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Iowa urban beekeepers key to growing pollinators populations

Honey bees bumble around their nest after Des Moines beekeeper Julia McGuire pulls it out of one of the many urban bee hives which she manages on Thursday, May 14, 2015. (Photo: Bryon Houlgrave/The Register)

Iowa beekeepers lost 61 percent of their colonies in 2014-15, among hardest hit in USA

By Donnelle Eller
The Des Moines Register
May 16, 2015


It’s backyard beekeepers such as Lens and Julia McGuire, with two, three or four hives, who are boosting the state’s overall pollinator population, and helping to offset devastating annual losses.

A national report last week showed Iowa bee colonies were among the hardest hit in the nation. Iowa beekeepers lost 61 percent of their colonies in 2014-15.

It was the fourth-highest loss in the nation — behind Oklahoma, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Maine, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported.

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May 23, 2015   No Comments

Thesis: ‘Reciprocity: Cultivating Community in Urban Agriculture.’

Through hands-on fieldwork at East New York Farms!, Kate Weiner ’15 examined urban agriculture as a political project for her thesis, “Reciprocity: Cultivating Community in Urban Agriculture.” (Photo by Laurie Kenney)

My experience at East New York Farms! affirmed for me just how fluid community is.

By Laurie Kenney
Wesleyan University
May 15, 2015


In this issue of the Wesleyan Connection, we speak with Kate Weiner ’15, an anthropology and environmental studies major.

Q: Can you describe your thesis, “Reciprocity: Cultivating Community in Urban Agriculture”?

A: My thesis is an exploration of how community, identity and belonging interact in urban agricultural spaces, with my hands-on fieldwork with East New York Farms! serving as a case study for examining urban agriculture as a political project. Through melding creative non-fiction, feminist theory, community politics and environmental studies, the intention of my thesis is to provide a framework for understanding the various social, natural, socioeconomic and political factors that shape community-making within urban agriculture.

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May 22, 2015   No Comments

Texas Farm Girl: Reap What you Sow


By Rebecca Crownover
Mascot Books
January 6, 2015

Texas Farm Girl learns from her PawPaw what Reap What You Sow means when she makes a big mistake on the farm. The lesson learned from Reap What You Sow can be applied to all of us so that we can overcome adversity and Shine Like A Lone Star Pearl.

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May 22, 2015   No Comments

Debate about goat-keeping in Ferrysburg city limits still rages after 8 months

In this file photo, Children of the Montambo family in Ferrysburg, Mich. pose with the goats that they and their parents keep. Children, from the left, are Jack, Grace, Olivia and Miles. Goats, from the left, are “Thomas” Jefferson, “Benjamin” Franklin, Penelope, and Mamma.

“I got nothing against goats,” Scarpino said. He’s more opposed to the manner in which the ordinance was passed – with a 4-3 simple majority vote, and against the recommendation of the city planning commission.

By Stephen Kloosterman
May 14, 2015


FERRYSBURG, MI – For some Ferrysburg residents, it really gets their goat that neighbors are keeping theirs.

A debate about whether residents may keep goats, rabbits or chickens at cityside homesteads has raged for more than eight months. The city council recently approved a city ordinance that would allow keeping animals within certain limits — but now a there’s an effort to repeal that ordinance.

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May 22, 2015   No Comments

Sana’a Yemen, 2010 – Woman Teacher Giving Gardening Lessons

Photo by Salwa. Click on image for larger file.

Teaching horticulture in Yeman

Information from Salwa from ‘Food for Cities’
May 21, 2015

Excerpt from letter:

I have few pictures of a lady school teacher with scholars (around 12 years old boys) in a public garden in Sana’a Yemen in 2010; they take lessons in gardening and are assigned a plot to plant and visit on a regular basis in the public garden; I don’t have more information, I only met them once by chance while I was working on an urban Agriculture project with RUAF foundation and my university in Beirut; unfortunately, there is war now in Yemen.

