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Some Minnesotans garden under the snow

snowDawn Pape’s son Maxwell harvests greens from their cold-frame garden in Shoreview.

Season-extending structures are helping some Minnesota gardeners defy winter.

By Kim Palmer
Star Tribune
December 17, 2014


In her Shoreview yard, under a blanket of snow, is a polycarbonate-topped, 2- by 8-foot box — or “cold frame.” Brush aside the show, lift the lid, and inside was an improbable vision: healthy spinach, kale, salad greens and other veggies growing in the frigid ground.

“It’s so uplifting to see green when it’s kind of bleak outside,” said Pape, a master gardener and garden-book author, who was still harvesting around Thanksgiving — and hoping for at least a few more weeks of homegrown produce. “If I can make it to Christmas, I’ll be pretty happy,” she said.

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December 29, 2014   Comments Off

So You Want To Be a Farmer

farmmapIllustrations by Julia Rothman. Click on image for larger file.

Ever dream of chucking it all for the simple life? Read this first.

By Jesse Hirsch
Modern Farmer
September 15, 2014

Many small farms take in apprentices or interns (a largely semantic distinction) for a growing season. According to Thistlethwaite, this is an all but mandatory step in your farm journey. And not just for one season. She suggests apprenticing for three to four years before you even consider starting your own farm. This will not only provide a basic knowledge base, but also ensure that farming is something you enjoy. “[Apprenticing] is gut check time,” she says. “It gives you the chance to ask yourself: ‘Is this really who I am?’”

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September 17, 2014   Comments Off

Wissen wuchern lassen – Ein Handbuch zum Lernen in urbanen Garten


“Let knowledge mushroom – Handbook on learning from urban gardens

Herausgegeben von: Severin Halder, Dörte Martens, Gerda Münnich, Andrea Lassalle, Thomas Aenis, Eckhard Schäfer
In German

Focusing on practical answers this handbook assembles various modules for the creation of green learning spaces. At the same time it enables insight into the broad creative experiences of urban gardeners.

Here DIY knowledge of the gardening amateurs from Allmende-Kontor, Prinzessinnengarten and Bürgergarten Laskerwiese meets expert knowledge from the trained gardeners and farmers of Bauerngarten, Peter-Lenné-School and Humboldt University of Berlin. An open knowledge transfer in terms of discussions, seeds, garden map, redworms and recipes takes place.

It’s a compilation of Berlin farmer’s shrewdness, flowery manuals and common banana skins – for everyone looking for how to get the hands really dirty!

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July 10, 2014   Comments Off

‘Pennycress’ for bio-diesel latest entry into Detroit urban agriculture scene

Warren P. Palmer, of Stonehill Investments (left) and James J. Padilla, Jr., of MetroAg Services are two of the people responsible for creating this lot of urban agriculture and hope to plant flowers once the Pennycress is harvested this summer. Photo by Kimberly P. Mitchell/Detroit Free Press.

The goal is to use pennycress seeds to produce safe, clean fuel oil.

By John Gallagher
Detroit Free Press
June 8, 2014


Pennycress is a member of the mustard family that is planted in the fall and grows over the winter to be harvested in late spring, said Lance Stokes, the head of Metro Ag Services, a for-profit company that is behind the pennycress project. The goal is to use pennycress seeds to produce safe, clean fuel oil.

“Those seeds are what we’re going to harvest and crush and extract the oil to get the bio-diesel,” Stokes said.

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June 17, 2014   Comments Off

Video on planning your veggie garden by Vancouver’s Victory Gardeners

Video directed by Simon Redekop.

Victory Gardens wins $25,000 grant for educational YouTube series

Article by Randy Shore
Vancouver Sun
June 1, 2014


Vancouver’s urban farmers-for-hire are sharing their trade secrets for transforming city lots into organic food gardens in a new video series bank-rolled by a grant from the Co-operators Group.

Victory Gardens — a workers co-op run by Lisa Giroday, Sam Philips and Sandra Lopuch — won $25,000 to complete a five-video series based on the strength of a four-and-a-half minute pilot video that details how to plan garden space. Subsequent episodes will explain soil building, seeds and transplants, winter gardening and growing garlic.

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June 2, 2014   Comments Off

Flint, Michigan area urban agriculture report – May 14, 2014


Monthly urban agriculture reports produced by Michigan State Extension

By Terry McLean
Michigan State University Extension
May 14, 2014


According to research done at the MSU Hoop-houses at the Student Organic Farm, summer crops should now be planted in area hoop-houses, and the remaining cool season crops should be harvested. In the past few weeks, growers have planted peppers, basil, summer squash, cucumbers and tomatoes in their hoop-houses, which are all growing well along with some left over spring greens. Growers are keeping hoop-houses as open as possible to allow for maximum airflow during this warm, wet weather. They have been harvesting greens in alternating rows in order to allow for as much airflow as possible. In some wet beds, earlier bolting (than expected) on greens has occurred.

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May 27, 2014   Comments Off

Growing Food in a Short Season


Sustainable, Organic Cold-Climate Gardening

By Melanie J. Watts
Douglas and McIntyre
May 2014

Those fortunate enough to live in northern climes celebrate the warm summers blessed with some of the longest days of anywhere on earth—albeit for only a short season. This combination of a short temperate season and long hours of daylight presents a unique challenge for northern gardeners with hopes of harvesting before the autumn frosts arrive.

