New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'

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Bronx urban farmer receives Earth Day award for her years of work, advocacy

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karwash

Karen Washington now doesn’t just concentrate on growing food at her farm in the Bronx and upstate New York, but also examines the food system as a whole.

By Angy Altamirano
Metro USA
Apr 18, 2016

Excerpt:

Now — along with running the Rise & Root Farm in Chester, NY with her friends since 2015 and continuing to care for her garden in the Bronx — Washington said she doesn’t just concentrate on growing food, but also looks at the food system as a whole and examines who is being treated fairly and who isn’t.

“In a country that we have so much wealth, we have hunger and poverty,” she said. “I continue to speak out against the injustices.”

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April 23, 2016   No Comments

Real estate speculation threatens future of Metro Vancouver farmland

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kentm

KPU studies agriculture real estate speculation as it threatens the future of an economically viable bioregion in Richmond and Southwest B.C.

By Graeme Wood
Richmond News
April 22, 2016

Excerpt:

Presently, about one-third of farmed land in Metro Vancouver is leased.

Furthermore, Mullinix estimates some 44,000 acres of farmable land is not in production in Metro Vancouver.

Adding to the pressures is the increase in estate homes being built on ALR land. Such mansions are numerous in Richmond and set a new price benchmark based on its value as a luxury residential property instead of a working farm, according to the report.

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April 23, 2016   No Comments

This man transformed a derelict plot of land into a garden in one of Wales’ most-deprived areas

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lawalTeaching assistant Andrew James from Caerau, Maesteg, transformed a derelict plot of land into a garden with the help of the community.

Having worked at his first allotment with his dad at the age of 10, he was now ready for the challenge of transforming the neglected wasteland into a working community garden.

By Abby Bolter
Wales Online
18 APR 2016

Excerpt:

Whilst most people headed home at the end of the working day, Andrew picked up a shovel and headed to the garden.

His efforts galvanised an entire army of volunteers – 45 at the last count – and attracted the attention of Bridgend Communities First, the Welsh Government funded organisation charged with lifting people out of poverty and tackling social exclusion.

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April 22, 2016   No Comments

Maui, Hawaii, community garden in the running for grant

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napiliClick on image for larger file.

Long range goals are to teach sustainable farming and to share our wide cultural knowledge to members and the wider public.

By Maui Now
April 18, 2016

Excerpt:

N?pili Community Garden is an organic, non profit garden serving West Maui since 2011. Currently the garden is doubling its 3.5 acres comprised of 120 10’x20’ and 20’x20’ family plots and common areas. The newly added 3.5 acres will be turned into both individual garden plots and a diverse tropical orchard to be shared in common.

If a grant is awarded, the NCG plans to use the funds to purchase trees and buy a small tractor with bucket, backhoe and tiller to prepare this new land. The tractor would be used going forward to make organic compost, maintain the parking lot and garden. NCG is also in need irrigation materials.

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April 22, 2016   No Comments

The Cricket Reactor

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crikreacDetail of the cartridge and access wall to the Cricket Reactor.

An alternative approach to urban agriculture where city bio-wastes are used to farm algae and fungi, which are in turn fed to insects. In turn, the crickets are processed into an edible flour

by Christine Leu
Canadian Architect
Apr 18, 2016

Excerpt:

Jakub Dzamba, a University of Toronto graduate and Ph.D. candidate designed the Reactor. It consists of a series of interconnected, clear chambers from which crickets may feed and grow. The Reactor is well-sealed to prevent the escape of the wayward cricket into our world.

The architectural language of the Reactor could be described as “antfarm-Modernist.” A large, clear, central atrium with detachable clear pods at the sides to accommodate a variety of programmes, or in this case, different bio-wastes. The density of the insects per square inch is evocative of urban living, and reminiscent of maximizing return on investment for repeating condominium units in the sky.

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April 21, 2016   No Comments

There are chickens outside the Cleveland Convention Center?

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convPhoto by Cory Shaffer.

The sustainable farming project outside the Cleveland Convention Center includes chickens, bees and pigs.

By Cory Shaffer
cleveland.com
April 16, 2016

Excerpt:

The animals are part of a sustainable farming project the convention center’s food vendor has run since April 2014, spokesperson Dave Johnson said.

