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Old August 26th, 2008, 07:22 AM   #41
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not really a farm but there is a guy who started a business here by using peoples backyards to grow things that he than sells onto produce markets or at a farmers market

he just asks people to let him use some space in their backyards and he does all the work

i think he had over 50 backyards i think it was catching on and he was having a hard time keeping up with it all

its an interesting idea
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Old August 26th, 2008, 02:02 PM   #42
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we also have city hall farm ("horto municipal") and the garbage company farms that anyone can rent to produce their own food It's not very popular, cause although this is as city, we have countryside around. I don't even buy potatoes an the store, every Tuesday a farm women come here and delivers potatoes.

I've some plants in my "balcony", not garden, cause I live in an apartment. This year my balcony is full of parsley, b ut in other years it was full of tomatoes. But I've many other plants, including a beautiful orange tree, with two litlle oranges!! it's a young tree and it's in a vase. in spring it produces a lot of orange flowers and it gives a nice aroma, I recommend everyone to have an orange tree in their balcony. They need a lot of light to produce oranges, so it can't be too much North.
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Old September 17th, 2008, 04:49 AM   #43
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In SF City Hall front yard, a bounty of produce
31 July 2008

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - For generations, the lawn at Civic Center Plaza was a lush, quarter-acre welcome mat outside City Hall, and a frequent staging ground for demonstrations.

But the grass has been torn out and replaced by tomato plants, spinach, beans and squash -- an officially sanctioned and very organic protest against a culture of mediocre, unhealthy food.

The Victory Garden, as it is known, is the centerpiece of a food festival scheduled for Labor Day weekend that is intended to underscore the connection between planet and plate.

In the foggy summer weeks between July 1, when the turf was ripped up, and Labor Day, it is a living billboard for urban agriculture. Tourists and political gadflies, office workers and the homeless stroll the garden each day; volunteers hover nearby, ready to dish up information and shoo away squirrels.

"We've reached critical mass in the media," says Anya Fernald, executive director of Slow Food Nation '08, which organized and paid for the urban garden. "That level of critical mass has made it more acceptable to do the outrageous, and this is outrageous. We've just planted a farm in front of the mayor's office!"

Touchy about his image as one of "these nutty mayors," as he put it, Mayor Gavin Newsom denies there is any hippie plantation outside his office.

"Not everyone gets it yet. There have been some folks who criticize this as if we are building some farm out in City Hall," he said.

Newsom has planted the seeds of a run for California governor, and, eyeing conservative voters in California's real farm belt, doesn't want to appear too crunchy.

But the mayor's office approved of replacing lawn with lettuce, and Newsom said he has watched enthusiastically as "this victory garden" has sprouted.

"I have gotten to enjoy this the last few weeks right there -- my office is literally right there, the window with those shades open -- and every day I have been peeking out and looking at the progress," he said. "I'm just like a kid, I'm so excited about this, so proud about this."

Snap peas, broccoli, leeks, eggplant, pumpkins and peppers are flourishing in City Hall's front yard, a bounty meant to peak for the festival. After the last speech, it will be harvested and donated to the San Francisco Food Bank for distribution to the needy.

To the mayor, the garden embodies a movement toward healthier foods that is a natural policy companion piece to his push for universal health care. "What we're trying to do is move from access to investing in people's health, not treating people when they are sick," he said. "That's what, to me, this whole movement is about."

"This whole movement," it turns out, includes a whole buffet of issues, from protecting workers' and growers' rights; to banishing pesticides and other chemicals; to ensuring rich and poor have equal access to good food.

To John Bela, who designed and managed the garden, it's also about growing food closer to home.

"In San Francisco, we're making the big, visible, symbolic gesture here, in an effort to bootstrap urban gardening in the Bay Area and look at the role of urban farming in creating a sustainable food system," he said.

Fernald practically has to gulp for air as she rushes to tick off the issues driving "the movement." "Concern about oil, concern about health, concern about childhood diabetes, obesity," she said.

The garden is also a bridge to history. During World War II, City Hall's lawns were ripped up and replaced with vegetable plants meant to ease produce shortages. Thousands thronged to a Victory Garden Fair in the park in June 1943.

Sixty-five years later, organizers are predicting as many as 50,000 people will descend on the City Hall area for the Slow Food Nation festival -- what they are calling "the largest celebration of American food in history."

It will graft a political rally onto the mother of all farmer's markets. There will be seminars, chef demonstrations, produce spilling from crates, workshops, films, exhibits, music, and of course, tastings.

Bela and other organizers are uncertain what will happen to the garden after the festival, but they are almost certain it will not stay at City Hall. The soil and some other materials might be recycled and used at a garden in another city park, they said.

One recent day, it drizzled on the garden as the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition massed on the steps of City Hall and a few homeless people dozed through the protesters' chants.

The homeless are a permanent fixture in San Francisco, and some seem to live near the garden.

Although the garden has a permanent security presence, Bela said he is untroubled by the prospect of a hungry person picking the occasional radish out of the garden.

"If people want to eat out of the garden, and they need to eat a piece of lettuce, that's fine with me," he said. "It's good, organic food. That's the least of my concerns."

------

On the Net:

Festival Web site: http://slowfoodnation.org
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Old October 19th, 2008, 04:15 PM   #44
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Albuquerque's rural roots put city at front of urban agriculture renaissance
20 August 2008

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Dan Schuster breezes down the road in his green and yellow John Deere tractor, but instead of passing cow pastures or a barn, he drives by fast-food restaurants and strip malls as excited kids wave to him from open car windows in the city traffic.

Schuster, owner of Fair Field Farmer, which does custom plowing for landowners, and farm manager at the 130-acre Rio Grande Community Farms, makes his living as a farmer in the city.

Community gardening organizers and experts nationwide say growers like Schuster -- and urban areas like Albuquerque -- are bringing agriculture into their cities and suburbs in new ways as people worry about the environment, rising food costs and food safety. City folks also are relearning how delicious homegrown food can be.

Drive down a six-lane highway through this central New Mexico city and you can see cows chewing their cud. Small farms in the city's South Valley along the Rio Grande are a short bicycle ride from downtown skyscrapers. And, the city has one of the most lenient ordinances about backyard chicken ownership in the country.

"We're so far behind, we're ahead," Schuster said. "When all those (other cities) were getting populated and built on, we were still growing food here to eat. We still had families that were feeding themselves because they couldn't afford food except for what they could grow.

"Now, when the rest of the world is coming in, they are going, 'Man, that is incredible.'"

The rural lifestyle of backyard horse stables, fresh eggs for breakfast, fruit trees and vegetable gardens that people take for granted in many Albuquerque neighborhoods is catching on around the country.

"The actual phenomenon of urban farming is absolutely taking off even more," said Taja Sevelle, founder and executive director of Detroit-based Urban Farming, which creates gardens on vacant land to provide a sustainable food source in communities where people are hungry. "People are worried about the environment, the rising cost of food. People feel safer about their food being grown closer to home."

Urban Farming started with three gardens in Detroit in 2005. This year they have 600 gardens and have expanded across the country into cities like New York, St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta, Minneapolis and New Orleans, she said.

