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Urban farms need financially sound business models to be truly sustainable


Before launching an urban farm, the producer should consider the effect of scale along with substantial production risks. Expect small, single digit returns on their investment with the need for development of an appropriate business strategy.

By Frank Gublo,
Michigan State University Extension
Posted on August 17, 2015


Every week Michigan State University Extension educators and MSU Product Center counselors receive inquiries about the feasibility of starting a farm. In recent years, the interest in sustainable urban agriculture as a tool for repurposing cities such as Detroit has grown but has produced few ventures at a commercial scale. Financial sustainability urban farm operations we see in southeast Michigan however is still questionable. This is due to the smaller scale, lower prices of fruit and vegetable crops, and the production management skills of the farmer-producer. The dream of becoming a full time urban farmer is a lofty goal that few will achieve. Strategy, realistic planning, and beautiful execution of the farm plans are critical in achieving a successful outcome.

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August 25, 2015   No Comments

Urban Agriculture In Minneapolis : Growing, Diversifying, Sustainable


“Organic certification is challenging for urban growers because they tend to be so dispersed.”

By Brian Martucci
The Line
August 18, 2015


The most visible examples of MSP’s small-scale urban ag movement are community gardens, where single people, families or small groups grow produce for themselves and, sometimes, a small farmers’ market stall. The region’s community gardening scene has exploded in recent years, with far too many individual gardens to name. Gardening Matters, an urban gardening and agriculture organization, maintains a comprehensive map of community gardens in Minneapolis and St. Paul using data supplied by the gardens themselves.

According to Gardening Matters’ annual Community Gardening in Minnesota: A Snapshot report, nearly 350 community gardens existed across MSP in 2014. Of those, more than 250 produced food. Most are owned and operated by city governments, nonprofit institutions, faith institutions or private individuals.

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August 24, 2015   No Comments

Civic Works’ Real Food Perlman Place farm in Northeast Baltimore

Alexander Harrell, production assistant, framed by popcorn plants. Civic Works’ Real Food Farm grows produce at their Perlman Place farm, located between North Avenue and Sinclair Lane. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

17 photos of Baltimore’s inner city farming

By Kim Hairston
Baltimore Sun
Aug 14, 2015


This is the first year in production for the Civic Works’ Real Food Perlman Place farm in Northeast Baltimore. Just over 20 varieties of vegetables, 5 types of fruit, and several herbs and ornamental plants have transformed vacant lots into productive land. According to their website, Civic Works’ Real Food Farms provide pesticide-free fresh food to people in nearby communities, train people for jobs help the watershed and educate local youth.

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August 24, 2015   No Comments

Massachusett’s man living off farm in his backyard

He brought in 30 chickens and a pair of goats.

Named after members of the band Metallica, the roosters were introduced to the menagerie to help Leonard produce new chicks to sustain his egg production.

By Jim Haddadin
North borough News
Aug 14, 2015


The bearded, shaggy-haired 27-year-old has begun to reap the fruits of his labor. Walking barefoot through his garden on Thursday, Leonard plucked a thick, green cucumber from a thicket of leaves sprawling across the ground. He trimmed a clump of 6-foot-tall weeds growing near an old swimming pool, tossing them over a fence to the hungry goats on the other side.

Leonard believes more than half of his food supply now comes from the operation.

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August 23, 2015   No Comments

West Virginia Department Of Agriculture’s Urban Farm Promotes Farming; Benefitting Manna Meal

West Virginia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick picks corn.

“Food pantries don’t see fresh products, they see canned foods. So this is just unbelievable, it’s exciting.”

By Kennie Bass
Aug 13 2015


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – An experimental Urban Farm program is providing valuable data to the Department of Agriculture, and fresh grown food to a population in need.

Right beside Riverside High School there is a three quarter acre plot of land being used to promote farming in places you might not expect. As a side bonus, the crops are feeding the hungry.

