New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'

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Michelle Obama opens the first-ever White House Pollinator Garden

The Sixth-Annual White House Garden Planting

By Elyse Cohen
White House Blog
Apr 3, 2014


Yesterday, the First Lady welcomed local students and FoodCorps leaders on the South Lawn for the sixth-annual planting of the White House Kitchen Garden. The garden was first planted in 2009 to commence a nationwide conversation on healthy eating and inspired the First Lady to launch Let’s Move!

At this year’s planting, the First Lady hosted the founders of FoodCorps, a program dedicated to teaching our nation’s children about healthy food while ensuring they have access to it during the school day.

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April 11, 2014   No Comments

Urban farming: full-time careers and a farm too

Raena and Rob Blusson balance their careers in Vancouver with farm life in the suburbs. Photo by Kelsey Klassen.

Raena and Rob Blusson both have full-time jobs in Vancouver, yet begin and end each day on their working 10-acre farm in Maple Ridge

Kelsey Klassen
April 9, 2014


For one Vancouver couple, the concept of farm-to-table didn’t exactly translate to dining at Fable a few nights each month.

In 2011, Raena and Rob Blusson made their urban farming dream a reality — purchasing a 10-acre plot of land in Maple Ridge while living and working downtown.

Three years later, the duo now wakes up every morning in Maple Ridge, tends to the animals and chores, and then rides the West Coast Express into the heart of Vancouver to continue their full-time careers in the mining sector.

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April 11, 2014   No Comments

Hydroponic, organic ‘Farm of the Future’ at the Great Park in Irvine

Alegría Farm at the Orange County Great Park. Click on image for larger file.

“Our goal is to show people how to grow superior produce within the urban environment while substantially reducing the impact of food production upon our planet”

Edited by Christopher Simmons
31 Mar 2014


The new Alegría Soxx farm consists of 13 rows of five Soxx each, for a total of 7,800 linear feet of growing space within an 8,500 square foot area (approximately one fifth of an acre). GardenSoxx drain easily and provide aeration and cooling to keep the root zone stable. The rich organic soil is supported within a controlled environment allowing greater nutrient density to be achieved and weed growth is reduced which decreases labor. Production yields are expected to be nearly double that of conventional farming. Water usage is estimated to be 70 percent less and fertilizer use 50 percent less. Other cost savings such as being weed-free are expected to increase the return on investment of the new urban micro farm.

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April 11, 2014   No Comments

The City of Chicago is selling vacant lots on the South Side for $1 until April 21, 2014


The Large Lot Program

The Large Lot Program is a City of Chicago neighborhood stabilization initiative to help homeowners, block clubs and non-profit groups in greater Englewood to purchase City-owned land for $1 per parcel.

The program is one of the recommendations of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Five-Year Housing Plan,” which will direct $1.3 billion in public spending from 2014-2018 to create, improve, and preserve more than 41,000 units of housing citywide. It’s also recommended in the Department of Planning and Development’s “Green Healthy Neighborhoods” plan, which identifies strategies to stablize greater Englewood with a variety of land use, infrastructure, and related initiatives.

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April 11, 2014   No Comments

Hong Kong’s fish farms in the sky

Lloyd Moskalik sells two tonnes of fish to wholesalers each week.

This is because as one of the most densely populated places in the world, there is simply very little spare space. So fish farms have to fit in where they can.

By Peter Shadbolt
BBC News
April 2, 2014


There are 11 plastic tanks in total, holding a combined 80,000 litres of salt water.

They are full of grouper, a white-fleshed fish, which are all destined to end up on the plates of restaurant-goers across Hong Kong.

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April 10, 2014   No Comments

A Little Piece of England – A Tale of Self-sufficiency – 35th Anniversary Edition


Why self-sufficiency now is as important as ever

A Little Piece of England
By John Jackson
Published by JJ Books
New hardback edition 2014
232 pages

Excerpt from the author’s blog post 14th March 2014:

It is with great pleasure that I look forward to the publication of JJ Books’ newest book – the hardback edition of ‘A Little Piece of England’.

