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  #61  
Old Posted Aug 10, 2010, 10:26 PM
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Vertical farming: a vision of the future?

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A rendering of a sky farming building. (Courtesy of Gordon Graff)

By Suzanne Elston, Special to QMI Agency

Eighty percent of the world’s arable land is currently being used to provide food for the Earth’s estimated 6.8 billion people. If trends continue, the United Nations predicts that the population will exceed 9 billion by 2050. Using existing agricultural practices, we would need an additional one billion acres of land to feed everyone.

That’s land we simply don’t have. Add to this the rising price of oil, which dramatically affects both the cost of shipping food and many of the fertilizers used to produce it, as well as the growing demand for feed stocks such as corn to produce ethanol and the impact of climate change on agricultural production, and it would appear that we are only a few bushels away from a global famine.

That is unless you talk to Gordon Graff, a graduate student at the University of Waterloo. Using his passion for sustainability and his knowledge of architecture, Graff has created a number of vertical farming concepts that shatter the urban design paradigm and redefine the idea of local agriculture.

The first is a visionary 59-storey building that Graff calls a Sky Farm. Utilizing the principles of hydroponic gardening to maximize food production, his design translates 3.8 million square feet of floor space into 11 million square feet of growing area all on a mere 1.32 hectares. By his own estimate, the Sky Farm could produce 54 million pounds of fruits and vegetables, nearly a million pounds of animal meat and nearly a half a million pounds of eggs – enough food to feed 40,000 people year round. A ground level grocery store could sell the produce, making the entire food cycle carbon neutral.

The building’s heating and lighting are provided by a wall of photovoltaic cells and a Living Machine – an anaerobic digester that uses organic wastes from the gardens and an exterior grow wall (depending on the climate) to produce power and filter waste water. By also capturing waste methane from the city’s sewer system, Gordon estimates his Sky Farm could even produce electricity that could be fed back to the grid.

Graff’s second design, Grow Housing, incorporates a smaller version of the Sky Farm into a low-rise city block development that includes condominium and town house units, a grocery market, and street level retail and commercial space. The complex is topped off with a green rooftop that is designed to function as a community garden for low-income earners.

Graff, who will complete his graduate degree this fall, has already accepted a position with Cohos Evamy, an innovative architectural and design firm. He’s optimistic that through necessity, his visionary designs will soon become a reality.

“Vertical farming is inevitable,” said Graff. “There is no alternative to this form of agriculture. There are other strategies that make sense for energy and carbon footprint, but not necessarily in terms of food supply.”
...

http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/Lifestyle/.../14920411.html
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  #62  
Old Posted Aug 19, 2010, 8:57 PM
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Foodprint City


August 18th, 2010

By Nicola Twilley

Read More: http://urbanomnibus.net/2010/08/foodprint-city/

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- Foodprint Project events have borne out the truth of this statement, bringing together an audience and speakers curious to relearn their city using food as a guide, and passionate about the potential for reshaping food systems through urban design. At both Foodprint Toronto and Foodprint NYC, we have learned about creative solutions, unique opportunities, and shared challenges — and yet we’ve barely scratched the surface. Sarah Rich and I co-founded the Foodprint Project as an exploration of the ways food and cities give shape to one another. As we told Urban Omnibus back in February, days before our first event, we wanted to see what you could learn if you used food as a lens to look at the city.

- So, with two cities — New York City and Toronto — under our belts, what have we learned? Many extraordinary and peculiar factoids, certainly: enough to keep us well-stocked at dinner parties for years to come. Toronto, for example, is the second largest urban food processing hub in North America (after Chicago) and its food factories still occasionally overwhelm certain neighborhoods with the smell of roasting coffee beans, freshly-slaughtered beef, or potato and leek soup. We also learned that turning just 10% of NYC’s private backyards over to urban agriculture would produce 113 million lbs of vegetables each year, or enough to feed 700,000 people at current rates of consumption.

- But, perhaps most interestingly, by addressing the same four questions in both New York and Toronto, we have been able to start pulling out some of the larger issues that make feeding a city — any city — the most complex, potentially rewarding, and endlessly fascinating design challenge we can imagine.

- Tackling urban planning, public policy, and economics in under an hour is perhaps a trifle ambitious. In both Toronto and New York, however, street food trucks proved to be a bite-sized introduction to the way economic and regulatory forces play out to shape an important urban food delivery system. Mapping the city through the lens of food, using either analytic or social measurements, can both clarify existing problems and uncover previously unseen opportunities. As a channel of communication as well as a marker of identity, an understanding of our edible history can help us imagine our urban food futures — futures that are inextricably linked to both local infrastructures and global systems.