The project started with Levy Restaurants executive chef Matt Del Regno keeping three beehives in a dirt lot nestled between the convention center’s ballroom and railroad tracks just south of the Shoreway.

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April 21, 2016   No Comments

Rising food prices in Calgary create fertile environment for urban permaculture food garden

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percaJohn Berlie’s yard has been converted to a food producing permaculture garden. Calgary Herald.

“Even without a yard, you can still have window boxes for herbs that would otherwise be expensive to buy.”

By Sharon Crowther
Calgary Herald
Apr 16, 2016

Excerpt:

Jon and his wife Jamie bought their Coventry Hills home in 2013 and in less than three years transformed their “weed infested” front and backyard, totalling less than 2,000 square feet, into a garden producing more than a hundred varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs.

“The front yard is a forrest garden, the idea is that everything growing there should be edible or have medicinal value: currants, apples, pears, rhubarb, echinacea. We also put in a fruit hedge by the pavement. There’s a daycare three houses along from us and the kids love to steal the raspberries in summer: that’s why it’s there, we want kids to see where fruit comes from.

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April 20, 2016   No Comments

Canada: Ottawa’s urban farmers cross the fowl line, as hobby comes home to roost

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outlKeeping backyard chickens is against the law in Canada’s capital city. Photo by Bruce Deachman.

McGregor thinks the city should amend By-law 2003-77 to allow backyard hens, joining Vancouver, Victoria, Kingston, Red Deer, Montreal, Saint John, Moncton, Fredericton, Cornerbrook, Brampton, Guelph and numerous other Canadian municipalities that permit backyard chickens.

By Bruce Deachman
Ottawa Citizen
Apr 16, 2016

Excerpt:

She first got the idea more than a decade ago when she and her husband toured an off-the-grid house where the owners kept chickens. “They were all what I’d call funky chickens — heritage breeds — and after that I decided I wanted chickens.”

They made the leap four years ago, when they attended a bird auction and paid about $20 each for two hens: a Barred Rock and a Polish hen — Polly — the latter most notable for its showy crest of feathers.

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April 20, 2016   No Comments

Why urban agriculture isn’t a panacea for Africa’s food crisis

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sfrIn the last few years, Cape Town has witnessed the proliferation of hundreds of community gardens and urban farms.

It is clear that urban agriculture can have significant benefits for some participating households. But we are concerned about the absence of wider evidence supporting its potential to address food insecurity beyond those households.

By Gareth Haysom, Researcher at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town
Jane Battersby, Senior Researcher in Urban Food Security and Food Systems, University of Cape Town
Economies
April 15, 2016

Excerpt:

Proponents of urban agriculture offer figures suggesting that as many as 40% of African urban residents are involved in some form of agriculture. Such figures require far greater interrogation. In the case of Cape Town in South Africa, research conducted in low-income areas of the city in 2008 found that less than 5% of poor residents were involved in any form of urban agriculture. In reality, those most active in urban agriculture were found to be wealthier people in low-income areas.

Context is a further determining factor. Research shows that in towns where the municipal boundary extended into areas with more rural characteristics, urban agriculture was higher.

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April 20, 2016   No Comments

Hyderabad, India: City residents volunteer on farms

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swis
Arifa Rafee (in orange) with Swiss delegates at her farm.

The mango plucking event turns out to be a learning experience. It isn’t as simple as plucking mangoes that look ripe. Guests are taught how to the select the fruit.

By Sangeetha Devi Dundoo
The Hindu
April 14, 2016

Excerpt:

Volunteer programmes in farming are still in a nascent stage in the city, unlike farms in Spiti Ecosphere, Auroville and other farms in Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim that have structured programmes. Volunteering schedules are drawn according to crop cycles. “Normally, people think of visiting a farm when they have holidays. But that may not coincide with the crop cycle and what’s necessary for the farm at that time,” Praveen points out. He adds that the intention should be to provide a learning experience to guests than to cut back on the workforce that earns its regular wages through farming.

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April 19, 2016   No Comments

Harvard Doctoral student Aleksandar Sopov helped save Istanbul urban gardens

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spovAleksandar Sopov has worked to preserve urban gardens in Istanbul. “I had to save them,” he says. “When those public places are erased, it moves people into arenas where demagoguery can take place.” Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer.

