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  #1  
Old Posted Mar 24, 2010, 1:47 PM
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The urban farming explosion

The urban farming explosion


March 24, 2010

By Peter Ladner



Read More: http://www.vancouversun.com/life/urb...736/story.html

Quote:
Will Allen, 60, is a 6-foot 7-inch former professional basketball player and sales executive for Procter and Gamble and KFC, who can't keep his hands out of the dirt. "I'm a farmer first," he tells his weekend class of 80 people who are crammed into one of his 14 greenhouses in a working class neighbourhood of Milwaukee. They're paying $150 a day for a weekend course at the at the epicentre of the North American urban agriculture explosion. Biceps the size of tree trunks hanging out of his cut-off hoody, he strokes and pokes the moist black soil swarming with red wriggler worms as he repeats his lessons.

- Will Allen is not easily forgettable. His 17-year-old Growing Power Community Food Center employs 39 people, engages 2,000 volunteers, and cranks out 2,000 trays of sprouts a week. He figures he's getting $30 for every square foot of sprouts. The centre has a 33,000-square-foot warehouse down the road that helps feed low-income people, with production boosted by a nearby farm and community gardens in Chicago. Between the low-income food boxes and the sales to local chefs, Growing Power produces enough food for 10,000 people a year.

- His success in mixing local food production, low-income-job creation and business skills earned him a $500,000 MacArthur Genius award in 2008 and a $400,000 grant from the Kellogg Foundation. In our January class, huddled around warm water in the tilapia fish tanks while the frigid Wisconsin winds chills the composting class outside, an executive from JP Morgan Chase watches over the fruits of his company's $150,000 donation to Growing Power.

- Here in Vancouver, urban farming is moving beyond the high-profile community and allotment gardens at places such as Burrard and Davie. Building Opportunities for Business, the economic development agency in the Downtown Eastside, is anticipating 11 part-time jobs will come out of United We Can's conversion of a parking lot at Hastings and Hawke into a commercial community garden.
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  #2  
Old Posted Mar 24, 2010, 4:43 PM
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Vancouver City Hall has a farm plot on its lawn, and now it's installing beehives on the roof for honey production. Urban farming is an interesting trend.
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  #3  
Old Posted Mar 24, 2010, 5:21 PM
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As usual (especially with anything kooky), we are way ahead on this one:

Quote:
Mayor's agriculture plan soon to bear fruit
Heather Knight, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vegetable gardens will soon be sprouting in unlikely places throughout San Francisco including a building that produces steam to heat the Civic Center, Department of Public Works land in the Bayview, outside McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park and at the San Francisco Police Academy in Diamond Heights.

The public library has installed gardens outside its Mission and Noe Valley branches with plans for more and is leading classes for teens on how to cultivate them.

And the city may soon adopt proposals from private groups to install easy-to-assemble chicken coops in its gardens and send mobile vegetable markets to school pick-up zones and other busy destinations.

It's all the result of Mayor Gavin Newsom's executive directive eight months ago to reshape how San Franciscans think about food and choose what to eat . . . .

The plan was deemed silly by some who said it shouldn't be a priority for the cash-strapped city, but Newsom remains adamant there are long-term benefits to urban agriculture . . . .

The Department of the Environment has started an Urban Gleaning Program to teach people how to plant fruit trees, supply local food pantries with fresh food and manage a listserv for those interested in urban agriculture . . . .

The city also helped launch a competition last fall seeking innovative designs related to urban agriculture and is likely to begin using some of the favorites. They include Chicken Cribs - billed as "the quick and easy, self-assembly urban chicken coop" - and Mobile Markets, carts stocked with produce that can easily be taken to any busy locale . . . .

"It's about feeding the soul and feeding the pride of San Francisco urban dwellers."
Source: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg...BA4V1CJP4C.DTL
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  #4  
Old Posted Mar 24, 2010, 6:30 PM
novawolverine novawolverine is offline
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I think something like this, if cost effective, could help poorer people in cities who don't eat very healthy. It has to make economic sense though, and it'll be interesting to see if they can produce the volume needed through vertical farming or whatever.
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  #5  
Old Posted Mar 24, 2010, 9:31 PM
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Originally Posted by novawolverine View Post
I think something like this, if cost effective, could help poorer people in cities who don't eat very healthy. It has to make economic sense though, and it'll be interesting to see if they can produce the volume needed through vertical farming or whatever.
In practical terms, I think programs that utilize food, including veggies, that supermarkets pull off the shelves and used to throw out are probably more effective. That can amount to huge amounts of perfectly good food.