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  #63  
Old Posted Sep 2, 2010, 6:01 PM
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The New Agtivist: Gene Fredericks is thinking inside the city’s big box


1 Sep 2010

By Bonnie Azab Powell

Read More: http://www.grist.org/article/food-th...-the-citys-bi/

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They're the bane of urban and suburban areas alike: the vacant, boarded-up K-Marts and Home Depot Expos, squatting like concrete cowpies amidst a landscape of weedy parking lots. But where most people see blight and a waste of space, San Francisco Bay Area entrepreneur Gene Fredericks sees opportunity: to grow food. Lots of food. Neither a farmer nor a foodie, Fredericks is a technology veteran who's designed several large, complex network and software systems, working with Apple, Getty, Google, Kaiser, and others; he previously founded Edison-West and ran it for 15 years. And now he's trying to raise money to launch his latest venture, Big Green Boxes, which he thinks will bring a new, high-tech, sustainable approach to Feeding the City.

- Big Green Boxes is a new business that will transform unused warehouse space into year-round indoor growing centers. We'll use hydroponics and aquaponics, along with advanced low-energy lighting techniques and vertical growing methods, to produce the very freshest leafy greens for local consumption regardless of climate. Our goal is to be a sustainable and profitable business that provides tasty, preservative- and pesticide-free fresh food, grown in the community for the community; that creates new jobs; revives some neglected real estate; and offers some pretty interesting educational exposure to green technologies.

- Aquaponics is the combination of hydroponics and aquaculture, which is the raising of fish. The fish provide the rich nutrients to grow the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish. It's a closed-loop system that uses 90 percent less water than growing the same greens in soil and can yield 10 times more crops than land-based growing systems. Aquaponics is centuries old. It was used by ancient cultures like the Aztecs and the Egyptians. It just seems new since most people are not familiar with it yet.



Seeing green: Gene Fredericks of Big Green Boxes imagines fish ponds, waterfalls, and racks and racks of edible greens and herbs in defunct spaces like this one.

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  #64  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2010, 1:17 AM
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Between Urban and Rural: Mobile Slaughterhouses Approved by USDA


September 15, 2010

By Jonna McKone

Read More: http://thecityfix.com/between-the-ur...roved-by-usda/

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The Hudson Valley is the epicenter of innovative ideas around food distribution and agriculture. New York City’s demand for sustainable food is driving much of that change as residents increasingly seek food from organic, small-scale farmers. Innovations like the modular and mobile slaughterhouse, a new form of distribution, are driving much of this change, drawing inspiration from the gap in mobility and infrastructure in rural areas, as well as the vast distances between rural farmers and food consumers.

- "Mobile slaughterhouses are critical for the replacement of the degradation of infrastructure of rural communities." Ultimately, though, cities are also dependent on food. And they can’t be sustainable without ways to access and bring food to residents. The new mobile slaughterhouse has the potential to support farmers, reduce distance traveled, rebuild the local food economy and repopulate the rural environment.

- Today, as small independent producers struggle to meet the interest in local food from city dwellers, farmers face difficulty getting their animals to slaughterhouses and to markets. It is not uncommon for producers to schedule the processing a year in advance, which is often difficult when raising free-range cattle. Also, in some cases, with the shortage of processing facilities, farmers can only bring one or two cattle at a time to the sites.



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  #65  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2010, 2:18 AM
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I'm all for urban gardening, and have a vegetable garden that supplies about 3/4 of my produce for about 6 months of the year. I think it is a great thing, but needs to done appropriately.

Right now an orchard is being proposed close to my house. While I like the concept in theory, in this case I oppose it. It is being proposed for a heavily trafficked intersection right by an L stop and major bus line. The area is currently seeing a fair number of businesses open up (pretty impressive in this economy), the lot really needs to be looked at as part of a larger TOD approach and not turned into a fenced off orchard. There are a number of blogs that outline reasons it doesn't belong at the location that is being proposed. Some of the general points of opposition are:

- Would occupy a space that is at the heart of a growing commercial corridor adjacent to public transit
- Would not be public space, would be closed to the public except for tours
- This is the first project done by the organization driving it, there are a number of reasons to doubt that the benefits of the project they describe will ever materialize

The reasons to question it are strong enough that even the National Resources Defense Council is questioning the wisdom of the plan.


