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Farm grows produce in urban neighborhood
22 June 2007

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The new soil was washing away. The broccoli was purple. Bugs were eating the collard greens. Bind weed and Bermuda grass were taking over. A neighborhood dog killed most of their dozen chickens.

The three dreamers who built a farm in the middle of north St. Louis with the idea that urban areas should grow some of their own food and to provide fresh, chemical-free produce to the poor were beginning to doubt their abilities. They felt alone.

"We looked at ourselves and thought, 'Who is going to do this? Who is going to do all this work?'" said Trish Grim, 26, who grew up in Springfield, Ill.

Without fertilizers and chemicals, the tasks were endless. The three were working part-time jobs to make ends meet.

"We didn't have any clue how much work we were getting into," Grim said. "This was not something that three people can do two days a week."

Over the next two years, however, the New Roots Urban Farm would flourish, feed area residents and teach kids. Others would come to share the three founders' dream.

The idea of creating an urban farm took root in early summer 2004 among rows of squash on an eight-acre organic farm near Eureka. Grim, 26, and her boyfriend, Joseph Black, 28, were working as farmhands.

Grim and Black, who grew up in Chesterfield, met at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo. When Grim graduated with a degree in linguistics, she joined Black, who was already working on the farm.

They met Amy Gerth, who was involved in the Catholic Worker community, which operates shelters in north St. Louis. Gerth wanted to start a gardening education program for kids.

While pulling weeds for hours, the three shared their dreams and ideas. They were disappointed with the organic market, feeling its focus was mainly on high-end markets. Their efforts weren't reaching those in need of safe, fresh produce.

Gerth's compassion for the poor, and the couple's commitment to the environment blended into the notion of creating a farm in St. Louis. "We thought we could bring the food and grow it directly where it's needed," Grim said.

So Grim and Black left the beds of fancy lettuce and baby zucchini growing in rich soil along the Meramec River and headed to an area of decaying houses and weed-infested lots. They went from living in a pre-Civil War cabin to the Kabat House, a hospitality house run by Catholic Workers for the homeless and mentally ill.

The three bought six city lots on Hogan Street in the St. Louis Place neighborhood. The half-acre site sits across from a juvenile detention center and next to an old Catholic church where Mass hasn't been held in decades. They got a state grant to cover the $7,000 purchase.

The neighborhood they chose has little access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Recently, Bob's Quality Market on North Florissant Avenue had crates of soda sitting on the produce shelves. Salama Supermarket at 14th Street and Cass Avenue had wrinkled green peppers and wilted iceberg lettuce among handfuls of citrus fruits in an old drink cooler. Two fried-chicken restaurants and a hamburger outlet are the only eateries along North Florissant, the main thoroughfare.

Limited access to nutritious foods is one of the reasons overall rates of obesity are highest among low-income people, especially women, researchers say.

Gateway Greening donated tons of soil and compost to get the farmers started. Because old foundations were under the site, they built raised beds to plant in.

They incorporated as Community Supported Agriculture, where shareholders pay $500 and each week get bundles of eight to 10 different fruits, vegetables and herbs. The payments provided money for seed and tools to get started.

The urban farmers loved connecting residents in the city and near suburbs to their food.

As Jenny Donelan, 36, of St. Louis, picked up a recent week's bounty, which included carrots, broccoli and green beans, her 5-year-old daughter, Ellie asked, "How do they get broccoli at the grocery store?"

"It comes from far, far away," Donelan responded. "It's kind of crazy."

This year, the farm has 24 shareholders and a long waiting list.

The commitment of the shareholders, who also volunteered on the farm once a month, is what kept Grim, Black and Gerth from packing up those first few months. The excitement from neighborhood children deepened their resolve.

In that first season, the children just showed up, wanting to plant and fighting over who would get the hose. Many were from a nearby shelter for abused women and their children. Afterward, the children ended up in Grim's kitchen, wanting to know how to cook what they helped harvest.

Now the farm has a youth program, where up to 15 children can come on Tuesday and Friday mornings, help harvest, discuss nutrition and help cook lunch under the canopy of the farm's new outdoor kitchen.

The farm's outreach efforts have become more organized. In the first two seasons, it donated produce to shelters and food pantries and sold produce cheaply to residents.

