New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
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Category — Land

Are your urban veggies really toxic?

1932AmerGirl

The New York State Department of Health, along with those same soil-researchers at Cornell, put together a list of 10 best practices for healthy gardening in and around contaminated urban soils.

By Liz Core
Grist
21 Nov 2014

Excerpt:

Vigil told me that the farms have soil tested every year for lead levels, and the results have always come out safe. So when the press started railing against the toxic dangers of his veggies, Vigil was put off (OK, he was royally ticked). He wrote an open letter about what’s really going on and how urban farmers are handling soil toxins. Here’s a taste:

In the past two years we have partnered with the Department of Sanitation to distribute over 5,000 bags of NYC Compost to East New York gardens, and applied over 10 cubic yards of new compost to our farm.

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December 11, 2014   No Comments

First Generation Farmers’ Farm Incubator Program

Our nonprofit community farm wants to launch one of the largest incubator programs in the country to train younger farmers.

By Alli Cecchini
Kickstarter
Dec 2, 2014

Excerpt from Kickstarter:

Have a small demonstration garden plus 50 acres of fertile, irrigated land in California’s East Bay Area. Right now we’re farming winter crops on five acres but we want to take full advantage of our land.

Provide weekly hands-on organic farming activities at our demonstration garden with special needs adults and high schoolers and host field trips.

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December 7, 2014   No Comments

Cows in your Backyard? The challenges and opportunities of near urban agriculture

carriemarill
Painting bycCarrie Marill.

Only five per cent of Ontario’s land base is suitable for farming and we are losing agriculturally productive land at an alarming rate. According to Statistics Canada, we lost 260,000 hectares of farmland between 2006 and 2011. Our food security depends on us protecting farmlands for future generations.

Greenbelt Program Manager
Environmental Defence
Nov 18, 2014

Excerpt:

Consider the case of Vaughan resident and farm owner Gilllian Evans. Located in the Greenbelt, Gill’s family farm has been in the family for generations. The farm is right next door, to a proposed housing development. The development includes land within the Greenbelt but as the development application pre-dated the Greenbelt legislation it can go ahead. Gill has been trying to gain support from Vaughan Council to provide buffers between the new housing development and her existing farm.

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November 26, 2014   Comments Off

First-of-Its-Kind Study Shows Which Neighborhoods in Chicago Have the Most Gardens

chigdots
University of Illinois researchers analyzed high-resolution satellite images found and found more than 4,000 gardens in the city, and plotted them on a map.

“We decided to scan the entire land area of Chicago looking for gardens that hadn’t been reported on any list: backyard gardens, utility right of ways and other things that I could see in Google Earth.”

By Casey Cora
DNA Info
October 28, 2014

Excerpt:

In addition to the residential gardens, researchers identified community gardens, urban farms and gardens outside schools. Factor those in and the number of Chicago’s food-producing gardens swells to 4,648 — and that’s not counting the small gardens invisible to Google Earth.

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October 28, 2014   Comments Off

Urban Farms Disappearing in the Goleta Valley

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Environmental benefits provided by urban agriculture include decreased resource consumption and consequently, less waste.

Environmental Defense Center
Sept 24, 2014

Excerpts:

This report focuses on the importance of protecting the few remaining parcels of agriculture within the urban boundaries of the Eastern Goleta Valley. “There are benefits to urban agriculture being located adjacent to homes, schools, transportation centers, etc. (e.g. local job creation, reducing the heat island effect, reductions in storm water runoff, and the health benefits of having fresh locally grown food available).

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October 2, 2014   Comments Off

Santa Fe Urban farm creates Land Trust to preserve land and affordable housing for future generations

This 3.5-acre rental property is now threatened with foreclosure

Excerpt from Indiegogo site:

Since 2012 we have been operating Gaia Gardens, a nonprofit certified organic farm, on a leased parcel of land in Santa Fe. With the support of a large group of friends and neighbors, we have turned a parched and neglected landscape into a colorful urban oasis, cultivating an acre of land in the middle of town and galvanizing a powerful community around it. This 3.5-acre rental property is now threatened with foreclosure. To preserve this unique piece of land, continue our educational mission and provide affordable housing for future generations, we intend to buy the farm property and hold it clear of real estate speculation. To do so, we have created the Mil Abrazos (One Thousand Hugs) Community Land Trust, a nonprofit, to purchase the property.