On a more positive note, some friends of mine in Prague run a really great Urban Gardening site (with an English translation).
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  #66  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2010, 3:19 PM
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Beyond Farmville: Supporting Urban Agriculture Online


Sep 16th, 2010

By Christian Madera



Read More: http://americancity.org/columns/entry/2615/

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While climate change remains a major societal issue still waiting to be addressed at a national level, more and more Americans are looking to see what they can do to make a difference, however small. Thanks to the popularity of books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma and documentaries like Food, Inc., interest in locally produced food as a way to both be healthier and friendlier to the planet has surged. In addition, there is growing interest in urban agriculture as an economic development and community revitalization strategy – with the potential to provide jobs, greenery, and healthy food to many inner-city neighborhoods that lack all three.

- In New York City, consumers interested in shopping for local food can visit WhatIsFresh.com to find the locations of local greenmarkets, learn about vendors, and see which foods are in season and where they are available. The site offers a searchable directory of products (from Apples and Artichokes to Wheatgrass and Yogurt), and lets vendors provide updates about their offerings and schedules – helping to connect local producers to new customers.

- Taking the idea to the next level is Food Hub – a full scale online marketplace for food buyers and producers. Run by Portland, Oregon based non-profit EcoTrust, Food Hub offers a compelling platform for regional farmers to reach a wide array of customers – including retail grocers, schools, institutional buyers, caterers, restaurants, bakeries, food processors, and manufacturers. Buyers can make specific searches and requests for products, and sellers can list their current inventory, along with upcoming offers. This enables local farmers and producers to sell some of their products in advance, and also respond to demand from local buyers.

- Of course even with all these developments, most Americans still get their food from a conventional supermarket, where information on how far food travels (and how its produced) isn’t generally provided. Still, there’s hope that things are changing even here. As just one example, snack food giant FritoLay now offers an online chip tracker which lets consumers find out which of its over 80 potato farms was the source for the chips in a particular bag of chips. All consumers need to do is visit the website and enter the product code. While not exactly health food, the company hopes that the transparency, along with the fact that most of its chips are produced regionally, will help consumers feel better about snacking on its products over its competitors.



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Old Posted Sep 21, 2010, 2:27 PM
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Newark, New Jersey: Farming Mecca?


Sep 20, 2010

By Ariel Schwartz

Read More: http://www.fastcompany.com/1690170/n...-farming-mecca

Quote:
Detroit's downfall paved the way for an urban farming revival. Now Newark, New Jersey--another ailing urban center--is aiming for an agricultural revolution of its own. St. Philips Academy, a private school in the city, this week became home to the first commercial aeroponic farm in New Jersey. The soil-free farm system was made possible by EcoVeggies, a company that invests in urban farming as a means to revitalize the Newark area.

The aeroponic farm, designed by AeroFarms, features leafy greens planted in a cloth bed. The greens are watered by a nutrient-filled mist, and LED lamps provide both light and pest control. St. Philips's 7' by 10" aeroponic unit, which will be tended to by the students, can generate 20 pounds of produce for each harvest. Eventually, produce grown in the unit will go into school lunches.



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Old Posted Nov 14, 2010, 6:56 PM
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Urban agriculture in West Oakland gets a $4 million boost


http://www.grist.org/article/food-20...-slicker-farms

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Oakland, Calif., where I live, doesn't have a lot to celebrate, what with budget-driven police layoffs and an unemployment rate of 11.5 percent. Still, one piece of good news has urban agriculture proponents cheering. Not about Oakland's plan to sanction (and tax) large-scale marijuana farms, but the announcement that City Slicker Farms, a leader in urban-farming and food-justice circles, has been given $4 million to buy land on which to farm.

City Slicker got its start in 2001 on a parcel of borrowed vacant land in the "food desert" of impoverished West Oakland (see Grist's food-justice story), where 32 percent of residents live below the poverty level and mortality rates for diabetes and heart disease are well above the county rate. They soon started a "pay what you can" farm stand, and then a program to help residents grow their own food in their back yards. Today, City Slicker Farms operates seven Community Market Farms, more than 100 backyard gardens, a greenhouse, and Urban Farming Education programs. It grows 20,000 pounds of food annually.