It is thirty-five years since the book was first published as ‘A Bucket of Nuts and a Herring Net’, and even longer since I wrote it. I can still very clearly remember writing the book – something that I did in the winter of 1977 – mainly at the kitchen table when everyone else was in bed and the house was quiet, between midnight and two in the morning.

I and my family had found it immensely exciting and rewarding to work on developing our own smallholding, and the project took us further than any of us had anticipated. We learned a huge amount from it, and it has turned out to have had a lasting effect on all of us. I wanted to keep a record of the experiences our family shared – and I am very glad that I did.

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April 10, 2014   No Comments

Korea: Number of city farmers surged to 440,000 from 287,000

Residents of Dunchon in Gangdong-gu, Seoul, grow vegetables at a farm opened by the district office. Photo by Gangdong District Office.

Urban farming spreads fast in Korea with growing interest in healthy lifestyle, food safety and environment

By Cho Chung-un
Korea Herald
Mar 28, 2014

Figures provide a glimpse into the growing popularity of urban farming. According to the Seoul city government, the number of city farms surged dramatically from 66 in 2010 to 2,056 last year. Abundant media coverage also reflects this unusual interest. The number of articles published by local newspapers on urban farming surpassed the 1 million mark in 2012 from 200,000 in 2010, according to a study by local think tank Seoul Institute.

Then where is Seoul’s zeal for urban farming coming from? Ahn Cheol-hwan, representative of the Association of City Farmers in Korea, stresses the “unstoppable” human instinct to return to nature.

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April 10, 2014   No Comments

ARUP’s ‘Cities Alive’ – 3.1 Integrating Urban Food

Eco-city, China by Arup.

Report envisages cities of the future as integrated networks of intelligent green spaces, designed to improve the health and wellbeing of citizens.

Cities Alive
April 2014
160 pages

Excerpt: Pages. 85-89

“Rooftop farms in some of the world’s most crowded cities, including Hong Kong, New York and Tokyo, are adding green to the gray. They are reconnecting city dwellers with nature, teaching consumers about homegrown food and offering a glimpse, perhaps, of a more secure and sustainable food supply.”
—Mary Hui, New York Times (2012)

Many commentors now predict that we will see peak food around the world in the next two decades— we will begin to consume more food than we can possibly produce. Following that, alternatives to the current model of mass agriculture will have to be found. A big potential for an alternative model lies within the idea of the natural city.

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April 9, 2014   No Comments

City agriculture sprouts in Korea

Weekend farm (Yonhap).

According to the Seoul Agricultural Technology Center, rooftop gardens are expected to save people about 16.6 percent on heating and cooling costs

By Suk Gee-hyun
The Korea Herald
Mar 28, 2014


A growing number of schools in major cities are teaching these lessons by making gardens in empty spaces or on rooftops. In Seoul, a total of 62 schools were offered related subsidies and educational guides by the city government last year.

Among Korean schools joining the move, Myeongeok Elementary School in Daegu won the top prize in a school farming competition hosted by the Rural Development Administration in 2013.

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April 9, 2014   No Comments

Farming in the city in Vietnam

A group of farmers take a break with tea and coffee during their harvesting in Ward 28 in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Also see video within the article.

Only a 30 minute motorbike ride from the center of Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Thanh District’s Ward 28 in the Thanh Da peninsula offers a different look at an inner city due to its rural appearance.

By Minh Vu – Dong Nguyen


The small road leading to Ward 28 separates it from the nearby crowd of cafes, restaurants, hotels, and resorts.

For people who desire a breath of fresh air away from the city, a visit to the paddy fields in Ward 28 is ideal.

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April 9, 2014   No Comments

FAO report on urban and peri-urban agriculture in Latin American cities


Havana, Mexico City, Antigua and Barbuda, Tegucigalpa, Managua, Quito, Lima, El Alto (Bolivia), Belo Horizonte (Brazil) and Rosario (Argentina)

April 2014
(Must read. Mike)

FAO has put online a new report on urban and peri-urban agriculture in the Latin America and Caribbean region. The report, entitled “Growing Greener Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean”, reviews the progress that has been made toward realizing “greener cities” in which urban and peri-urban agriculture is recognized by public policy, included in urban development strategies, supported by agricultural research and extension, and linked to sources of training, technological innovation, investment and credit, and to urban markets and consumers.