Greg Bowman, communications manager at the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Penn., a nonprofit that promotes and researches organic farming methods, said urban planners are integrating sustainable agriculture into developments like retirement communities and subdivisions.

And local farmers -- who in recent years have brought organic produce into farmer's markets, restaurants and schools where urban dwellers can try it -- are choosing to plant vegetable varieties based on nutritional value and taste, rather than making decisions based on a business contract or how long a vegetable can sit on a shelf.

"It kind of opens up people's imaginations of what can be done closer to home," he said.

In Albuquerque, KT LaBadie has started http://www.urbanchickens.org. She trains urban and suburban residents to keep chickens in their back yards. The city has one of the most lenient ordinances affecting chickens in the country, allowing up to 15 chickens per household, she said.

"The urban chicken thing has really taken off," she said. "It's a draw to bring people to your cities and it's something that should be preserved."

Schuster, too, keeps chickens and sells the extra eggs to his neighbors, who leave 20 dollar bills on his porch periodically when they pick up their eggs.

He and his wife also feed themselves from their small vegetable garden, that produces enough to sell at a local farmer's market for extra income, and by getting vegetables, fruit and meat from other local producers.

Schuster also grows flowers that he sells at local shops and he allows a beekeeper to maintain a hive on his property from which he gets some of the honey.

Buying meat locally and stocking a freezer to keep fall's bounty through the winter are the real challenges, he said.

"This whole art of sourcing, storing and then preparing foods, that's the difficult thing. That's what takes more time and education. That's what we've lost," Schuster said.

But not everyone in Albuquerque is as optimistic as Schuster and LaBadie about local food production.

Water is a constant concern in this southwestern city, which has about 600 miles of irrigation and drainage ditches called acequias crisscrossing its neighborhoods near the river.

A lot of growers despair that small farms often are being subdivided into tiny lots -- the water rights to the parcels lost.

Agriculture is "under incredibly heavy pressure from developers," said John Shipley, vice president of the Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust. "Why can't they leave the farmland alone on the valley floor? The loss of agricultural water and farmland is a major threat to the continuation of farming."

As things stand now, Albuquerque produces only about 3 percent of the food that the city eats, Shipley said.

Michael Reed, president of the New Mexico Farmer's Marketing Association, owns a farm south of Albuquerque where he grows heirloom crops that grow well in the region's dry climate and where he demonstrates that a lot of food can be grown in a small area.

"If we could encourage one city block to have each neighbor plant a fruit tree, in a few years they would have more fruit than they would know what to do with," he said. "This isn't about subsistence farming, it's about creating healthy communities."
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Old October 19th, 2008, 04:50 PM   #45
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I was surprised to see this land on the other side of the road of the Yokohama Arena in Shin Yokohama.

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Old October 30th, 2008, 06:28 AM   #46
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The urban farmer's almanac
24 October 2008
Canwest News Service

The backyard of this downtown Toronto row house looks like many, with a small patio and a rectangular lawn adorned by perennials along the border. But at the far end of the yard is the not-so-regular sight of a fenced-in wooden chicken coop.

Red, Ramona and Daisy, three 18-month-old hens, spend their nights in the enclosure and their days nibbling and digging in the yard. They eat a mixture of chicken feed, grass and kitchen scraps (the house's green bin goes out nearly empty) and provide their owners Chris and Cara (who asked that their last names not be used) with three humongous brown eggs almost every day. His hens utter the occasional cluck, but their poop fertilizes the lawn and the neighbours, far from offended, show up at Chris and Cara's front door with empty cartons.

"There's really nothing to it," Chris says as he eats his fried egg sandwich for breakfast. "You wouldn't believe how good the eggs are."

So why isn't everyone living this locavore dream of having organic, free- range eggs for nearly nothing, right from their own backyard? Well, for one thing, it's illegal.

But as the local food movement becomes more popular, city dwellers such as Chris and Cara are questioning the rules against urban farming. City chickens can give us eggs and, when the laying years are over, meat. Backyard goats can yield milk, meat and weed control; bees in rooftop hives can both feed us and help local flora; and fish in unused swimming pools or water filtration plants can give us a supply of lean protein.

It's the logical extension of the proliferation of backyard, rooftop and communal gardens

that grow tomatoes, lettuce and squash. After all, we eat more than just vegetables. But to get more livestock feeding hungry urbanites on a truly local level, bylaws, attitudes and farming models will have to change. Or, more precisely, revert back to what they once were.

As recently as the 1980s, chickens, goats and rabbits had homes in many Toronto backyards - as they still do today in many cities around the world. Up until the late '60s, live animals were kept in Kensington Market; you could pick the chicken or duck you liked and have it killed and cleaned on the spot. But then we started to think of cities as clean, concrete jungles - no place for the dirty business of farming. About 30 years ago, Canadian cities started enacting bylaws to limit the kinds of animals one could keep at home and to stipulate that they could only be killed in slaughterhouses. (Toronto did so in 1983.) Stricter provincial rules for slaughterhouses led to the closure of small and urban abattoirs (local pressure to get their stench out of town didn't help), leaving only big slaughterhouses doing business with large-scale farms. Urban Canadians lost their livestock-raising skills. They would now like them back.

Rising food prices, meat contamination and a growing sense of concern about where our food comes from have put urban meat back on the table.

"The whole thing is taking off," says Wayne Roberts, manager of the Toronto Food Policy Council. He recently visited the University of Pennsylvania, which is on the cutting edge of food policy research, and all anyone could talk about was city farming. "It's an idea that's exploding," says Rhonda Teitel-Payne, urban

agriculture manager for The Stop Community Food Centre, a nonprofit organization that does food security work. "People are looking for answers and are not happy with what they're finding."

Whether animals and their byproducts are raised in backyards or in communal settings - for sharing or for profit - city animal farming has big benefits. Besides being easily traced to its source, urban farm products save on fuel. City beasts such as chickens, goats and tilapia will eat orange peels and wilted lettuce, and this "upcycling" can help reduce garbage. Since farming takes a lot of land, using corners of backyards, rooftops and disused pieces of the city for animals could prevent more greenbelt from being razed for farms. City land is pricey, but since animal products garner more than produce, it makes economic sense to raise livestock instead of veggies on urban land.

And animals raised on a small scale are yummier. "Anyone who's ever eaten a pig that has been fed a variety of foods and been outside where it can root around [knows] the taste of the meat is entirely different than what you buy from stores," says Christie Young, executive director of FarmStart, a Guelph- based organization that helps people launch farms.

The urbanization of agriculture starts with chickens. They're inexpensive, require less work than a dog and give you daily, delicious eggs and eventually meat. They eat bugs, chew up rocks and irrigate the soil when they dig, making them a common fixture in apple orchards.

Chickens are legal in Niagara Falls, London, Victoria and numerous U.S. cities (Seattle reportedly has 1,000 coops in backyards). Waterloo, thanks to pressure from a group of citizens called the Waterloo Hen Association, has re- evaluated the public health risks of backyard birds and may change its bylaw as early as next month.