And soon, with state money, City Slicker will be purchasing a 1.4-acre parcel in West Oakland, the vacant, fenced-off former site of a paint factory that has undergone a thorough brownfield cleanup. On it, it will plant and construct what it's calling the "West Oakland Urban Farm and Park," which after extensive consultation with area residents will contain lawn space (for kids to run, play, and exercise), a vegetable-growing area, a community garden, a fruit orchard, a chicken coop, a beehive, a dog run, and a tot lot. It will be free and open all day, seven days a week.



One of City Slicker Farms' tiny but productive sites in West Oakland, Calif. Much of the produce is grown vertically, to maximize space, and there’s a chicken coop tucked in the back corner.

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  #69  
Old Posted Nov 15, 2010, 12:36 AM
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I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand me and some freinds of mine have been farming a small plot behind their house where there used to be another unit (it was torn down by the city leaving and empty lot). What I've learned from this is that it takes A LOT of water and attention to grow most vegetables in yields significant enough to make a difference. Since none of us are more than amateur farmers (and some of my friends are just downright bad at taking care their plots) I think there is a lot of waste going on.

In short, I'm not sure it's all that good (for the planet, for the city water supply, for our pocketbooks) to have individuals do any serious farming. I realize this is a hasty generalization from my own personal experience so if you're good at farming and have the time and water to take care of your crops then by all means. I'm just not so sure it's the best way to use resources.

On the other hand I think that urban co-opts on reclaimed land, run professionally, are great uses for otherwise empty lots that do a lot to bring home the benefits of local produce. I'm 100% in favor of this and I think most people would be too.
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2010, 7:47 PM
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Watts' community garden


Read More: http://www.latimes.com/features/home...,5598057.story

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After the City Council placed a moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in a swath of South Los Angeles, the questions of food and health and justice became topics for an architect to consider. What role might urban architecture play in helping to feed the inner city? That was a question professor Michael Pinto, teaching in the Community Design Program at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, asked his students. "In a time when sustainability is integral to our conceptions of architecture, we are finding that our city is not at all sustainable," Pinto said.

He and 13 SCI-Arc students organized what he called a "think tank" around the issue last year, collaborating with Watts residents to consider Mudtown Farms, a 2.5-acre spot adjacent to the Jordan Downs housing project just blocks from Watts Towers.

The students talked with neighbors and visited the site, which takes its name from an old moniker for the neighborhood. Each student came up with 100 ideas for making the land a center of community life — gardens for seniors or children, a seed library, a commercial kitchen, community cooking programs, a pet cemetery, a community stage and programs for fitness and beekeeping. Some of them might become reality, and plenty of their ideas will be left on the drawing board.

Their work, which concluded with a summer gallery show at the Pacific Design Center, dovetailed with the ongoing aims of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, a service and development organization that bought the land in 2005 with assistance from the national nonprofit Trust for Public Land. The committee wants to make Mudtown Farms a vibrant magnet for raising food awareness, improving access and building community, said Janine Watkins, a consultant on the project.

Long before the issue of "food deserts" and the scarcity of fresh, healthful food in some neighborhoods moved onto the public agenda, the Watts community planted a garden on a burned-out lot after the Watts riots of 1965. For years, a small group of people has controlled plots at Mudtown, along the lines of a community garden. There's an open area with some tables and chairs. There's a broken wok, an old car seat and a dilapidated kitchen chair among the refuse.

Those growers have been asked to move out and are getting help to find new places to garden. Watkins said some compost boxes and raised beds will be built first, using an open section of the land. Earlier this week, Pinto brought a group of architecture students, and in early December a group of food bloggers plans to meet there.

"The community garden model doesn't work for us. And that's proved by who's there now," Watkins said. Instead, she wants to see a farm, run by a professional farmer, as well as a kitchen for teaching and making products such as jams or salsa.



SCI-Arc student Janica Ley’s collage proposes that the Mudtown site, 2.5 acres near the Jordan Downs housing project, become a farm. Ley was one of 13 students who came up with site ideas, some realistic, some whimsical. (Janica Ley)

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Old Posted Nov 25, 2010, 4:24 PM
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Here are aerials of some of the community farms in DC, these have probably been there for decades.






I love seeing them and hope they stay. Others have been built over, so their "official" status is questionable.
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Old Posted Dec 1, 2010, 1:49 AM
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Suburban living, down on the farm


By Megan Kimble, Los Angeles Times

November 29, 2010

Read More: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...,5049879.story

Quote:
Terry Eski had been itching to grow her own food for years, but living in a Chicago condominium, she lacked the space to garden. Until 2009, that is, when Eski, her husband and two children moved north to Prairie Crossing, a master-planned farm community in the suburb of Grayslake, Ill. There, she lives across the street from a 100-acre organic farm, has access to a community garden and spends Saturdays collecting fresh-laid eggs.