This year, the farm got funding to start the North City Farmer's Market, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through October on the 14th Street Mall. Each month, the farm distributes 240 $5 vouchers to area food pantries that can be used at the market, Grim said.

On a recent Saturday, residents filling up their bags with inexpensive collards, turnips and onions talked about how excited they were to be able to walk to the market instead of taking the bus to get affordable produce.

Denise Strickland, 43, walked down from the only business on the mall, a hair salon, to buy fruit for lunch. Otherwise, she would've gone to a fried-chicken restaurant or to another nearby eatery to get a BLT sandwich. "This neighborhood really needed something like this," she said.

Grim, Black and Gerth are no longer alone.

The farm is now run by a nine-member collective, which includes two interns. Most of the members of the collective live nearby. They get by with little money, ride bikes and cook their meals together.

"People here are really dedicated to service. It's such a rare thing to find," said Stephen Inman, 22, who grew up in St. Charles and joined the collective in October.

The group wants to acquire more land nearby, hire workers and get health insurance. This year, a $50,000 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health is funding the farmer's market, vouchers and youth program.

One recent morning, the farm was blossoming with plants such as tomatoes, green onions, kale, garlic and asparagus. Melon and pattypan squash seedlings growing in the makeshift greenhouse were waiting to be planted.

Grim pulled off a sheet protecting the 70-foot-long bed of green beans from rabbits. "There's a ton of them, and they have absolutely no bug damage," she said as she snapped open one and took a bite. "Look at them, they are perfect."

She sat on the edge of an open bucket and started picking. She told the intern to pick the big ones that have curled at the end and leave the other ones.

They still have room to grow.
 

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Urban farming is an interesting concept. I think it could be successful in cities like Detroit, with large patches of abandoned ground which are currently returning to "nature." Speaking of Hong Kong, I met a man who grew a small plot of bok choy underneath a highway overpass in the New Territories. It wasn't a huge amount of produce, but it was something, and it was good to see the ground being utilized.
 

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I grow vegetables in my back garden, Potatoes, carrots, beans, radish, spinach, salad leaves, onions, garlic, kohlrabi and a few strawberries. Not sure it's big enough to count as farming though, my plot is only about 6 square metres!!

Allotments are popular in the UK, patches of open land in towns and cities that citizens can rent from the local government and grow their own produce. They are protected but developers always want to buy them and build there as they are often valuable patches of land. I know they are popular in Germany too and maybe other European countries.

This is one in Wimbledon, London

 

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In Singapore, an undeveloped corner of the island is slowly becoming a niche area offering agritainment, where agriculture is combined with small scale edutainment or even homestays.









Bollywood Veggies

http://www.bollywoodveggies.com/



Here is an article of such a setup:

Plans for chalets, spa and research centre at Kranji plot

16 Jan 07



BY NEXT year, visitors can pop up to Kranji for a farmstay, to relax at a spa, stroll through rows of corn and learn how coffee is produced.
The company that recently obtained a 5.1ha plot in the area in a government tender is building up to 20 chalets, a spa, a restaurant, a fishing pond and stores to sell produce.

A subsidiary of listed group PDC Corp bagged the 20-year lease site for $880,000. The farm plot in Neo Tiew Lane 2 was among the first to be released by the Government since it eased rules allowing farmers to incorporate commercial and recreational facilities on their land.

PDC's farmstay will be the second in the area. Landscape company Nyee Phoe Group is building four kampung-style chalets on its premises in Neo Tiew Crescent. They are expected to be ready by the end of this year.

PDC's farmstay will complement the agricultural research centre it plans to open to develop corn hybrids for its 40,000ha plantation in Sumatra. That plantation is more than half the size of Singapore.

Beverage company Super Coffeemix Manufacturing signed a deal with PDC yesterday to showcase coffee production methods at the research centre. PDC, in turn, will supply Super Coffeemix with coffee beans it cultivates in Sumatra.

Unveiling the plans yesterday, PDC said the research centre will conduct educational tours for local visitors as well as tourists. Glass-fronted research labs would enable visitors to get a close-up view of the laboratories, said chief operating officer Veronica Gan.

She added: 'Families can go fishing and, at the same time, enjoy the night breeze and have dinner there. The ladies can go to the spa. They can also do some shopping there.'

She said other companies may be roped in to run the spa and restaurant.