Here, a group called Toronto Chickens has put together a 600-signature petition, which it plans to present to city councillors soon. Councillor Joe Mihevc, who just a year ago was against chickens being raised in urban areas, supports them now. "I went to a home where they had illegal chickens and was shown that they can be grown, and the impact on neighbours was non-existent and frankly had no negative impacts," he explains.

Eletta Purdy, manager for Toronto Animal Services admits: "We do need to look at our bylaw. We'd like to update it to address the current day's needs." She says the city may review rules for chickens and exotic pets next year.

Bees, meanwhile, are governed by provincial laws, and can be kept in town. The Toronto Beekeepers Cooperative, a group of 25 volunteers and one certified beekeeper, cares for 21 hives at the Brick Works and three on the rooftop of the Fairmont Royal York hotel. These insects (which are dying off in the wild) produce honey full of local pollen, which acts as an immunity booster for people with allergies. Bees pollinate flowers, everything from daisies to tomato vines, which helps these and numerous other plants grow and reproduce.

Hives take up little space, and require work about once a week (more in the summer during honey harvest). The Royal York got 300 pounds of honey this year from its bees. But the rules say that hives must be kept 30 metres from residences or thoroughfares. "We're looking for more locations," says Mylee Nordin, the cooperative's staff beekeeper. More awareness, understanding and funding for beekeeping could mean more hives on rooftops, in communal gardens or in disused lots.

A rarer city sight are goats, which have multiple urban uses. Annie Booth, a researcher at the University of Northern British Columbia, recently observed 10 goats doing weed control on city lands in Prince George. Except for buying the goats and fencing, this was nearly a cost-free venture, as they chewed on dandelion and thistle all day. "Working with goats is like dealing with large cats with hooves," says Booth of the friendly animals, which are easy to herd. Small breeds such as the pygmy goat can live in backyards and provide both milk and meat.

Similarly, sheep make excellent lawnmowers, and some people recall an old North York oil refinery using them to cut its grass as recently as the 1980s. We could try out sheep at a few city parks, and Scadding Court Community Centre executive director Kevin Lee thinks urban shepherding has potential as a profession for the city's at-risk youth.

The compact Dexter cow needs a big yard, or could graze with a herd in disused land near railroad tracks or industrial parks. Milk is expensive to transport -i's heavy and needs refrigeration - so a local supply makes sense. Pigs, meanwhile, need little space and eat bugs.

Fish have great city potential, too. Every June for the past seven years, Scadding Court has drained and dechlorinated its pool and filled it with fresh water and a thousand trout for community members to fish. While designed to get urban kids in touch with their food, Lee wonders why his idea can't be spun out to feed more people. "The city has a number of outdoor pools that are only used for eight weeks of the year. You could stretch a plastic tarp across these pools, and it's a greenhouse that fish can live in," says Lee. Tilapia is the best city fish: It can exist in kiddie-sized pools, as long as they're kept warm; they reproduce like mad and eat mainly kitchen scraps.

Yet, the numerous reasons for driving animals out of town years ago still exist. Clucks, oinks and bleats can disrupt city streets. Manure piles can attract flies and rodents and lead to conflicts between neighbours. Sheep and goats doing natural lawn work could escape from their confines and spook people or get run over. E coli and other bacteria from manure can get into the water or soil, while city chickens could spread avian flu, as they have in parts of Asia. Backyard farmers might be tempted to sell their wares outside the food system, which means the meat or milk would not be tested, putting others at risk. No city bylaw would be able to ensure city livestock got regular vet care. "You could be eating a sick animal," says Jim Chan, manager for Toronto Public Health's food safety program.

If problems in the food system reach a more critical state, these risks may become worth it. But more limiting to the growth of animals in town are our own rules and attitudes. Right now, people with chickens, goats, pigs or sheep in their yards in Toronto can be fined $240 and up to $5,000 if the case goes to court. (It's legal to keep as many as six rabbits in a house or yard. "I know someone who tried going into the rabbit business," Booth says. "But in the end couldn't bring themselves to whack the rabbits.")

It's also illegal to slaughter most animals at a residence, and finding an abattoir willing to slice up single a chicken, goat or cow is next to impossible under current guidelines.

Cities can issue permits for pilot projects and studies, but they rarely do.

"Everyone just thinks inside the box and brings up barriers," says Lee, whose fish farming and urban shepherding have met with resistance from city officials. A proposal to turn the Etobicoke Sewage Treatment Plant into a tilapia fish farm years ago went nowhere. And although Booth showed that weed control with goats was cheap and effective, the City of Prince George didn't want to take over the flock when her research project was done.

We require new farming models to really bring animals into the city in a way that's safe, profitable and helpful. As the trend spreads and more researchers such as Booth and groups like FoodShare and Scadding Court test out new ideas, we may see the identification of more city-friendly animals, creative ways of repurposing land and new models for working together for both sharing or profit.

Does this mean, eventually, that every Toronto yard will house a chicken? Hardly. You need a sizable yard, time and a real passion for local food to endure bee stings, manure on your shoes and late-night calls to the vet.

"You have to care for these animals, keep them clean, feed them the right things. There will always be issues, and it's not for everyone," Young says. But for lovers of backyard eggs, pristine bacon, local honey and milk from the source, the fight for these types of animal rights will surely continue.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 07:59 AM   #47
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In every backyard, a garden plot
Entrepreneurs set out to farm unused residential yards – and make money to boot

20 October 2008
The Globe and Mail

VICTORIA -- It all started in June for Deb Heighway with a call from her brother, Craig, proving that good ideas grow roots and flourish quickly. He had declared himself CPO – “chief pitchfork operator” – of an urban farming venture in Vancouver, and he urged her to give the concept a try.

“The timing was right, as I had just finished a contract,” said Ms. Heighway, who works helping people who have suffered brain injury. “And I said: ‘Why not?' ”

Ms. Heighway, who is originally from London, Ont., started off by purchasing a set of manuals online about small-plot intensive – or SPIN – farming: “It was $85, approximately.” The guide was part of a series produced by the pioneers behind the SPIN farming movement in Saskatchewan, Wally Satzewich and Gail Vandersteen.

“So I started knocking on doors, just on my street,” said Ms. Heighway, with flyers offering to “turn your yard into a productive vegetable garden. We'll do all the work and you get healthy, fresh and FREE vegetables.”

And so Donald Street Farms came into being.

SPIN farming is an urban agriculture phenomenon that is growing across Canada and the United States. It offers more productive land use in the city as well as food sustainability closer to end-users.

It's an example of a greener mindset leading to a kind of enlightened self-interest: making good money while meeting needs and creating opportunities by using overlooked, available resources in a new way that is environmentally progressive.

When SPIN pioneer Mr. Satzewich started his venture, he rented land from Saskatoon homeowners, but Ms. Heighway chose the barter route.

In exchange for use of the land, each client gets a basket of fresh produce weekly throughout the season of about 20 weeks. Others who can't offer land can purchase “market share subscriptions” and receive a steady, weekly supply of produce throughout the season.

“I've seen subscription prices range from $400 to $850,” Ms. Heighway said. She didn't have any official subscription clients this year because she started late, but she did sell fresh produce to people she knew in the neighbourhood, such as Shekinah Home, a place located on her street for people with developmental disabilities.

