tagged w/ urban farming
Like many a farmer, Ben Flanner rises with the sun. Like most crops, his need water and weeding -- bright tomatoes and fragrant basil, delicate nasturtiums, mottled melons and black eggplants, mustard greens, puntarelle, peas, beets, beans, kale -- about 30 fruits and vegetables in all, and then there are the herbs.
But his farm is not like most farms.
His farm is three stories off the ground.
Beyond it is a sweeping view of the Manhattan skyline. Below it is a TV and film soundstage.
Flanner's 6,000-square-foot farm is on a rooftop in the industrial Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. He hopes it can become a model for others who want to grow food but lack space.
The problem in cities such as New York is always land. It's expensive and valuable, and it never makes more sense to plant than build apartments. But from a bird's-eye view, much of the city is rooftops. Most roofs are flat. They get direct sunlight, a rare commodity in a densely built place.
In recent years, enthusiasm has grown for green roofs, hailed for harnessing rainwater that can overwhelm urban sewage systems, and keeping buildings warmer in winter and cooler in summer, lowering electricity use.
But amid increasing interest in fresh, local food, this season seems to herald the era of the rooftop farm. It's as though somewhere someone decreed, "Roofs shall not lie fallow." And a colony of entrepreneurs, residents, schoolteachers and restaurateurs set to work.
"All right, open the floodgates!" Flanner says to a volunteer assistant holding a hose on a recent morning.
"Sweat these babies down!" says Flanner, speaking of the mustard seeds just laid into the earth. A Brooklyn restaurant ordered 10 pounds of mustard greens to be delivered next month. Mustard greens take exactly one month to grow. Flanner is working on deadline.
Flanner, 28, considered going to the country to farm -- only to realize he didn't want to leave the city, he just wanted to be a farmer. He quit his job at E-Trade and partnered with Annie Novak, 26, who had farming experience. The green-roof design firm Goode Green agreed to do the installation for free and the production company Broadway Stages agreed to pay for it, as an experiment on the roof of its Greenpoint building.
It took two days for cranes to haul 200,000 pounds of soil made of lightweight expanded shale, like crushed brick, onto the roof. It cost $10 per square foot, or $60,000. Now it is up to Flanner and Novak to make a profitable farm.
more at the linkLike many a farmer, Ben Flanner rises with the sun. Like most crops, his need water... more
PARK(ing) Day is a one-day, worldwide event that raises awareness about the use of public space and urban planning issues by transforming parking spaces into public parks, guerrilla-style.
I hope that this video will give you an impression of what an amazing and transformational event this can be. Also, given that PARK(ing) Day 2009 is just about a month from now, this is the perfect time to start planning your own project for September 18. Check out the PARK(ing) Day 2009 Web site that’s been revamped with wonderful digital tools to help you get inspired and started with a project of your own.PARK(ing) Day is a one-day, worldwide event that raises awareness about the use of... more
3 years ago
On a plot of soil, nestled against the backdrop of skyscrapers in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, a group of residents are turning a lack of access to fresh produce into a revival of old traditions and self-empowerment.
Urban farming is a way for African-Americans to connect with the earth, says Cashawn Myers of HABESHA.
HABESHA Gardens is one of many urban gardens sprouting up around the country. Fruits and vegetables are thriving in this community garden located in an economically depressed area of the city known as Mechanicsville.
But the garden serves an even greater purpose. The harvest helps feed some of the neediest members of the neighborhood.
"It's a reawakening going on. It's almost like it's a renaissance," says Cashawn Myers, director of HABESHA Inc.
"There's a Ghanaian proverb that says Sankofa. Sankofa means return to your past so you can move forward. Even if you look at coming over here during our enslavement, we were brought here to cultivate the land because that's something we did on the continent. So really, that's what many of the people are doing now," he said.
Myers believes urban farming is a way for many African-Americans to reconnect with their past. iReport.com: Show us your urban farm
"They are going through a process of Sankofa and going to what they traditionally did, which is connect to the Earth so they can move forward and grow," he says.
