New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'

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Growing Urban Orchards: How to Care for Fruit Trees in the City and Beyond

The author teaches fruit tree care workshops

By Susan Poizner
Orchard People
Oct. 24 2017

Learn how to care for fruit trees in the city and beyond. Fruit trees are delicate and need specialized care, especially when they’re planted in an urban environment, which comes with its own unique challenges. Whether you want to plant a single fruit tree or an entire orchard, this book will show you how to save time and money and be successful right from the start.

An orchardist and fruit tree care educator, Susan Poizner guides novices and experts alike through every step of the process. She describes which key elements are necessary in site preparation, offers a basic overview of the anatomy of fruit trees, and explains how to select trees.

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January 9, 2018   No Comments

India: This farming app lets you grow and harvest your own organic food

Farmizen is a mobile based application that enables an individual to grow chemical-free organic food in a mini-farm.

By Queeny Mahajan
Your Story
2nd January 2018


Situated on the periphery of Bengaluru city, Farmizen manages five farms of 10.5 acres, divided into mini farms of 600 sq ft each. By paying Rs 2500 as a monthly subscription fee that includes the monthly rent to the farmers, the individuals can grow vegetables of their choice as per the season in the twelve beds allocated to them in their mini farm. They control the farm through an app just like Farmville and can visit the farm anytime and harvest their own chemical-free produce.

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January 9, 2018   No Comments

The Politics of NYC’s Urban Farming: The City Notices Urban Agriculture

Photo: La Finca del Sur, South Bronx.

On December 11th, 2017, the New York City Council unanimously passed the city’s first-ever urban agriculture policy bill (Int. No. 1661-A: A Local Law in relation to requiring the department of city planning, department of small business services, and the department of parks and recreation to develop urban agriculture website).

By Rob Stephenson
for Design Trust for Public Space
Jan 3, 2018


Regardless of whether food is grown in an indoor aquaponics system or by community gardeners, it remains uncertain whether urban agriculture can contribute enough food to make a difference. A 2016 report from the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins University concluded that while growing food in cities has benefits, and urban farming plays a role in community health and development, it is insufficient as a unique tool to address food insecurity and dietary quality. Even if all the available land in New York City were to be transformed into urban farms, the total output would provide produce to between 103,000 and 160,000 of the cities 8.4 million residents—just shy of two percent of the population.

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January 8, 2018   No Comments

Canada: Vancouver sees increase in farms despite downturn in region

Karen Ageson is the CSA farmer for Farmers on 57th and a board member of the Vancouver Urban Farming Society. She is pictured in Vancouver, BC Wednesday, November 15, 2017. Jason Payne / Png

Ageson is the market garden manager and community-supported agriculture (CSA) farmer at Farmers on 57th, a one-acre urban farm near Cambie Street and 57th Avenue in downtown Vancouver where she has worked since 2009.

By Jennifer Saltman
Vancouver Sun
Jan 7, 2018


Her farm is one of those helping the city — an urban area with a relatively small amount of designated, protected agricultural land — buck the trend of declining farms and dwindling farmland that has taken hold across the region and the country.

The 2016 Census of Agriculture found that the total farm area in Metro Vancouver in 2016 was 38,380 hectares, the lowest number in 20 years. There has also been a steady decline in the number of farms at the regional and municipal levels. Region-wide, there were 2,412 farms, a 14-per-cent drop from five years ago.

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January 8, 2018   No Comments

Hong Kong: Controversy about community garden proposal and ‘Instagram Pier’

Proposal 1: NGOs/Social enterprises operate both promenade (purple) and community garden (green). Photo: GovHK.

The Protect Kennedy Town group questioned why there has to be a community garden in the first place, and an outsourcing of management.

By Kris Cheng
Hong Kong Freen Press
3 January 2018


The government has amended plans to close much of “Instagram Pier” in Sai Wan for community garden purposes, reducing the area concerned to under 30 per cent of the pier’s total area. However, local groups have continued to question the need for a community garden.

The location, governed by the Marine Department’s Cargo Handling Section, is popular among residents, pet owners and joggers in the area. It does not currently feature any safety barriers around its perimeter.

The community garden plan was modified after public outrage and protests at the Central and Western District Council last month.

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January 8, 2018   No Comments

Nairobi Establishes a Framework from Which Urban Agriculture Can Flourish

According to the Kenyan news outlet Mediamax, the government is developing urban farming projects in all 17 of Nairobi’s sub-counties.

By Cameron St. Germain
New York City Food Policy Centre
Jan 2018


The objectives of the Act are to:

Contribute to food security through the development of agriculture in the county by empowering the people and institutions through allowing and facilitating agricultural activities for subsistence and commercial purposes.

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A Backyard Garden Grows in Florida

Florida Institute of Technology master’s student Zach Eichholz, an intern at Satellite Beach City Hall, tends to plants at the city’s future community garden. Malcolm Denemark/Florida Today

A Harris Interactive survey found that 74 percent of all U.S. households participated in lawn and garden activities in 2016, which rose from 70 percent in 2013 and 2014. The increase in participation levels is credited with a growing interest in food growth.

Katie Parsons
Florida Today
Jan 1, 2018


For families that want to start gardening, but don’t have a place to do it, community gardens can fill the gap. The city of Satellite Beach offers a community garden area that consists of 20 garden beds that people can rent for one year for $50. A 660-gallon rain barrel irrigation system keeps the plants mostly watered and the garden bed renters pitch in on the additional watering, weeding and other maintenance tasks.

Nicholas Sanzone is the Environmental Program Coordinator for Satellite Beach and he says that creating a community space for gardening is part of the city’s long-term sustainability plan.