PDC, which is also developing a light industrial and commercial building off MacPherson Road, estimates it will invest at least $5 million in the research centre.


By Tan Hui Yee
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In addition to increased sense of environmentalism, the drive for agriculture in Hong Kong is also caused by recent food scandals from imported mainland food :

In greens we trust
Produce grown in Hong Kong may cost more than mainland imports, but it's better for you - and the planet

29 March 2007
South China Morning Post

The fresh food in my kitchen last week had travelled about 128,000km before it reached me. That's more than three times around the globe - by plane, train and truck - from field to fridge. This week, in an effort to reduce my so-called carbon footprint on the environment, all my fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, tea, eggs and herbs have come just 32km, by bus and ferry.

The movement to eat locally has been growing overseas, especially in areas close to farming communities. It's big enough now in Hong Kong that environmentally conscious shoppers can use distribution networks that deliver fresh produce farmed within a few kilometres of where they live.

Helping to drive such demand is concern about farming and food-processing methods used on the mainland, the source of much of our fresh meat and vegetables. An increasing awareness of the health advantages of fruit and vegetables is also benefitting Hong Kong's small agricultural industry. That's good for the sector and the public, says Clive Lau Siu-ki, a senior agriculture development officer at the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD).

"Because of food incidents [from the mainland] we always emphasise that local products are of good quality and that the local industry plays an important role in supplying the Hong Kong market," Lau says. With the high cost of real estate and labour, Hong Kong is never going to be self-sufficient. Besides, if everyone opts for local produce, there won't be enough to go around, he says. Increasing wealth in Hong Kong has led to a greater demand for luxuries such as jet-fresh oysters from the US, pears from Japan and abalone from Australia.

According to AFCD data, of the 1,440 tonnes of fresh vegetables Hongkongers ate each day in 2006, just four per cent came from a local source. And despite having a 3,000-vessel fishing fleet, 14 per cent of locally consumed fin fish arrives by air. The 385 tonnes of fish eaten per day in 2006 is close to one-half the freight capacity of a Boeing 747 flying into Hong Kong International Airport.

Environmental concerns are persuading some Hong Kong people to seek food sources closer to home. There's also a growing Slow Food movement, which advocates that food should be produced in a clean way that doesn't harm the environment, animals or health.

Worries about so-called food miles encouraged town planner Wong Tak-sang and fellow residents at his Sha Tin estate to seek vegetables from a local farm. With the help of the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG), they found a farmer in the New Territories who could deliver fresh seasonal vegetables to order to the residents' club house every Monday. With the help of the estate's management committee and volunteers, the produce is distributed to the 90-odd customers who have registered since the scheme was established late last year.

"We wanted to make sure the food we eat is safe," Wong says. "If you buy locally, you reduce the food mileage problem, which will help improve the environment. Also, it's helping the local economy. If we can help local farmers, hopefully, the market will grow."

Wong's commitment to home-grown vegetables runs to the five fields in the New Territories he rents for HK$850 per month. Most of what he grows feeds him and his wife. He also helps manage a small herb and fruit garden on his estate. It's so popular that residents have to draw lots every six months for a space.

Wong admits local produce can be expensive. Local tomatoes cost about HK$25 per catty, compared with HK$5 for the same amount trucked in from the mainland. But he says the extra HK$20 buys peace of mind. And they're still cheaper than imports from the west.

The knowledge that each ingredient in an average meal had travelled about 2,400km inspired Canadians Alisa Smith and James Mackinnon to start their 100 Mile Diet website. Their idea is to eat only produce farmed within 100 miles (160km) of their Vancouver home, thus reducing the impact of food miles on the environment. Hong Kong people can choose food farmed within the SAR's borders, but with compromises to diet and convenience. Chicken and pork are available, as are tomatoes, radishes, potatoes, lettuce, onions, pak choi, herbs, honey, milk and eggs. Staples such as rice, wheat, spices, coffee, sugar and salt are harder to find.

"The major difficulty is that local produce fails to cover the full range required by the public," Lau says. "It's all highly seasonal. In summer and spring, you have a dramatic drop in the number of vegetables available."

