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Go Marcy Kaptur

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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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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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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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Far Reaching Concepts

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Touch the Soil News #670 (photos courtesy of Sasaki) International architecture firm Sasaki, with offices in Boston, Massachusetts and Shanghai, China is looking to re-invent food and cities in a big way. The firm just unveiled plans for a 250 acre urban farm to be integrated into the city of Shanghai, China. Shanghai is the world’s largest metropolitan area of over 35 million people. This urban farm is intended to integrate the latest vertical and urban farming technologies. There will be algae farms, floating greenhouses, vertical walls and seed libraries. Farming models will include hydroponics and aquaponics (includes fish). The project, when completed, is intended to produce enough food for…

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A Long Shot At Rethinking America

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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 Role of Gardening

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Touch the Soil News #653 (Feature Photo – Volunteers of the Victory Garden Initiative – photo courtesy of the Victory Garden Initiative) A number of years back, a professional woman living in Milwaukee – Gretchen Mead – was working as a social worker in a child and adolescent medical psychiatry unit. Her young patients, often diagnosed with serious mental health issues, typically consumed what is called SAD – Standard American Diet. The SAD diet is laden with preservatives, chemical residues and high amounts of carbohydrates, wheat and meat products. Mead found a correlation between what we eat and how we feel mentally. However, she made more connections with the food…

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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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Does Your City Have 38,000 Acres of Vegetables?

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Touch the Soil News #594 Most community gardens and urban farms in America would be hard pressed to cultivate 1 acre of ground – particularly in the city. Even though estimates are that lawns take up about 40 million acres in the U.S., food production is simply not a high priority for urbanites. But what if vegetables, fish and meat were a high priority? The old city of Saigon in Viet Nam – which changed its name back to Ho Chi Minh city – has embraced food production in a way the defies understanding in first-world nations. The city of Ho Chi Minh, while it has much open space, has…

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Bonton Farms – A Deeper Message?

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Touch the Soil News #584 (Feature photo courtesy of Bonton Farms) The historic Bonton neighborhood of Dallas, Texas is not a pretty place. To get to the closest grocery store is a 3-hour trip by bus. Bonton typifies everything that could be called an economic black hole. Most of the residents are plagued by high rates of degenerative diseases. No health and welfare programs, no economic recovery and no education have stemmed the tide of this neighborhood falling to its lowest ebb. There was no hope until a couple of years ago when the 1.1 acre Bonton Farms was born in the midst of this hopeless place. An outsider –…

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