But HABESHA Gardens isn't unique.
Former pro basketball player Will Allen, who is considered to be one of the nation's leading urban farmers and founder of Growing Power Inc., estimates that there are hundreds of thousands of urban gardens in inner cities across America. Urban farms help feed people, sustain neighorhoods »
"It's beyond a movement at this point. Its more like a revolution," says Allen.
Both Allen and Myers agree that the boom in urban farming for African-Americans is born out of necessity and not just echoing traditions.
"Minority people are affected by poor food, more than any other groups," and many inner cities lack access to quality fruits and vegetables, Allen says. "Our food system is broken."
"When you're poor, when you don't have access to resources, you have to create your own," says Myers. "So this is a way for people of African descent to use their creativity to grow their own food."
Many poorer communities don't have full-scale grocery stores. Allen charges that companies have red-lined those areas and won't build stores there.
So community activists like Myers have taken up the fight.
"[Starting] community gardens in local communities, specifically in urban areas, is important, so you create your own food security network," says Myers. "You're not relying on large grocery stores to provide food for everyone because if those grocery stores have problems, your access to food is done."
HABESHA Gardens makes the fresh food accessible to people in Mechanicsville by opening up the garden to people in the community every Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.
"We invite people from the local community here, the immediate community but also from the greater Atlanta community ... to come out, work in the garden; learn, reconnect with the Earth and also be able to take food home with them after the harvest."
In addition to providing food for those that work in garden, HABESHA partners with organizations such as the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the MLK Senior Center to provide food from the garden to the hungry and elders in the community.
more at the linkOn a plot of soil, nestled against the backdrop of skyscrapers in downtown Atlanta,... more
In West Oakland, California, where liquor stores have replaced markets, Peoples Grocery is creating a healthy alternative, offering access to organic produce. Through urban gardens and local farms, People's Grocery supports a culture based on connection to the land, sustainable agricultural practices, and regenerating community.
Where are the subsidies for this? This is fantastic.In West Oakland, California, where liquor stores have replaced markets, Peoples... more
Access to healthy food is not just restricted in developing countries. It is also in many cases restricted right here in our own inner cities and it is making us fatter and sicker. Community farming and giving access to healthier food to urban and poor areas of America is definitely a goal that should be entertained in addressing poverty, disease, and obesity in our country. I have heard President Obama speak to many people since his inauguration, except the poor in this country. When are we going to REALLY tackle homelessness and poverty right here in America? Why can't every community in this country have an organic garden like the one he now has outside the White House that feeds his family? Why isn't THAT in any of these politician's healthcare bills?Access to healthy food is not just restricted in developing countries. It is also in... more
OrganicNation.tv is an exploration of the American sustainable food landscape focusing on the people, places and products that are shaping a new green economy and lifestyle. From farmers to urban gardeners, teachers to restaurant owners, we're traveling the country to document how sustainable food systems are being created.
We'll be exploring such fundamental questions as: What does “organic” mean and how are products certified? What do scientists say about the risks of chemical pesticides and fertilizers on human health? What are the costs of switching to organic production and is it affordable for farmers and consumers? Is organic better than local or vice-versa? Can organic food production feed the nation and is it truly sustainable?
http://www.OrganicNation.tv was created as a one-stop resource to help consumers navigate these complex issues:
* The OrganicNation blog keeps you to date on the latest food policy and sustainable living news
* OrganicNation videos feature candid interviews with farmers, scientists, business people and activists
* The OrganicNation Community Map helps you find resources in your neighborhood and across the country
Join us as we explore America's sustainable food landscape - we look forward to your comments, questions and ideas along the way!OrganicNation.tv is an exploration of the American sustainable food landscape focusing... more
Episode 2 in an ongoing series about turning an inner city lot in Minneapolis into a Urban Farm. In this episode watch as we make Maple Syrup in the city.Episode 2 in an ongoing series about turning an inner city lot in Minneapolis into a... more
The first episode in an ongoing series about turning an inner city lot in Minneapolis into an Urban Farm.The first episode in an ongoing series about turning an inner city lot in Minneapolis... more
Will Allen is bringing farming and fresh foods back into city neighborhoods.