Smallholders hawk their produce in many outlying island and New Territories villages, but of the two big supermarkets, only ParknShop sells local produce in a few of its outlets in clearly marked packaging. Bona-fide local organic vegetables should carry the mark of the Hong Kong Organic Resource Centre. Seiyu in Sha Tin and Jusco in Tseung Kwan O carry processed fish products from some of Hong Kong's 1,500-odd marine and land-based fish farms, with the rest sold through wet markets. Look for blue tags on the fins of live fish, indicating that they come from a locally accredited farm that's regularly inspected and supported by the AFCD and Fish Marketing Organisation.

If you want chicken, ask your poultry seller for ka mei gai, a line that's bred locally and was specially developed by the University of Hong Kong with funding from the AFCD. Outlets selling local pork should display a banner from the Hong Kong Pig Raising Development Federation. Temporary farmers' markets in Wan Chai, KFBG in Tai Po and near the Tai Wo railway station have been doing brisk trade, says Idy Wong, head of the Sustainable Living and Agriculture Department at KFBG, and the Wan Chai market attracts more than 1,500 customers every Sunday. Many farmers sell direct and are also willing to deliver. KFBG runs the Community Supported Agriculture Scheme with a group of local farmers. A quarterly subscription fee of HK$950 covers two deliveries per week totalling six catties of local organic vegetables.

"People are becoming concerned about the impact their food has on global warming, and some are prepared to pay more and make the extra effort to source locally," says Wong.
 

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There was a thread started in the Toronto forum about a proposed "farmscraper" right in the heart of downtown. An ugly, grotesque piece of shit if you ask me, but it's the thought that counts.
 

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I remember there were (or it may have already happened) plans to create a neighborhood farm here in Hartford.

It sounds like a great idea. The city has only one real supermarket in the city limits (much more outside it), and the small convenience stores scattered all over the place don't have the most nutritious foods around.
 

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Vienna has a substantial number of wine yards within its city borders. Does that count as well?

Its a very traditional thing, but currently some wealthy people discovered being wine grower as hobby and bought some fields to make their own high quality wine, they could give friends and business partners as present, or to enjoy it themselves.

It brought a nice new imput, but the largest part is still in the hand of professional farmers and thats not bad either.

 

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The gov. of Colombia gives crops to those who wish to grow them on their roof. It has become very popular among environmentalists in Bogota.
 

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Austria makes some very good sweet dessert wines :cheers2:
The one from the region I come from is more of a not so sweet sort. Grüner Veltliner. But I like it if its a good one.

Actually I do not even know what they grow exactly inside of Vienna.
 

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Los Angeles also has a few vineyards in city limits. You can see one in Bel-Air right across the freeway from the Getty museum. There are also vineyards in Malibu.

A few farms such as Ramirez ranch still exist and grow crops but it is a long time since LA county was the number one agricultural county in the US. For myself, I have a few fruit trees in my back yard and grow plums, oranges, limes, lemons, pineapple guavas, peaches, persimmons, avacados, bananas, passion fruit, and figs. The plums were delicious this year. I also have a macadamia nut tree but the squirrels get the whole crop.
 

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I can't really think of any farms within the city limits of Seattle, but one thing that is growing in popularity is green roofs. This has also been encouraged by the mayor as a way to reduce water runoff into Puget Sound.

Ballard public library, Seattle, WA

 

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Los Angeles also has a few vineyards in city limits. You can see one in Bel-Air right across the freeway from the Getty museum. There are also vineyards in Malibu.

A few farms such as Ramirez ranch still exist and grow crops but it is a long time since LA county was the number one agricultural county in the US. For myself, I have a few fruit trees in my back yard and grow plums, oranges, limes, lemons, pineapple guavas, peaches, persimmons, avacados, bananas, passion fruit, and figs. The plums were delicious this year. I also have a macadamia nut tree but the squirrels get the whole crop.
So California has more in common with the state of Vienna than having an Austrian governor :lol: Also wine growing within city limits of the major city.... ;)
 

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So California has more in common with the state of Vienna than having an Austrian governor :lol: Also wine growing within city limits of the major city.... ;)
Well our governor is actually from Gratz rather than Vienna, but we do have links to Vienna through the refugees who settled here during the 30's and forties. Schoenberg, Schindler, Billy Wilder, etc. I wish we would open a few Heurigers near the lakes in our intracity mountains.
 

