Posts Tagged ‘Urban Farming’

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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Paper vs Plastic? How about Basket vs Canvas?

OK, we’ve had our first couple of frosts and a long Thanksgiving holiday. Work in the garden has slowed quite a bit. Perhaps we can take a moment for a bit of a debate around the fire? Or more simply put for the purposes of this blog: which route is the better one to take – Local or Organic? Of course, the ideal answer to that question is BOTH! But what about those times when you really do need to make a choice? Not many of us here in the Piedmont are growing our own wheat for bread, for example, and our seafood, though kinda local (regional really), mostly gets here from the coast. Thanksgiving at my house included lots of locally raised and organic selections, but not all were, by any means. So what’s a responsible omnivore to do? Not exactly The Omnivore’s Dilemma (thank you, Michael Pollan!) I know, but a question that seems to keep coming up in our food discussions.

Urban winter garden with beet sprouts and onion transplants

In this blog, of course, the “basket” refers to harvesting out of our own backyards, small farms or community gardens (yay, Dunleith!) and “canvas” seems to be the bag of choice at the local organic food store (well, maybe at the local farmers’ market, too, but you get the idea). Many of us who grew this year, took great advantage of all of the good fresh choices that came out of our gardens. Some of us even canned, froze or otherwise processed some of that goodness in preparation for the long winter ahead. But now that Fall is here, the fresh-out-of-the-garden selections are, in most cases, fewer and less diverse. What’s a person to do? Continue reading

Summer/Fall CSA

Now that fall is finally here, I think I can rest a little! As far as I can tell we had a very successful Summer/Fall CSA with 7 subscribers. I can tell you, they are probably also relieved to not have to deal with several pounds of eggplants every single week! We also were successful with many kinds of sweet and hot peppers, okra, cucumbers, watermelons and winter squashes (pumpkins, spaghetti and butternut squash) in the hotter months. Despite the fact that hot weather lasted well into September, we were also able to provide broccoli raab and hakuri turnips, a gourmet salad mix with lettuces, arugula and early mustard greens.

This was our second CSA season, lasting 12 weeks (the spring CSA was 10 weeks) and we sure are learning a lot about growing, harvesting and sell food! In between our CSA seasons, we sold produce at a small farmer’s market. And as most farmer’s already know, the CSA brought in more money. I won’t necessarily say that it was more profitable, because we have a lot to learn in terms of efficiency (harvesting, washing and packing a gourmet salad mix is WAY more involved than harvesting eggplants and tossing them in the CSA crate). Continue reading

What is a road block?

We move at the pace of nature. So that we observe, dip our toes, make a connection, spark an idea. And usually the idea remains dormant until conditions are just right for germination. Really, we cannot force things to be a way that is against nature—because nature has her ways, and as a part of nature we really have no choice in the matter but to accept her rules.

So what happens when an obstacle comes in the way of what we want? Well, it means to me that we have to re-evaluate our strategy. Its not a road block, merely a speed bump.

Urban Harvest has been working  very diligently—slowly but methodically—to create a fully-fleshed proposal for an urban farm.  I say full-fleshed because we tried to anticipate every question, every bit of skepticism and have an answer. We answered all the questions but one, and that one turns out to be the most important: What about the soil? A: If its contaminated, we’ll clean it up. Continue reading

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

A Mall of Food

Check out this interesting idea for renovating a dwindling shopping mall into a space for urban food production. People in Cleveland are tossing out the quintessential Abercrombie’s and Bath and Body Works’ for the possibility of an indoor urban farm.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/06/new-uses-for-old-malls.php

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)!