Posted on

Urban Food Systems – A New Cornerstone of Urban Infrastructure

1024px-Ballard_Farmers'_Market_-_vegetables

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…

Read more

Posted on

A Long Shot At Rethinking America

215px-Seal_of_Illinois_svg

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…

Read more

Posted on

The Growing Art of Urban Food

14707814_1462871647063033_6167710311399202250_o

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…

Read more

Posted on

An Unlikely Player in the Food Business

01_Veggie_2015

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…

Read more

Posted on

Urban Agriculture is Getting More Popular

11041163_10153494022157497_1924713386131367975_n

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…

Read more

Posted on

An Emerging Urban Agriculture Career Consciousness

bryan-ag_logo-sml

Touch the Soil News #577 It is true that food production out of cities today is a drop in the bucket compared to what comes from the hundreds of millions of acres of industrial farming. But, there is more to urban agriculture than just gross production. Urban agriculture represents a philosophical breakaway from the industrial food chain. The focus is on hyper-local mini farms compared to hyper-mega industrial farms. To be on the safe side, one can never underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come. Bryan High School – on the edges of the Omaha, Nebraska metropolitan area (some 900,000 people) – is home to one of…

Read more

Posted on

Fun Innovation

gg_2

Touch the Soil News #545 A group of fourth year architecture students at Butler University have designed and constructed a mobile greenhouse. Butler University is located in Indianapolis, Indiana and has almost 5,000 students. Butler University created this project in collaboration with architecture students from Ball State University (22,000 students) from Muncie, Indiana. Butler University has a teaching farm onto which they wanted to construct a greenhouse. As it turns out, the teaching farm is in a flood plain and the University could not get a building permit for the greenhouse. With the help of a $50,000 grant, it was decided that a mobile greenhouse would fill the need and…

Read more

Posted on

Oprah and Grow Your Own Food

oprah-cc2-flicker_in_2014

Touch the Soil News #539 (Feature photo CC. 2.0 Flicker) With the holiday season approaching, Oprah released her list of favorite things to buy. Item number nine (9) was urban grow kits. The grow kits come with one pack of organic seeds, one balanced bag of organic soil and one container to grow the plant in. https://www.urban-agriculture.net/collections The urban grow kits are created and shipped by the Urban Agriculture Company of Los Angeles, California and range in price from $17 to $19. In her own words, Oprah explains the kits: “I absolutely love cooking with fresh produce from my garden, and these urban grow kits will give city folks the…

Read more

Posted on

World’s Most Sweeping Urban Food Vision

ca-ab-sc15

Touch the Soil News #536 Strathcona County, located in central Alberta, Canada, is for most of the world not the center of attention. However, this small county of 100,000 inhabitants has decided to rethink its food future in a major way. It would set an example that could attract international attention. What makes Strathcona County different, is the sweeping changes it has identified for potential incorporation into local laws. If Strathcona County moves on its visions, it will be one of the most sweeping remakes of a community in modern world history. Following is an outline of the proposed actions:   Action #1 – Community Gardens Amend land-use laws to…

Read more

Posted on

Earthship to the Rescue

earthsh

Touch the Soil News #531 Calgary Grow is a non-profit farm that organizes labor (volunteers) and production assets (farmland) to grow food for the less fortunate in the Canadian city of Calgary. The non-profit owns 11 acres of land is the largest urban farm in Canada. Grow Calgary has recently undertaken a sustainable “winter farming” project that is already being touted as North America’s first urban Earthship. The Earthship at Grow Calgary’s farm has 500 square feet of growing space to grow fresh produce in a winter climate that can dip far below zero. Calgary is 155 miles North of the U.S. border. While most Earthships are private residences, this…

Read more