New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'

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Urban farmers dig in for spring planting at Providence community gardens

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Mypeth Phommsarath, of Providence, levels out freshly composted soil to prepare the beds for vegetable plantings at the Manton Avenue Community Garden. Photo by Bob Breidenbach/The Providence Journal.

“There’s a desperate need (for community gardens). You see people growing food in the cracks in their yard.”

By Felice J. Freyer
The Providence Journal
April 6, 2014

Excerpt:

Mypeth Phommarath was tilling the black soil in his two 4-foot-by-16-foot beds at the Joslin Park Community Garden. He plans to grow cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce. Phommarath, 59, emigrated from Laos in 1990. He was laid off from his last job and hasn’t been able to find another; the garden will help feed his family.

Nelson Rocha, shoveling fresh compost onto his plot nearby, said he favors kale. Growing it himself, he can be sure it’s organic. And delicious. Rocha, 41, a financial analyst, blanches and freezes the kale to last the winter. He juices it. He uses it in muffins and sauces. He also enjoys coming to Joslin Park to meet other urban farmers while his 3-year-old twins play in the nearby playground.

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April 16, 2014   No Comments

‘Food Patriots’ film documents family’s struggle to raise backyard chickens, grow food

Explores the sustainable food movement through urban gardens and commercial aquaculture in Chicago

By Lindsay Christians
Cap times
April 05, 2014

Excerpt:

To hear Jeff Spitz tell it, his documentary “Food Patriots” started as an excuse to get out of yard work.

“I thought she was doing something,” Spitz said of his wife, Jennifer Amdur Spitz, when she decided to plant a backyard garden and build a coop for a tiny flock of hens.

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April 16, 2014   No Comments

Edible Schoolyards teach students at five First Line Schools

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A student shows the sweet potato he unearthed at Arthur Ashe’s fall Sweet Potato Fest, a school community event that included harvesting of more than 350 pounds of sweet potatoes. Photo of Edible Schoolyard New Orleans.

“Kids get the idea they can make a living doing gardening and farming, but there is also work in food justice and food access.”

By Judy Walker
NOLA.com
April 04, 2014

Excerpt:

After Hurricane Katrina, Alice Waters wanted to do a service project for New Orleans. Now, the first Edible Schoolyard at Samuel J. Green Charter School, just off Freret Street, is a lush and lovely space that just hosted the fifth annual Edible Evening fundraiser. And Green is no longer the only Edible Schoolyard in New Orleans.

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April 16, 2014   No Comments

Largest community garden in U.S. feeds the hungry in Denton, Texas

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Volunteer Rebekah Jackson from Texas Woman’s University plants broccoli at Shiloh Field community garden. Photo by Ron Baselice.

Organizers hope to raise 30,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables on the 14.5-acre plot for needy families in Denton County.

By Melissa Wylie
Daily News
4 April 2014

Excerpt:

The garden helps feed those living in poverty in Denton County, where 1 in 5 people lives at or below the federal poverty line and nearly one-third of residents do not earn a livable income.

Last year, volunteers harvested nearly 24,000 pounds of produce at Shiloh Field Community Garden. This year, they expect to harvest more than 30,000 pounds of fruit, vegetables and eggs to donate to nonprofit organizations, such as Our Daily Bread soup kitchen, crisis center Friends of the Family and child care center Fred Moore Day Nursery.

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April 14, 2014   No Comments

City Folk’s Farm Shop in Columbus, Ohio

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“When we talk about sustainable living and urban homesteading, people think of hippy-dippy types,” she says. “But we’re really not in that category.”

By Emily Thompson
Columbus Monthly
April 2014

Excerpt:

Amid the many businesses that sprawl up High Street, City Folk’s Farm Shop stands out with a bright orange awning and large logo boasting a chicken on the window. At first glance, the inside of the shop looks like a small-town garden supply store—standard gardening tools line the walls, birdhouses sit atop shelves and trashcans are off to the side. But a closer look reveals those trashcans are actually composting bins, and some of the products are even less recognizable. What exactly is a Nut Wizard, anyway? Customers frequent the store for this nut- and seed-gathering gadget, along with cheese-making kits, how-to books about fermenting, food dehydrators and the Farmer’s Almanac.

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April 14, 2014   No Comments

‘Farm City’ author’s new book ‘Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild’

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Author Novella Carpenter on the success of ‘Farm City,’ being a mother and her newest book (release date June 17, 2014)

By John Liberty
Mlive
April 12, 2014

Excerpt:

The topics of urban farming, eating healthier and, when possible, buying locally, are very popular right now, but the conversation can be tricky, too, Carpenter said. The success of “Farm City” has propelled her into an advocacy role.