“I'm still not sure what I'm going to charge … not $850. And I also want to sell at some kind of farmer's market nearby.”

That's what Mr. Satzewich and Ms. Vandersteen do, according to their website. He rents the land for Wally's Urban Market Garden (about 25 backyards totalling about a half-acre of growing area).

He grows the vegetables (sometimes three successful crops a year in the same backyard “field”) on the rented land and sells them at the Saskatoon Farmers' Market.

On their SPIN website, Mr. Satzewich and Ms. Vandersteen say growing produce in the city can be easier because the environment is more manageable in terms of pests and wind control. They indicate it's possible to gross $50,000 a year from a half-acre.

Ms. Heighway wasn't calculating profit this year, but her door-to-door sales worked: It wasn't long before she had three clients, one offering 1,000 square feet in her yard, another, 800, and a third, 500. She has two more lined up for next spring.

“When I started knocking on doors it was July, and as the summer went on, I was happy I only had three” yards to work. Ms. Heighway has also converted her own yard to SPIN farming.

City Harvest, another Victoria-area SPIN operation, is run by Paula Sobie and Martin Scaia.They've been urban farming since early 2007. Unlike other business startups in an urban marketplace, their relationship with Ms. Heighway's Donald Street Farms is not competitive.

“Paula and Martin have been nothing but helpful. I went to hear them speak in July about converting backyards into food-producing gardens and it was inspirational. They've got more than a dozen locations and little kids at home. … I've called Paula for help and she's always generous.”

Ms. Heighway uses organic farming methods and says, “I don't dig.” She builds her beds up; it's called “lasagna” farming. First she lays cardboard onto the plot to make any remaining grass or vegetation mulch-able. The cardboard decomposes under a layer of manure and then she adds a layer of topsoil.

“It's called no-till farming – it's easier than digging and you can plant immediately.”

She uses a hand-seeding device to plant seeds in the rows, which have sawdust footpaths between them. That way the urban gardener can straddle the crop rows while working. Ms. Heighway said her adult children like to help when they come to visit “because they both have indoor, chained-to-the-desk jobs.

“It's still hard on the back,” she grinned. “I'll be doing a lot of sit-ups this winter.”

This being her first season, she doesn't yet have a solid estimate of her costs.

“It depends how much I can get for free, like the compost. Free is good. The topsoil is about $40 a yard. And looking ahead, I need a shed. And an outside fridge. And some kind of sink arrangement,” she says thoughtfully, listing her operation's future needs on her fingers.

The fridge and the sink will allow her to progress to basic food processing and storage, having things fresh and ready for market sales and for subscriber distribution.

“I think it's so exciting, and it's such a contribution” to Vancouver Island being better able to feed itself and to “improve local food security” so people will feel confident about the safety of the food they eat.
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Old November 10th, 2008, 05:49 PM   #48
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Tokyoites go farming to escape urban woes
5 November 2008
Agence France Presse

Tomohiro Kitazawa makes an unlikely farmer. He works neither under the sun nor in the fields, instead reporting for duty in the bustling heart of Tokyo.

As Japan's capital city struggles with problems from food safety to global warming to unemployment, a growing number of people in the famously crowded metropolis are becoming city farmers, planting crops atop tall buildings or deep underground.

Kitazawa, 31, arrives for work in Tokyo's financial district of Otemachi in a heavy-duty silver elevator. What was once a bank's underground vault has been transformed into a subterranean world of greenery and warm, moist air.

Kitazawa was one of many young people here left without a stable income as Japanese companies slashed jobs. But he finally ended years of job hunting when he found the position growing vegetables right in the middle of Tokyo.

"I felt a bit odd at first growing vegetables like this, but I've learned its merits," Kitazawa said.

The state-of-the art farm, known as Pasona O2, was created by Tokyo-based temp staffing agency Pasona Group Inc. The farm carefully adjusts temperatures, humidity and lighting so vegetables can grow under the ground.

Kitazawa grows a few different types of lettuce in one of the six "farms," which look somewhat like space laboratories divided by glass doors that slide open and shut automatically.

The other farming rooms grow rice, roses and vegetables such as tomatoes and pumpkins.

"We want to activate Japan's agricultural sector by dispatching enthusiastic young people," said Sayaka Itami, leader of Pasona's new business development division.

"By creating this new style of farm, which is bright and clean, in the middle of Tokyo, we want to draw young people's interest into farming," she said.

She said that urban farming helped her company by creating a new source of jobs.

City farming also offers a solution for another problem in Tokyo and other major cities -- the so-called urban heat-island effect.

Cities' temperatures rise in the summer due to the urban environment of heat-absorbing concrete buildings and pavement. In a vicious cycle, the heat boosts the use of air conditioning, raising carbon emissions blamed for global warming.

Encouraged by environment-conscious Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, a number of building owners in the capital have introduced roof-top gardening as a way to prevent overheating.

In the "Green Potato" project launched by two subsidiaries of Japanese telecommunications giant NTT Corp., city farmers not only help cool down Tokyo but also harvest sweet potatoes in autumn.

"Sweet potatoes grow strongly in the tough roof-top environment of harsh sun and strong wind," said Masahiro Nagata, a staff member of NTT Facilities Inc.'s environment business department.

The plants are particularly good for roof-tops because their wide leaves can cover the whole surface and are efficient at transpiration -- evaporating water -- which has a cooling effect.

The temperature of a roof area not covered by potato leaves was as much as 27 degrees Celsius (48.6 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than an area covered by the leaves, according to a survey taken on top of the NTT Facilities building.

The vegetables are consumed locally, helping ease another growing worry in Japan -- the safety of its food.

Japan, which has limited natural resources, imports around 60 percent of the food it consumes -- a higher rate than any other rich country.

Public concerns have mounted about tainted food, particularly produce imported from China. In the past year, Japanese people have fallen ill from eating Chinese frozen dumplings and green beans laced with pesticides.

NTT Facilities is targeting not only big office buildings in Tokyo but also schools, hoping to market "Green Potato" nationwide.

Nagata said he hoped more children in urban areas would learn about the environment and the fun of growing food with their own hands.

The excitement is already felt among office workers in Ginza, the glitzy Tokyo shopping district where real estate is the priciest in Japan.

Yukio Oki, a spokesman for the Matsuya department store, was delighted with the basket-full of vegetables -- tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, pumpkins and watermelons -- he harvested on the rooftop.

"We harvested lots of vegetables and enjoyed a savoury vegetable curry," Oki said.
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Old November 28th, 2008, 04:08 AM   #49
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Urban growers go high-tech to feed city dwellers
21 November 2008

The program run by the California State Polytechnic University agriculture professor is part of a growing effort to use hydroponics -- a method of cultivating plants in water instead of soil -- to bring farming into cities, where consumers are concentrated.

Because hydroponic farming requires less water and less land than traditional field farming, Fujimoto and researchers-turned-growers in other U.S. cities see it as ideal to bring agriculture to apartment buildings, rooftops and vacant lots.

"The goal here is to look at growing food crops in small spaces," he said.

Long a niche technology existing in the shadow of conventional growing methods, hydroponics is getting a second look from university researchers and public health advocates.