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September 20, 2014   Comments Off

The Hidden Dangers of Lead in Urban Gardens

leadcity
Click on image for larger file. Fig. 1. A vacant lot urban farm highlighting abiotic challenges of urban agriculture, including: elevated atmospheric concentrations of industrial pollutants (A), elevated atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from traffic emissions (B), contaminated storm water runoff (C), Pb-contaminated soils adjacent to aging housing stock (e.g., paint chips) (D), soils contaminated by heavy metals and/or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (E), unpredictable access to municipal water sources (F), potentially contaminated recycled water sources (e.g., rainwater harvesting) (G), reduced light and wind speed due to the built environment (H), increased mechanical heat (e.g., air conditioners) (I), and increased surface temperatures from pavement and rooftops (J). Credits: This illustration from Sam Worman’s study shows the myriad challenges of urban gardeners, including lead sources.

When Ryan Kuck’s young twins both tested positive for elevated lead levels in their blood he was worried — but not surprised.

By Karen Pinchin
Modern Farmer
July 28, 2014

Excerpt:

When it comes to remediation, there are a few ways to deal with the problem. One is cap-and-fill (covering over an existing lot with cement, then trucking in soil and building a garden overtop), which is preferred by many municipal governments, simply because it buries the problem, says Wortman. There is also phytoremediation, in which plants slightly better at absorbing lead, like mustards and sunflowers, are planted on vacant land, then harvested and disposed of over a long period of time. While this technique is trendy right now, probably because it feels like “using nature to heal nature,” Wortman says it isn’t practical or effective.

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August 5, 2014   Comments Off

Urban farmers now opting to rent, not buy, land

loveis

The movement is creating a new generation of landless farmers

By Emily Schneider-Green
Atlanic Magazine
7/9/2014

Excerpt:

One of the city’s most well-known landless farmers is Joe Reynolds of Love is Love Farm. A lack of capital to buy his own farm plus a need to relocate closer to the city pushed Reynolds to apply for the plot of farmland in the Decatur East Lake Commons co-housing community its residents had set aside for organic farming. He’s now the resident tenant farmer at Gaia Gardens in East Lake.

“Not having to buy land allows farmers to really hit the ground running with very little investment,” explains Reynolds. “Without taking out large loans, you can get your crops growing and learn whether or not farming is something you want to do.”

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July 22, 2014   Comments Off

Urban Agriculture – Innovative water recirculation systems

freshc
Fresh City workers trim sprouts. Credit: Fresh City.

How urban agriculture set-ups cultivate local produce with the help of innovative water recirculation systems.

By Saul Chernos
Water Canada
May 12, 2014

Excerpt:

“We’re trying to reduce our footprint on the environment as much as we possibly can,” explains Lauren Rathmell, a founding member who oversees Lufa’s greenhouse operations. She says Lufa’s hydroponic greenhouses use up to 90 per cent less water than comparable ones that don’t recirculate. “It’s all automated. We irrigate most of our plants using drip lines set up where we water the plants from above. Water that’s not taken up by the plants and doesn’t evaporate is captured, sent down to our collection tank, filtered, and reused.” Some plants, mostly the lettuces, grow with their roots submerged entirely in gently flowing water, continuously irrigated. Others sit in soilless coconut husk grow sacs.

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May 26, 2014   Comments Off

Here’s How Young Farmers Looking For Land Are Getting Creative

farmlocal
Chris and Sara Guerre are among a growing number of farmers renting land to grow local food to sell. They’ve been at the Maple Avenue Market Farm on rented land in Great Falls, Va., for five years.

“Acquiring land is honestly probably the easiest part of doing all this. It’s the commitment, the stamina, learning how to do it and doing it every single day: That’s the hard part.”