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May 22, 2015   No Comments

Oakland Spring Rising

40 Farms in 40 Days to grow 100 pounds for 400,000 residents of Oakland.

By Kris Stewart
The Pioneer
May 13, 2015


Leader of the Oakland Spring Rising revolution and farmer, David Grefrath, got his start as a farmer in New Orleans. Grefrath says the goal is to grow 100 pounds of food for 400,000 people per year using vacant lots throughout the city. “It’s really just to get a farm started or give a community garden a good lift,” said Grefrath.

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May 21, 2015   No Comments

Is Public Policy Turning our Cities into Farms, or Letting Them Go Fallow?

A goat rests within eyeshot of downtown Los Angeles. | Photo: Ryan Vaarsi/Flickr/Creative Commons. Click on image for larger file.

Numerous state and local laws have cropped up in recent years to regulate — or deregulate — such urban agricultural practices. But this has resulted in a thicket of rules for home gardeners or agricultural entrepreneurs.

By Chase Scheinbaum
May 12, 2015


In Southern California’s endless sprawl of cities, suburbs, and exurbs, it’s easy to forget: This was once prime territory for agriculture. Leaving aside water (that would be a separate discussion) the region is ideal — Mediterranean climate, 12-month growing season, virtually endless space.

It’s also easy to forget: plenty of people want to take advantage of those factors to grow herbs, vegetables, and fruit, or keep chickens and goats to sustain their families, and maybe make a profit. Despite that, and despite the region’s history as an agricultural powerhouse — Orange County is not named for colorful sunsets, after all — piling up a fork with homegrown food is a challenge. Farming doesn’t exactly flourish in our cities, certainly not as it did during the days of victory gardens. And it surely doesn’t flourish to the extent that urban agriculture advocates and entrepreneurs would like.

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May 21, 2015   No Comments

Toronto photographer begins his veggie garden after a long, cold winter

Click on image for larger file.

Communal garden in the centre of the city inside a park

My name is Giulio Muratori, I’m a Toronto based photographer, and have lived in Toronto for 39 years.

This year, 2015, I joined a communal garden with three other people. The garden is situated in an old water pump house built in 1875, in the heart of Toronto. We have one big garden and two small ones.

There are several reasons why I want to work in this garden:

#1 to produce fresh home grown veggies and herbs.
#2 gardening is tranquil, relaxing and rewarding to me.
#3 socializing with the other gardeners.

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May 21, 2015   No Comments

Council gardener at centre of ‘urban agriculture’ debate in Melbourne, Australia’s inner north

Jane Miller says the City of Yarra needs to be more supportive of residents trying to establish laneway gardens and other “urban agriculture” spaces. (ABC Local: Clare Rawlinson)

Residents and local councillors are divided over an “urban agriculture” plan for Melbourne’s laneways and footpaths, including the position of a part-time gardener.

By Clare Rawlinson
774 ABC Melbourne
May 13, 2015


The gardener is employed by the City of Yarra as part of council’s $100,000 urban agriculture strategy – a plan to rejuvenate disused public spaces for community gardens.

Since the strategy’s inception four years ago, councillors have persistently tried to axe it and debate is flaring again ahead of the council’s annual budget being set next week.

The draft budget has cut funding for the “urban agriculture facilitator” – a gardener who helps residents navigate council bylaws when trying to establish their own patches of urban agriculture.

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May 21, 2015   No Comments

Edmonton, Alberta opens urban farm to public tours

The Northlands Urban Farm is opening up for free public tours, starting Friday.

It allows us to demonstrate a viable commercial urban farming operation

By Bill Mah
Edmonton Journal
May 12, 2015


EDMONTON – Northlands may be better known for sports, trade shows or concerts, but the community service organization is also getting back to its agricultural roots.

The Northlands Urban Farm, which launched last year, is opening for free public tours, with the first one scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m.

Northlands operates a 31,200-square-foot farm on three vacant lots in the southwest corner of its spread at 113th Avenue and 79th Street.