West Virginia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick picks corn and other vegetables from a plot his agency has been working all summer.

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August 23, 2015   No Comments

Not just an urban garden in Arlington — an urban farm

Ryan Lee at his Arlington Farm. Photo by Cristin Wilson.

Customers will pay him $500 a year and, in return, they’ll get a basket of whatever fresh vegetables are available during the growing season.

By Cristin Wilson
Jacksonville Com
Aug 12, 2015


Ryan Lee lives in a comfortable University Park home in Arlington, surrounded by other houses.
Which is why visitors are surprised to see his farm. Not just a garden … a farm.

During spring growing season, he has all sorts of vegetable plants to tend. And starting this year, he has sold the bounty at a stand, a welcome offering to people who come upon it as they drive down University Club Boulevard. Everything is freshly picked — he picks on Saturdays and sells on Sundays It’s all organic. And it’s a strange site in a city neighborhood — a true urban farm.

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August 22, 2015   No Comments

Afghan refugee leads game-changing urban farm in Cleveland

Mohammad Noormal came to Cleveland as a refugee in October 2014, after working for five years as a translator for the U.S. army in his home country of Afghanistan.

For Mohammad, the Garden and Farm project has opened the door to integration in Cleveland

By Raluca Besliu
Fresh Water
August 13, 2015


Mohammad is also the manager of a game-changing initiative for education, urban farming and refugee integration, the Learning Garden and Production Farm. Created as a collaboration between The Refugee Response and The Urban Community School (UCS), the Garden and Farm occupies six vacant parcels adjacent to the school. They act as a learning space, where children participate in hands-on lessons that complement and enhance the curriculum in a wide variety of subject areas, including math, art and science.

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August 22, 2015   No Comments

Founders of Gaia Gardens in Santa Fe quit urban farming in protest of city inaction

sant fe
Poki Piottin stands next to a farm stand in 2012 that he opened on Gaia Gardens. (Journal file)

“My hope is that our new ordinances will address situations like this one,” he mayor said

By Jackie Jadrnak
Albuquerque Journal
August 11, 2015


Poki Piottin, who founded and runs the gardens with Dominique Pozo, said the next three months of produce will be given away to people in need.

The decision followed a third meeting with city officials Monday asking him to close the property’s farm stand. “I have decided to stop farming in the city — in protest,” Piottin wrote in an email.

But the farm also has faced other problems.

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August 21, 2015   No Comments

Urban Agriculture: Food grown in the city – made in Germany

By DW (English)
Published on Aug 12, 2015

The world’s population is growing faster than expected. That makes the problem of food supplies more urgent than ever. One approach is to use urban spaces for farming. In the middle of Berlin, young entrepreneurs are growing organic vegetables.

August 20, 2015   No Comments

Farming Isn’t Just for the Country Anymore in North Omaha


Vandals dug up 15 dwarf fruit trees, “so that was a bit discouraging,” Callie said. But she’s not giving up.

WOWT News Omaha
Aug 7, 2015


North Omaha is showing signs of a new look. Abandoned and unsightly lots are being transformed into self-sustainable urban farms.

Calandra Ferguson Cooper may not look the part but she’s a USDA Registered Farmer. What makes her unique is that she farms in North Omaha.

She said, “I got tired of seeing all these vacant lots that were in North Omaha and I had an opportunity to buy some of the lots.”

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August 20, 2015   No Comments

Innovation is blooming at water-wise urban farms in Long Beach, California

longbManuel Cisneros, agricultural project coordinator at the Growing Experience in Long Beach, harvests a handful of sweet basil. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

The system, known as aquaponics, uses less water than traditional soil planting because very little water is lost to evaporation and none is absorbed into the ground.

By Katie Shepherd
LA Times
Aug 9, 2015


But for small farms nestled between city streets, saving water means recycling it — and finding new ways to keep plants alive without wasting the precious liquid.

