New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'

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Report predicts value of London’s edible gardens at £1.4 million – and counting

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“We know that London can’t feed itself but the aim of this initiative was to see just how much food we can grow…”

Capital Growth
A Sustain Publication
July 2014

London’s food growing gardens and urban farms are producing food worth at least £1.4 million per year, according to a new report published today by Capital Growth, London’s food growing network. Using data collected by a sample of 160 food growing spaces located in community gardens, schools, allotments, parks and farms across the capital, the report shows how veg patches all over London are putting fresh, seasonal and ultra-local food on thousands (and potentially millions) of plates.

The weights of community-grown fruit, vegetables, honey and eggs were recorded by members of the Capital Growth food growing network, which has over 2,000 registered spaces, many based in low-income areas of London. “We know that London can’t feed itself but the aim of this initiative was to see just how much food we can grow, and we have been able to use our innovative online Harvest-ometer tool to record the harvest of a wide range of different growing spaces,” explained Sarah Williams from Capital Growth. “The response has been extremely positive, with about one tenth of our member spaces clocking up over £150,000 of produce during the course of a year, and contributing portions of healthy fruit and veg to over a quarter-of-a-million meals”

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August 13, 2014   No Comments

Letter: Friendlier permitting needed for urban agriculture in Encinitas, California

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Coral Tree Farm & Nursery. Family owned and operated urban farm in Encinitas since 1958 offering CSA and open to the public to purchase organic eggs, fruits, and veggies.

I left the City of Encinitas’ first urban agriculture subcommittee meeting feeling frustrated by the city’s position on small farms.

By Anna Young, a Leucadia resident.
Excinitas Advocate
Aug 1, 2014

Excerpt:

There seems to be a giant disconnect between the city’s vision (preserving its agricultural heritage and the environment) and current planning department’s approach. The City Council is in the process of rewriting the framework for urban agriculture. I hope that in the interim the city will allow historic Coral Tree Farm to continue to exist.

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August 12, 2014   No Comments

Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers

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From left, Josiah Venter, Noah Patrone-Werdiger and Toby Fischer remove rocks at Ro-Jo Farms in Bethany, Conn. Photo by Lili Holzer-Glier for The New York Times.

“In urban areas, supporting your local farmer may actually mean buying produce from former hedge fund managers or tax lawyers who have quit the rat race to get some dirt under their fingernails.”

By Bren Smithaug
New York Times
Aug. 9, 2014

Excerpt:

The dirty secret of the food movement is that the much-celebrated small-scale farmer isn’t making a living. After the tools are put away, we head out to second and third jobs to keep our farms afloat. Ninety-one percent of all farm households rely on multiple sources of income. Health care, paying for our kids’ college, preparing for retirement? Not happening. With the overwhelming majority of American farmers operating at a loss — the median farm income was negative $1,453 in 2012 — farmers can barely keep the chickens fed and the lights on.

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August 12, 2014   No Comments

How Urban Agriculture Builds Food Security in Rainier Valley, Seattle

rainierPhoto credit: Just Garden Project.

One 4×8 foot raised bed allows a family to grow up to $200 worth of food each growing season.

By Curbed Staff
Seattle Curbed
July 29, 2014

Excerpt:

Started in 2010, the Just Garden Project, a program run by Seattle Tilth, has built more than 100 gardens for low-income households throughout King County – providing nutritious food for more than 2,000 people. The Just Garden Project subsidizes the construction of gardens for low-income residents at the cost of $25 for one raised garden bed, which includes construction, seeds, a growing guide, and free gardening classes – a small price to pay for a tool that will allow families to sustainably feed themselves over a long period of time.

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August 12, 2014   No Comments

Pacific Institute says California drought one of the most severe on record

calwaterUntapped Savings. Click on image for larger file.

Affecting urban areas, ecosystems, and agriculture.

By Pacific Institute
August 2014

60% of the state is experiencing exceptional drought – the most severe drought category. – and it is only getting worse since it will be another 2-3 months before the rainy season.

Since January 2014, 3800 wildfires have burned 44,000 acres in California, compared to an average of 2,800 wildfires burning 35,200 acres on average.

Currently, more than 58% of the state is now considered to be in exceptional drought, up from 37% last week.

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August 11, 2014   No Comments

Sustainable Urban Agriculture in Cuba

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Sinan Koont has spent the last several years researching urban agriculture in Cuba, including field work at many sustainable farms on the island.

By Sinan Koont
University Press of Florida (December 11, 2011)
Sinan Koont is associate professor of economics at Dickinson College.
A volume in the series Contemporary Cuba, edited by John M. Kirk
208 pages

“Pushed by necessity but enabled by its existing social and educational policies, Cuba in the 1990s launched the most extensive program of urban sustainable agriculture in the world. This study is to date the only book-length investigation in either English or Spanish of this important national experiment in transforming the environmental, economic, and social nature of today’s dominant system of producing food.”—Al Campbell, University of Utah

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August 11, 2014   No Comments

Jack Dog Farms: Urban farming in South Minneapolis

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Jack Dog Farms uses the community-supported-agriculture (CSA) model for generating income

By Judy Peacock
Twin Cities Daily Planet
August 01, 2014

Excerpt:

Urban farmers Corrine Bruning and Justin Wells started Jack Dog Farms in 2013 and named it after their 9-year-old German shepherd, Jack. Next-door neighbor Zhen-Qi Acupuncture (2213 E. 38th St.) leases the property to them.

In just one year, Corrine and Justin have transformed a vacant, unproductive lot on a busy street into a welcoming green space for fruits, veggies, herbs, and flowers. A visitor to their urban farm will see neat plots of dirt separated by grass. Each plot contains a different crop—familiar ones like tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and onions, and some not so familiar like arugula, kale, chard, and bok choi. A nearby fire hydrant provides water.

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August 11, 2014   No Comments

Young farmers thrive in Surrey BC’s urban jungle

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Doug Zaklan and Gemma McNeill want to inspire other young people to take up farming. Photo by Nick Eagland.

“We’re looking at what the opportunities are for incubating young farmers and people who are engaged in agriculture, and how as a city we can form an innovation centre that will help them become landowners and farmers on their own,” said Linda Hepner.

By Nick Eagland
Vancouver Sun
August 8, 2014

Excerpt:

Zaklan and McNeill know what it’s like to have urban neighbours — Zaklan Heritage Farm, an eight-acre parcel of land that has been in the Zaklan family since 1928, is surrounded by townhouses and industrial buildings. Zaklan is grateful his family didn’t sell the land to developers, but wishes others had his fortune.

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August 10, 2014   No Comments

Project envisions city-style farm in Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Project would feature hydroponic gardens, retail spaces in old shipping containers

By Jessica Dyer
Albuquerque Journal
July 31, 2014

Excerpt:

Roy Solomon sees green in a sea of pavement.

He pictures fruits and flowers thriving amid the cacophony of freeway traffic, and a small – and somewhat unconventional – retail center growing up with them.

Solomon, an Albuquerque businessman and veteran restaurateur, plans to develop a farm-centric retail project on a vacant 1 1/2-acre plot just north of the Carlisle off-ramp from westbound Interstate 40.

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August 10, 2014   No Comments

‘Urban Agriculture and Food Activism’ at The New School, New York City

brooklyngrange2014Photo taken at Brooklyn Grange.

This Food Studies course is open to the public via The New School’s non-credit Continuing Education program, as well as to matriculating students.

Beginning August 27, 2014
Wednesdays, 4 – 5:50 pm,
Kristin Reynolds, Ph.D.
Lecturer, Environmental Studies and Food Studies
The New School

Course Description:

This course explores urban agriculture’s role in the urban environment, both internationally and in the United States. As a class, we examine various forms, functions, organizational models, and motivations for engaging in city farming and gardening. We consider how forms such as community gardens, community farms, school gardens, and commercial urban agriculture have been integrated into the urban fabric to produce social and environmental benefits.

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August 10, 2014   No Comments

Saving the farm in Karang Gadon, Denpasar, Bali

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Saving city farms: This rice farm, just eight kilometers from the city of Denpasar, is protected under a subak agreement. Adding terati or water lilies to rice field farming supplies extra income for farmers and helps keep them on the land.

At almost US$60,000 per 100 square meters, land near Bali’s capital city, Denpasar, is up there with some of the most expensive in the province.

Trisha Sertori
The Jakarta Post
July 31 2014

Excerpt:

This figure is driving a boom in the housing industry and get-rich-quick schemes for middlemen, known locally as makler, some of whom work on the shady side of the law, impersonating officers from land agencies to con farmers into selling.

Holding out against the pressure applied by these makler is no easy task for farmers strapped for cash still working their lands near the city.

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August 9, 2014   No Comments

10 Urban Farms in St. Louis

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Gateway Garlic Urban Farm owner Mark Brown his Spanish Roja garlic. Photo by Caroline Yoo.

“I enjoy introducing people to new varieties of produce, such as the three kinds of carrots I planted this year — ‘Amarillo Yellow,’ ‘Cosmic Purple’ and ‘Scarlet Nantes,’” says Ezel Stone Urban Farm owner Thomas Hood.

By Sara Graham
St Louis Riverfront Times
Jul. 31 2014

Excerpt:

When you think of a “farm,” you likely imagine a sweeping vista of corn, soybean and wheat fields. And this is, in fact, what you see on much of Missouri’s more than 27 million acres of rural farmland. However, there is rapidly growing interest in producing food closer to where we live, in the urban cores of our major cities. Previously abandoned lots and underutilized rooftops are being transformed into productive “foodscapes” in St. Louis.

In just the past couple of years, we’ve witnessed an explosion in urban agriculture, led by city residents who want to increase local access to fresh food, to serve as an example for healthy eating, and provide a model of self-sufficiency. Here are ten of Gut Check’s favorites.

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August 9, 2014   No Comments

‘Lawn Dude’ Prods Californians to Battle Drought by Conserving Water

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Gov. Jerry Brown, meanwhile, has asked residents across the state to cut water use by 20%, a goal that has proved slippery so far. In some areas of the state, landscaping accounts for half of daily water use …

By Tamara Audi
Wall Street Journal
Aug. 1, 2014

Excerpt:

The new mascot will be popping up on billboards donated by Clear Channel Outdoor across the parched region, spouting catchphrases like “Don’t hose me man!” as reminders to refrain from overwatering lawns. On another billboard, Lawn Dude carries a martini glass holding a daisy and says, “I only drink 2 days a week”—a nod to limits on outdoor irrigation to twice a week in some communities.

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August 9, 2014   No Comments

Panasonic ventures into farming in Singapore, a land-scarce city-state

panaClick on image for larger file.

It aims to contribute five per cent to local supply by March 2017.

By Medilyn Manibo
Eco-business
Aug 8, 2014

Excerpt:

The vegetables, produced within a 248 square metre indoor facility in Tuas, includes green lettuce, white radish, rocket lettuce, basil, mint herb, wild parsley, baby spinach.

Both leafy vegetables and root crops are currently cultivated within 35 days in soil-based environment and sustained with artificial lighting using LED lights. Panasonic said it is continuing its research and development to shorten the lead time to 28 days.

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August 8, 2014   No Comments

First-ever motorised lawn-mower restored to its former glory

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The mower, made by Ransomes, dates back to 1902 and cost gardener Andrew Hall £7,000 to restore over four years

By Tom Brooks-Pollock
The Telegraph
07 Aug 2014

Excerpt:

At the time it was considered a feat of modern engineering, a 20th Century alternative to horse-driven and steam-powered mowers.

It was initially purchased by Cadbury’s and used in the Bourneville village in Warwickshire to maintain a sports field.

Car-makers Peugeot Talbot bought it second-hand in 1923 to mow their sports field in Coventry.

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August 8, 2014   No Comments