I'm fine with urban agriculture too, properly used. But San Francisco for example, converted the central open space of Civic Center Plaza into a farm plot last summer and, to my eye, it looked ridiculous plus I doubt much of what was grown actually got used. Cities need parks and flower gardens too. This vegetable gardening can be taken too far. And chicken coops? Chickens are nasty, smelly birds. What's next? Urban pig stys?
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  #6  
Old Posted Mar 24, 2010, 9:33 PM
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Originally Posted by BTinSF View Post
As usual (especially with anything kooky), we are way ahead on this one:


Source: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg...BA4V1CJP4C.DTL
Way ahead?

Quote:
It's all the result of Mayor Gavin Newsom's executive directive eight months ago to reshape how San Franciscans think about food and choose what to eat
The guy in the article has been doing this for 17 years.
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  #7  
Old Posted Mar 25, 2010, 1:05 AM
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People have been doing it forever here too, but it was 8 months ago the mayor decided to run for governor and took up the cause to look progressive.

The headline talks about an "explosion" and I am saying SF is ahead of the curve in the sudden popularity of urban farming. I won't say we were the first to do it at all. I'm sure there are some cities in which farming never died out since they were, actually, farms.
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Old Posted Mar 25, 2010, 4:25 AM
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Though the story has been done to the death over the last year, Detroit's community gardening is notable simply because of the sheer scale of the plan:

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Volunteers work at Earthworks Urban Farm in Detroit. Some expect small efforts to coalesce this year and make urban farming a viable industry. (2009 photo by JOHN GALLAGHER/Detroit Free Press)

Is urban farming Detroit's cash cow?

BY JOHN GALLAGHER
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

March 21, 2010

Community gardeners in Detroit harvest a good deal of fruits and vegetables each year, but not much of that other type of green: profit.

This year, though, Detroit's small-scale, volunteer urban farm movement will see the most dramatic steps yet toward making urban farming an economically viable industry.

These steps promise that within the next few years, urban growers in Detroit will produce jobs and a tax base along with their salad greens.

Among those efforts are RecoveryPark and Hantz Farms, two proposals to farm Detroit's vacant spaces at a scale unknown now, up to 2,000 acres or more each -- that's twice the size of Belle Isle.

Meanwhile, the nonprofit Greening of Detroit this year plans to open Market Garden, a two-acre site near Eastern Market to train would-be career urban farmers how to operate like a business.


And New York activist Majora Carter continues to map plans in the city for a pilot program for a worker-owned farming cooperative.

...

Not what most Americans think of as agriculture -- amber waves of grain, rows and rows of corn.

Instead, it will resemble the community gardens that exist now in Detroit, although on a much larger scale.

Each operation is likely to grow several, perhaps dozens, of crops -- from salad greens and tomatoes to Christmas trees.

The plots mostly likely would be scattered throughout the city, interspersed with homes and businesses.

...

To help local farmers create jobs and tax base, City Council action is key, because Detroit -- like many other cities -- does not recognize agriculture as a legal land use in its zoning code.

Kathryn Lynch Underwood, a staffer with the City Planning Commission, an arm of the City Council, heads a task force looking at issues regarding urban agriculture.

She said she expects the council to take up proposed zoning changes within a few months, and that the diversity of farming efforts will be great.

...
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Old Posted Mar 25, 2010, 4:27 PM
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This can work well for any city that has sufficient empty plots of land, and much agreed it's a great idea. I wish Houston would take some initiave to have more urban gardens. I only know of four that are inside the loop (thankfully, one is my neighborhood garden).
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  #10  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2010, 3:31 PM
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What's so urban about agriculture? Dar es Salaam development planning must include farming to secure food security for all


By Afton Halloran



Read More: http://www.thisday.co.tz/?l=10795

Quote:
IF you eat you support agriculture; food is a basic human need. However, few of us see agriculture as a component of a modern city. In cities we often forget that every time we eat we are depending on someone else to grow our food. Where will we turn to for food in the future? Unfortunately, urban agriculture is not viewed as a vital part of an urban development.