Supporters point to the environmental cost of trucking produce from farms to cities, the loss of wilderness for farmland to feed a growing world population, and the risk of bacteria along extensive, insecure food chains as reasons for establishing urban hydroponic farms.

However, the expense of setting up the high-tech farms on pricey city land and providing enough year-round heat and light could present some insurmountable obstacles.

"These are university theories," said Jim Prevor, editor of Produce Business magazine. "They're not mapped to things that actually exist."

The roots of hydroponically produced fruits and vegetables can dangle in direct contact with water or be set in growing media such as sponges or shredded coconut shells. Most commercial operations pump water through sophisticated sensors that automatically adjust nutrient and acidity levels in the water.

Hydroponics are generally used for fast-growing, high-value crops such as lettuces and tomatoes that can be produced year-round in heated, well-lit greenhouses. So far, production is not large enough for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to track.

The country's largest hydroponic greenhouse is Eurofresh Inc.'s 274-acre operation in southeastern Arizona, where more than 200 million pounds of tomatoes were produced in 2007. Most large-scale commercial operations are in the arid Southwest, where water-efficiency is prized, or the sometimes frigid Northeast, where the method can be used year-round in heated greenhouses.

The technology has benefited from nearly three decades of NASA research aimed at sustaining astronauts in places with even less green space than a typical U.S. city.

Hydroponics bears the dubious distinction of being a growing method for marijuana.

Fujimoto said one of his research assistants got a call from the FBI after using a credit card to buy nutrients for the campus greenhouse at a hydroponic-supply store.

There's clearly nothing illicit going on at the greenhouse, where thin streams of water pass silently though dozens of long white plastic tubes arranged in rows across chest-high stands. Rose-shaded lettuce leaves, pale-green stalks of bok-choy and sprigs of basil poke from the holes in the tubes.

Fujimoto aims to prepare his students to operate the urban hydroponic businesses that he thinks will gain importance in the future. They sell their lettuces, peppers, tomatoes and other produce to an on-campus grocery store and at a farmers market.

In Ohio, the ProMedica Health System network of clinics used a Toledo hospital roof to grow more than 200 pounds of vegetables in stacked buckets filled with a ground coconut shell potting medium. The tomatoes, peppers, green beans and leafy greens were served to patients and donated to a nearby food shelter, hospital spokeswoman Stephanie Cihon said.

When the project resumes in the spring, the hospital plans to expand into at least two community centers in economically depressed central Toledo, where fresh produce is hard to come by.

"From the health-care perspective, the more we can increase people's lifestyle changes and encourage them to eat better, it's going to impact our services greatly," Cihon said.

In a New York City schools program run by Cornell University, students grow lettuce on a school roof and sell it for $1.50 a head to the Gristedes chain of supermarkets.

Cornell agriculturist Philson Warner, who designed the program's hydroponics system, said his students harvest hundreds of heads of lettuce a week from an area smaller than five standard parking spaces by using a special nutrient-rich solution instead of water.

The numbers have some researchers imagining a future when enough produce to feed entire cities is grown in multistory buildings sandwiched between office towers and other structures.

Columbia University environmental health science professor Dickson Despommier, who champions the concept under the banner of his Vertical Farm Project, said he has been consulting with officials in China and the Middle East who are considering multistory indoor farms.

He is also shopping his concept to engineering teams in hopes of having a prototype built as he seeks funding.

"Most of us live in cities," he said. "As long as you're going to live there, you might as well grow your food there."
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Old December 14th, 2008, 06:15 PM   #50
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Can Community Gardens save a city? In Holyoke, urban agriculture is spurring development and improving nutrition.
9 November 2008
The Boston Globe

THE GIVING ISSUE

Daniel Ross walks through a garden in South Holyoke with plants straight out of Puerto Rico, chicharos and jabaneros. This was the first of what are now 10 jardines comunitarios - community gardens - located throughout low-income neighborhoods in the area, and it sits about a half block from the blighted Main Street shopping district, a place where vacant buildings and overgrown lots seem to outnumber functioning businesses. "Hey, Carmelo," he calls to a man working a plot in midmorning. It's Carmelo Ortiz, a retiree who emigrated from Puerto Rico to Holyoke decades ago and helped found this garden back in 1991, working with local volunteers to reclaim a lot made vacant when a church burned down.

These seemingly humble gardens are part of a local success story with national significance. They've blossomed because of the nonprofit agency Nuestras Raices - Our Roots - which has received numerous honors for its model of using urban agriculture to spur economic development, enrich a community through cultural pride, and improve nutrition for youth and the community in general.

The gardens are cooperatively maintained but are overseen by Nuestras Raices, which helps people get access to the lots. The gardeners use the food for their own households, share it with neighbors, or sell it at farmers' markets.

The nonprofit also has a 30-acre farm site where it teaches people who were farmers in Puerto Rico or other countries how to be commercial farmers in Massachusetts.

Overall, Nuestras Raices has assisted in the creation or development of some two dozen small businesses that are related to food or agriculture, including artisan bakery El Jardin and the restaurant Mi Plaza, both of which rent space in a Holyoke building renovated by Nuestras Raices. And it works extensively with young people, teaching them about gardening and farming and running programs on topics ranging from computers to health to leadership. Altogether, the organization's impact on South Holyoke is estimated at about $2 million a year, with the potential for double that, says Stephen Sheppard, a Williams College professor who led a study last year on the group. "They're a very big player in the microcosm of their neighborhood," he says.

All of this success has come under the guidance of Ross, 35, a Manhattan native who grew up primarily in Western Massachusetts and Puerto Rico and is fluent in English, Spanish, and BlackBerry. In 1994, when he became executive director of the nonprofit, it was the tiniest of operations. Today, the group has an annual budget of $800,000.

The Nuestras Raices formula encompasses economic development, environmental sustainability, healthier eating in schools and at home, and a sense of community. All four are hot buttons nationally. Ross is now helping other communities build similar organizations, starting with nearby Westfield. A significant economic downturn may make him even more in demand - everything Nuestras Raices does is driven by community members, from "the bottom up," Ross says. That approach, he says, is the "right direction for everybody."

Michael Fitzgerald is a frequent contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.
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Old December 14th, 2008, 06:38 PM   #51
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Welcome to Thanet Earth: The biggest greenhouse in Britain unveiled
Daily Mail (London)

11th June 2008


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...-unveiled.html

You've heard of the factory chicken. Now meet the factory vegetable. Grown in their millions in trays of nutrient-enriched water inside a heated, artificially-lit greenhouse large enough to house ten football pitches, they are as far as you can get from 'natural' home-grown food.

But this week, workers are putting the finishing touches to Britain's largest hydroponic greenhouse - an astonishing construction in white steel and glass.


Massive: 'Thanet Earth' will cover 91 hectares of land in Kent.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

By the time the site is complete in 2010, another six massive greenhouses will have been constructed, providing a home to more than 1.3million tomato, pepper and cucumber plants - grown hydroponically, without soil.

Kent is often called the Garden of England. When this village of glass is complete, it will be more like England's factory.

At a time when people are increasingly concerned about industrial-scale farming, this latest, monumental step in the steady, insidious creep of factory farming is a controversial one.



