Posts Tagged ‘urban’

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

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

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.

Urban Homesteading: Cherries

At Urban Harvest we’re all about Urban Homesteading. While the original definition of homesteading involved colonizing the wild west frontier, our definition: to grow and produce as much of your needed goods on-site. Summer is optimal time for collecting the fresh, ripe fruits of as much as possible and preserving them for the harsher months. And while we certainly don’t grow everything that we preserve, we collect it from regional sources so that we can, say enjoy tomatoes in the winter, without having to go to the store (reducing our carbon footprint).

Back at the beginning of June, we picked several pounds of strawberries and froze them. We use them in smoothies, made some ice cream, and when its not so hot out (November), we’ll use them to make jelly or jam. This last week, we went up to Levering Orchard in southern VA and picked about 25 lbs of sweet cherries! And then we had to pit them all! Fortunately, in my grandmother’s recent down-sizing we acquired 2 cherry-pitters which came in very handy! Now we’ve got frozen cherries, dried cherries and in about 4 months we’ll have Brandied cherries!

The act of climbing a wooden ladder propped in the higher branches of a cherry tree was a good challenge to my fear of heights, but the view and the vast quantities of beautiful cherries were well worth it! And while sour cherries are common in the Piedmont, the sweet cherry trees don’t do as well in this climate versus the mountains. The drive was also worth while, especially since we got to stop in at the apple orchard where Justin and I were married almost 4 years ago!

Check out the rest of the photos on flicker.

the creativity of urban food

In honor of the last day of May, I’ve chosen to visually celebrate  a few noteworthy displays of international ingenuity and imagination in  urban farming…

rooftop vegetables

shoji of exterior lettuce

finally, wheels with a small carbon footprint

dumpster garden

recycled tire garden

a schooltop in Queens

a favorite, cabbage field planted outside of Tokyo Government building

Check out this video, and tap into your own imagination:

Happy Memorial Day.

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

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

Food in Public Spaces

Yesterday, Diane Rehm had a hour dedicated to discussing Urban Agriculture. Guest Derrin Nordahl, author of “Public Produce” and a city designer explained how growing food in urban, public spaces can help feed the hungry, supplement the existing agribusiness model, and promote good health for all. This is exactly in line with both our mission and our methods at Urban Harvest. In fact, when Justin presented the idea at a recent public meeting, the mediator acted as though it was one of the best ideas he’d ever heard! Maybe now the city will be a little more cooperative in our efforts to access and “develop” remnant properties.