- This is not just a problem in Dar es Salaam, but all over the world. For instance, citizens of Vancouver, Canada and New York City, USA fought a long, hard battle to have the right to raise chickens in their backyards. These residents wanted the right to reduce their food costs and have a safe, secure and reliable food supply. Urban farmers grow 15% of the world's food which is the equivalent of eating one completely urban grown meal once a week.

- Urban agriculture not only allows people to supplement their diets with homegrown products, it helps to reduce the total monthly family budget spent on food. Why would a family spend money on mchicha when they are capable growing it themselves? The money that they have saved can contribute to non-food expenses like education for their children. Additionally, some urban farmers are not only growing food for themselves, but to sell at their local markets to make money. This unacknowledged informal economy contributes to the livelihoods of many Dar residents.

- Farming in the city requires new innovation, luckily, farmers are great innovators. Think of the variables that they must deal with everyday: heavy rain, drought, pests, disease, land, erosion and fertility, to name a few! Despite all of these considerations, urban farmers remain innovative in the ways in which they produce food. Examples of innovation on the behalf of farmers in Dar es Salaam include the zero-grazing method of livestock rearing as it reduces the amount of land needed to graze. Zero-grazing cattle reduce soil compaction, soil erosion and other environmental stresses caused by over-grazing. A direct result of this method is the milk we drink from peri-urban areas in Dar es Salaam. Other farmers have designed vertical poultry “apartments” to provide more space to raise chickens in the city.

- Another innovative agricultural method is mushroom cultivation. With a few inputs like plastic bags, string, corn husks, cotton and spores, mushrooms can yield a substantial crop within three weeks. Additionally, they can be harvested continuously for three months. They do not require sunlight and are ideal to grow when land is not suitable for cultivation due to land scarcity, theft or pollution. With proper training mushroom cultivation can help improve the livelihoods of many urban dwellers.



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  #11  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2010, 5:33 PM
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It seems a bit ridiculous and reactionary to convert valuable urban space, often near mass transit lines, into low intensity inherently unurban farm land. I realize that there are urban food islands and urban youth who have no access to anything but doritos, but are urban farms really going to aleviate this problem? The entire concept seems to have been created by The Onion to caracature urban out of touch elitistists. "Oh if only the poor black kids from the ghetto could grow their own organic tomatoes all our problems (povery, global warming, etc.) would be solved".
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Old Posted Apr 13, 2010, 5:53 PM
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If the plots are empty anyway, I don't see how it hurts to use them for farming, it's a hell of a lot better than a dumping ground for abandoned cars...

A concept I find interesting is vertical farming, essentially farming in a skyscraper, it may be very beneficial in order to grow most types of fruits and vegetables organically (isolated environment, no need for pesticides), year-round in the middle of the city, with no need to transport it halfway around the globe. You could even raise fish in the water used for crop irrigation. And it reduces the need for farmland outside the city, hopefully allowing some of it to revert to forest.
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Old Posted Apr 13, 2010, 5:53 PM
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Photo Gallery: Urban Farming in Berlin

Around 80.000 of these allotment gardens, usually in a colony, exist in Berlin.
It has a very long tradition and is popular in all of central/northern Europe.

Wikipedia - Allotment garden: Nevertheless, the importance of allotment gardening in Germany has shifted over the years. While in times of crisis and widespread poverty (from 1850 to 1950), allotment gardening was a part time job, and its main importance was to enhance food security and improve food supply, its present functions have to be seen under a different point of view. In times of busy working days and the hectic urban atmosphere, allotment gardens have turned into recreational areas and locations for social gatherings. As green oases within oceans of asphalt and cement, they are substantially contributing to the conservation of nature within cities. What was previously a part time job is nowadays considered as a hobby where the hectic schedule of the day becomes a distant memory, while digging the flowerbeds and getting a little soil under the fingernails. It appears young families are also rediscovering gardens as a place where children can grow up within a more natural environment