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Urban Edge farm program offers immersion-style learning in California

First Generation Farmers Executive Director Alli Cecchini, right, and Project Manager Ellie Vanhof, left, harvest some vegetables on Cecchini’s family land in Discovery Bay, Calif. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

A $200,000 grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program is a launch pad for the immersive learning experience.

By Lou Fancher
East Bay Times
January 1, 2018


For the first cohort of students, many of them women and/or people of color, immigrants, refugees, veterans or farmers-to-be with limited resources, the land is a classroom. Instruction comes from First Generation and experts from the National Center for Appropriate Technology and UC Cooperative Extension. Participation in the program represents opportunity and fulfills dreams the first-time farmers hold of agricultural avocation, economic stability, families, homesteads and permanence.

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2017 ‘Green Bay Press’ Person of the Year for work with community gardens program

Drew Scheler and Bethany Thier (Photo: Submitted by Drew Scheler)

With the white paper and sponsor/donor packets, the program has the materials to reach its $1 million fundraising goal by the end of 2018.

Peter Frank
USA Today Network-Wisconsin
Dec 30, 2017


So Scheler gave the students in his professional writing course an assignment: “Our main goal is to create an endowment that stabilizes and grows these community gardens rather than leaves them to these political debates that happen every two years.”

The idea worked on two levels:

» It could help to stabilize a valuable program in the community.

» It would bring St. Norbert students closer to their community.

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Lessons from Will Allen’s Growing Power

After years of running deficits and with more than half a million dollars in legal judgments against the organization, Allen resigned and the organization closed its doors.

By Mary Turck
The Uptake
December 30, 2017


The end of Growing Power does not mean the end of urban farming, not any more than a hard frost means the end of a garden. Instead, new plants have already begun to sprout.

In Milwaukee, Green Veterans Wisconsin plans to buy Growing Power’s shuttered headquarters, reclaiming it as “an urban farm school, co-op for small farmers and trauma resolution center.” Its mission: “to regenerate men and women who have served in the military for green jobs and green living.”

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This Stylish Table Is the “Next Generation” of Automated Urban Farming

Photo credit: Dan Addison, University Communications, UVA

Babylon is now focused on bringing the farms to consumers outside of universities. Currently, a the micro-farm farm goes for $1,799.

By Jennifer Marston
The Spoon
December 29, 2017


Recent grad Alexander Olsen started Babylon Micro-Farms in 2016, as part of the University of Virginia student entrepreneurial clubhouse, HackCville. An early prototype won $6,500 from Green Initiatives Funding Tomorrow, part of the UVA student council.

Now, Olsen and six other employees are working to get the hydroponic farms inside the homes of consumers, billing them as “the next generation home appliance.”

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Urban Seas Aquaculture successfully grows shrimp in the heart of a landlocked city – Greenville, South Carolina

Valeska Minkowski holds a shrimp from one of her tanks at Urban Seas Aquaculture on Monday, December 4, 2017. (Photo: Lauren Petracca, LAUREN PETRACCA\STAFF)

While the November harvest yielded about 60-70 pounds of shrimp per tank, Minkowski anticipates a year from now those numbers could be more like 120 to 150 pounds per tank.

By Lillia Callum-Penso
Greenville News
Dec. 29, 2017


The past year has brought a number of lessons and realizations. Namely, while Minkowski originally thought she would sell to local restaurants, that plan has moved to a fourth-year goal, she says. While there is a lot of interest, she has realized that she just can’t provide the quantity needed.

Instead, she plans to provide shrimp to restaurants and local caterers for special events, which will allow her to plan and harvest ahead. And she plans to step up her sales to the public, though she’s not yet sure what form those will take.

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Vancouver BC: What’s Growing in City Farmer’s Garden on January 4, 2018

Mixed winter salad greens.

Ten things we can eat today from our West Coast garden

By Michael Levenston
City Farmer
Jan 4, 2018

We raked our paths and trimmed our plants today as temperatures reached 5 degrees celsius, a mild day this winter. We have had frost and snow recently, but our winter is tropical compared to the “bomb cyclone” hitting the East Coast.

Here are some of the winter crops we can pick and eat today at Vancouver’s Compost Education Garden.

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A garden and a ‘Share Shed’ are helping this couple build a more inclusive neighborhood

Garden grown tomatoes ready for sharing, courtesy of the “Share Shed.” Courtesy of Wen Lee.

Looking to connect with their neighbors, the pair put their bounty of zucchinis, tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables on their front porch in a cul-de-sac in Temple City, California.

By Monica Luhar
NBC News


Projects such as the Share Shed can serve as a vital social bonding experiment, according to Dr. Long Wang, an assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics at California State University, Long Beach.

Exposing young children to community gardens and fresh produce makes them more likely to incorporate these foods into their diets as they get older, he noted.

“If kids have early exposure to growing produce, they are more likely to have a healthier relationship with the produce,” Wang said.

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UK: Let there be light to help centre’s tomatoes grow

Tomatoes are grown under LED lights at Stockbridge Technology Centre at Cawood.

Our tomato crops here at Stockbridge Technology Centre will be going strong all winter, thanks to the extra light provided by LED (light emitting diode) technology, which illuminates the crop at very low cost.

By Dr David George
Yorkshire Post
27 December 2017


We use mainly red and blue LED lighting to grow our tomatoes because they are the two colours of light that plants respond to best. This gives our glasshouses a very festive feel at this time of year – they certainly outshine the single string of Christmas lights in my window at home!

Our work with lighting and crops is led by head of photobiology Dr Phillip Davis, and also extends to other areas. By tweaking the combination of colours and the intensity, duration and pattern of light that our crops receive, we can deliver exciting results, particularly in our urban farm facility, where we have complete control over the levels of light that crops receive.

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