The report is available in English and Spanish. It is based on an FAO survey of UPA in 110 of the region’s towns, municipalities and cities. It includes in-depth profiles of agriculture as it is practised today in and around Havana, Mexico City, Antigua and Barbuda, Tegucigalpa, Managua, Quito, Lima, El Alto (Bolivia), Belo Horizonte (Brazil) and Rosario (Argentina).

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April 9, 2014   No Comments

Free Webinar Will Focus on Urban Farming Viability

Woman and Wheelbarrow; Les Heures du Boulvé – Anthony Gross, born 1905 – died 1984 (artist).

“Urban Farms: Commercial Farms or Socially Minded Operations?” April 29, 2014

Carolyn Dimitri, Associate Professor of Food Studies at NYU Steinhardt
Andy Pressman, National Center for Appropriate Technology Sustainable Agriculture Specialist

Local food was once considered to be in the purview of consumers and small-scale producers. Recently, policymakers, including those residing in cities, began embracing local food systems as a solution to a myriad of urban problems, including lack of green space and a dearth of healthy food availability. As part of this shift in policy, cities and other jurisdictions have embraced production in the urban environment.

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April 8, 2014   No Comments

Seminario: Agricultura Periurbana – Argentina

Huertas Colectivas Urbanos (2003) Municipio deRosario.

El Programa Agricultura Urbana es una instancia de trabajo colectivo entre agentes del ámbito público y privado que opera en los límites de la urbe Rosarina y ha cambiado la cara de algunas zonas de la ciudad, antiguamente abandonadas y sin planes de uso de su suelo.

Profesora: Dra. Ada Svetlitza de Nemirovsky Estudiante: Lic. Prof. Juan Pablo Sarjanovich
Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales


Comenzaron siendo unos 800 huerteros. En baldíos y hasta en patios armaban su huerta. Hoy ya mejor organizados cuentan con unos 100 espacios de distintas magnitudes, algunos de varias hectáreas como los casos de Circunvalación y Ayacucho o Circunvalación y Lamadrid. Los espacios los trabajan de manera individual no colectiva y pueden llegar a ser de hasta media hectárea. Todos se encuentran en la periferia de la ciudad, en su mayoría en los alrededores de los viejos límites de la ciudad, osea el anillo que demarca la avenida Circunvalación. Así es que están ganado un enorme espacio en la zona de la autovía Circunvalación, frente al terreno de Servicios Portuarios s.a. Allí montaron un emprendimiento que está en plan piloto y que consta de varias huertas a lo largo de 5 kms de la colectora de dicha autovía.

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April 8, 2014   No Comments

Seoul City Farmers – Korea


Urban Farmers’ Meetup

Seoul, Korea (South)
Founded May 8, 2013


Seoul City Farmers is a group for all people! Especially people who are interested in… ~ growing food (plants, animals or bees) in the city ~ learning about the food system ~ cooking and sharing recipes ~ sharing urban-eco resources ~ exploring the local green community and local farms ~ and much more! Let’s meet and share our ideas, interests and information on urban farming related topics.

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April 8, 2014   No Comments

Reclaim Urban Farm in Edmonton, Alberta

Urban farmers Ryan Mason and Cathryn Sprague. Lone Acacia Photography.

Reclaim has approximately 15 plots slated for use during the upcoming season

By Meaghan Baxter
VUE Weekly
March 26, 2014


Sprague and Mason acknowledge securing land—and permission from the city—was a simple task, as many of the land owners are individuals who do not have time to maintain a garden themselves but value the fresh produce that comes with it, or seniors who are no longer physically able to manage the upkeep themselves.

“Our model is really focusing on community as well, so really being able to connect with the land owners and have a relationship with people who own the land as well,” Mason notes, adding a shout out to the land owners, without whom Reclaim wouldn’t exist. “Lots of the land owners have said, ‘I’m interested in learning how to grow food,’ so they’ll be involved in some way, even if it’s just coming and looking over our shoulder every once in a while. It creates immediate relationships and food connections.”

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April 7, 2014   No Comments