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May 25, 2014   Comments Off

Edible Perennial Gardening: Growing Successful Polycultures in Small Spaces


By Anni Kelsey
Permanent Publications
April 15, 2014

Excerpt from review by Rory Prendergast in Permaculture UK:

Anni Kelsey’s first book Edible Perennial Gardening is receiving great reviews from some eminent people such as permaculture author, Patrick Whitefield, Agroforestry Research Trust founder, Martin Crawford and the edible forest gardener, Eric Toensmeier. Their feedback is in advance of the book’s launch at the Edible Garden Show (28th-30th March) in London where the author will be speaking. The book details the many ways to grow perennials in low-maintenance polycultures, an ideal method for small urban or rural gardeners to grow year round delicious, unusual edibles that look beautiful too.

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April 1, 2014   Comments Off

The How-to-Guide for Aspiring Urban Micro-Agricultural Entrepreneurs


A free download

By Laura Thornton
Sustainable Urban Development
Published: 2012, Pages: 25

The How-to-Guide for Aspiring Urban Micro-Agricultural Entrepreneurs was created by Sustainable Urban Development for residents of West Philadelphia who want to increase their access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. The guide equips anyone interested in urban farming with the information they need to reclaim vacant lots in the city and build a for-profit urban farm.

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March 28, 2014   Comments Off

Say it with a heart-shaped tomato this Valentine’s Day!

Love is… a heart-shaped tomato. The moulds are being sold by Suttons Seeds in Devon.

Grow heart-shaped veggies for your lover as romantic moulds go on sale

By Deborah Arthurs
Daily Mail
Feb 10, 2014


People can now buy their weight-watching partners a healthy alternative to Valentine’s Day chocolates – heart shaped vegetable moulds.

The quirky contraption can slot over a variety of crops while they are on the stalk and makes them grow into the novel shape.

It can be used on many fruits and vegetables including cucumbers, tomatoes, squashes, lemons, mandarins, oranges, aubergines, and courgettes.

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February 13, 2014   Comments Off

One acre, 43,560 sq. ft., $43,560, a project at Virginia State University

Clif Slade answers questions while participants look at crop varieties at the $43,560 demonstration plot. (Image from VABF)

“It’s all following the field of urban agriculture. Farmers now are retired people coming back to land left to their families, retired engineers, or may live in an urban area and just want to help communities.” (Huff Post article)

Excerpt from Farm Bureau, Virginia

The 43,560 Initiative, a project at Virginia State University, seeks to illustrate ways to farm a small amount of land for a big payoff.

“There’s 43,560 square feet in an acre. Our objective is to gross that much from one acre. There have been books written about it, and we’re attempting a demonstration to see if you can do it. We’re trying to make a dollar per square foot, and you would net about half of that,” said William Crutchfield, field coordinator for VSU’s Small Farm Outreach Program.

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February 7, 2014   Comments Off

The Market Gardener


A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming

By Jean-Martin Fortier
New Society Publishers
March 2014

Les Jardins de la Grelinette is a micro-farm located in Eastern Quebec, just north of the American border. Growing on just 1.5 acres, owners Jean-Martin and Maude-Helene feed more than 200 families through their thriving CSA and seasonal market stands and supply their signature mesclun salad mix to dozens of local establishments. The secret of their success is the low-tech, high-yield production methods they’ve developed by focusing on growing better rather than growing bigger, making their operation more lucrative and viable in the process.

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February 3, 2014   Comments Off

The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects


76 Useful Things You Can Build to Create Customized Working Spaces and Storage Facilities, Equip the Garden, Store the Harvest, House Your Animals, and Make Practical Outdoor Furniture

By Spike Carlsen
Storey Publishing
2014 – coming in April

Homesteaders, gardeners, small farmers, and outdoor living enthusiasts will love these 76 DIY projects for practical outdoor items designed to help you live more sustainably and independently. Expert woodworker Spike Carlsen offers clear, simple, fully illustrated instructions for everything from plant supports and a clothesline to a potting bench, a chicken coop, a hoop greenhouse, a cold frame, a beehive, a root cellar with storage bins, and an outdoor shower. Most of the projects are suitable for complete novices, and all use just basic tools and standard building materials.

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January 24, 2014   Comments Off

Handbook For Home Gardening In Cambodia

cambhome garden

The Complete Manual For Vegetable And Fruit Production

Editorial Team:
Aminuzzaman Talukder (Writer/Editor)
Dora Panagides (Editor)
Hou Kroeun (Editor)
Regina Moench-Pfanner, M.Sc., Ph.D. (Editor) Saskia de Pee, Ph.D. (Editor)
Martin W. Bloem, M.D., Ph.D. (Editor)
2003 Helen Keller Worldwide – 112 pages


Foreword by Dora Panagides and Aminuzzaman Talukder

Homestead food production is a long-term, food-based strategy for combating micronutrient deficiencies, particularly vitamin A deficiency. A large proportion of people affected by micronutrient deficiencies can be found among the poor and marginalized populations of the developing world. The high cost of most micronutrient-rich foods available in consumer markets can limit their consumption in such populations. More than a third of Cambodians are living below the poverty level and many households face chronic food insecurity.

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December 24, 2013   Comments Off

New Minnesota school garden guide released


Colorful 268-page guide features 31 K-12 lessons linked to the state’s academic standards

The Associated Press
Minnesota School Gardens
Developed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture in the Classroom Program – Fall 2013
272 pages – free guide is available online
(Must read. Mike)

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Minnesota teachers have a new resource for planning, planting and harvesting gardens with their students.

Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom has published a guide for school gardens. The colorful 268-page guide features 31 K-12 lessons linked to the state’s academic standards in science, social studies, language arts, health and math.

The state agriculture department, which helped develop the guide, says it’s bursting with delicious ideas to build connections between the classroom, the school garden and the cafeteria.

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December 17, 2013   Comments Off