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Urban Agriculture – It’s Big

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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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Seeds of Change

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Touch the Soil News #760 (feature photo – Downtown New York – Alex Proimos CC SA 2.0) The history of New York City is the epitome of paving and urbanizing farmland. Since its founding in 1624, New York City and its surrounding metro areas have grown. Today, New York City proper has a population of 8.5 million people. The larger New York City metropolitan area has 23.7 million people. Originally, New York was the lands of the Algonquain Indians, which sold the island of Manhattan in 1626 to Peter Minuit. Minuit was charged with building of the New Netherland for the Dutch. A few days ago, New York councilman -…

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Developing New Farmers

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Touch the Soil News #724 (Feature Photo – Kimball Musk – cofounder of Square Roots, and brother of Elon Musk of Tesla – CC SA 3.0 GNU Free Doc License) For years, the USDA has been publishing statistics that farmers are getting older and the children are not coming home to the farm. Many young people, who are not farmers, do want to come home to the farm, just not the industrial farm in the hinterlands. Welcome to Square Roots. It’s a company dedicated to cultivating new farmers. Only these new farmers do not have a farming background, they are staying in the city and their getting set up into…

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Is Shipping Container Farming for You?

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Touch the Soil News #711 (photo courtesy of Alescalife) Chinese startup Alescalife is promoting shipping container farming. Their business model is to create and sell what they call the EDN (Every Day Nutrition). They refer to the EDN as the all-in-one solution optimized for growers of every size. Alescalife boasts that its shipping container farms can be operated by one person working about 2 hours a day. The farm comes with a one-year guarantee. The company does not publish a price. Alescalife recently came into the news because of the enormous agricultural problems China has. Estimates are that one fifth of farmland in China is compromised by chemicals and toxins.…

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Kelp4Less News – Discovering the Mega-Trends for You

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Touch the Soil News #707 (photo – Kelp4Less News Editor Benjamin Gisin) For those of you familiar with our news postings, you know we cut a broad swath as relates to happenings in the food chain. We are now well into our third year of publishing the “News” page. During this time, we are keen to discover trends. Following are three (3) mega-trends we see unfolding that may have relevance to what you are doing: Food tremors (when things go wrong in the food chain) are increasing in size and number. There are two main reasons for this. 1) The financial world has pushed the industrial food chain into a…

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Urban Agriculture is Getting More Popular

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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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Walk Away from Wall Street?

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Touch the Soil News #573 (Feature photo – courtesy of Oakland Avenue Urban Farm – Detroit) While much of the steam over Occupy Wall Street has diminished, one wonders: Why we should occupy Wall Street? Wall Street is where the debts of the world are traded and where stock traders try to extract as much as they can from the employees of the world’s largest companies. While it has no official name, there are many trends emerging that – in practice – are definitely in the realm of “Walk Away from Wall Street.” Take for example the recent surge in residents – connected to the New York City Housing Authority…

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Urban Farming News Round Up

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Touch the Soil News #503 Urban U-Pick Orchard:     Core Orchards Detroit has a vision to create an 11-acre urban U-Pick apple orchard. The state of Michigan is home to hundreds of apple orchards, but not one in Detroit. The non-profit has raised more than $400,000 for the community-oriented project. While there are a number of hoops to still jump through, other area organizations are joining forces to make it happen. An artist’s rendering of the planned U-Pick apple orchard in Detroit (photo courtesy of Wolverine Human Services). Growing Community Gardens:     Washington D.C. is celebrating the growth of community gardens within its municipal boundaries. From barely a few gardens 10 years ago,…

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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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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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