Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

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!

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CEFS Internship

For all of you young’ns wanting to get involved in local food this is a great opportunity.

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) is seeking highly-motivated undergraduate students from a variety of different backgrounds, with a strong interest in sustainable agriculture, to participate in a unique 8-week summer internship (June 6-July 29, 2011).  CEFS summer interns will learn about the concepts and practices of various aspects of sustainable agriculture from expert faculty and staff at CEFS and through hands-on farm work, lectures and discussions, community engagement, and field trips to local farms and markets.  Additionally, students will work in pairs with a CEFS faculty mentor to learn about an aspect of sustainable agriculture research.

For more information please see: http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/getinvolved/internships.html

The deadline for applications is Tuesday, March 1, 2011.

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

Healing Soils

With our recent announcement that the site Urban Harvest was considering for an urban farm is contaminated, we’ve had an outpouring of ideas from the community and other national organizations. The EPA was even quick to come to the call. But things have continued to move organically, and other solutions, ideas and projects have presented themselves. (More on that later.)

As an organization with both sustainable agriculture and urban agriculture at our core, we often find these 2 techniques [sustainable and urban] to sometimes be out of sync with one another. The primary concern I have with the majority of urban ag out there, is the quality of the soil. (ie. Can it be sustainable if we often need to purchase compost/manure? If we don’t bring in new healthy soil, are we able to produce food in a healthy and sustainable way?) Growing food is great, and necessary for sustainability, but if you’re growing in contaminated soil, you create other problems, and that is not a sustainable solution. Healthy soil is most essential ingredient to the work we do, and to our civilization as a whole. If cities are to become more sustainable, healing the soil has to be a priority. And if urban agriculture is to be truly sustainable, it too has to be based on healthy soils. So this new pollution cleanup technique should be integrated to any urban ag system as well as all municipal water treatments. This is will lead to more sustainable and healthy urban agriculture.

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!

 

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.