodgson, via Flickr Commons

Across the Mediterranean, you’ll find six other olive trees believed to be 2,000-3,000 years old–some of our last living ties to an ancient world.

Open Culture
May 9, 2018

Excerpt:

On the island of Crete, in the village of Vouves, stands an olive tree estimated to be 3,000 years old. Hearty and resilient, “the Olive Tree of Vouves” still bears fruit today. Because, yes, olives are apparently considered a fruit.

Archaeologist Ticia Verveer posted a picture of the tree on Twitter earlier this week and noted: It “stood here when Rome burned in AD64, and Pompeii was buried under a thick carpet of volcanic ash in AD79.” That all happened during the tree’s infancy alone.

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May 18, 2018   Comments Off on 3,000-Year-Old Olive Tree on the Island of Crete Still Produces Olives Today

UK: Beaumaris Allotments celebrated their centenary in 2017


Black & white aerial photo showing the allotments at their largest – probably after WWII. The allotments are unique in their location in spectacular park land with views over the Menai Strait to the Snowdonia mountains.

Beaumaris Allotments & Leisure Gardens are located on the Isle of Anglesey in the picturesque sea-side resort of Beaumaris, home to Beaumaris Castle, a World Heritage Site

Excerpt from Beaumaris Allotments History

In 1914 there were somewhere between 450,000 and 600,000 allotments in the UK and although the 1907 Smallholdings and Allotments Act had forced local authorities into providing allotments, there was still some resistance. That resistance soon faded as the severity of the impact that Germany’s blockades had on food supplies came into realisation. There was then a serious move to increase the number of allotments, and local authorities were given powers to turn any derelict land into allotments.

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May 4, 2018   Comments Off on UK: Beaumaris Allotments celebrated their centenary in 2017

1974: The New Alchemists

The New Alchemists, Dorothy Todd Hénaut, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Film by Canada’s National Film Board

Dorothy Todd Hénaut
National Film Board
1974 | 28 min

This short documentary profiles a community engaged in developing sustainable living methods, including food production and small-scale solar and wind technology, on a farm in Massachusetts in the 1970s. Well before sustainability was a mainstream concern, these prescient innovators attempted to create a vision of a greener, kinder world. “Think small,” say the New Alchemists. “Look what thinking big has done.”

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May 3, 2018   Comments Off on 1974: The New Alchemists

1943 WW2: He Plants for Victory

He Plants for Victory, , provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Canada’s National Film Board Short Animation

This animated short focuses on Mrs. Plugger, who is eager to start her own Victory Garden. Reminding her that tools are hard to get and that neither of them know much about gardening, Plugger organizes his neighbours to cultivate vegetables in a vacant lot. A message about the importance of cooperation and knowledge sharing . . . especially during war time.

May 2, 2018   Comments Off on 1943 WW2: He Plants for Victory

1918: City Troop Take a Food Salient

Feverishly mopping his brow under the shade of the young apple tree is Private Banker, or it may be Private Broker, of the Front Porch Farmer’s Brigade. Little A.E.F. Hard work to left of him, more work in front of him, blisters all over him, but he’s not discouraged. In fact he is going about his job as he goes about all the others created by the war – to get it done quickly, thoroughly, and as happily as may be.

The ‘Tired Business Man”, half a million strong, helps lift, after hours, the labour burden of the nation’s harvest

By E. V. Wilcox
Agriculturist in charge of farm labour, USDA
The Nation
Oct 1918

In meeting the call which was sent out last year for planting a larger acreage and producing more food, the city man and the farmer have been brought into close cooperation. The plan proposed by the Department of Agriculture for city men to volunteer their services as farm hands to save the harvest was accepted with enthusiasm by the city man and with scepticism by the farmer.

And, while the exact number will never be known, it has been estimated that probably 500,000 volunteers, men, women and children, answered the call. In Kansas City alone the volunteers numbered 10,000. In North Dakota, the enlistment was so complete that whole towns were deserted, even government post offices shutting their doors and barring their windows as on holidays and Sundays.

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May 1, 2018   Comments Off on 1918: City Troop Take a Food Salient

1917: What the Business Man Saw in the Back Yard

Click image to see larger file. Business men find employees’ gardens one of the best investments they can make. This one, provided by the National Cash Register Company, of Dayton , Ohio, is yielding $2000 a year to the boys from vegetables, and healthier, more industrious and more skillful workers to the company.

Underneath Discarded Tins and Cast-Off Shoes He Detected Soil on Which His Employees Could Grow Corn and Grow Better

By W. F. French
The Nation’s Business
April 1917
(Must read. Mike)

Millions of back yards and vacant lots await the how and the spade of the on-coming and swelling ranks of the amateur gardener. Everywhere ground which had been an eyesore will bud and blossom.

The Department of Agriculture has placed the stamp of approval on the home and garden club movement by appointing H. M. Conolly, of the State Relations Service, to direct the work in the City of Washington. He will tell thousands of amateur grubbers what to do and how to do it.

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April 29, 2018   Comments Off on 1917: What the Business Man Saw in the Back Yard

UK: Freightliners City Farm at 40: A refuge from city life in London

Freightlinders City Farm under construction in the late ’70s. Picture: Freightlinders City Farm.

Though 2018 is a year of celebration for Freightliners, there’s also nagging doubt. Its future is under threat.