They had been tilled by Armenians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Albanians, and, more recently, Syrian and Afghan refugees. “Their destruction would be the destruction of that connection between the Middle East and Europe.”

By Leslie Macmillan,
Harvard Gazette
Apr 14, 2016

Excerpt:

Sopov said such ancient gardens are the forerunners of modern urban farming, which relates to modern concepts like food justice and sustainable cities. “When food is produced locally, consumers know more about farming practices,” he said, “so laborers aren’t unpaid and mistreated, and pesticides” aren’t used.

City farming is important because it engages a wide swath of urban dwellers, he said, creating a sense of community and shared purpose. The prevalent image of the eastern Mediterranean as divided along ethnic and religious lines and wracked by strife “is a recent political construct,” he said. In fact, despite the devastation wrought by the wars of the 20th century, “Skopje [in Macedonia] preserved many of its Ottoman caravansaries, hamams [baths], churches, mosques, madrasas,” proof of a vibrant, multicultural city.

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April 19, 2016   No Comments

Brooklyn community garden fights for its life in the courts

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marshmKids roasting marshmallows in the garden.

The gardeners are petitioning both the city and state to take the plot by eminent domain and formally turn it into parkland, with the garden protected in perpetuity.

By Bill Weinberg
The Villager
Apr 14, 2016

Excerpt:

But in November, a notice of eviction from the Makhanis was placed inside one of the garden beds. This was the beginning of a complicated legal battle that is still not resolved, and on which the fate of the garden hangs.

The entity demanding eviction of the garden is Housing Urban Development LLC of the Makhani brothers, who have a history of dubious doings — beginning with the company’s name, obviously intended to sow confusion with the federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). They are claiming the property on very murky grounds.

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April 18, 2016   No Comments

Africa: Women in Kenya’s Mathare slum turn their tin roofs into vegetable gardens

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slrofA view of one part of Mathare.

Iron sheet farming and hanging gardens practised in Mathare and Korogocho slums are some of the urban farming techniques that are slowly adding to a raft of measures put in place to guarantee food security and nutrition in informal settlements.

By Ejidiah Wangui
African News
Xinhua
2016-04-13

Excerpt:

Behind overlapping shanties and overcrowded streets in the slums, is a novel roof gardening project that has been feeding over 100 households while providing income to slum women struggling to make ends meet at a time when food prices especially in urban areas have been on an unprecedented highs.

The “gardens”, Wamuhu said, are mounted on top of small structures, some as small as 10 by 10 meters, which are the standard structures in the area and which accommodate on average five family members.

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April 18, 2016   No Comments

How Urban Farms Are Changing the Way We Eat

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veggi

“It’s the best basil we’ve ever had, and they’re able to produce it for us year-round,” says John Karangis, the executive chef at Union Square Events

By Lisa Elaine Held
Eater
Apr 12, 2016

Excerpt:

In each of its markets, BrightFarms has partnered with major chains, like Giant and Acme, and the produce often hits shelves within 24 hours of being picked, a fact that means it’s almost guaranteed to be longer-lasting than other greens. “I want to help people eat healthier food, and making it flavorful and delicious is a big part of that,” Lightfoot says.

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April 17, 2016   No Comments

“Sky farm” – World Architecture Festival Awards Jury

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skyfarmRoger Stirk Harbour and Partners

“Its geometry can also be adapted depending on the Earth’s latitude and the amount of sunlight available. In cooler climates, a double skinned enclosure and heating could be added to create optimum growing conditions.”

By Architects at London-based architecture firm Roger Stirk Harbour and Partners

Skyfarm proposes an alternative to the typical land-intensive farming systems. A vertical farm, it is designed to produce crops in multi-storey structures within high density urban areas or where there is insufficient land or poor quality soil. The multi-storey tensegrity structure (isolated components in compression delineated by prestressed tension members) is made of light bamboo to create a rigid circular frame and maximise sun exposure onto the farm. These towers support several layers of agricultural cultivation and an aquaponics system that enables the growth of crops and fish together in a re-circulating system; nutrients derived from fish waste are fed to the plants and the plants provide filters for the fish to thrive in.

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April 17, 2016   No Comments