Founded in 1992, Prairie Crossing is one of the first of a growing number of new housing developments built around a functioning organic farm. The developments offer farm living without the farm hassle. Homeowners don't work on the farm, but still enjoy access to fresh produce, miles of walking trails and acres of open space. Devon Joffe, who has helped design residential farms across the country, said the idea of building homes and farms together "is as much a really old concept as it is a new one."

Their emergence has banked on the growing demand for locally grown food and a changing outlook by some homeowners on what an upscale community should offer. "People are willing to pay more for a smaller lot, because the lot comes with a 100-acre farm and 300 acres of forest or green space," said Ed McMahon, a senior fellow with the Urban Land Institute in Washington. "Agriculture is the new golf," he said.

Just outside Atlanta, Serenbe Farms is a 1,000-acre, 100-family farm development founded by Steve and Marie Nygren, who retired from the Atlanta restaurant scene and moved to the countryside. "We started looking and researching about how you can both develop and save the land," Steve Nygren said.

Seventy percent of the subdivision is greenspace, including 25 acres reserved for an organic farm. This year, the 5 acres under cultivation yielded 56,000 pounds of produce. Produce is distributed to residents who buy shares in the development's farm. Some of the harvest is sold at the Saturday farmers market or to local restaurants.



Prairie Crossing is one of the first of a growing number of new housing developments built around a functioning organic farm. (Tyler Grooms / November 25, 2010)

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Old Posted Dec 4, 2010, 7:34 PM
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Sarasota considers allowing chickens


By Carrie Wells

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article...owing-chickens

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Who knew chickens could generate so much controversy? The local grass-roots movement to allow people to raise chickens in Sarasota backyards is pitting die-hard chicken lovers who want fresh eggs and unusual pets against homeowners who worry about their property values and the smell of dung. Right now, city residents who have chickens could be fined.

At the center of the debate is a proposed amendment to the city code which would allow residents to keep no more than four chickens in an enclosed backyard coop. Not allowed under the proposal: roosters, slaughtering of animals, or apartment-dwelling chickens. But the amendment is rife with problems, opponents say. First of all, how would a city with a tight budget pay for enforcement? And then there are the possible odors, and the sense that chickens are undignified.

The pro-chicken sect came to the Sarasota Planning Board's meeting on Monday to express their love for homegrown eggs, which are said to be healthier, with more vibrant yolks. Susan Chapman, the board's chair, did not buy that argument.

"Some of the people that testified here tonight, I catch their dogs and take them home," she said. "I think they would like to have a chicken -- that impulse decision -- just like they decided they wanted a dog. This looks like this is drafted for the maximum convenience of the chicken owners."

Chapman showed board members and the audience several recent photos of chickens living illegally in her Hudson Bayou neighborhood that had escaped and were pecking along the street.

Other board members were more sympathetic. "We can't throw the chickens out with the water," said Vald Svekis. "I really believe we should move forward. Try it, if nothing else." After two hours of discussion, the planning board, which advises the city commission, told the chicken supporters they should address outstanding issues and come back with a new proposal.

Jono Miller, one of the founders of the Sarasota group Cluck, or Citizens Lobbying for Urban Chicken Keeping, said his group would reconvene to address some of the concerns. He said he was disheartened at the poor reception he got from the board.



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Old Posted Dec 6, 2010, 7:01 PM
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Some Japanese take up weekend farming


December 6, 2010

By Kenji Hall

Read More: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...,1714392.story

Quote:
Yoshikatsu Mochida strolls between the long, green rows of his field, pausing occasionally to inspect the mustard spinach and garland chrysanthemums that have grown shin-high. They are ready to be harvested. But the 66-year-old Japanese farmer won't pick them. That's because the field is his, but the crops aren't. For more than a year, Mochida has divided some of his farmland on the outskirts of Yokohama into 8 feet by 40 feet plots, renting 70 of them to urbanites who come once a week to tend their crops.

- For an annual fee of about $500 per parcel, Mochida shows the elderly couples and young families how to plant seeds twice a year and when to water and harvest. They take home their vegetables, and Mochida receives government subsidies to help pay for water, seeds and tools.

