New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
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Category — Horticulture Therapy

Volunteers grow food for city’s needy on Wards Island farm, New York City

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Kadeesha Williams harvests beets on June 12, 2014 where farmers work at a large urban farm at HELP USA’s Supportive Employment Center on Ward’s Island. Photo by Jeremy Bales.

“My father was a vegetable farmer, so we grew a garden both in our yard and in community gardens. I am also an artist and I like this combination of art and farming. It’s a lifestyle.”

By Maria Alvarez
Newsday
June 15, 2014

Excerpt:

On Wards Island sits the city’s largest urban farm — an acre-plus plot of land where 8,000 pounds of vegetables, herbs and fruit are harvested each year.

The farm grows a bounty of produce — Chinese mugwort herbs, pea shoots, apples, apricots and cherries — that would be familiar to shoppers in Manhattan markets catering to the city’s wealthy and those serving the working class.

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June 25, 2014   Comments Off

The Garden Project Kicks off First Pilot Program in Korea

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A pilot program taking cue from the “therapeutic gardening” has been unveiled in Korea. (image: The Garden Project).

Offering mind-healing programs for senior citizens, children, and the handicapped

By Lina Jang
Korea Bizware
June 16, 2014

Excerpt:

The Garden Project announced last week that the world’s famous “garden project” will be up and running across the nation after four years of preparation to introduce the program. The organization had begun the first program for patients with Alzheimer’s on April 18.

The project was intended to help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease while supplying fresh chemicals-free produce to local communities and educating youths — who are exposed to high levels of fast food and sugary diet — the importance of eating healthy and local foods.

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June 24, 2014   Comments Off

Physically Challenged Farmer is an Inspiration

Hear Chris’ extraordinary story

Film by John Chester
OWN TV
May 25, 2014

Everyone knows farming requires hard physical labor. While Apricot Lane Farms has a lot of excellent farmhands, none have been as memorable as Chris.

See more of Apricot Lane Farms.

June 3, 2014   Comments Off

From the Battlefield to the Urban Farm in Dallas

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James Jeffers tilling the soil in the community garden. Photo by Amy Smith.

How Two Iraq War Vets took to the earth to work through their emotional and physical scars after combat — “dirt therapy,” they called it. Their gardening hobby turned into a bona fide urban farm.

By Hilary Hylton
Appears in National Service
May 13, 2014

Excerpt:

It was around the firepit that Smith and Jeffers came up with an enduring plan. They wanted to share their enthusiasm for gardening and their passion for fresh, locally produced food with a wider audience. So they decided to try to scale up their home growing efforts and launch a real urban farm. They used every square inch of their own land for planting, and supplemented it with community gardens around town, friends’ yards and rooftop planters — all told, about an acre of harvestable land, growing Swiss chard, tomatoes and kale.

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May 26, 2014   Comments Off

A Kale of Two Cities: Cultivating Social Justice

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La Finca Del Sur.

Urban agriculture pioneers have repurposed vacant land, greened the city, created community space, and introduced city dwellers to fresh local food.

By Nevin Cohen and Kristin Reynolds
Huffington Press
Apr 14, 2014

Excerpt:

In many ways, cultivating social justice is more important than bringing in a bountiful harvest because simply growing more food in the city, as healthy and delicious as it may be, will never feed all those in need. Even a vastly expanded urban agriculture system will not ensure healthy communities until cities address the roots of food system disparities: poverty, discrimination, and unequal power and privilege. That’s how urban agriculture can really make a difference.

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April 18, 2014   Comments Off

The benefits of gardening and food growing for health and wellbeing

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This study reviews current literature and highlights compelling case for commissioning of food growing by health service, with foreward by Professor Tim Lang.

By Garden Organic and Sustain
Gareth Davies, Maria Devereaux, Margi Lennartsson, Ulrich Schmutz, Sarah Williams
April 2014

Excerpt from Forward:

We can all benefit from gardening and community food-growing projects. It is widely recognised that regular contact with plants, animals and the natural environment can improve our physical health and mental well-being. When we grow food and flowers, we are engaging with the natural world at a pace that provides a welcome antidote to the stresses of modern life.

For the large number of people in our society – children and adults – who live with challenging physical or mental health problems, gardening and community food growing can be especially beneficial.

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April 1, 2014   Comments Off

WW1 Prison Camp became almost self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables

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By the end of the war, the camp was almost self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables, a far cry from the food poverty going on outside the walls. Click on image for larger version.

Gardening at Ruhleben in Berlin, a First World War prison camp

By Ed Cumming
The Telegraph
Feb 1, 2014

Excerpt:

The 5,000 or so British men who found themselves in Germany when war broke out did not count themselves lucky at first. As potential enemy soldiers, they could not be allowed to go home. “What were four thousand Britishers doing in Germany when their country declared war? The answer – that none of them had the faintest idea of what was coming – is almost incomprehensible today,” wrote J Davidson Ketchum, a Canadian psychologist who was interned and wrote about the experience afterwards.

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February 8, 2014   Comments Off

What Urban Farming Can Learn From The Developmentally Disabled

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Urban farming offers special needs people the vehicle through which they can learn a skill set in a new industry that is designed to provide a very good living if done right.

By Brian Donnelly
Powerhouse Growers
22/01/2014

Excerpt:

I remember when Kelsey first came to my greenhouse. It was all so strange for her – the system I have created is like no other – it is strange to everyone even me. There was resistance to getting in the dirt. There was nervousness about helping and doing something wrong. I stood next to her as she tried and every time her fingers touched the dirt she would wipe them on my shirt. I was very dirty after a while and she was laughing and enjoying it thoroughly.