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May 20, 2015   No Comments

Everyone wants to be a farmer


City folk may not understand all the realities of farming, but many dream of doing it

By Toban Dyck
Grain News
May 11, 2015


It’s frustrating. I want my city friends to get it. I want them to understand how nuanced issues and trends like livestock production, genetically-modified organisms, fossil fuels, and eating farm-to-table are.

It would be unfair to say city dwellers are vain, but I want to. Just as it would have been unfair of me to say all farmers are hicks when I lived in the city.

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May 20, 2015   No Comments

American Bar Association – Urban Agriculture: Policy, Law, Strategy, and Implementation


The book addresses the concerns and misconceptions that can occur when planning, developing and implementing an urban agricultural idea.

Martha H. Chumbler, Sorell E. Negro, and Lawrence E. Bechler, Editors
American Bar Association
2015 (Must See. Mike)

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2015 — The growing demand for urban farms and community gardens continues to sprout across the country. A new American Bar Association book “Urban Agriculture: Policy, Law, Strategy, and Implementation” provides an overview of information, perspectives and examples of urban agriculture to government officials, lawyers, planners and individuals, nonprofits and community organizations considering some aspect of farming within the city limits.

A current, practical resource on all aspects of agricultural activities within non-rural settings, ranging from neighborhood gardens to commercial farming operations, this book addresses many of the land use, environmental, and regulatory legal issues that confront local governments, property owners, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and neighborhood groups when addressing urban gardening or farming. Chapter authors also describe and analyze the experiences of specific urban areas, providing perspectives on their different approaches.

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May 20, 2015   No Comments

Urban Agriculture Booms Amid Drought in Sacramento

See video newscast here.

Edible plants are flying off the shelves at Pietro Talini’s Nursery

By Doug Johnson
Fox 40
May 11, 2015


As water is more limited than ever and food prices increase, many have gone to their backyards to plant vegetables in their gardens.

Many edible plants are flying off the shelves at Pietro Talini’s Nursery on Folsom Boulevard in Sacramento.

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May 20, 2015   No Comments

New Taipei City farmers offer plots to city-dwellers


Urban farmers could “kill two birds with one stone,” by producing healthy, homegrown vegetables while obtaining some full-body exercise at the same time, he said.

By Lin Hsin-han and Chen Wei-han
Taipei Times
May 11, 2015


For city-dwellers who want to try organic agriculture, farms and groves in New Taipei City’s Shuangsi District are available for rent — with farm help also obtainable for a small charge — including routine farmwork and a daily photographic update of growing produce via messaging app Line.

Against the backdrop of the recurring food scares the nation has seen, Shuangsi District Director Chen Chi-cheng said that homegrown food is the safest, but city residents are hard-pressed to find even a small plot of arable land in urban areas.

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May 19, 2015   No Comments

From India: ‘My Pumpkin Roof’


How To Grow Your Own Urban Food Garden

By Malvika Pathak, Martin Scherfler, Nafeesa Begum, Nalini Mangwani, Navleen Kohli, Urvashi Devidayal and Vimal Bhojraj.
Published by Auroville Consulting and Earthcare Books
Auroville is a centre for alternative technology in India and the world.


Dr. Vandana Shiva, Founder, Navdanya Foundation

The promotion of food growing among urbanites is an important issue. We in India face food security issues, and consumers don’t often have a choice when it comes to whether their food is pesticide- treated or not. Moreover, our indigenous knowledge of organic farming methods and indigenous species are being lost as genetically modified seeds and synthetic growth enhancers are increasingly used.

Encouraging people in our urban centres to take up home gardening, means that we empower consumers. By growing our own organic food in our backyards, balconies and gardens, we don’t only make a healthy choice, we can address climate change ourselves. Conventional, chemical farming is a major contributor to climate change. Also, large-scale monocultures deplete soil and water resources. The transport from field to table is also polluting and carbon dioxide-producing. By growing our own food, we provide fresh, organic food, that doesn’t take its toll on the environment.

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May 19, 2015   No Comments