By Dan Charles
NPR
December 31, 2013

Excerpt:

Across the country, there’s a wave of interest in local food. And a new generation of young farmers is trying to grow it.

Many of these farmers — many of whom didn’t grow up on farms — would like to stay close to cities. After all, that’s where the demand for local food is.

The problem is, that’s where land is most expensive. So young farmers looking for affordable land are forced to get creative.

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January 8, 2014   Comments Off

Modern Farmer Magazine – Farm to Table

modernf
Latest Issue 02 – Fall 2013

Modern Farmer Magazine Capitalizes on a Trend

By Christine Haughney
New York Times
September 17, 2013

Excerpt:

When a fledgling magazine gets former President Bill Clinton to contribute an article, you would think he would be featured on the cover. But the cover model for the current issue of the quarterly Modern Farmer is a sleepy-looking goat. Mr. Clinton is mentioned between articles on outer space farming and soil cuisine.

The magazine, which offers advice on building a corn maze and articles on the effect of climate change on lettuce and oysters, is trying to carve out a new niche on the newsstand.

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September 21, 2013   Comments Off

The Lawn Goodbye

lawngoodb
Michael and Jennifer Foti’s once unproductive front yard gets a makeover. Photo by Fritz Haeg.

Americans spend more than 30 billion dollars on lawn care each year

By Arnie Cooper
Dwell

Excerpt:

“Flip through any Greek cookbook with a decent number of pictures and you’re instantly aware that tomatoes and eggplants are 50 percent of the ingredients,” she says. And when they tired of moussaka, Jennifer whipped up Indian recipes like masala green beans with fenugreek and bhagan bharta, an eggplant dish. It was, however, her grandmother’s “Chicago Hots,” a relish made with cherry tomatoes, celery, bell pepper, and onion that turned out to be the most popular.

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September 7, 2013   Comments Off

Since 2009, the Los Angeles has paid $1.4 million to homeowners willing to rip out their front lawns

lawnla
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

Excerpt:

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.

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August 15, 2013   Comments Off

Urban Agriculture In Asia: Lessons From Japanese Experience

urfarmJap
Urban Farm, Japan. Photo by S. Bennett.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) estimates that about 1.1 million ha of farmland exist in “urban-like areas” and are producing ¥2.6 trillion worth of products.

By Kunio Tsubota
Paper Presented During the International Workshop on Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture in the Asian and Pacific Region Held in the Philippines on 22-26 May 2006

Excerpt:

Development Of Urban Agriculture-Related Issues And Policy Responses In Japan

As in most other Asian countries, majority of Japanese people have been living in limited alluvial plains or basins and agriculture used to be the major economic activity. Towns have developed as trading centers or castle towns of feudal landlords in these areas. Except in Kyoto and Nara, no well-organized city plans have been applied in Japan. Urban areas have expanded naturally to outward agricultural and forest areas. Virtually no clear borders have been marked between towns and countryside.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi gained full control of Japan in the late 16th century and conducted a comprehensive farmland survey nationwide. Each plot of farmland in the village was registered, by which farmers were tied up with land and feudal taxes. During the Edo era (1603-1868), Tokyo (Edo) and Osaka developed as mega cities with estimated population of 1 million each. However, most of current urban areas of these cities were still pure rural villages producing vegetables and rice.

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June 21, 2013   Comments Off

Police find 20 marijuana plants growing in downtown community garden in Charleston, South Carolina

potgarden
The unofficial community garden at Robert Mills Manor on Logan Street in Charleston where 20 mairijuana plants were found.

“The plants didn’t appear to have been there long.”

Glenn Smith
Post and Courier
May 2, 2013

Excerpt:

Charleston police are trying to determine how 20 marijuana plants ended up growing in a community garden near a downtown public housing complex.

Police were tipped off Monday that someone was growing the pot in a plot near 105 Logan St., in Robert Mills Manor, home to 222 families.

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May 3, 2013   Comments Off