Garden of England: The site will contain seven greenhouses, each the size of 10 football pitches

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Fresca, the company building the complex on the Isle of Thanet with a consortium of Dutch growers, argues that the new site - called Thanet Earth - will help meet the demand for homegrown food all year round.

But real food campaigners say nothing can replace the taste of vegetables and fruit grown outside in proper soil.

The scale of the £80 million project is mind-boggling. When complete, its seven greenhouses will sprawl across 220 acres of Kent countryside, occupying the same area as six London Zoos.



___________________________________________________________________________________________

Each greenhouse will be 1,240ft long, centrally heated and fed by its own private reservoir.

Conditions will be monitored and controlled by computers. Plants will be grown year round, suspended in vast rows from the 26ft-high ceiling.

A staggering 2.5 million tomatoes will be cropped every week of the year; 560,000 peppers and 700,000 cucumbers will be picked weekly during a shorter season between February and October.

This massive harvest will boost Britain's salad crop production by 15 per cent - reducing reliance on imports.

To enable production on this industrial scale, the science of hydroponics is utilised.

Similar techniques were used to create the ancient Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the floating gardens of the Aztecs in Mexico.

But the scale of these modern factories is unprecedented. Indeed, this is the closest that farming gets to assembly-line agriculture.

Steve McVickers, chief executive officer of Thanet Earth, said: 'Vegetables have been grown without soil in water before. What's new here is the scale. This is the biggest greenhouse site of its kind in Britain.

'The advantage is that it gives you a clean growing medium. You get no soil-borne diseases . . . and you can exactly control the nutrients, light and temperatures the plants get.'


'Thanet Earth' will cover 91 hectares of land in Kent. It the largest such project ever attempted in the UK

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Given the right conditions, the produce grows two to four times faster than normal. The plants will be grown in beds, on mats of rock wool - a natural, absorbent fibre made by melting rock and blowing air through it, a process much like making candyfloss.

The beds will then be placed in a system of guttering suspended from the greenhouse ceiling on metal cables and hanging at waist height to allow easy harvesting.
A cable drip will feed each plant with water, and nitrogen, phosphate, potassium and magnesium.

In the greenhouse, every inch of metal is painted white to reflect as much light as possible. The floor is covered with white plastic to reflect sunlight.

The plants receive the same amount of light and are kept at 28C throughout the year.

In winter, the greenhouses are warmed and illuminated artificially. In summer, shades block out the sun if temperatures get too high.

Conditions inside are so bright that workers have to wear sunglasses. Despite being heated, the owners claim the greenhouses are not damaging to the environment.

Each building has its own combined heat and power plant. They use mains gas to generate electricity and the heat from the generators is channelled back into the greenhouses - as is the waste carbon dioxide.

Fifty million gallons of water will be stored at seven reservoirs. Incredibly, worker bees are also released into the greenhouses to pollinate the plants.

Natural predators such as wasps are also used to keep damaging aphids and mites down.

'We also have to release some pests such as aphids and red spiders at the start of the season. That gives the predators something to eat and ensures that if there is a sudden outbreak of pests, there are enough predators to cope with it,' said Mr McVickers.

He refutes the accusation that these factory-farmed salad vegetables are tasteless.

'When you have the right variety, the flavour is fantastic. Where you sometimes don't get great favour, it's often because you've not controlled the feeding or the shade or temperature. But we can do that.'

Locals have raised concerns about the blot on the landscape - although the prospect of 550 new jobs in a deprived area of Kent has appeased many.

Even so, the arrival of the first tomato factory has been greeted with dismay by real food campaigners.


The development will grow 1.3million plants in rows

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Jeanette Longfield of the food campaign group Sustain, said: 'What are they going to taste like if they are grown in water rather than in soil? How is this going to reconnect people with the importance of seasonal food and of experiencing different varieties?

'This is about producing bland food. French farmers have a word for this - they call it the "terroir" - its the special characteristics of the local landscape on the grapes and food they produce. It means that the land - the soil and the local climate - leave their mark on food.

'But how can food produced like this have character?'

The first greenhouse will be complete next month, and the first tomatoes will be in the shops at Christmas. Peppers and cucumbers will appear next year.

Fresca's project is expected to be the first of many and may not be Britain's biggest greenhouse complex for long.

Tellingly, the soaring price of fuel means that pressure is on growers to cut overheads and many are turning to economies of scale.

'These sites are very efficient and they are a very sustainable model,' said Mr McVickers. 'This is the model for the future.'

'Thanet Earth' is being created by the Fresca Group, the UK's largest fresh produce supplier alongside three independent Dutch salad crop growers.

"What will this mean for the consumer? – great tasting British tomatoes in February and March, and in abundant supply," managing director of Thanet Earth, Steve McVickers said.

Vegetables will be grown exclusively using hydroponics - a method that uses nutrient rich water rather than soil.

The crop will be suspended from the eight-metre-high ceiling in rows, which will make picking far easier. Crucially, the computer-controlled greenhouses will be able to produce crops all year round.

Fresca claims the Research and Visitor Complex will become the UK's leading centre for developing new salad varieties.

Seven power stations will use Combined Heat and Power (CHP) to heat the greenhouses and provide enough electricity to supply over 50,000 homes - offsetting significant costs from the site.

Some of the carbon dioxide produced will be absorbed by the plants.

The developers said Thanet Earth will get most of its water from seven on-site reservoirs, which can hold up to 50 million gallons of rain water.

The project has been criticised for glassing over 91 hectares of good farming land, which will also prevent historical digs.

While preparing the site, the developers funded a survey which made a number of archaeological finds including the remains of a bronze age 'barrow' cemetery, an Iron Age hut, a medieval farmstead and even twentieth-century military trenches.


The site will contain seven greenhouses, each the size of 10 football pitches

___________________________________________________________________________________
More Info -

Thanet Earth Website - http://www.thanetearth.com/

Fresca Website - http://www.frescagroup.co.uk/


image hosted on flickr




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Old December 24th, 2008, 06:06 AM   #52
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^ Could this factory be adapted for urban agriculture purposes though? Sounds like the size is a bit too big for the average city plot.
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Old December 24th, 2008, 12:35 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
^ Could this factory be adapted for urban agriculture purposes though? Sounds like the size is a bit too big for the average city plot.
If one development can supply 10% of the UK population, this could be the way forward to feeding the world.

Even if it's not done on such a large scale hydroponics, offer an interesting way forward for both large greenhouse developments and urban developments.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 10:09 AM   #54
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Hard times can increase innovation and collaboration
Sustainability becomes more important when times are tight and people are more inclined to work together to achieve it
13 December 2008
Vancouver Sun

When times are good, we don't need each other, or at least we are more reluctant to be obligated to any one. When times are tough, however, . . .

"Since the downturn I have become far more intentional and deliberate about asking for help, even professional help,'' reports Doug Makaroff of Living Forest Communities, the Victoria sustainable forestry advocate and property developer.

Kiertstin De West of Ci: Conscientious Innovation expects mutuality and reciprocity will renew their importance in relationships in the years ahead.

''We're going to see a lot more visually apparent incidents and characteristics of social sustainability, because inside that's what people are looking for and craving,'' the Vancouver sustainability-marketing specialist says.