- The part-timers are engaged in what's known here as shumatsu nogyo, or weekend farming. Their daily lives are firmly rooted in crowded cities. But with no yard of their own, they sign up instead at nearby farms that teach the basics of horticulture. The seasoned ones rent their own pint-sized plots in public-run gardens, known as shimin noen ("people's farms"), on the fringes of Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka and other cities.

- There are no reliable estimates of how many such farmers there are, but anecdotal evidence suggests that plenty of young city dwellers are taking up horticulture. Recently, Tokyo city government officials have been swamped with requests to rent 15 feet by 10 feet plots on public land in residential areas. "Applicants exceed the number of plots by 3 to 1, and many are young families," says Nobuyoshi Kato, in the Nerima ward office.

- The rise of the weekend farmers coincides with an urban agriculture craze that's turning once-barren city rooftops and verandas into plush gardens. Underlying the trend is the philosophy of jisan jisho. A Kyoto farm-rental company claims to have coined the phrase, often translated as "local food for local consumption," which means to eat food that you grow yourself and has its roots in the local food movement.



Yohsuke and Kumiko Itoh, with their 5-year-old daughter, Fumi, at Mochida Farms. They say Fumi has begun eating vegetables since they got they began farming on the weekends. (Kenji Hall, For The Times / December 5, 2010)

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Old Posted Dec 24, 2010, 10:00 PM
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Urban farming 2.0: No soil, no sun


December 23, 2010

By Jennifer Alsever

Read More: http://money.cnn.com/2010/12/23/tech...eedburner&utm_

Quote:
Forget the conventional wisdom that says veggies must be grown on vast farms in the Midwest. What if commercial-scale crops took root inside cavernous city warehouses, without sunlight or soil? Call it urban farming 2.0. Over the past decade, city agriculture has largely been the province of non-profit organizations, school groups, renegade gardeners and restaurants sowing seeds on rooftops. But the newest breed of city farmers are businessfolk. In their hands, urban agriculture is scaling up to meet a rising demand in city centers for safe, organic and locally grown food.

One such indoor farm opened in September in Vancouver, growing lettuce and spinach inside an 8,000-square-foot warehouse using a hydroponic system that replaces dirt and weather with peat moss plugs and circulated water. High-efficiency LED lighting hits plants grown on stacked shelves.

The Eco Spirit-branded lettuce operation -- which is owned by the local Squamish Nation tribe -- now supplies eight stores for Choices Markets, a natural foods chain in greater Vancouver. The tribe licensed the technology from TerraSphere Systems in Canada and plans to grow the Eco Spirit label into a larger brand of locally grown produce.

"It's clean, it's safe, it's good for the environment," says Nick Brusatore, technical director of Vancouver-based TerraSphere Systems, which started developing the indoor farming technology eight years ago. TerraSphere generated $4 million this year from equipment sales and technology licenses to organizations like the Squamish Nation. New indoor farms are slated for New York, New Jersey, Ontario and Rhode Island.

"The demand is there, without a doubt," says Brusatore. "We're going to produce food everywhere." Finding empty space won't be a problem. America is littered with thousands of abandoned big box stores, a trend fueled by the sputtering economy. About 11% of commercial and industrial real estate nationwide remains empty -- double the vacancy rate of just four years ago, according to Reis Inc., which tracks real-estate data.

Finding buyers is also fairly easy. Large grocers, from Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) to Whole Foods (WFMI, Fortune 500), have made selling locally grown food a priority in their stores. "Urban agriculture is a growth industry," says Dickson Despommier, a Columbia University microbiology professor and author of The Vertical Farm. His book touts a vision for commercial-scale agriculture in high-tech greenhouses as high as 30 stories tall, with the footprint of an entire city block.

On the flip side: Critics worry that today's urban farm startups will be huge -- and short-lived -- energy hogs, brought down by electrical bills they can't afford. "Scores of companies have tried to do this, even the big guys like General Mills 15 years ago," says Bruce Bugbee, a professor of crop physiology at Utah State University. "It's too expensive. People don't realize how much light it takes to grow plants."



Co-founder of Big Box Farms co-founder Sam Miller-McDonald, inspecting a hydroponic lettuce crop, thinks indoor farming can be made more energy-efficient than traditional agriculture.