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Well our governor is actually from Gratz rather than Vienna, but we do have links to Vienna through the refugees who settled here during the 30's and forties. Schoenberg, Schindler, Billy Wilder, etc. I wish we would open a few Heurigers near the lakes in our intracity mountains.
Yes he is from the vicinity of Graz, but nonetheless that means he is from Austria as well ;)

A great idea btw. You have a good wine what I have heard, nothing speaking against some Heurigen. I dont know if Calfiornians are open for something like that, but it would sound like a nice idea :)

What a bitty that so many people were forced to leave their own country back than. But at least from Billy Wilders I think he never cut all the ties to his homeland...
 

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Amid housing project and strip mall, a city farm thrives
18 September 2005

CHICAGO (AP) - Amid a high-rise housing project, strip mall and busy intersection just north of the city's bustling business district, a small farm is flourishing on what was once vacant and blighted land.

Simply called City Farm, the acre plot surrounded by tall metal fences produces organic tomatoes, squash and lettuce that is sold to residents and some of the city's swankiest restaurants.

"People are wanting a different connection with their food," said City Farm's project director Kristine Greiber. "They want not only to do the right thing, but they really want to taste the difference."

Urban farms like the one in Chicago are popping up across the country in cities like Detroit and Philadelphia as people look to transform vacant properties into prospering land.

"You have this vacant land, but it's such a surprise in the city," Greiber said. "It's unexpected and magical."

The Chicago-based Resource Center, an environmental education nonprofit group, operates three farms in the city including City Farm and another that specializes in garlic. But City Farm, which began in 2002, is the only one with a market stand, which is open three days a week.

The Resource Center, which makes compost to create a nutrient-rich soil for the crops to grow, hopes to convert other vacant lots into urban farms, Greiber said.

City Farm is less than a block from the notorious Cabrini-Green public housing complex and across the street from a strip mall that includes a large grocery store. Visitors to the farm can see the Sears Tower in the distance and frequently hear sirens blaring from fire trucks and police cars.

About once a week, customer Mark Bystrom, 31, swings by City Farm to purchase vegetables that he says can't be found at grocery stores like the one across the street.

"You can't get tomatoes over there that taste like these tomatoes," Bystrom said as he pointed to the grocery store and held a bag of City Farm cherry tomatoes in the other hand. "These are fresh, yummy, cheaper and straight from the source."

Christine Kim, chef of cuisine at the Green Zebra, a popular, upscale restaurant about two miles west of City Farm, said the restaurant often buys greens, beets and tomatoes from the farm.

"We want to support local farms," Kim said. "Not to mention, their produce is beautiful, too. They put a lot of heart into their farm."

The urban farm market is growing in cities across the United States because of restaurants like the Green Zebra and city residents who flock to local farmers markets eager to buy locally grown food, said Roxanne Christensen, president of the Institute for Innovations in Local Farming, which helps operate a city farm in Philadelphia.

That city's Somerton Tanks Farm grows organic vegetables on a previously vacant half-acre plot owned by the Philadelphia Water Department and sells them to residents and restaurants.

"People want to put their money where their mouth is," Christensen said. "And we're slowly convincing policy-makers that farming has a place in urban areas."

Somerton Tanks, which opened in 2003, raked in $26,100 in sales its first year and is slated to surpass $42,000 this year, Christensen said. About half of the farm's income comes from people who paid $550 for fresh produce for one season, which is about six months.

In Chicago, City Farm last year brought in about $25,000 in sales, Greiber said.

The farm has struggled a bit this year after moving to a new site, a vacant lot next to its previous half-acre location, and the summer drought. The farm hopes to hire an experienced farmer for next season, Anderson said.

City Farm also wants to expand its community outreach. Local high school students and Somalian refugees have helped Resource Center employees work the farm, and this fall a nearby high school and the City Farm plan to have an urban agriculture seminar for students.

"We want people to really claim the farm and come together and make it their own," Greiber said.
 

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The largest community farm in the US was closed last year with a riot almost erupting.....this is LA btw.
 

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The Queens County Farm Musuem over in Glen Oaks is an active farm.







 

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how much smog will cling in letucce leafs being grown in urban areas? it´s not new to japanese people anyways to plant vegetables in small areas in cities, some say due to lack of space.

Vienna looks very nice with those wineyards plantations:)
 
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