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Time to Think About Farmland Again

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Touch the Soil News #605 (Feature photo – Shanghai, China with a metro population of over 35 million is consuming farmland on its outer edges). We all understand that civilization began in the most fertile areas and then expands out. Accordingly, a large sector of the world’s best farmland has been urbanized. Estimates are that the best farmland that has been urbanized and is about to be urbanized around mega-cities is almost twice as productive as farmland farther out. Recently, a group of scientists from Yale, Texas A&M, the University of Maryland and research institutions in Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and Austria gathered to study the loss of farmland mega-trend.…

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Farmers Markets by the Numbers

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Touch the Soil News #509 The bottom line is that farmers’ markets are continuing to grow according to the USDA. On average, over the past 20 years, the number of farmers’ markets in the U.S. have increased an average of 315 new markets every year (see Info Graphic below). Estimates are that sales at farmers’ markets in America will reach about $1.1 billion in 2016. The top five states with the most markets (from the bottom) are Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, New York and California as No. 1. Each year, different organizations list their top ten favorite farmers’ markets. While they vary each year, some of the top farmers’ markets in…

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Fort Worth, Texas – Attempting a New Milestone in Urban Agriculture

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Touch the Soil News #427 Normally, when it comes to food and agriculture we get directives from places like the USDA or the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). But as we have been covering in our news pieces, the frequency of food and agriculture innovations are just as likely to come from city municipalities. Recently, the city of Fort Worth, Texas (a metropolis of 850,000) put out an interesting 14-page document concerning urban agriculture amendments to the city’s zoning ordinance. Worthy of note is a vision statement by the city at the introduction to the proposed ordinance: The City of Fort Worth wants residents to live longer and healthier lives.…

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Don’t Miss the Urban Grown Tour

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Touch the Soil News #414 What a great idea to promote urban farms to new potential customers. Cultivate Kansas City is hosting its 7th Urban Grown Tour the last weekend in June. It is a self-guided tour where you can explore 32 farms and gardens across the Kansas City Metro area. Antioch Urban Growers greenhouse which is part of the Urban Grow Tour. The farm sits on over 10 acres of land featuring native permaculture, 12,000 square feet of greenhouses, raised beds, aquaponics, goats, chickens, fish and bees. (Photo courtesy of Antioch Urban Growers) The tour includes not only professional urban farms, but school gardens and refugee training farms as…

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The World’s First Mobile Urban Farm

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Touch the Soil News #383 There isn’t a day that goes by that an urban farm isn’t dislocated as the urban land rented (or used for free) is set for improvement (paving and buildings). However, in response to economies that place urbanization over food, Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana is researching a mobile alternative for urban farmers and for its own on-campus urban farming project. To achieve this end, they have engaged the architecture department of Ball State University to engineer and build a mobile urban farm. Nearing completion, Ball State University students are proud of their accomplishment. Ball State University architecture students did the work and engineering for the…

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USDA’s Urban Agriculture Toolkit – Its Free (see below)

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Touch the Soil News #372 While most federal spending on agriculture is to the industrial sector, the USDA’s focus on urban and local food (though much smaller) has become well established. Below are links to a USDA Websites with lots of information including the free Urban Agriculture Toolkit. The Urban Agriculture Toolkit is a PDF (19) pages that covers these key areas: Business Planning Land Access Soil Quality Water Access and Use Capital and Financing Infrastructure Market Development Federal support of local and urban food has even migrated into postal stamps. USDA National Farmers Market Directory: https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets   USDA Local Food Directories: https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/local-regional/food-directories   USDA Farmers Markets and Direct to…

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Urban Ground Zero – Now a Food Garden

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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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Landscape Architecture – Incorporating Urban Food in Post-Industrial Cities (Part 2 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News #292 – By Beth Hagenbuch In the past, urban food and farming has often been an afterthought. Yards are converted to food gardens and urban lots retro-fitted into market gardens. We were lucky to get Beth Hagenbuch, a professional landscape architect, to write about the emerging trend of urban food and farming being designed in from the start. This story on urban food-landscape architecture reveals a new occupational direction. Beth Hagenbuch is a Partner at Hagenbuch Weikal Landscape Architecture (HWLA), recipient of the 2012 American Society of Landscape Architects National Honor Award for Lafayette Greens Urban Garden in Detroit, Michigan, http://www.asla.org/2012awards/073.html and President of GrowTown  http://growtown.org,…

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Landscape Architecture – Incorporating Urban Food in Post-Industrial Cities (Part 1 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News #291 – By Beth Hagenbuch In the past, urban food and farming has often been an afterthought. Yards are converted to food gardens and urban lots retro-fitted into market gardens. We were lucky to get Beth Hagenbuch, a professional landscape architect, to write about the emerging trend of urban food and farming being designed in from the start. This story on urban food-landscape architecture reveals a new occupational direction. Beth Hagenbuch is a Partner at Hagenbuch Weikal Landscape Architecture (HWLA), recipient of the 2012 American Society of Landscape Architects National Honor Award for Lafayette Greens Urban Garden in Detroit, Michigan, http://www.asla.org/2012awards/073.html and President of GrowTown http://growtown.org,…

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A Spooky Food and Gardening Awareness

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Touch the Soil News #285 Imagine one day waking up and realizing you need to go home, but you are a million miles from home. Home in this sense is the family farm of three to four generations ago that had a vegetable garden, a couple of milk cows, chickens for eggs, a few acres of grain for bread and some meat animals. The reason you want to go home is that you have found yourself in a city of 7.5 million people (Hong Kong) that is on the edge of China with 1.4 billion people all looking for more food. The realization hits you that everything must be imported.…

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