''It's not a trend, but a deep desire. All of these things people are doing on the surface because they don't have the financial means to go out to the fancy dinners -- sitting around the family dinner table, potlucks, DIY -- underneath, are actually fulfilling what we're all looking for culturally as consumers today."

While hardship, economic or otherwise, is not something most people desire, let alone seek, adversity does have a way of inspiring collaboration, creativity and innovation.

"What's going on now in the economy will foster innovation because you have to be innovative to survive and sustainability is really connected to that,'' De West says.

''I think we are going to see some interesting categories in the marketplace rise and grow, supporting this desire for community connection."

Makaroff offers similar sentiments when he talks about the current movement to build community by decentralizing and localizing everything from food production to alternative forms of transportation.

"By building far more relational communities we can happily share our contacts and information and resources because we all benefit," he says.

"By community building I mean more than just Web 2.0, or social networking formats. It has to be face-to-face interaction. By building sustainable and relational communities, our lives are richer."

Makaroff describes how he has already experienced the benefits of this approach. "In the month of October, I was able to raise one-third of my second round of investment [for the conservation community of Elkington Forest in the Cowichan Valley].

''I don't know of anyone else who has been able to do that. This money was raised around kitchen tables, not in the boardrooms."

This does not mean that sustainability-minded businesses and developments are immune to present economic woes.

Both De West and Makaroff suggest that authenticity and an understanding of people's desire for personal connection is key.

"We will see some fall-off of that part of the sustainability marketplace," De West says, "that has been hijacked by eco-chic and green luxury: the high price points."

It is the top sustainability issues -- connectedness, to family and friends, for example -- that De West feels are going to foster and inspire great innovation. When Makaroff approached people about his Elkington Forest development he says, "People really had to believe in the story to move beyond their fears of investing at this time."

Springing up on vacant lots, greening gaps in the urban fabric, the growing popularity of food gardens, in many ways, encapsulates people's desire to reconnect with cultural tradition, the land, and community.

When the Onni development company opened the second Pacific and Seymour community garden, nearly four hundred people were waiting in line to get plots. "Urban agriculture has moved in a huge way in the last little while," says Mike Levenston, of City Farmer.

Not sure if you want to specify it here, but Mike is the Founder of City Farmer, and has been an advocate of urban farming since 1978.

Once relegated to small community newsletters, the topic now makes headlines in major publications around the world.

"Today I opened the L.A. Times and there was a story on chickens in the city, he notes. ''In 1978, if we let [chickens into the city] it meant we were going back to the dark ages. Now everyone wants to bring rural traditions into the city."

De West says it is particularly interesting to look at the demographic embracing this movement: style savvy, conscientious innovators. Food gardening is becoming a hip and cool thing to do.

Reports Makaroff: "When I'm selling Elkington Forest, older people are concerned and excited about views and the quality of the homes. Younger people, however, are concerned about the food production. They want to know where their food is coming from."

Daniel Roehr, a University of B.C. professor of landscape architecture, notes, "food and water are going to be the biggest problems human generations are going to face."

It is his hope that urban agriculture is implemented into city policies and planning. He points to the strategies being discussed for the downtown eastside in an effort to provide the homeless with opportunities to grow their own food. "The community garden is one little area where people can implement awareness for each other," says Roehr. "It is a small remedy, to some of the bigger issues that we have."

From the relief gardens of the ''Dirty '30s' to the Victory Gardens of the Second World War, North Americans have a long history of turning to food gardening for improving the health and spirit of its population.

While there have been different reasons at different times, Levenston says "somehow, as people we want to return to this.'' It is "horticulture therapy, buoying us up and giving us the strength to carry on."

For deeper reads on matters raised here, visit: livingforestcommunities.com conscientiousinnovation.com cityfarmer.org, and greenskinslab.sala.ubc.ca

Kim Davis is a Vancouver sustainable-design consultant.
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Old January 31st, 2009, 07:38 AM   #55
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In Pittsburgh neighborhoods, clusters of cluckers produce meat and eggs
11 January 2009

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The hens are Lu-Lu, Lady Penelope, Dorothy and Trudy. Then there is Scrappy, the aptly named rooster that rules the coop behind Shelly Danko-Day's house in Highland Park.

"He has come close to getting his name changed to 'Stew' often," Danko-Day said of the ornery bird with a penchant to dig its spurs into her legs that she has been tempted to make into dinner.

Danko-Day is among a growing number of people in and around Pittsburgh who raise chickens. Although there is no official census of urban fowl farmers, people are raising poultry for food and fun in city neighborhoods such as Garfield, Greenfield, North Side and Stanton Heights, and suburbs including Fox Chapel.

"I think it's becoming more common than you would think," said Jody Noble, who has raised chickens in Highland Park.

Besides producing eggs and meat, chickens help to control bugs and dispose of food scraps, their keepers say.

"It's become almost a craze, at least for people raising chickens in the city," said Elaine Belanger, editor of Wisconsin-based Backyard Poultry magazine.

Dozens of cities allow residents to raise chickens, including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. In Pittsburgh, residents are allowed up to five pets, including chickens. Certain zoning variances are required, depending on lot size.

Although Animal Control officials could not be reached to verify it, Danko-Day and others who raise chickens in Pittsburgh say neighbors have not complained.

Belanger said she has noticed a sharp increase in the number of city dwellers wanting to raise chickens during the past five years. Her family's magazine restarted in 2005 because of renewed interest and publishes 80,000 copies, six times a year. The magazine has 230 subscribers in Pennsylvania.

Danko-Day works for Grow Pittsburgh, a regional organization dedicated to developing sustainable urban agriculture. The group recently started a blog on the Internet for chicken farmers. Other popular Web sites include UrbanChickens.com and BackyardChickens.com, which has more than 20,000 members, including a number of Western Pennsylvania residents who post on its message board.

Two to three times a week, Belanger said she receives messages from people looking for help to change ordinances that prohibit raising chickens.

Plum officials in October refused to issue a variance for a family wanting to continue raising chickens despite noncompliance with an ordinance requiring people to own at least two acres to raise poultry.

Joanna Hohman began raising five hens behind her Greenfield house in July. She grows vegetables and herbs in a small garden.

"I think, in the long run, food is going to get more expensive, so I try to grow as much as I can," Hohman said. "I like eggs, and I'm trying to not patronize grocery stores as much. Plus, I can raise (chickens) in a more humane way.

"Have you ever seen how they treat those chickens on those (commercial) farms? It's awful."

The United States is the world's largest producer of poultry meat, at more than 40 billion pounds annually, and second-largest egg producer, with about 90 billion produced annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Large hatcheries can have more than 350,000 hens, the USDA reports. Critics often complain that commercial farms mistreat chickens by clipping their beaks, cramming them in tight living quarters and rarely, if ever, allowing them to roam free.

But city life is no walk in the park for chickens, either.

"It's tough being a chicken," said Fritz Mitnick, who raises as many as 75 chickens on her 34-acre "hobby farm" in Indiana Township. "Roosters can be nasty. So I wait to see who is the nastiest, then we make soup."

Besides hungry owners, common predators include dogs, hawks and raccoons.

