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Should You Join the Urban Food Movement for Economic Reasons?

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Touch the Soil News #495 Officials say the U.S. economy is getting better. Poverty has marginally decreased, hunger in America has gone down by a percent or two and average incomes are up by a hair. Who are we trying to kid here? Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau does what it calls the American Community Survey. In the survey, they divide the population up into 5 parts (quintiles). Each quintile represents 20 percent of U.S. households. The average household has 2.54 people. The following Info Graphic #1 illustrates income averages for the U.S. population broken up into fifths (quintiles): Translating labor into dollars is becoming more of a challenge.…

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SPIN Webinar – Grassroots Profits from Market Gardening

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Touch the Soil News #486 In today’s world, economics and finding a business model are more important than ever. SPIN Farming is one of the most effective platforms (with lots of peer support) in building a market garden business. Each month they sponsor a Member Meet-Up where they review the finances, economics, marketing, production and work flows of a successful market garden. SPIN stands for small plot intensive – it’s the most effective route to a successful market garden business.   What: A one-hour Webinar featuring Justin Vandenbroeck of Fleet Farming   When: Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time   Registration: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7395569572806299651   Connect…

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SPIN Webinar – Chance to Meet Real Market Gardeners

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Touch the Soil News #439 What: Meet professional SPIN market gardeners Annabel Khouri and Eric Stoffer. They are the owner/operators of Bay Branch Farm in Cleveland, Ohio. When: Friday, July 29, 2016 Time: 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time Zone How to Register: Click on the following link to register ahead of time: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6285720334624546562 Eric and Annabel’s first year’s gross was $4,517 on 5,000 sq. ft. working as a team about 20 hours per week. Since then they have moved, honed their growing skills, developed an impressively varied crop repertoire, and established multiple sales channels.  Now they’ve got 6,500 sq.ft. and a hoop house and are looking to maximize sales. But they…

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Following the Cities

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Touch the Soil News #277 The local food and urban farm movement is catching the attention of cities across the nation. No, they are not directly subsidizing local farmers, but they are trying to implement new codes and regulations that are local food and urban farming supportive. In this news piece we are going to sample some of the cities in which grass-roots efforts have paid off. Mostly below the media radar, local food activists are getting cities to become urban farming friendly San Antonio, Texas (from the Rivard Report http://therivardreport.com) Effective 1/1/2016, the city of San Antonio created a new zoning designation called the “residential market garden” as a…

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Recycling Freight Containers for Farming

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Touch the Soil News #248 Called Freight Farms, the company manufactures what they call the “Leafy Green Machine.” It’s a fully contained farm in a used 40 foot shipping container. The unit comes with its own computerized brain that allows you to monitor and control temperature, moisture, humidity and nutrients flowing to the hydroponic system. And, you do all of this with your smartphone. All yours for about $75,000 per container. The growing lights are a pink hue and there are Bluetooth-connected speakers embedded in the ceiling making it easy to access our favorite playlist. But, don’t let the smallness of the shipping container fool you. In an area of…

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Urban Farms & Chickens – Changing Food One Law at a Time

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Touch the Soil News #236 Urban chicken farmers are passionate about what they do and what they want. While not grabbing national news, grassroots struggles to enable chickens in backyards have been unfolding in cities across the nation for a number of years. Small but steady changes, like the tide, can suddenly take us by surprise on how things have changed when we’re not looking. Painting by Dario de Regoyos. While an urban garden with chickens makes good art, increasing numbers of city folks think it makes for a good backyard. As we speak, the city of Encinitas, California is embroiled in updating its urban farming laws. Presently, the city…

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Changing Public Perception Precedes Big Change

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Touch the Soil News #235 Public perceptions of the fossil-fuel industry are rapidly turning sour. This is a pattern of thinking not totally unlike perceptions about food and industrial agriculture. Is it possible that by observing current fossil-fuel perceptions that we see a pattern of thinking that could further infect attitudes towards industrial agriculture? For market gardeners and urban farmers, it is probably worth following the emerging demise of the fossil-fuel industry. Attitudes towards fossil-fuel burning will not only affect big oil companies, but $ trillions in investments as oil, gas and coal stocks loose value. In many ways, the loss of investments in fossil fuels will hurt many investors…

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Moving to a New Neighborhood? Oops, I mean Agrihood

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Touch the Soil News #234 Welcome to Serenbe, a real estate development south of Atlanta, Georgia. Serenbe’s developer, Steve Nygren, was raised on a farm. As a successful restaurant operator, Nygren purchased 1,000 acres of forest and farmland. He felt it was time for a new kind of living. Serenbe is an upscale community with some 200 homes at present. In the middle of the development is a 25 acre organic farm run by professional organic farmers. At first, Nygren was apprehensive about the success of such a project. However, the first 20 lots that were put on the market in Serenbe were sold in 48 hours.  In a recent…

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Urban Farming / Market Gardening News Round-up

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Touch the Soil News #233 The urban food landscape is one of the most dynamic spaces in the modern world. It is where minds meet, where creativity springs forth and where people have a fresh look at the future. Following are some recent examples of this exciting new paradigm. Futurists and Sustainable City Design Engineers are increasingly incorporating urban farming into city planning. Design engineers from Human Habitat ( http://www.humanhabitat.dk ) of Copenhagen, Denmark have put their heads together to design the Impact Farm. The farm is intentionally designed to take advantage of under-utilized urban space. It consists of an assembly-kit of pre-made components that when they are put together…

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Atlanta, Georgia – Bring on Market Gardening and Urban Farming

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Touch the Soil News #232 Every once in a while you get surprised when an institution of power steps forward to do the right thing. It just takes you back as the media is full of the opposite. This time it is a municipality – the City of Atlanta. Under the leadership of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the City Council, the city recently passed historic laws to enable urban food and agriculture to flourish in the city. The Seal of the City of Atlanta, Georgia. It is of the Phoenix symbolizing re-brith as the Phoenix comes back to life out of the fire. While it may not be a…

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