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Old Posted Jan 24, 2011, 5:06 PM
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Five Borough Farm


January 19th, 2011

Read More: http://urbanomnibus.net/2011/01/five-borough-farm/

Website: http://www.designtrust.org/projects/project_09farm.html

Quote:
Five Borough Farm is a project by the Design Trust for Public Space and Added Value, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that operates one of the city’s largest farms, to create a citywide plan to support urban agriculture in New York City. The urban agriculture movement is booming here: demand for local food production is growing, and in every corner of the city New Yorkers are developing a broad range of community gardens, rooftop farms, composting projects, and farmers markets. But right now no one has a detailed understanding of all of these activities, or hard data or tools to evaluate the benefits of agriculture as an urban land use. So what you find is city officials are reluctant to adopt the many policy recommendations advanced by advocates, or to address local food production on a citywide scale.

- The Design Trust is engaging a diverse cross-section of experts and a network of hundreds of individual practitioners to move this project forward. Based on a detailed analysis of the city’s current urban agricultural landscape, we will develop an evaluation framework to measure, in quantifiable and replicable terms, the ecological, social, and economic value urban agriculture brings to the communities it serves and to the city as a whole. Together with Added Value and many other stakeholders, the Design Trust will help city government evaluate what their role should be, and identify specific opportunities for agencies to support urban agricultural activity.

- In December, we convened a citywide workshop for growers, advocates, and funders to discuss the project and to learn how practitioners measure their success, what information would help them to carry out their work more successfully, and the types of policy changes that would enable urban agriculture to expand in New York City. We asked: Why do you do what you do? What resources (revenue, volunteers, funding, etc.) do you rely on in order to do your work? How do you track what you do, and what do you wish you could track? What would help you measure the benefits of what you do?

- I hope that the tools we develop to measure the benefits of urban agriculture will enable gardeners and farmers to more effectively achieve their goals, whether it’s more sustainable food production, youth development, more revenue, or better health for the people in their neighborhood. We expect that reliable indicators of the impact of urban agriculture will also provide evidence to policymakers that urban agriculture is an important part of urban sustainability and should be supported like other municipal infrastructure. A broader goal is to influence City policy so that zoning, local laws, funding decisions, and City programs support the growth of urban food production.



Students mapping urban agriculture sites for Five Borough Farm project at The New School's Living Concrete/Carrot City exhibition | Photo by Nevin Cohen











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Old Posted Jan 25, 2011, 2:42 AM
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Growing Power Growing in Milwaukee


Kubala Washatko Architects Inc.


Kubala Washatko Architects Inc.

Business Journal

Growing Power Inc. is gearing up for a building binge that includes 100 greenhouses in Milwaukee and a five-story building that would show off new ways to farm in cities.

The organization grows enough food to feed about 10,000 people a year, but the new greenhouses and building will mean it will grow enough food for 25,000 people, said Will Allen, Growing Power chief executive officer.
The organization, which is dedicated to making locally grown food available to people of all incomes, will double its staff of 52 people within the next year, Allen said.

“We’re creating a new industry of growing food inside cities, which is going to create thousands of jobs,” Allen said.

The organization will increase its efforts to build small greenhouses on vacant sites, Allen said, with the goal of building 100 in Milwaukee. He is also trying to begin construction within two years on a new building that will have more classroom and office space for Growing Power and show off its new vertical farming concept.

The building, at 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive in Milwaukee, will have five floors of greenhouse space, letting people grow more food on a smaller amount of land than traditional greenhouses allow, he said.

“We’re adding another piece to really inspire people and engage people and give then an idea they can replicate,” Allen said.


Kubala Washatko Architects Inc.
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Old Posted Jan 25, 2011, 2:49 AM
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Time's 100 most influential People

Will Allen


Time

At one time, the term urban farm sounded like an oxymoron. No longer.

A new movement is sprouting up in America's low-income neighborhoods. Some urban residents, sick of fast food and the scarcity of grocery stores, have decided to grow good food for themselves.

One of the movement's (literally) towering icons is Will Allen, 62, of Milwaukee's Growing Power Inc. His main 2-acre Community Food Center is no larger than a small supermarket. But it houses 20,000 plants and vegetables, thousands of fish, plus chickens, goats, ducks, rabbits and bees.

People come from around the world to marvel — and to learn. Says Allen: "Everybody, regardless of their economic means, should have access to the same healthy, safe, affordable food that is grown naturally."

The movement's aim is not just healthier people but a healthier planet. Food grown in cities is trucked shorter distances. Translation: more greenhouses in the 'hood equals less greenhouse gas in the air.

