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Urban Agriculture Magazine at Your Fingertips

Touch the Soil News #858 (Feature photo – Small Farming Scene from Thousands of Years Ago – photo is in the Public Domain – the Yorck Project) One of the leading forces of change is an organization called the RUAF. The RUAF is a global partnership on sustainable urban agriculture and food systems. Virtually every place in the world is a potential location for a small agriculture food system. Having now published 33 issues of the Urban Agriculture Magazine, issue # 33 is now available online at: http://www.ruaf.org/publications/urban-agriculture-magazine-english-0 Following is an uplifting story from a few years back that illustrates the breadth of social issues that can be mitigated by…

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New York City is Concerned About Raising Food?

Touch the Soil News #848 (Feature photo – Bernie Sanders (left) with Rafael Espinal – photo courtesy of Rafeal Espinal) The New York City Council is considering a bill – proposed by Rafael Espinal – to develop a comprehensive urban agriculture plan. Wow, a city of 8.5 million people where there is an average of one person every 1,000 square feet. While it sounds quite far out, the point is that there is a lot of sentiment that the industrial food system has too many problems to fix. People have to fix it from the ground up. In specifics, the law proposed by Rafael Espinal seeks to establish a comprehensive…

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When People Work Together

Touch the Soil News #847 (Feature photo – courtesy of Braddock Farms and Superior Motors) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has an unusual restaurant – it’s called Superior Motors. Chef Kevin Sousa, with the support of over 2,000 dedicated supporters, raised over $300,000 to build the restaurant. It’s called Superior Motors as the restaurant was a renovation of the defunct Superior Motors car dealership. Bucking the trend when it comes to the formation of capital and starting a new business, Superior Motors Restaurant is not finished. The Restaurant is now in the process of developing a greenhouse on its roof and a 4,000 square foot raised-bed farm on its grounds. It is the…

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Go Marcy Kaptur

Touch the Soil News #799 (Feature photo courtesy of Marcy Kaptur) Never heard of Marcy Kaptur? Well, most folks have not. However, Marcy holds the distinction of being the longest running woman representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. In office since 1983 (34 years), Marcy is introducing a new kind of agricultural bill. Called the Urban Agriculture Production Act of 2017 (H.R. Bill #3699), the Bill intends to help create the next generation of local, urban farmers and food producers. At the heart of the legislation is to attack the food-security erosion in much of America – often found in what is termed “food deserts”. As a preface to…

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Urban Agriculture – It’s Big

Touch the Soil News #766 (feature photo – courtesy of FAO) According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FA0), a division of the United Nations, 800 million people worldwide practice urban agriculture. These urban agriculture efforts account for roughly 15 to 20 percent of the world’s food supply. The FAO sees urban agriculture as reaching far beyond just vegetables to include small animal agriculture (rabbits, goats, sheep, dwarf cattle, pigs, guinea pigs and fish). Urban agriculture includes trees for fruit and fuel wood. Small garden plots can be up to 15 times more productive than rural holdings. The FAO is working to expand the recognition of urban agriculture as an…

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Urban Food Systems – A New Cornerstone of Urban Infrastructure

Touch the Soil News #754 (feature photo – Joe Mabel – CC SA 3.0) As many of the stories we cover reveal, connecting with urban food (agriculture) is as much about other benefits as it is about the direct food benefit. We are all familiar with the policy directives of the national government through the USDA – ditto for other governments as well. This “centralized” policymaking approach to the world’s food systems is slowly being challenged by Municipal (city) efforts to establish their own food policies. Toronto, Canada has one of the most advanced and mature Food Policy Councils. The 30-member councils is free to be creative in bringing urban…

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A Long Shot At Rethinking America

Touch the Soil News #662 The State of Illinois is considering legislation that would formalize urban food and farming throughout the whole state. Illinois State Representative Sonya Harper (Democrat) is proposing urban agriculture zones. Illinois is the sixth most populous state with a population of almost 13 million. Sonya Harper has lived in a food desert most of her life. What this legislation aims to achieve is to break up food deserts and put vacant lots to use by establishing urban agriculture zones that would incentivize the sale of locally grown foods. An agriculture zone would be made up of organizations or individuals who grow produce or other agricultural products…

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The Growing Art of Urban Food

Touch the Soil News #650 (Feature photo – courtesy of Office of Sustainability, George Mason University) Welcome to Fairfax County – 1.2 million people – and George Mason University (GMU). GMU has almost 3,000 teachers serving almost 34,000 students. It is the largest public research university in Virginia. Enter Doni Nolan, a 2014 graduate from GMU in biology. While at the university, Doni was introduced to growing food in a facility called the President’s Park Greenhouse. She got hooked and decided that her life’s career was to be a food farmer. Today, Doni is the Greenhouse coordinator at GMU and is commonly known as the “Mason Farmer.” She oversees what…

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An Unlikely Player in the Food Business

Touch the Soil News #627 (feature photo – Panasonic vegetables under its Veggie Life brand – courtesy of Panasonic) Mention the name Panasonic and we all think electronics and lighting. This global electronics company headquartered in Osaka, Japan employs about 250,000 people. Rapidly gaining momentum in the food industry is indoor farming, vertical farming or controlled environment agriculture. When you look at food from these angles, several things stick out – high tech, electronics, and lighting. Three years ago Panasonic decided to build a controlled environment food system in Singapore. Singapore is a small country that is almost all city and asphalt with virtually no agriculture. At the time, the…

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Urban Agriculture is Getting More Popular

Touch the Soil News #606 (feature photo courtesy of Groundwork Sommerville) The state of Massachusetts today announced $108,266 in grants to five projects through the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Urban Agriculture Program to support growing the emerging urban agriculture sector and provide city residents access to fresh food. Last year the state awarded more than $160,000 for urban agriculture projects. Following are the 2017 recipients. It gives you an idea of what the State of Massachusetts wants to bring to its cities:   City of Boston, – $ 40,000 To increase the capacity of Boston’s urban farming network, the City of Boston will utilize funds to transform five…

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