New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
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Category — History

First farm gardens in New York City appeared in 1902 in De Witt Clinton Park

DeWitt
Parsons commandeered 3/4 of an acre of De Witt Clinton Park for 360 plots that functioned as miniature gardens. [DeWitt Clinton Park] [glass negative]: children’s garden plots, looking toward the east side of the park.
Click on image for larger photo.
Click here for massive original photo.

Parsons opened the first farm garden on the west side of Manhattan, near tenements that dominated the neighborhood at the time – 360 plots.

Excerpt from:
New York City Parks
Farm Gardens

Although the era of social reform in the early 20th century was still driven by government and charitable organizations, in many ways Farm Gardens were early manifestations of a community gardening aesthetic. The first farm gardens in New York City appeared in 1902 in De Witt Clinton Park, shepherded by a “Mrs. Henry G. Parsons,” who despite the seeming formality was in fact a groundbreaking female who went on to become one of the first senior–level park administrators.

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February 14, 2015   Comments Off

1942: How Boys and Girls Can Help Win the War

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Cartoon from 1942 Parent Magazine issue, “How Boys and Girls Can Win The War”. Click on image for larger file.

Fun Facts About Victory Gardens

Excerpt from National WW2 Museum website:

During World War II, Victory Gardens were planted by families in the United States (the Home Front) to help prevent a food shortage.

In 1941, a five-foot Christmas tree could be purchased for 75 cents.

Planting Victory Gardens helped make sure that there was enough food for our soldiers fighting around the world. Because canned vegetables were rationed, Victory Gardens also helped people stretch their ration coupons (the amount of certain foods they were allowed to buy at the store).

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February 2, 2015   Comments Off

1953 – Gardener Mopsy – ‘Be a vegetarian and be beautiful’

mop1Click on image for larger files size.

By Gladys Parker

From Wiki:

Mopsy was a comic strip created by Gladys Parker in 1939. It had a long run over three decades. Parker modeled the character of Mopsy after herself. In 1946, she recalled, “I got the idea for Mopsy when the cartoonist Rube Goldberg said my hair looked like a mop. That was several years ago, and she has been my main interest ever since.”

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January 24, 2015   Comments Off

The History of Urban Agriculture in Somerville, Massachusetts

histsom

The City of Somerville was founded in 1842

Jan 15, 2015

Excerpt:

If you think local food is new in Somerville, think again! Our friends at the Somerville Garden Club put together this cool brochure on Somerville’s agrarian history with a timeline of key events starting in the 1600’s.Many of the family and street/place names that you see around town today and were once farms and there was both a pickle company and a vinegar company!

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January 23, 2015   Comments Off

In 19th-century New York, urban livestock were perceived as a threat

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“Today, proponents argue that urban agriculture and local food sources promote ‘sustainable cities,’” writes historian Catherine McNeur in her new book, Taming Manhattan: Environmental Battles in the Antebellum City. “In the nineteenth century, many Americans would have believed the opposite.”

When Gentrification Meant Driving the Hogs Out of Manhattan

By Sarah Goodyear
citylab
Dec 16, 2014

Excerpt:

In order for Manhattan to become the center of a nation’s wealth and high culture, as McNeur illustrates, the dirty work of agriculture and food production had to be pushed out and made invisible—along with the lower-class people who made their living from animals and their by-products. The result, she writes, was a volatile and unsettled period in which rancor and division among citizens was heightened by the question over who had the right to use the city’s rapidly vanishing common spaces.

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December 17, 2014   Comments Off

Actress Gene Tierney grew turnips and spinach – Victory Gardener

gene

Movie Stars – 1943

By Jessie Henderson
Fun on The Farm
Photoplay Magazine 1943

Turnips and spinach, of all unlikely things, are what Gene Tierney raises, with the help of a part-time gardener, on her Victory acre. Gene acquired her taste for turnips in “Tobacco Road” and now she devours them raw or cooked and says they taste a bit like apples. She goes for fresh spinach salad quite as eagerly. From her twelve hens, sturdy Plymouth Rocks, Gene gets enough eggs for her kitchen and her friends ‘and’ a weekly angel-food cake that goes to the Hollywood canteen.

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December 6, 2014   Comments Off

Mary Astor has a window box full of carrots and beets – Victory Gardener

maryastor

Movie Stars 1943

By Jessie Henderson
Fun on The Farm
Photoplay Magazine 1943

Mary Astor has gone so garden-minded that she has even planted onions between the calla blossoms in the lily bed. At every window, also, she has a window box full of carrots and beets; their foliage by the way, is most effective, and what a convenience to reach forth hungrily in the night and grab a square mealy the roots from the bedroom casement.

Around every tree on the lawn, instead of petunias, Mary has vegetables. Also, as she lately discovered, she has half the horned toads of the county, basking in delight in the shade of the Swiss chard. Mary, who squeals at the sight of an ant!

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December 2, 2014   Comments Off

Don Ameche has two cows – Victory Farmer

donameche

Movie Stars 1943

Photoplay Magazine 1943

Fun on The Farm
By Jessie Henderson

With gardeners gone to war, the stars are having as tough a tussle over their Victory farms as any other amateurs. They have the carrots and calluses, beets and boners, to prove it.