Just as important, farm projects grow communities and nourish hope. The best ones will produce more leaders like Allen, with his credo "Grow. Bloom. Thrive."
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Old Posted Feb 13, 2011, 7:11 PM
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City establishes rules for urban farms


February 08, 2011

By Joe Smydo



Read More: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11039/1123852-53.stm

Quote:
The city of Pittsburgh has new regulations for the increasingly popular practice of urban agriculture, such as the raising of honeybees and chickens, but time will tell whether the rules are the bee's knees or something to squawk about. Council approved the guidelines last week. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's office had proposed most of the changes to complement other greening initiatives -- and to make sure people and animals peacefully co-exist in city neighborhoods. Cities across the nation have been adopting urban agriculture guidelines as residents -- citing food-security, health and health concerns -- become more interested in the practice.

"If you compare it to a wave in the ocean, I think it's been building and building and building," said Barb Kline, co-owner of Mildreds' Daughters Urban Farm, a 5-acre vegetable and flower operation in Stanton Heights. Some farmers are unsettled at the prospect of new rules and costs. Others don't yet know how, or if, they'll be affected. "We're going to operate the way we have and see how this thing kind of works out," said W. Moses Carper, who operates the Chiyou Corral horse farm in Observatory Hill.

The city planning department doesn't know how many residents are engaged in commercial agriculture but said the new application process should provide some data. The new regulations don't affect residents growing vegetables for personal consumption, and commercial agricultural operations that already have occupancy permits will be grandfathered. In the future, those going into commercial agriculture -- from beekeeping to vegetable production to poultry -- will have to apply for a permit and pay a fee of up to $275. In some ways, the new rules are more relaxed than the old ones.

.....



Steve Rapasky, director of the Burgh Bees community apiary on Susequanna Street, poses for a portrait inside the apiary Monday. Rapasky lives in Dormont.

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Old Posted Apr 18, 2011, 12:33 AM
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Farming on water: Stackable, sustainable, in the city


April 10, 2011

By Melissa Harris



Read More: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2...tpacking-plant

Quote:
John Edel is turning a former meatpacking plant on the edge of Chicago's old Union Stockyards into an indoor farm. In the basement, microorganisms are eating tilapia waste, converting it into fertilizer for the lettuce, kale and wheatgrass growing in a shallow pool of water nearby. This process is called aquaponic farming. It minimizes water use while allowing year-round harvests, and it's just the beginning of Edel's vision for a futuristic, urban farm he has called "The Plant." "The idea is that nothing leaves the facility but food — period," said Edel, 41. Half of The Plant will be rented to startup food companies, including a commercial brewery.

- Farms of the future must occupy less space, rely on fewer pesticides and produce food that travels blocks, not miles to our tables, given the skyrocketing cost of fuel. Such requirements have spawned concepts of farms being housed in glass skyscrapers from Chicago to Dubai. "We're not proponents of these fantasy skyscrapers," said Erika Allen, who is beginning to construct greenhouses and install fish tanks at Iron Street Farm. "The whole goal is to create a farm that's sustainable and makes money. And you can't make money if your infrastructure costs are too high." What's profitable and achievable, Allen says, are tiered aquaponic systems, or minivertical farms in which fish and plants coexist off each other. Their ecosystems are linked via tubes.

- Edel's building at 1400 West 46th Street is a place children would dare each other to sneak into; the escapade ending when a pipe suddenly clanked and everyone bolted. Keeping scrappers away, however, is a different matter. Edel recently installed a security alarm that blares as loud as a tornado siren to keep them from trying to break in to steal metal. Inside, broken concrete floors crackle as I walk. Dozens of windows have been filled with bricks. It is dark and cold. But within a few years, Edel says a complex food-production system will be in place, the key to which is a $1 million, yet-to-be-bought anaerobic digester. Everything, and I mean everything, will be fed into it, from rotting tomatoes and meat, to brown and yellow grease.

- The digester will convert the waste into gas, which will power a generator, which will power the facility. ComEd will not have to supply electricity. "That's what takes us to the next level" of sustainability, Edel said. Most of "the power for the anaerobic digester will come from neighboring businesses' waste. … We're looking at 18 tons a day of biomass to power this place." Edel anticipates receiving 2.1 million gallons a year of "beefy, sludge bioproduct" from a local food-flavoring maker. But the brewery, bakeries and the mom-and-pop tenants who will rent commercial kitchen space from Edel also will send their waste to the digester.

.....



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