Unlike the large industrial farms that give California its reputation as the salad bowl of the nation, urban farmers don’t have to let fields sit fallow to reduce water use. The small-scale operations leave room for more creative approaches to drought-friendly growing practices. For those producing and selling food in the city, the drought has provided opportunities as well as obstacles.

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August 19, 2015   No Comments

Urban Farmers from Chennai, India

The Urban Farmers have over 20 farms around the city, including Adyar and Nungambakkam. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

“What we have in mind right now is a dream to have a green city, a complete set of organic urban terrace farms in Chennai and the world,”

By Swetha Ramesh
The Hindu
August 8, 2015


The five men, Kern Agrawal, Kenneth Lowe, Karan Maheshwary, Ashwin Kurisinkal and Mathews Cherickal, collectively known as The Urban Farmers, came up with the idea of farming within the city as a business plan for their course. While researching, they felt that two things were terribly wrong in existing farms and agricultural areas. First, the amount of chemicals used was alarming. Second, of the total land they owned, farmers used only half for cultivation, and sold the rest of it to real estate dealers.

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August 19, 2015   No Comments

Enhancing gardens as habitats for flower-visiting aerial insects (pollinators): should we plant native or exotic species?


This experiment has shown that flowering garden plant assemblages can provide a resource for pollinators regardless of the plants’ origin and that the greater the resource available the more pollinators will visit.

By Andrew Salisbury, James Armitage1, Helen Bostock1, Joe Perry, Mark Tatchell and Ken Thompson
Journal of Applied Ecology
Aug 11, 2015



1. Domestic gardens typically consist of a mixture of native and non-native plants which support biodiversity and provide valuable ecosystem services, particularly in urban environments. Many gardeners wish to encourage biodiversity by choosing appropriate plant taxa. The value of native and non-native plants in supporting animal biodiversity is, however, largely unknown.

2. The relative value of native and non-native garden plants to invertebrates was investigated in a replicated field experiment. Plots (deliberately akin to garden borders) were planted with one of three treatments, representing assemblages of plants based on origin (native, near-native and exotic). Invertebrates and resource measurements were recorded over four years. This paper reports the abundance of flower-visiting aerial insects (‘pollinators’) associated with the three plant assemblages.

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August 18, 2015   Comments Off on Enhancing gardens as habitats for flower-visiting aerial insects (pollinators): should we plant native or exotic species?

Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer


Antonia Murphy, you might say, is an unlikely farmer. Born and bred in San Francisco, she spent much of her life as a liberal urban cliché, and her interactions with the animal kingdom rarely extended past dinner.

By Antonia Murphy
January 22, 2015
272 pages

“One month into our stay, we’d managed to dispatch most of our charges. We executed the chickens. One of the cats disappeared, clearly disgusted with our urban ways. And Lucky [the cow] was escaping almost daily. It seemed we didn’t have much of a talent for farming. And we still had eleven months to go.”

Antonia Murphy, you might say, is an unlikely farmer. Born and bred in San Francisco, she spent much of her life as a liberal urban cliché, and her interactions with the animal kingdom rarely extended past dinner.

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August 18, 2015   Comments Off on Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer

Raw Human Waste As Fertiliser For Urban Agriculture In Zimbabwe Linked To Typhoid And Cholera


In terms of the new draft law, no person would be allowed to use or allow the use of human excreta as fertiliser, while people would also be barred from irrigating vegetables and plants with raw waste water.

By Andrew Kunambura
All Africa
Aug 6, 2015


THE Harare City Council (HCC) is set for renewed tension with residents after it approved the amendment of a by-law that seeks to halt the rampant use of raw human waste as fertiliser.

The new by-law sailed through a full council meeting last Thursday and now awaits ministerial approval.

At law, all council by-laws have to be approved by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

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August 17, 2015   Comments Off on Raw Human Waste As Fertiliser For Urban Agriculture In Zimbabwe Linked To Typhoid And Cholera