At the northern outskirts of Milwaukee, in a neighborhood of boxy post-WWII homes near the sprawling Park Lawn housing project, stand 14 greenhouses arrayed on two acres of land. This is Growing Power, the only land within the Milwaukee city limits zoned as farmland.
Founded by MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellow Will Allen, Growing Power is an active farm producing tons of food each year, a food distribution hub, and a training center. It’s also the home base for an expanding network of similar community food centers, including a Chicago branch run by Allen’s daughter, Erika. Growing Power is in what Allen calls a “food desert,” a part of the city devoid of full-service grocery stores but lined with fast-food joints, liquor stores, and convenience stores selling mostly soda and sweets. Growing Power is an oasis in that desert.
Allen’s parents were sharecroppers in South Carolina until they bought the small farm in Rockville, Maryland, where Allen grew up. “My parents were the biggest influence on my life,” says Allen. “We didn’t have a TV and we relied on a wood stove, but we were known as the ‘food family’ because we had so much food. We could feed 30 people for supper.”
He was a high school All-American in basketball, played for the University of Miami, and played pro ball with the American Basketball Association in Europe. At a towering 6 feet 7 inches, with Schwarzenegger-size biceps, and chiseled features, Allen looks ready to step back onto the court.
After stints as an executive for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Proctor and Gamble, he returned to his family roots. “I never wanted a career in the corporate world, but I wanted to be able to afford a good education for my kids,” he explains. “At the right time, the kids were in college and the opportunity to buy the farm and start Growing Power came up,” Allen remembers. “From a spiritual standpoint, it worked out right; it was a natural thing, something I wanted to do.”Will Allen is bringing farming and fresh foods back into city neighborhoods.
If you are like me you try a lot of new things. You've been through all the seed catalogs and your seeds are making their way to you right now. You've probably over done it again in your enthusiasm. You have saved seed from seasons past. You have seeds from failed experiments! You have enough extra to get one newbie gardener going!
This is how it works. All of you veteran gardeners out there, I'm talking to you! I just mailed four newbie gardeners enough extra seeds for all of them to have lush edible gardens this season!
Follow the link for more information on how to participate. It's free!If you are like me you try a lot of new things. You've been through all the seed... more
A lot of folks are running into some friction when it comes to urban and suburban farming.
What's up with that?
Take the poll - Let Us Know What You Think!A lot of folks are running into some friction when it comes to urban and suburban... more
Take this quiz today! Your tribe needs you!
Farm Nerds Are Legion.
All your beets are belong to US!
If you answered yes:
0-2 times - You are a farm nerd like Carrot Top is a comic.
3-5 times - You may indeed be a bit of a farm nerd.
6-8 times - You are definitely, or more accurately speaking "approximately" (of course) a farm nerd, with a margin of error of +/- .04.
9-10 times - You rock the farm like Kirk rocks the Universe!
Can you relate? Join us at hyperlocavore.com.
Come back for Rise of the Farm Nerd next week!Take this quiz today! Your tribe needs you!
Farm Nerds Are Legion.
All your beets... more
First a definition, a hyperlocavore tries to eat as much food as close to home as possible, in order to reduce the food miles that his food travels. It is an extension of the term locavore. A locavore typically tries to eat seasonally within 100 miles of her home, to reduce food miles and to develop the local economic base. A hyperlocavore therefore wants to bring food even closer. And what’s closer than your neighborhood? We have a time crunch, we have land and property that is loosing value fast, we have kids who don’t know where their food comes from, and we have a climate crisis....First a definition, a hyperlocavore tries to eat as much food as close to home as... more