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Community Gardening Mania hits Singapore (It’s a family activity)

Touch the Soil News #748 (feature photo – Children learn to grow food at Pocket Greens – photo courtesy of Pocket Greens) Singapore is a City-State (its own little country) on the far Southern tip of the Asian Continent. Surprisingly its primary language is English and the small nation has a land area of only 178,000 acres and a population of 5.6 million people. Singapore has one of the highest standards of living in the world – ranked 3rd globally. In 2005, the nation through its National Parks department launched a “Community in Bloom” initiative. The goal was to turn much of the city into a garden. Fast forward to today…

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Community Food – An Emerging Economic Model

Touch the Soil News #726 (feature photo – CC SA 4.0) In Brazil, the term “favela” stands for slum. Our feature photo shows U.S. President Obama a few years back visiting a favela within the city of Rio de Janeiro called “Cidade de Deus (City of God). Rio is a city of 6.5 million people nestled within a larger metro area of 12.5 million people. Even though Rio ranks among the world’s top metropolises, over 40 percent of the people there live in poverty. The economic blight in Rio is not restricted to cities in Brazil – but the whole world to varying degrees. Over the past few years, the…

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On the Edge – Re-inventing Food

Touch the Soil News #692 (photo courtesy of Lawrence Community Garden) Federal Government finances seem to always be a few months away from shutdown. But economic shuttering in many areas of the U.S. has become a stark reality. The small town of Lawrence, Indiana, which is on the edge of the Indianapolis metropolitan area of some 2.5 million people, just happens have some of the largest food deserts in America. A food desert is an area where robust finances, food stores and many jobs have left the scene. In response to the situation, the Lawrence Community Gardens was born. It is not your typical community garden in that there are…

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The Emerging Concept of “Civic Food”

Touch the Soil News #684 (feature photo by Vicki Johnson – Rita Wienken checks over new greenhouse plants with assistant farmer Aaron Lucius) Civic Food is trend which has emerged out of our modern culture – a culture riddled with issues. Civic Food is a trend that was born out of necessity to address: Erosion of peoples’ connection with food and adequate nutrition. Economic needs that the financial world can’t reach. Food insecurity. Erosion of community cohesiveness. Youth at risk. Inadequate access to learning job skills.   The list could go on, but the reality is that the idea of “civic food” (working together as a group to feed ourselves and…

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Farm Lot 59 – What’s the Message?

Touch the Soil News #643 (feature photo courtesy of Farm Lot 59) In 1881, in what is now known as Long Beach, California, the city’s early founders identified a 4,000 acre area to create a new town. Of this land, 300 acres was carved out for the city portion and the other 3,700 acres were divided into 20 acre small farms numbered from 1 through 185. Farm Lot #59 is the last remaining plot that has not been urbanized. Owned by the city of Long Beach, Farm Lot 59 has been leased to Long Beach Local – a nonprofit that now oversees the operations of Farm Lot 59 as a…

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Allotment and Community Gardens

Touch the Soil News #634 Earlier generations in the United Kingdom fought many battles to achieve a balance between the rich and poor. One of the victories of the poor was to get an acknowledgment from the government that they had an obligation to provide land for allotment gardening. It is the old battle between the land owners and the land workers. In the old days, when allotments were used to feed the family, plots were much larger than U.S. community garden plots. In the U.S., community garden plots usually average from 100 to 200 square feet. Allotment plots are much larger with standard plots around 2,700 square feet. In…

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Seeds of a Global Dilemma Are Growing

Touch the Soil News #575 (Feature photo courtesy of New York City Community Garden Coalition) The Green Valley Community Farm has been an icon in Brooklyn, New York for decades. The community garden – which has a greenhouse for winter – is located in a food desert, an area lacking access to fresh produce. It’s more than just hobby farming – it’s about survival. The community garden is located on land owned by a municipal agency – the Housing Preservation and Development Agency. The Agency allegedly sold the ground under the farm for $4 to a developer for a 20-unit affordable housing project. Construction is slated for early 2017. Gardeners…

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Urban Ground Zero – Now a Food Garden

Touch the Soil News #340 If you do a search on Google Earth for Spring Street, Los Angeles, you will quickly find yourself in the middle of one of the world’s largest concrete jungles. Yet, in the midst of this jungle is a 2,700 square foot vacant lot that has been turned into a community garden. Called the Spring Street Community Garden, its creation is almost a miracle in today’s competitive and often unfriendly economic landscape. To bring this small piece of sanity into the urban jungle, here is what had to happen first: Local resident Marty Berg and his wife Stacie Chaiken, worked to set up a non-profit organization…

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AHHHHH – The Privilege of Touching the Soil

Touch the Soil News #306 The city of Sacramento recently announced the construction of a new community garden. Now, a community garden may not seem like big news. However, the events and circumstances around this particular community garden appear to expose what might be a cosmic law – the primal need to touch the soil. From a scientific point of view, humans share a close relationship to the soil. Growing in popularity is a health activity called “Earthing.” The idea is to let your bare feet or hands touch the earth which has a slightly negative charge – in order to re-establish the normal electrical charge that our bodies should…

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A Domino Effect

Touch the Soil News #289 Food and farming has become a domain of a growing number of non-profits. A recent story by Melanie Whyte of Arizona State University reveals just how far non-profit expressions of food and agriculture can go.   Domino #1 The city of Phoenix did a self-assessment and found that 43 percent of the total land in Phoenix was in vacant lots. The city helped form a coalition of local businesses and non-profits known as PHX Renews. PHX Renews began as a 15-acre project that embraces urban agriculture and other beautification projects. The ultimate goal is to find uses that are functional (urban food) and beautifying of…

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