Don Ameche hasn’t a big Victory Garden because it’s difficult to obtain help. But he does have a flock of chickens, two cows, and four young Ameches who get away with most of the product of same. The cows are a new item and Don is very proud of them – but it’s Mrs. Ameche who does the milking.

Don wants to learn but they decided he’d better learn on somebody else’s cows; because if a cow isn’t milked right, we won’t give, and who wants a cow merely as a pet.

November 29, 2014   Comments Off

Nancy Coleman’s tomato plant went berserk with fruit – Victory Gardener

nancyC

Movie Stars 1943

By Jessie Henderson
Fun on The Farm
Photoplay Magazine 1943

On the day Nancy Coleman found she was to be a star, she bought a house and an acre of land in the Valley. It’s near the homes of Marsha Hunt and Richard Carlson. To greet their fellow actor, they each sent her a gift, with a card that said, “Welcome, Neighbour!”

From the Carlson home came a tomato plant; from Marsha Hunt lettuce seeds. The tomato plant went berserk with fruit (or is it vegetables?), till one day it broke in two from the weight of its yield – Nancy knowing naught about propping it up with sticks. The lettuce seeds, to the surprise of Nancy and Marsha both, turned into virulent weeds with yellow flowers.

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November 24, 2014   Comments Off

Actress Barbara Stanwyck gardens from daybreak to backbreak – Victory Gardener

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While husband Robert Taylor is serving with the US Naval Air Corps, Barbara Stanwyck reads. Click on image for larger file.

Movie Stars – 1943

By Jessie Henderson
Fun on The Farm
Photoplay Magazine 1943

It’s remarkable that the stars, with picture work and war work, find time for garden work at all. Somebody asked Barbara Stanwyck, a girl who largely by her own efforts has wrung from the soil a neat little harvest and some of the biggest cutworms in California – ‘when’ she found leisure to do it.

“Oh,” Barbara replied, “I work from daybreak to backbreak!”

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November 21, 2014   Comments Off

Ann Sothern made a Victory Garden of the dog’s runway

annsothern

Movie Stars 1943

By Jessie Henderson
Fun on The Farm
Photoplay Magazine 1943

Ann Sothern made a Victory Garden of the dog’s runway, exercising the dog herself to compensate for swiping his playground. To top off, she planted a row of corn around the wall of her house. The stalks grew and grew till they durn nigh reached the second story, a magnificent sight. But they never had any corn on them. Too late, someone told Ann that, to get corn, you have to plant at least two rows in order to let the pollen flit back and forth. Nature’s so cute!

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November 19, 2014   Comments Off

Actress Margaret Sullivan in her Victory Garden 1943

margSullivan

Margaret Brooke Sullavan (1909 – 1960) was an American stage and film actress.

Sullavan began her career onstage in 1929. In 1933 she caught the attention of movie director John M. Stahl and had her debut on the screen that same year in Only Yesterday. Sullavan preferred working on the stage and made only 16 movies, four of which were opposite James Stewart in a popular partnership. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Three Comrades (1938). She retired from the screen in the early forties, but returned in 1950 to make her last movie, No Sad Songs for Me (1950), in which she played a woman who was dying of cancer. For the rest of her career she would only appear on the stage.

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November 18, 2014   Comments Off

Victory Gardener – Martha O’Driscoll found she owned a travelling garden

martha

Movie Stars – 1943

By Jessie Henderson
Fun on The Farm
Photoplay Magazine 1943

Martha O’Driscoll found she owned a travelling garden. It moved, by itself, an eighth of a mile. Martha had planted the seeds with her own rosy fingers, but she planted them only half an inch deep and forgot that her land sloped downward. Come a brisk downpour. Martha’s garden washed out, every bit of it, into the ravine across the way.

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November 17, 2014   Comments Off

Deanna Durbin grew beets so big she had to dig’em up with a shovel – Victory Gardener

Deanna

1943 Canadian born movie star

By Jessie Henderson
Fun on The Farm
Photoplay Magazine 1943

With gardeners gone to war, the stars are having as tough a tussle over their Victory farms as any other amateurs.

A record even for Hollywood! Deanna Durbin grew beets so big she had to dig’em up with a shovel. Into the beet bed, she put a quantity of new fangled fertilizer, and she’d no more than turned her back, when bam! five-inch beets were all over the place. Not but what as a rule you could pick up a five-inch wide beet with the naked hand, but the soil in Deanna’s yard is adobe. Pulling a five-inch beet out of it is like pulling a bowling ball out of cement.

November 16, 2014   Comments Off

Victory Gardener – Ray Milland raised Buff Orpingtons

ray

Movie Stars – 1943

By Jessie Henderson
Fun on The Farm
Photoplay Magazine 1943

Ray Milland raises Buff Orpingtons in solitary confinement (the hens, not Milland.) He sells the eggs and fryers to Hedy Lamar ‘for cash’ and puts the cash in a piggy bank for the baby’s War Bonds. Comes so much as a yip from a hen in her solitary, sanitary sound-proofed nest unit, and Milland gallops out to collect the egg from “Alice” or “Rita” or “Bette” and has frequently been soundly pecked for his trouble.

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November 16, 2014   Comments Off