Carpenter said she avoids “preaching” to people about the virtues of eating locally, or establishing your own garden. She said in low income communities such as hers, families are struggling to make ends meet. As such, many people are eating foods high in sugar leading to an “epidemic” where one in three children have diabetes. Carpenter said one in every two children in her community have diabetes.

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April 14, 2014   No Comments

Vancouver’s new Victory Gardeners transform Vancouver’s backyards and rooftop

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At Victory Gardens, Samantha Phillips, Sandra Lopuch and Lisa Giroday are helping to transform Vancouver’s backyards and rooftops into gardens that provide residents and businesses with their own vegetables. Photo by Rob Newell.

Victory Gardens harkens back to the days when people did their patriotic duty by growing their own food

By Martha Perkins
Westender
April 9, 2014

Excerpt:

So the three friends decided to start their own gardening business and called it Victory Gardens. Not only do they hire themselves out to create gardens — they just established a rooftop garden at HootSuite’s headquarters and one for Acorn, the vegetarian restaurant — but they also host workshops and seminars on growing your own vegetables.

Winning the $25,000 prize from the Co-operators’ National Co-op Challenge will help them spread the message even further. They’re using the money to produce an educational series of YouTube videos that show people how to create and nurture their own urban vegetable gardens.

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April 14, 2014   No Comments

Students in Milwaukee build hoop house to take agriculture into community

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Photo by Michael Sears.

Highland Community School constructs first external greenhouse at an area public school

By Astead Herndon
Journal Sentinel
April 4, 2014

Excerpt:

Growing Power founder and “farmer-in-chief” Will Allen called Friday a historic day as seventh- and eighth-grade students at Highland Community School began constructing the first external greenhouse — called a hoop house — at an area public school.

The project put tools, pipes and wood in the hands of students, who hammered away under the supervision of Growing Power employees. The project was a collaboration between Highland, a north side Montessori school, and Growing Power, which has gained national recognition for its work in urban agriculture and education in Milwaukee.

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April 14, 2014   No Comments

Jethro Tull’s most famous flautist swapped the excesses of life on the road for growing extremely hot chillies

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Ian Anderson leaves his garden in Wiltshire to the pros, while he attends to his chillies.

Ian starts off his chillies in the swimming pool room, partly due to the conditions and partly because of the acoustics.

By Mark Diacono
The Telegraph
12 Apr 2014

Excerpts:

“My chilli pepper adventures began with a salutary experience, courtesy of our Indian drummer, Ritchie Dharma, in 1967,” he says. “His mother cooked a powerful egg curry that sent me on the way to discovering the secret of the ‘hot’ behind hot curry.”

The natural chemical capsaicin is the villain, found in greatest concentration not in the seeds, but in the fleshy part of the chilli’s interior. It’s the active ingredient in pepper spray, used against bad guys, but Ian actually enjoys the effect:

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April 12, 2014   No Comments

New Haven Farms triples capacity in Connecticut

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Photo by Blair Seideman.

“Our eight farms total about half an acre, and this new farm is an acre.”

By Tasnim Elboute
Yale Daily News
April 4, 2014

Excerpt:

New Haven Farms, an urban agriculture non-profit that provides free produce to disadvantaged residents, is in the process of acquiring a new farm that will triple its food output.

NHF works to combat both food insecurity and health conditions including diabetes and obesity by providing families with fresh produce and nutrition lessons for one season. The organization currently operates eight small garden sites throughout the city, growing 5,500 pounds of produce feeding 20 families over the winter and 40 over the summer. The new farm on Burr Street, which totals one acre, will dramatically increase the amount of food NHF can produce.

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April 12, 2014   No Comments

Food Security in an Urbanizing Society – a course June 02-13

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“From home gardens to agro-parks: working towards resilient agrifood systems serving densely populated areas”

On June 02-13 CDI (Center for Development Innovation) part of Wageningen UR
Rural Sociology Group (RSO Wageningen UR)
Metropolitan Food Cluster team (Alterra, Food & Biobased Research and LEI)
The RUAF Foundation (Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security)

Agricultural production and markets from a spatial perspective
With increasing urbanisation, rural-urban food systems are essential in ensuring food security. The Metropolitan Food Cluster (MFC) approach, in which food production and market systems are integrated into a holistic, systemic and spatial manner, is slowly gaining a foothold in the rural and urban planning agendas. The model incorporates innovative change processes with technical, social and cultural aspects in an adaptive manner, addressing the challenges of complex food systems.

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April 12, 2014   No Comments

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

Excerpt:

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

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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
Westender
April 9, 2014

Excerpt:

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

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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
Newswire
31 Mar 2014

Excerpt:

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

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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