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January 31, 2014   Comments Off

Dartmoor Prison, UK: its gardens are the exemplar of a successful horticultural rehabilitation project

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“We sell the eggs in the prison shop,” says Northam. “The money goes toward their upkeep. Whatever is left goes back into the gardens.”

By Emma Inglis
The Telegraph
18 Jan 2014

Excerpt:

The gardens at Dartmoor prison are the exemplar of a successful horticultural rehabilitation project. In 2006, prison officer Ivan Judd had an idea to transform the disused exercise yards of the old punishment unit into vegetable gardens to be tended by inmates in the resettlement wing. Judd approached Business in the Community, who put in him in touch with the Eden Project. Jane Knight, landscape architect at Eden, was one of the first on board.

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January 28, 2014   Comments Off

The Insight Garden Program’s Vegetable Garden at San Quentin State Prison

Prison Gardens Help Inmates Grow Their Own Food — And Skills

By Eliza Barclay
NPR
January 12, 2014
(Must see. Mike)

Excerpt:

In the video, filmed in December, we see inmates at San Quentin building five raised beds for vegetables in the prison yard of the medium security unit. The inmate Charles’ excitement about the prospect of a homegrown tomato is pretty palpable. It’s the first vegetable garden inside a California state prison.

Planting Justice helped oversee the garden project in partnership with Insight Garden Program, which has been helping inmates at San Quentin rehabilitate and get training in flower gardening since 2003.

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January 20, 2014   Comments Off

Bangalore Kitchen Gardener: Anusuya Sharma

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Anusuya Sharma in her flourishing medicinal garden.

‘Medicinal plants are all you need for good health’

Kavya Chandra
The Alternative
10 September, 2013

Excerpt:

Meet one of India’s most experienced kitchen gardeners – Anusuya Sharma – renowned expert on medicinal plants, author of two books on terrace gardening (‘Tarasi Tota Ondu Inuku Nota’ in 2007 and ‘Hittilu Kaitotakkondu Kaipidi’ in 2010) and winner of the Srishti Sanman award by Honey Bee’s Network National Innovation Foundation.

I am 70 years old and rarely fall sick. My garden is responsible for this and I am very grateful.”

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January 17, 2014   Comments Off

Gardening “Boot Camps” for Troubled Youth in Chicago

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The Chicago Botanic Garden teaches inmates about sustainable horticulture and urban agriculture. Photo by Chicago Botanic Garden.

Urban agriculture offers important life lessons for young inmates.

By Emily Gilbert
Worldwatch Institute
November 22, 2013

Excerpt:

Rather than a jail term, a program from the Cook County Boot Camp in Illinois is finding ways to reach troubled youth and inmates through urban gardening. Among the educational and vocational offerings the program offers is work in a three-quarter-acre garden that produces tomatoes, kale, carrots, and a host of other vegetables. The young male inmates learn life lessons and job skills through gardening, leading some to explore new career opportunities and lifestyle choices through agriculture and green jobs.

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December 11, 2013   Comments Off

Urban Farms – Growing hope under fire in Kansas City

BeatrixPotterGreenhouse1903

I thought about the young victim. And I thought about how I probably would have been in the garden at the time of the shooting if I had not been needed at home. I thought about all of the kids and the adult volunteers that worked in the garden.

By Angela Greene
Cultivate Kansas City’s Newsletter
December 2013-January 2014
Angela Greene is an urban farmer in Kansas City, Kansas

Excerpt:

Around 9 p.m. later that evening I received a call from a friend asking if I was okay.

“Well,” I said. “As best that I know, why?” That’s when I learned the shooting I heard was at my garden, two blocks from my home on the corner of 13th and Georgia streets. I quickly secured my family and rushed to see what happened.

I arrived at my garden to find a scene that looked like a television crime drama! Police and caution tape blocked the entire perimeter. Floodlights illuminated the scene as though it was daylight. Officers and detectives trampled through my rows of okra and tomatoes.

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December 10, 2013   Comments Off

Reposting story from 2008: Nelson Mandela – Prisoner, Rooftop Food Gardener

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Photo from A Prisoner in the Garden.

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

Excerpt from his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.

“The Bible tells us that gardens preceded gardeners, but that was not the case at Pollsmoor, where I cultivated a garden that became one of my happiest diversions. It was my way of escaping from the monolithic concrete world that surrounded us. Within a few weeks of surveying all the empty space we had on the building’s roof and how it was bathed the whole day, I decided to start a garden and received permission to do so from the commanding officer.

“Each morning, I put on a straw hat and rough gloves and worked in the garden for two hours. Every Sunday, I would supply vegetables to the kitchen so that they could cook a special meal for the common-law prisoners. I also gave quite a lot of my harvest to the warders, who used to bring satchels to take away their fresh vegetables.”

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December 8, 2013   Comments Off

Allotments improve mental health says UK survey


The Benefits of having an allotment.

Brighton and Hove Allotment Federation

BHAF Press Release
Nov 28, 2013

Excerpt:

A major survey of plot holders in Brighton and Hove, just completed in October 2013 shows that 92% of plot holders either agreed or strongly agreed that allotments improved their mental health or provided stress relief. 53% strongly agreed and 39% agreed. According to the survey 4500-5000 people regularly use the allotments in Brighton and Hove.

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December 4, 2013   Comments Off