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The Urban Potato: It’s Time Has Come

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1st prize: Eitan Abramovich, Peru
“Harvest of native potatoes”
International Year of the Potato World Photography Contest

The Urban Potato: It’s Time Has Come
By Jac Smit
October 29, 2008
From the Desk of Jac Smit

A few years ago I stood on the roof of a hospital in Port au Prince, Haiti. The surface was half straw and other half organic thrash and half potato foliage. A week later I visited a friend in Washington DC. He took me out to his porch and there was a bale of hay [wire bound] with potato foliage on three sides.

I soon learned that these two cases were examples of “Lazy Man Farming”. Lazy Man was invented in Germany in the 19th Century. Its most cited practice is roadside cultivation in Newfoundland Canada. There the farmers collect seaweed, off load it on the side of the road, and insert seedlings.

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October 30, 2008   1 Comment

Church, Mosque, Synagogue, and Temple Gardens

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Photo: Members of Redeemer Covenant Church help plant a community garden in Dutton.

Urban Agriculture is Supporting Faith, the Environment and Community

By Jac Smit © Sept 13, 2008

It is fair to say that faith-based groups have been leading urban agriculture for 25 or more years. Something has changed this movement in the 21st century. It is the merger of religion, social science and natural science. We now see faith based groups working with groups concerned with our civilization’s environmental survival as well as community building organizations. There may well be a new leadership for farming the city.

Church and other religious property is a major land use in urban areas. In general religious property does not pay taxes. Often it is a purposed gift not a purchase. Commonly the place of worship is centrally located within a community, town or city. This ‘idle’ land has a substantial potential to contribute to locally-based food systems.

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September 15, 2008   Comments Off

The Commons and Urban Agriculture

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Photo of Boston Commons

Desk of Jac Smit
August 21 2008

Prior to the industrial revolution every village town and city had a commons for food production and marketing. In the 21st century the commons is regaining popularity and applications. My personal experience of the spatial commons is the Boston Common and Garden, a both glorious and cordial public space. My second is the Calcutta Maidan, from Hooghly River to the New Market. It incorporates fishing, goat grazing, horse racing, religious festivals and much more.

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August 21, 2008   Comments Off

Small-Scale Vegetable Growers Rejoice

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Photo Credit: Michael Levenston
1978 – Backyard in Strathcona neighbourhood, Vancouver.

By Jac Smit
See ‘From The Desk of Jac Smit’ here.

There are 110 million Small-Scale Vegetable Growers in the USA in 2008: 95 million of them are urban and peri-urban.

The National Gardening Association [NGA], with inputs from a Roper survey and the USDA, finds that 40 percent of America’s 275 million households are growing vegetables and culinary herbs, approximately 110 million households. The US Census tells us that the country is 80 percent urban. In rural communities the share raising veggies is about 2 of 3 and in urban neighborhoods, from Boston to Fargo, it’s about 1 in 3. Arithmetic says 15 rural and 95 million urban healthy food producers.

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August 10, 2008   Comments Off