Posts Tagged ‘community’

A Successful Community Brainstorm

Two-thousand eleven is turning out to be a good year so far! Justin and I are looking forward to the Southern SAWG (Sustainable Working Ag Group) conference in Chattanooga, TN that starts on Thursday of this week. What is even more exciting is the energy and momentum that many of us feel after the Urban Food Visioning Session that took place this last Saturday. First, a big thanks to Holy Trinity Episcopal Church for allowing us to use their space for free! There were about 30 people in attendance and this is THEIR work!

As the name suggests, in the gathering our main activity was brainstorming—always a fun thing to do, I think! You can download the results of our brainstorming to read exactly what we came up with. We organized the ideas into 10 categories and gave them “juicy” titles to help us connect more viscerally to these ideas. Broadly speaking our categories  spanned from creating online resources and ways to connect folks who want to grow food with places to do that; community education and workshops on all sorts of urban food topics but definitely on how to grow food; finding ways to heal the soil and community in the proposed urban farm location (see post); eating food together; making food more physically accessible; and getting better food into our public schools. The next steps include meeting in committees (or as we prefer to call them, nests) to develop plans to get some things done!

If you wanted to participate but were not able to make it, or just didn’t hear about it in time, we still want your participation! Download the brainstorm results and let me know what your interest is. Then I’ll make sure that you are connected with your “nest” of interest to get involved.

My goal is to create a listServ to help facilitate discussions and get people DOing! (If any of you have ever set up a listServ, I’d greatly appreciate your assistance! Email me at urbanharvest.gso@gmail.com) As I emphasized in the meeting, Urban Harvest is happy to facilitate, lead, organize, partner, or just help make connections. We realize this is about Greensboro, not about Urban Harvest, and the more people we have empowered and excited about doing something, the more success we can have as an entire community! Thanks to everyone who attended, and for everyone else, we hope to see you next time!

Urban Food Visioning for 2011

What a fantastic and exciting year 2010 has been! I could list all the cool things we’ve done this year, but I’ll save that for another post. But needless to say, we’ve got some great momentum on local food action in Greensboro, and we know you’re itching to get involved with a local grassroots organization to keep that momentum going! I’ve personally been inspired and energized by the CFSA (Carolina Farm Stewardship Association) Sustainable Agriculture Conference that took place last weekend in Winston-Salem. I was again reminded of my dedication to urban food systems and the possibilities that lay before us. (We are particularly fond of Toby Hemenway and the amazing things going on in Portland, OR like CityRepair.org.)

This is why we want to invite you to our first Urban Food Visioning Session. So many of you have expressed interest in getting involved with Urban Harvest, and as you know we are currently an all-volunteer organization. We’ve been successful at small steps and small victories with a small number of people, but we have power in numbers. So we’d like you to join us around the “kitchen table” to tackle something a little larger. Come with your project ideas, and an open mind to others’ project ideas, and we’ll create an action plan to forge a greener, healthier Greensboro! Since this will be a “kitchen table” session, plan to eat with us!

What: Urban Food Visioning
Date: Saturday, January 15th, 2011
Time: 3-5 pm with dinner to follow
Place: TBD (depends on how many people will attend)

Please RSVP by Jan 8th to urbanharvest.gso@gmail.com

Calling all gardeners without a garden

As many of you know, our main project thus far has been at the Dunleith Community Garden in the Aycock neighborhood. The garden was installed in June of 2009, and since then we’ve had 2 successful seasons of CSAs (community supported agriculture) and 7 neighbors renting plots.

Well, when it comes to the garden, the time to think about spring is in the fall! We’ve got some winter “cash crops” (edibles) in the ground, as well as some winter “cover crops” (to help improve the soil). This fall, we are opening the garden up for more folks to rent a plot in the spring.

In the past we have offered the option of participating in the garden through a CSA or by renting a plot. This year, we hope to fill up more of the garden with plot renters, and from there determine whether or not we will run a CSA. After all, it is a community garden, and we want our community to have ownership.

A community plot rental is a small financial investment but a large time commitment. Plot rentals give you 10 months to tend your own community plot. Spring plots will be available Feb 1, 2011 for you to prep and plant those super early spring crops (like snow peas)! If you are interested in renting a plot at the Dunleith Community Garden, please send an email to urbanharvest.gso@gmail.com and we well send you a sign-up form.

Here’s to spring veggies!

Ukulele Bicycle Tour

Aaron Lee rides his bicycle from city to city and sings about sustainability on his ukulele! How cool is that!? He wanted to play at the Dunleith Community Garden, but we had other things scheduled. So instead, he will be playing a show downtown Greensboro at the Green Bean on Tuesday, Oct 26th. Go out and support a pilgrim for sustainability!