Mitnick said she has lost about 10 birds to predators, although she was able to save one from a hawk and another from a neighbor's dog.

Noble's seven-member brood was thinned out considerably in July, when five were killed by weasels, she said. The same predator later got the two initial survivors, she said.

"I've never seen a weasel," Noble said. "But you can kind of tell what's killing your chickens by the way they were killed."

Weasels often eat the brains of their prey, and Noble said such was the case with her chickens.

Noble plans to get more chickens in spring, and said she will put a door on the coop.

"Live and learn," she said.
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Old February 6th, 2009, 08:44 PM   #56
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Urban farmers push city to grow food instead of grass and flowers in public spaces
February 06, 2009
Toronto Star



Paula Sobie of City Harvest, who started growing produce in people’s yards in Victoria, speaks at City Hall about the benefits of urban farming. (Feb. 5, 2009)

Imagine turning the rink at Nathan Phillips Square into a vegetable garden. Or seeing corn stalks along the Gardiner Expressway. Or filling the median along University Ave. with a row of tomato plants.

That's the dream of food enthusiasts like Debbie Field, who think Toronto should take advantage of its public spaces and grow food closer to home. That would encourage healthy eating as well as fight climate change by reducing the distance food travels from farmer's field to kitchen table.

"Why don't we naturalize the side of the Gardiner with corn? Or we could grow pumpkins," Field said yesterday as she addressed city councillors and others during a discussion on how Toronto can encourage more urban farming.

"We are still spending a lot of money planting annuals and mowing grass," she said. "Whereas our movement thinks we can let people grow vegetables and fruits. Rosemary, thyme and all herbs smell beautiful. Kids love to touch them."

While Field, executive director of FoodShare, used the example of the side of the highway for visual impact, she conceded testing may be needed to ensure food grown near the Gardiner is safe to eat.

But her point was that there are many areas that could be used for community gardens and urban farms, from schoolyards to public housing to hospitals.

"There are big chunks of land – acres of publicly owned land that is just sitting there or has grass growing on it," she said. "We are still paying a lot of people to plant and mow grass, and are often told it's not a good idea to garden."

As she spoke, FoodShare staff handed out small bags of pea sprouts grown in an old greenhouse at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, to show how easily something edible can be grown in just six weeks.

Paula Sobie, who started City Harvest in Victoria, spoke about how much produce can be grown on small plots of land – and even turned into a profitable business if crops are properly rotated.

Two years ago, together with a friend, she placed online classified ads titled: Garden Wanted.

The response was unbelievable. What started as nine small plots of land in the front and back yards of private homes became 16 plots totalling half an acre, yielding 300 pounds of produce a week.

Sobie would give the homeowner a weekly sampler basket of organic produce in exchange for use of the land. The rest was sold to restaurants and at a farmers' market.

City staff will be drafting an urban food policy in coming months that takes into account experiences elsewhere.

A key issue will be zoning – whether people will be allowed to sell food grown in backyards. As well, while urban farmers would want to see lower property taxes if land is zoned agricultural, the city wants to maintain its tax assessment base.

Another tricky issue will be what to do about backyard animals: Would residents want their next-door neighbours raising chickens or goats?

Current bylaws prevent it, but some councillors might support a few hens – though not roosters – in the yard.
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Old April 23rd, 2009, 03:34 PM   #57
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Well ... not exactly agriculture ... but close enough not to start another thread :

Milwaukee suburb may join urban chicken movement
22 April 2009

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Shorewood leaders are considering allowing residents to keep chickens.

The Milwaukee suburb would be following in the steps of Madison, Green Bay and Chicago, which are among the cities allowing backyard chickens.

Shorewood Village Trustee Jeff Hanewall says people kept "goofy pets" when he was growing up in Wauwatosa and no one cared. But he also says Shorewood is more densely populated and he doesn't want to create conflict among neighbors.

Pam Karstens keeps chickens at her home in Madison. She says they provide eggs, eat bugs and weeds and provide manure that can be composted into garden fertilizer.

But others complain the hens smell and attract predators. Caledonia in Racine County recently rejected a proposed ordinance allowing them.

------

Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Old April 23rd, 2009, 04:13 PM   #58
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I know a proposal in Vegas was to build a high rise farm and on various levels have one sort of crop growing
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Old May 19th, 2009, 02:15 PM   #59
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Portable garden boxes planted on vacant city lot
17 May 2009

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A new community garden project is giving a whole new meaning to the idea of food "to go."

The People's Portable Garden project allows people to rent 4-foot by 16-foot planter boxes for growing gardens. The boxes, which rent for $25 annually, have been placed on a vacant lot owned by the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City. The rental price includes water.

When the land is developed, the boxes will be moved to a different vacant lot.

RDA recognizes the potential of the property to enhance the neighborhood by providing a healthy and productive community space, executive director D.J. Baxter said.

Residents of the heavily urban neighborhood that includes apartments, commercial developments and homes next to a light rail station worked hard to get the project approved.

"Everyone should have a garden," said neighborhood resident Teresa Thein, "even if you live in an apartment or don't have a good yard to grow sustainable, organic food."

The portable garden is a project of Wasatch Community Gardens. WCG director Claire Uno says Salt Lake City is one of the first cities in the country to build the portable gardens.

"This is 50 percent about gardening and 100 percent about community," said Uno. "This is an example for our community and an exciting new chapter for our organization."

------

Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 02:54 PM   #60
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Skyscraper greenhouses to sprout in crowded cities: expert
5 June 2009
Agence France Presse

Vertical greenhouses that grow organic fruit and vegetables smack in the middle of crowded cities where land is scarce may soon be a reality, a Swedish company developing the project said Friday.

"A tomato seed is planted on the ground floor on a rotating spiral and when it arrives at the top, 30 days later, you pick the fruit," the vice president of Plantagon, Hans Hassle, told AFP.

In a few decades, 80 percent of the global population will live in cities, increasing the need "to grow fruits and vegetables in an urban environment due to the lack of land," he said.

With a vertical greenhouse, "we could have fresh organic produce every day and sell it directly to consumers in the city," Hassle said.

That way, "we would save 70 percent on the cost of fresh produce because right now 70 percent of the price is transport and storage costs," he said.

Fresh and healthy produce would thereby also become more readily available to those with slim budgets, he added.

No vertical greenhouse exists yet, but "several cities in Scandinavia and in China have expressed an interest," Hassle said.

Each installation would cost around 30 million dollars (21 million euros), much more than a regular greenhouse. But the investment would rapidly turn a profit, he insisted.

"With ground space of 10,000 square metres (107, 640 square feet), a vertical greenhouse represents the equivalent of 100,000 square metres of cultivated land" thanks to the rotating spiral that allows continual planting.

"An inventor came up with the idea 20 years ago but none of the people he presented it to believed in it. He presented it to me 10 years ago and it seemed like a good idea, so I talked to Sweco, a Swedish engineering firm, and they agreed to build these vertical greenhouses," Hassle explained.

A virtual image of what one of the greenhouses could look like resembles a large glass sphere with a pillar in the middle, around which the seedlings rotate on a platform.

"It looks fantastic like that, but the technology is simple," Hassle said.
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