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Old Posted Apr 13, 2010, 5:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcu View Post
It seems a bit ridiculous and reactionary to convert valuable urban space, often near mass transit lines, into low intensity inherently unurban farm land. I realize that there are urban food islands and urban youth who have no access to anything but doritos, but are urban farms really going to aleviate this problem? The entire concept seems to have been created by The Onion to caracature urban out of touch elitistists. "Oh if only the poor black kids from the ghetto could grow their own organic tomatoes all our problems (povery, global warming, etc.) would be solved".
I agree with this. Unless you were to utilize one of those crazy-looking vertical farming towers (which are costly enough that they defeat the purpose in most cases where urban farming is suggested) it seems extremely short-sighted. If the ultimate goal is the recovery of the region, fostering dependence on surface-level urban farms for jobs and food seems counterproductive.
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Old Posted Apr 13, 2010, 6:05 PM
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Mixed used vertical farms could be the way to go. Especially if most highrises dedicate a few floors to them in their buildings across the city.
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Old Posted Apr 13, 2010, 6:23 PM
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Mixed used vertical farms could be the way to go. Especially if most highrises dedicate a few floors to them in their buildings across the city.
Yeah, but the places this is being suggested aren't places that can afford to build vertical farms. It would be great in San Francisco or Chicago, but those aren't areas where urban farming has been suggested as a solution for the economic problems of the region. Places like Cleveland, Detroit, and St. Louis don't have the money to build vertical farms, and farming at the surface level would make the region dependent on the income from said farms, making it difficult to rebuild urban-level density in the areas converted to farmland when the economy recovers. It seems like they'd be amputating a limb when all they need to do is stop the bleeding until it can heal.
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Old Posted Apr 13, 2010, 7:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcu View Post
It seems a bit ridiculous and reactionary to convert valuable urban space, often near mass transit lines, into low intensity inherently unurban farm land.
Agreed. It's low density sprawl that separates us from our food. If we stopped eating up farmland with cookie cutter subdivisions, we would have food close to the city. Let's grow people in cities, not tomatoes. And again, if we did have that farmland, there'd be little need for high-rise farming except for specialized high value crops.
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Old Posted Apr 13, 2010, 9:48 PM
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If the plots are empty anyway, I don't see how it hurts to use them for farming, it's a hell of a lot better than a dumping ground for abandoned cars...
I agree in theory but after witnessing development patters for some time, once a chunk of land goes towards one use, it is virtually impossible for it to ever be converted to any other use. Even same but more intense use (ie a proposal for a 3 story building instead of a 2 story building) will likely be rejected. Too many NIMBYS and monied interests. Once a lot is identified as an urban farm, there is almost zero change it will ever become anything else.
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Old Posted Apr 13, 2010, 10:11 PM
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I agree in theory but after witnessing development patters for some time, once a chunk of land goes towards one use, it is virtually impossible for it to ever be converted to any other use. Even same but more intense use (ie a proposal for a 3 story building instead of a 2 story building) will likely be rejected. Too many NIMBYS and monied interests. Once a lot is identified as an urban farm, there is almost zero change it will ever become anything else.
Exactly. By the time the economy recovers enough to actually rezone for residential, office, or industrial and start rebuilding the city, people in the area will be too dependent on the money from the farms to want the lots redeveloped. As a result, development will either be forced outside the city limits, or forced to demolish perfectly intact existing structures to build new ones with higher capacity. Neither way is efficient, and both lead to characterless, sprawling suburban-style landscapes.
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Old Posted Apr 14, 2010, 2:03 AM
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Exactly. By the time the economy recovers enough to actually rezone for residential, office, or industrial and start rebuilding the city, people in the area will be too dependent on the money from the farms to want the lots redeveloped. As a result, development will either be forced outside the city limits, or forced to demolish perfectly intact existing structures to build new ones with higher capacity. Neither way is efficient, and both lead to characterless, sprawling suburban-style landscapes.
I have a hard time reconciling this version of events to reality. In my experience, most American cities outside of a select few "superstar" cities have vast stretches of unused or deindustrialized land. I think an urban farm in some of those plots is better than letting the land law fallow or hope for some distant recovery. An acre here and there is not going to seriously effect the city's ability to attract residents, in fact our local urban farm http://www.greensgrow.org/farm/index.php is actually a big selling point to potential residents.
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