By James Morris
Islington Gazette
Apr 4, 2018

Excerpt:

“We’re not 100 per cent certain of how it started,” Liz admits. “But we think it goes back to 1973, where the Maiden Lane Estate is now, on the other side of the Cally.

“We do know it was a community group coming together wanting to keep their own animals, grow food and live a bit of the good life. There was always a focus on children and young people, and giving them a safe space.

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April 12, 2018   Comments Off on UK: Freightliners City Farm at 40: A refuge from city life in London

The Models for ‘American Gothic’ Pose in Front of the Iconic Painting (1942)


Click image to see larger file.

Above, you can see Wood’s sister and dentist–otherwise known as Nan Wood Graham and Dr. B.H. McKeeby–posing in front of “American Gothic” in 1942.

Open Culture
Mar 27, 2018

Excerpt:

The impetus for the painting came while Wood was visiting the small town of Eldon in his native Iowa. There he spotted a little wood farmhouse, with a single oversized window, made in a style called Carpenter Gothic. “I imagined American Gothic people with their faces stretched out long to go with this American Gothic house,” he said. He used his sister and his dentist as models for a farmer and his daughter, dressing them as if they were “tintypes from my old family album.” The highly detailed, polished style and the rigid frontality of the two figures were inspired by Flemish Renaissance art, which Wood studied during his travels to Europe between 1920 and 1926.

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April 7, 2018   Comments Off on The Models for ‘American Gothic’ Pose in Front of the Iconic Painting (1942)

1881: ‘City Farmer’ Had a Different Meaning

Click image to see larger file.

A ‘City Farmer’ was a city slicker who moved to the country to try his hand at farming

La Plata Home Press (La Plata, Missouri)
13 Aug 1881

The City Farmer

When formerly a city man who had made his ‘pile’, and, as he drove through the country and become fascinated with the beauty of the growing crops and things in general, would make up his mind to try his hand at so pleasant a business – his actions were carefully watched by the old farmers and his many blunders laughed at.

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April 1, 2018   Comments Off on 1881: ‘City Farmer’ Had a Different Meaning

1870 – Rhubarb Gatherers in England

Click image to see larger file. 1870 The Graphic.

The word rhubarb, too, was once thought dreadfully vulgar, and people spoke euphemistically of ‘spring gooseberries’.

From The Graphic
London UK
May 1870

Excerpt:

It comes at a fortunate time of the year for its own reputation, when we have grown tired of jam, if we have not cleared out our winter stock, when we are surfeited with apples, and before the more toothsome fruits, the currants, the cherries, the raspberries, have made their appearance, filling a gap in the gourmand’s calendar for which he is duly thankful.

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March 29, 2018   Comments Off on 1870 – Rhubarb Gatherers in England

The Shaker Book of the Garden

Includes an exact facsimile of the original Shaker Gardener’s Manual, published in 1843

By Lorraine Harrison
Barron’s Educational Series
2004

Excerpt:

The Shakers are noted among gardeners and farmers as the first commercial producers of species seeds. Today they are best remembered and respected for their holistic approach to tending the earth responsibly and reaping God’s bounty. This unusual book presents modern advice on gardening, food preservation, and cooking, all based on Shaker doctrine and values. It also includes a “book-within-a-book”- an exact facsimile of the original Shaker Gardener’s Manual, published in 1843 and retailed throughout the United States at that time for six cents.

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March 6, 2018   Comments Off on The Shaker Book of the Garden

Run the Jewels’ Michael Render on How Urban Farming Can Help the Black Community

Michael Render (aka Killer Mike, right) speaks with Decton Hylton, head of the Athens Land Trust’s community agriculture program, at the West Broad Market Garden. Photo Credit: Jessica Silverman

“When I was growing up as a kid, people had gardens right in their backyard. People had chickens right in their backyard, and I lived in Atlanta, I lived in the West End neighborhood in Atlanta. Dr. King’s parents lived there.

By Blake Aued
Flagpole
Feb 14, 2018

Excerpt:

It was a blockbuster afternoon for the West Broad Market Garden. With a film crew and his Run the Jewels partner El-P in tow, rapper and activist Michael Render—better known as Killer Mike, though he asked not to be identified by his stage name because his mother doesn’t like it—spent more than an hour touring the Athens Land Trust’s community garden in the largely black West Broad neighborhood on Wednesday, Feb. 7, the day before Run the Jewels played a sold-out show at the Georgia Theatre. They also met with students in the land trust’s Young Urban Farmers program and walked down the street to garden matriarch Ethel “Ms. Ethel” Collins’ house for dinner.

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February 20, 2018   Comments Off on Run the Jewels’ Michael Render on How Urban Farming Can Help the Black Community

Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat

Chapter 5. Back-to-the-Landers and Organic Farming

By Jonathan Kauffman
Harper Collins
Jan. 2018

An enlightening narrative history—an entertaining fusion of Tom Wolfe and Michael Pollan—that traces the colorful origins of once unconventional foods and the diverse fringe movements, charismatic gurus, and counterculture elements that brought them to the mainstream and created a distinctly American cuisine.

Food writer Jonathan Kauffman journeys back more than half a century—to the 1960s and 1970s—to tell the story of how a coterie of unusual men and women embraced an alternative lifestyle that would ultimately change how modern Americans eat. Impeccably researched, Hippie Food chronicles how the longhairs, revolutionaries, and back-to-the-landers rejected the square establishment of President Richard Nixon’s America and turned to a more idealistic and wholesome communal way of life and food.

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February 8, 2018   Comments Off on Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat