New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'

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Mesa, Arizona community garden keeps Martin Luther King’s legacy growing

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Members of the Canaan Missionary Baptist Church Tay and daughter Kyra Purnell dig in raised beds.

“This isn’t just food production,” said Candice Fort, overseer of the garden that began less than two years ago. “It will be a place where people can learn about nutrition. There are so many diet-related illnesses in our community.”

By Ralph Zubiate
East Valley Tribune
Jan 15, 2017

Excerpt:

“We have maybe 12 beds that are full, with a couple completed just a week or two ago,” Candice said. “I’m really excited about getting all the beds filled.”

Students at the school next door, Lindbergh Elementary, also participate in the garden.

“They come over and do experiments, like photosynthesis,” explained her brother, Rev. Sherman Fort, pastor of CMBC The Word Church at 931 S. Stapley Drive. His church loans out the space for the garden.

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January 17, 2017   No Comments

A Slower Pace for TV’s Graham Kerr, ‘Galloping Gourmet’ now 82

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Graham Kerr in his garden at home in Mount Vernon, Wash., last summer. Photo Ruth Fremson/The New York Times. Click on image for larger file.

In the 1970s, he lurched from indulgence to a denunciation of excess, but he eventually found his way to a middle ground.

By Kirk Johnson
The New York Times
January 9, 2017

Excerpt:

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — He injected extra fat into already well-marbled roasts, with a grin and an ever-present glass of wine. He laughed uproariously at his own jokes, and told Americans that cooking at home did not have to be particularly sophisticated or difficult (Julia Child, the only other major TV chef of his era, had pretty much staked out that turf anyway) to be wild, and wildly fun.

But always, Graham Kerr leapt. Decades before Emeril Lagasse shouted “Bam!” in administering a pinch of cayenne or garlic, Mr. Kerr defined the television cook as a man of energy and constant motion — “The Galloping Gourmet,” as his show’s title put it.

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January 17, 2017   No Comments

Growing Vegetables in Drought, Desert & Dry Times

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The Complete Guide to Organic Gardening without Wasting Water

By Maureen Gilmer
Sasquatch Books
Release date: December 29, 2015

Here is the definitive guide to growing healthy organic vegetables without wasting our precious water resources! This incredibly timely book will give dedicated home gardeners the know-how to grow delicious produce in dry times, focusing on four different low-water conditions in the western United States: voluntary water conservation, drought, and both high and low desert.

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January 16, 2017   No Comments

Tanzania: The Many Faces of Small Scale Msimbazi Farmers

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“You know, most of the farmers in Msimbazi do not use modern agricultural methods. And most of them have less than one acre.”

By Hansjürg Jäger
All Africa
Jan 8, 2017

Excerpt:

Silvano and Silvestri sit on the edge of one of her pumpkin-fields. Both seem to be resting in the shed of the palm trees, the government planted in the late 1970’s. Silvano has been a practising farmer for over ten years now. Silvestri has more than 35 years of experience in farming on the small plots of Msimbazi. He has become a mwalimu (teacher), to many of the farmers in the fields. Upon asking about how many people he has already imparted his knowledge to, he laughs. “I don’t have a count but over the years, a lot of people have come in. I was lucky enough to help,” he says.

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January 16, 2017   No Comments

San Diego: Group grows free food in public spaces

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Photo by John R. McCutchen / San Diego Union-Tribune

Devon Lantry, founding member of Eat San Diego, a volunteer group managing community gardens that provide free fruits and vegetables.

By Lisa Deaderick
San Diego Union Tribune
Jan 7, 2017

Excerpt:

Q: Why free food?

A: Our mission is to cover San Diego head-to-toe in free food because it makes life better for everyone. Locally and globally, we have a lot of complicated problems to deal with in our food systems and agricultural economies, and the solutions to these problems are surrounded by controversy and arguments. But one thing is universal: fresh, free food makes life better for all. Who doesn’t like the smell of a blooming orange tree on their walk to the post office or grabbing a handful of free grapes on their way to work?

Q: If the food is free, how do you fund the building and maintenance of the gardens?

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January 15, 2017   No Comments

Dublin farmer and the tubers for Mars

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Andrew Douglas, shown with Jayden Whelan, left, and Malena Behan, hopes his potatoes will feed explorers like in The Martian. Photo by Andres Poveda.

Andrew Douglas, a horticulturist who set up Dublin’s first rooftop farm, plans to supply potato pods to a Nasa mission on the slopes of a Hawaiian volcano, where the space agency is simulating life on Mars.

By Gabrielle Monaghan
The Sunday Times Ireland
January 15 2017
(Must see. Mike)

Excerpt:

A version of the Irish potato will boldly go where no spud has gone before — to a Mars simulation habitat run by Nasa.

Andrew Douglas, a horticulturist who set up Dublin’s first rooftop farm, plans to supply potato pods to a Nasa mission on the slopes of a Hawaiian volcano, where the space agency is simulating life on Mars. Nasa is hoping to send humans to the red planet by the 2030s.

In 2013, Douglas set up a kitchen garden on the roof of the Chocolate Factory building in Dublin before moving it to the top-floor science lab at Belvedere­ College. There are now 180 varieties of heritage and heirloom potatoes growing in upcycled water cooler bottles and artificial grass offcuts on the college’s rooftop. “Who better to help experiment with growing spuds on Mars than an Irishman?” said Douglas.

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January 15, 2017   No Comments

South L.A. “Gangsta Gardener” Ron Finley Fights to Save His Garden From Eviction

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Ron Finley in his gangsta garden.By Ryan Orange for LA Weekly.

The Ron Finley Project, the non-profit that drew international recognition for its community garden in South Los Angeles, is facing eviction from the land where founder Ron Finley first planted seeds in 2010.

By Jennifer Swann
La Weekly
January 6, 2017

Excerpt:

After years of financial problems, the property on Exposition Boulevard was purchased at a foreclosure auction by the real estate investment company Strategic Acquisitions for $379,003 last November, according to L.A. County records. But Finley, the longtime activist and self-described “gangsta gardener” who had been leasing the property, is not leaving his garden — and the community it serves — without a fight.

“They’re used to people caving in and we’re not planning on caving in,” he told the Weekly. “What I try to do is the right thing, and I’m confident in that. You can take all you want, but you can’t take my soul.”

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January 14, 2017   No Comments

Urban Agriculture in Helsinki, Finland

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Behind hedges and in boxes, Helsinki’s urban citizens are active urban growers.

The oldest type of UA in Helsinki is a Siirtolapuutarhat, which translates to “colony gardens,” but in casual speech they are called cottage allotments. The first garden was founded in 1918 and at present there are nine gardens with a total of 1,926 plots.

Sophia E. Hagolani-Albov
Doctoral Student in Agricultural Sciences at the University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2017
(Must see. Mike)

Excerpt:

Finland has become a predominantly urban society. When Finland gained its independence in 1917, only 10 percent of the population lived in urban areas. By 1960 that figure had risen to 55 percent, and presently 70 percent of Finns live in urban areas, according to the Finnish Environmental Institute. Yet most Finns, even those living in cities, have close ties to their cultural heritage and agricultural roots in the countryside. This photo journey explores the spaces, places, and practices of urban agriculture (UA) in Finland’s capital, Helsinki. The city sits at latitude 60.6? N and has approximately 600,000 residents. This might not seem like a place well suited for urban agriculture, but an enthusiastic population of growers and the long summer days make this a hotbed of UA development.

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January 14, 2017   No Comments

Afghanistan: I can grow vegetables to feed my family and from the surplus I can even make a small profit

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Assadulah in his greenhouse. Foto: PIN Archive.

The EU funded project lasted for 28 months and in total supported over 1000 low income households, specifically focusing on women with particularly limited access to income generating activities.

People in Need Czech Republic
2017
(Must see. Mike)

Excerpts:

Assadullah has been selected as beneficiary of a project tackling urban poverty in Mazar-i-Sharif in Northern Afghanistan, undertaken by People in Need and funded by the European Union. One of the project activities is focused on kitchen gardening.

Assadullah’s life changed a great deal since he started cultivating the small garden behind his house. “Before I joined the project I did not have enough information about agricultural activities and did not know even know what a greenhouse is,” describes Assadullah. “Previously our daily diet did not include vegetables and if we had guests we had to buy vegetables in the market,” he adds.

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January 13, 2017   No Comments

A Look At 11 Community Gardens Around Oakland, California

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Map of the Gardens at Lake Merritt.

Established in 1984, the Temescal Community Garden is the first community garden in Oakland.

By Susan XU
Hodline.com
Jan 5, 2017

Excerpt:

There are an infinite number of ways to metaphorically put down roots in Oakland, but urban farmers have limited options. Oakland Parks & Recreation’s Community Gardening Program maintains just 16 community gardens around the city.

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January 13, 2017   No Comments

Interdisciplinary University project creates model to predict land use, climate effects and even potential profit of farming in cities

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Volunteers help prepare soil and beds at the Spaces of Opportunity urban farm in Phoenix, Arizona.

The model will look at what would happen if vacant land in a city were turned into urban farms, which could produce food for the neighbors and help mitigate the urban heat-island effect, in which concrete and asphalt stay warmer overnight, raising temperatures. Conversely, plants and trees allow desert land to cool at night.

By Mary Beth Faller
Arizona State University
Jan 5, 2017

Excerpt:

As Phoenix continues to sprawl toward Tucson, urban planners are working to prevent the entire 100-mile corridor between Arizona’s largest metro areas from becoming nothing but concrete and asphalt.

Unfettered development, experts say, can strain resources and increase temperatures and pollution, setting off a chain reaction of problems for the region and its residents.

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January 12, 2017   No Comments

Book: Urban Agriculture for Growing City Regions – Connecting Urban-Rural Spheres in Casablanca

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The example of Casablanca, one of the fastest growing cities in North Africa

Edited by Undine Giseke, Maria Gerster-Bentaya, Frank Helten, Matthias Kraume, Dieter Scherer, Guido Spars, Fouad Amraoui, Abdelaziz Adidi, Said Berdouz, Mohemed Chlaida, Majid Mansour, Mohamed Mdafai
Routledge
2015

This book demonstrates how agriculture can play a determining role in sustainable, climate-optimised urban development. Agriculture within urban growth centres today is more than an economic or social left-over or a niche practice. It is instead a complex system that offers multiple potentials for tomorrow’s megacities. Urban open space and agriculture can be connected to productive urban landscapes – this forms new urban-rural linkages in the urban region and helps shape the city. But in order to do this, agriculture has to be seen as an integral part of the urban fabric and it has to be put on the local agenda.

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January 12, 2017   No Comments

The Next Generation Of Farmers Is Being Trained In New York City High

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Natalie Arroyo is a senior “Aggie,” one of 600 New York City public school students enrolled in a specialized, four-year agriculture program at John Bowne High School in Queens. She plans to become an agriculture educator after college. Photo by Lela Nargi for NPR.

Some 600 of the city’s public school students are enrolled in Bowne’s specialized, four-year agriculture program.

By Lela Nargi
NPR
January 5, 2017

Excerpt:

Like most of their schoolmates, the Aggies follow an ordinary curriculum of English, math and social studies. But they also learn the building blocks of diverse careers in the booming industry of agriculture, which sees almost 60,000 new jobs open up in the U.S. every year, according to the USDA. The Aggies grow crops, care for livestock and learn the rudiments of floriculture, viticulture, aquaculture, biotechnology and entrepreneurship.

While high schools in rural farming areas have long prepared students for these sorts of jobs, they can’t come close to meeting the demand. So some urban public high schools are stepping in to fill the void.

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January 12, 2017   No Comments

Portland Urban Intentional Community has 46 private garden plots for resident use

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Kailash Ecovillage is a sustainably focused community located on a two-acre site in inner SE Portland, Oregon. Click on image for larger file.

They even filled in the swimming pool from the old apartment complex (that again, due to Portland’s temperate climate, was very underused) to make room for more garden space.

By Scott Cooney
Green Living Ideas
Jan 2, 2017

Excerpt:

In addition, as food is so central to a sustainable community, probably the most impressive part of Kailash is the garden. Or should we say gardens – there are 46 private garden plots for resident use, and an extensive community garden. They also have a bamboo micro-forestry project, berry bushes, grapevines, fruit orchards, and a greenhouse. They have also created areas dedicated for wildlife habitat, including bird houses, bat houses, bee boxes and reptile gardens.

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January 11, 2017   No Comments

Urban Farmers Make Forbes’ – 30 under 30: Social Entrepreneurs

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Cofounders, Up Top Acres.

Across Washington D.C., Up Top Acres operates four rooftop farms totaling 1 acre in farmland. Growing a variety of produce, they sell their harvest to neighbors of the buildings they grow on and nearby restaurants. They’ve since harvested 60,000 pounds of food.

Forbes Magazine
2017

Excerpt from The University of Vermont:

If you’re looking for farmland in Metro Washington, D.C., try looking up. Way up.

In the nation’s capitol, Up Top Acres is transforming rooftops that would otherwise go unused into thriving organic farms. That work has landed Kristof Grina ’12, a Plant and Soil Science graduate in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, a coveted spot as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs of 2017. Grina is featured on the list with Up Top Acres co-founders Kathleen O’Keefe and Jeff Prost-Greene.

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January 11, 2017   No Comments