 

We’re baaaacckk…

One of the challenges of any not-for-profit organization, particularly one that is growing, is finding the time, resources and people to perform the ever-growing list of tasks that need to be done to maintain the momentum of the overall effort. One of those tasks is keeping all of the stakeholders informed. We are blessed in this information age with a convenient way of doing this – the Internet and this wonderful thing called a blog. But the copy doesn’t write itself and most of the many volunteers already involved with Urban Harvest (or any other such worthwhile organization) have things like “day jobs”, families, and “the rest of their lives” to deal with meaning the blog may sometimes slide down the priority list. Ergo, another volunteer steps in – locavore11… Continue reading

Urban Farms, the new solution

Urban planners have recently released statistics on the large-scale decrease in American farmland:  http://www.hobbyfarms.com/farm-industry-news/2010/05/20/2007-national-resources-inventory.aspx

Not surprisingly, as a growing number of Americans are living in and around city centers agricultural focus has shifted to populated urban areas . Residents in cities have made things clear : they have several innate needs … water, housing, parking, and food. We are Americans who are grouchy if we have to wait in lines, sweaty if our ac doesn’t work, and ticked off if our stomachs are empty.

In order to cater to these demands, urban planners have shifted focus to a diversify development in order to create diverse and rich micro-environment within industrial areas.  Nowadays, agriculture and businesses can be seen through a dual-focus lens rather than separate entities.

skyline of downtown Greensboro

Food production within a city locale is not only a viable option but perhaps a lasting solution as city’s increasingly fall to the category of  “food desert”.

The loss of American farmland is not synonymous with an end to American food production. It is simply a transition linked to our progression as a country. Just as we trade in Suvs for cars with better gas-mileage, we shift food production to better serve its target market or community (in this case, cities).

Food meets City: the Edible Schoolyard in downtown Greensboro.

Food meets City: the Edible Schoolyard in downtown Greensboro.

With that said, one may find that as the amount of rural farmland fades,  cities will be faced with the responsibility of providing food for the urban dwellers within it! How exciting!

To find out more about Urban Harvest and urban farming initiatives in North Carolina feel free to contact urbanharvest.gso@gmail.com

http://www.urbanharvest-gso.com/

Spreading Awareness in Urban Areas

sidewalk seed vending

I recently came across a story about a guerilla gardening initiative  in Los Angeles aimed at distributing seeds in a manner that was eye-catching and accessible.  Using public sidewalk space and their background in Design, two grad students/concerned citizens launched a sidewalk seed bomb project using vintage candy machines!

a vendor with her new batch of seed bombs

Unlike traditional gumball machines, these newly crafted machines are loaded with a lot less sugar and unconventional weaponry. Known as “seed bombs”, the gumball machines house grenade-like balls full of a compact mixture of  seeds,compost, and clay that citizens are encouraged to plant anywhere throughout the city.

a better kind of bomb

Using this innovative design as a voice for expanding urban gardening has proven successful for the two grad students. Their green gumball machines have trickled into other areas of California, in conjunction with an organization known as Greenaid, and have continued to spread awareness about urban farming and the use of vacant public areas.

The story and mission of the group is truly inspirational:

http://thecommonstudio.com/index.php?/project/greenaid/

Urban projects such as this one demonstrate the growing potential of greener cities and urban areas across the nation (literally from Los Angeles to Greensboro)!

Toby Hemenway and Some Permaculture Principles

This last weekend Justin and I attended a lecture and workshop with Toby Hemenway, a prominent Permaculture visionary and author of Gaia’s Garden. One of the great points that he made was in the definition of sustainable:

Sustainability is just the mid-way point between degenerative activities (like coal mining, and applying chemical fertilizers) and regenerative activities (like soil-building, and walking instead of driving). And if we think of sustainability in terms of where we want to be; if someone asked you how your marriage was going, and you said it was “sustainable,” would that be acceptable? Toby Hemenway is my new hero for the year because he was so interesting to listen to, so informative, and so realistic about some fantastically optimistic solutions!

If you’re not familiar with the concept of Permaculture, there are several ways to define it. One is that it is a toolbox in which to house all of the possible solutions. This toolbox doesn’t tell you what to do, but gives you a set of principles for decision-making strategies. Another way to show this is with with the almighty Venn diagram.

care for people, care for planet, return the surplusCare for People, Care for Planet, and Return the Surplus are Permaculture principles. When you care for people, you are caring for the planet, and visa versa. Anytime you care for the planet, the planet will create abundance and surplus. This surplus will be returned to the people. In this way, moving toward regenerative processes, we will be allowed to survive on this planet.

Community Food Projects Grant

Sometimes I think Urban Harvest is starting to get lucky. But then Justin reminds me this “luck” is actually the meeting of our preparation with the right opportunities. And we’ve had several of these “lucky” opportunities in the last couple of weeks!

Mobile Market StandAs this point, Urban Harvest is funded by our blood, sweat and tears, and a few installation projects. But our vision for a Greensboro where all food consumed in Greensboro is grown in Greensboro, needs some real funding. Here is where we got lucky: At the Alice Waters’ breakfast for policy-makers in September, we had a conversation about a mobile market with Leslie Armenoix of Get Healthy Guilford, and she told us she knew how to get it funded! Continue reading

Dunleith Development Conversations

The last two weeks at Urban Harvest have been formidable. We’re having a conversation about Dunleith, started a new conversation about another community space, and are applying for our first major grant. News on the latter two as they develop.

As for Dunleith, lets start out with some history. The land at 677 Chestnut St, in the Aycock neighborhood is known as Dunleith because that was the name of the antebellum estate that existed on the site of prominent North Carolina Judge Robert P. Dick from about 1858 until 1969 when it was demolished and planned for new construction. (Greensboro’s Treasured Places) Since then Continue reading