Friday, February 26, 2010

Could Manhattan Feed Manhattan?

Hop on over to Droog's website to learn more about the designers behind this video.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

2010: The Year of Urban Agriculture

My home town of Seattle announced earlier this month that the first year of the new decade will be dubbed, The Year of Urban Agriculture.  This is great news.

With the city helping to make local food more abundant and accessible, we should expect the coming months to be filled with urban farmers coming out of the woodworks to try their hand at sustainable food--expect everything from rooftop farms to countertop gardens to vertical farms.   Urban ag is happening all over the country; I think it's time for everyone to brashly borrow all the good ideas out there and make something--anything!--happen at any scale.  I haven't learned a single syllable from movements, political or otherwise, over the last 2 years if not that the team which jumps through the moon at every minor victory is far more likely to skid and crash than the relentless, billowing one.  We must not now underestimate the power of the status quo. 

But with this commitment from Seattle, plus the commitment from New York City more recently, I have a feeling 2010 will be more than just the year of urban agriculture: 2010 is the year the status quo adds Vertical Farming to the mix.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Manhattan Beefs Up Its Urban Ag Support

Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer announced today a broad "sustainable food plan" promoting urban agriculture.  From Mr. Stringer:  
“By devoting serious attention to our food system, city government can in one stroke improve public health, sustainability, and job creation...In recent years, there’s been growing interest in this issue, but we’re still left with a grab bag of disjointed, independent initiatives.  Now, with the help of hundreds of dedicated New Yorkers, the document we’re releasing today will for the first time present a single, comprehensive vision for food policy in this city."
This, on the heels of an article on aquaponics in the New York Times, gives those of us in the urban agriculture field reason to celebrate; we celebrate because the government has finally formally acknowledged how promising urban agriculture can be; but we must also become more vocal, because it's at times like these, when change is imminent, when something we all want to happen actually could happen, when we have public sentiment and government on our side, that we must follow-through like a Federer forehand.  

See the whole story, and the entire document, here.  

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Future of Farming: There Is Nowhere To Go But Up

In Salinas, California, Gary Caraccioli wakes up every morning by 5 a.m. and drives for 30 minutes through a bed of tulle fog so thick, he cannot see the purple mountains that flank the highway. This is the only route to get to his farm in Gonzales.  He spends anywhere from 5 to 10 hours a day driving on muddy dirt roads in a Chevy truck between vast, flat, fields of emerald and neon greens and chocolate brown soil to keep track of his lettuce crop’s growth and his employee’s progress. When he isn’t driving, Caraccioli is conducting business meetings, or working in his office to make sure that his farm is running efficiently.

The Salinas Valley, touted as the “Salad Bowl of the World,” cultivates 80 percent of the world’s lettuce and produces 580 billion pounds of produce annually. Thousands of farmers, like Caraccioli, continue an orthodox method of farming by leasing out large plots of land and planting and harvesting in bulk. At Caraccioli’s ranch, which consists of the grower L&J Farms and labor provider Jackpot Harvesting, they cover 3500 acres of crops and ship 250,000 boxes of produce from their land daily.
(Laborers Harvesting Asparugus, Salinas, CA; Courtesy Amber Sandoval-Griffin)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Concrete Jungles Destroying the Wooden Ones

(Borneo. Photo from here.)

David Biello, from Scientific American, says, in his most recent article, that
A statistical analysis of 41 countries revealed that forest loss rates are most closely linked with urban population growth and agricultural exports...even overall population growth was not as strong a driver.
Deforestation has always been considered a major culprit in climate change--as forests disappear, so too does the Earth's ability to self-regulate temperature--but this article, and the accompanying scholarly paper, paint a clear picture of the root cause of all this tree felling: urbanization. Interesting.

Friday, February 5, 2010

3x3 Farm Box

I've just caught wind of Australian industrial designer, Xavier Calluaud's, Urb Garden (clever; get it?), and thought I should share it with you. Touted as, "A vertical food garden for the urban gardener," this product (not yet available commercially) offers a way to grow a little food in a little space, in 9 little modular cubes.

Although we Vertical Farmers much prefer higher-tech systems like Plasma Arc Gasification to composting, the Urb Garden looks great for refurbishing a drab deck or kitchen area while also saving on food costs and cutting waste from food packaging. I'll say it again and again: I'm on board with anyone who wants to decentralize food production and increase urban farming.

(Story via Greenmuze)