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Category — Land

The Hidden Dangers of Lead in Urban Gardens

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

War on Weeds in Rural Canadian Municipalities

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After their plants died in 2010, David Neufeld (pictured) and Maggie Andres rediscovered that the herbicide Tordon 101 was used in nearby ditches. Photo by Maggie Andres.

Manitoba farmers grappling with impacts and legality of municipal herbicide use

By Larry Powell
The Dominion
Feb 19, 2013

Excerpt:

There, they became the first and only producers in the province at the time to market certified organic seedlings, such as tomatoes, peppers and medicinal herbs, to fellow growers. Over the years, their rural homestead became a gathering point for others who shared their passion for a simpler way of living.

While no longer officially certified as organic, the two were still producing their plants without the use of chemicals when tragedy struck in 2010. To their horror, as Neufeld put it, “Every single one of our plants curled up grotesquely and died!” He estimates this resulted in a revenue loss of $10,000.

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February 20, 2013   Comments Off

Urban Gardening and Lead Exposure – University of Cincinnati


Tips for growing safely in the city and preventing childhood lead poisoning

University of Cincinnati Health and Medical News

Bill Menrath – Lead expert and Senior Research Associate, UC Department of Environmental Health

Nick Newman, DO – Director, Pediatric Environmental Health and Lead Clinic, cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Lead experts from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center talk about ways to reduce the risk of lead exposure when gardening on city plots.

February 2, 2013   Comments Off

Metro Vancouver cities want idle farmland replanted

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Kent Mullinix, Director Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security at the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, looks over some under used land in Richmond on Wednesday. Photo by Ian Lindsay.

More crops, better processing would keep billions of food dollars in the Vancouver Lower Mainland says researcher

By Randy Shore
Vancouver Sun
Jan 31, 2013

Excerpt:

“If the available underutilized ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve) land was put to use in these small-scale, human-intensive farm operations, they could satisfy Surrey’s demand for 24 commonly consumed crops and animal products, create almost 2,500 jobs, and contribute over $173 million in gross receipts to Surrey’s agriculture sector, more than doubling the current size of the industry in Surrey,” the Kwantlen report states.

It was commissioned by Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts to estimate the economic potential of fallow land. City staff have been creating a strategy based on that document. It will come to council in the next few weeks, she said.

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January 31, 2013   Comments Off

Detroit City Council tables sale of east side land for farm

Proposed sale of about 177 acres to Hantz for $520,000

By Chad Halcom and Dustin Walsh
Crain’s Detroit
Nov 21, 2012

The Detroit City Council tabled for now the proposed sale of 1,956 city-owned lots to Hantz Woodlands LLC, and will hold a public hearing on John Hantz’s plan to develop a tree farm on Detroit’s east side.

The council, after hearing citizen feedback on the purchase, agreed to reschedule the proposed sale of about 177 acres to Hantz for $520,000. The lots are on the near east side between Van Dyke and St. Jean Street and Jefferson and Mack Avenue.

The council expects to take the issue up again at its meeting Dec. 11.

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November 21, 2012   Comments Off

Kind of Like ‘eFarmony’: Matching Farmers with Urban Landowners for Fun and Profit


Chris Costa and one of her chickens on her farm in Downingtown, Pa. Costa and her partner, T.J., found the land for this farm through a sustainable agriculture program. Emma Lee/WHYY.

Landowners and aspiring farmers can meet each other – kind of like speed dating, but for agriculture.

By Emma Jacobs
NPR
November 12, 2012

Excerpt:

Many farmers want their farms to be located close to a city – especially organic farmers who’d like to sell their produce at big urban farmers markets. But the price of land within range of a big city is sky high and only getting higher.

Most small farmers buy their land, but some are now looking to lease in suburban or exurban areas. And to do that, they’re using something straight out of Fiddler On The Roof: A matchmaker.

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November 14, 2012   Comments Off

Mapping public and private spaces of urban agriculture in Chicago through the analysis of high-resolution aerial images in Google Earth


Fig. 2. Examples of Google Earth reference images used to identify sites of food production in the city of Chicago: (A) community garden on the city’s far south side and (B) residential garden on the near south side.

The production area of home gardens identified by the study is almost threefold that of community gardens.

By John R. Taylor, Sarah Taylor Lovell
Landscape and Urban Planning
Vol 108, Issue 1
Oct 2012 pages 57-70
Purchase $41.95

Abstract

Although always a part of city life, urban agriculture has recently attracted increased attention from diverse groups in the United States, which promote it as a strategy for stimulating economic development, increasing food security and access, and combatting obesity and diabetes, among other goals. Developing effective policies and programs at the city or neighborhood level demands as a first step the accurate mapping of existing urban agriculture sites. Mapping efforts in major U.S. cities have been limited in their focus and methodology. Focusing on public sites of food production, such as community gardens, they have overlooked the actual and potential contribution of private spaces, including home food gardens, to local food systems. This paper describes a case study of urban agriculture in Chicago which used the manual analysis of high-resolution aerial images in Google Earth in conjunction with ArcGIS to identify and map public and private spaces of food production.

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October 11, 2012   Comments Off