City Farmer News - New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
City Farmer News links to stories about urban agriculture from around the world. City Farmer was founded in 2009 as a gathering place to realize our mission; to engage, motivate and inspire urban dwellers to garden, eat better and teach their children to follow; and to create an identity that says it all in two words.
The project will be built in 7 sequential phases, spanning approximately 4 km in average between the major interchanges along the highway
By Eric Baldwin
May 20, 2019
The park will consist of 80% productive agricultural land of various indoor climate-controlled environments, as well as open air date palm tree farms. Situated in the heart of the city, it will sustain a significant portion of the commercial requirements for certain grown foods and will therefore produce a positive butterfly effect by reducing the environmental footprint associated with transporting and storing vegetables – a true farm to table model. The non-productive leisure landscape areas of the park move away from the heavily planted, high-maintenance designs typically found in the region, as we aim to create a blueprint for environmentally sustainable park that embrace local materials and vegetation. This will support building a native ecosystem of plants, birds, insects and cross-pollinating bees.
When completed, Super Park will be a 25 km long stretch of accessible pedestrian friendly green space, with a surface area of about 700 football fields lined up together, a luxury gift to Dubai citizens subsidized by its high value and efficiency of crop production. By connecting the different nodes of the city longitudinally, the green valley spans some currently vacant parts of the city and will increase the appeal and marketability of such areas overlooking a grand public amenity of this scale. The teams believes this will in turn contribute to a higher social connectivity of the urban fabric, and generate more supply leading to a healthier competition and a more stabilized market.
The world’s boreal forests have been largely earthworm-free since the last Ice Age. But as invaders arrive and burrow into the leaf litter, they free up carbon and may accelerate climate change.Credit Cristina Gonzalez Sevilleja.
Worms are wriggling into Earth’s northernmost forests, creating major unknowns for climate-change models.
By Alanna Mitchell New York Times May 20, 2019
(Must read. Mike)
Cindy Shaw, a carbon-research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service, studies the boreal forest — the world’s most northerly forest, which circles the top of the globe like a ring of hair around a balding head.
A few years ago, while conducting a study in northern Alberta to see how the forest floor was recovering after oil and gas activity, she saw something she had never seen there before: earthworms.
“I was amazed,” she said. “At the very first plot, there was a lot of evidence of earthworm activity.”
Native earthworms disappeared from most of northern North America 10,000 years ago, during the ice age. Now invasive earthworm species from southern Europe — survivors of that frozen epoch, and introduced to this continent by European settlers centuries ago — are making their way through northern forests, their spread hastened by roads, timber and petroleum activity, tire treads, boats, anglers and even gardeners.
As the worms feed, they release into the atmosphere much of the carbon stored in the forest floor. Climate scientists are worried.
“Earthworms are yet another factor that can affect the carbon balance,” Werner Kurz, a researcher with the Canadian Forest Service in Victoria, British Columbia, wrote in an email. His fear is that the growing incursion of earthworms — not just in North America, but also in northern Europe and Russia — could convert the boreal forest, now a powerful global carbon sponge, into a carbon spout.
Moreover, the threat is still so new to boreal forests that scientists don’t yet know how to calculate what the earthworms’ carbon effect will be, or when it will appear.
“It is a significant change to the carbon dynamic and how we understand it works,” Ms. Shaw said. “We don’t truly understand the rate or the magnitude of that change.”
The relationship between carbon and earthworms is complex. Earthworms are beloved by gardeners because they break down organic material in soil, freeing up nutrients. This helps plants and trees grow faster, which locks carbon into living tissue. Some types of invasive earthworms also burrow into mineral soil and seal carbon there.
But as earthworms speed decomposition, they also release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As they occupy more areas of the world, will they ultimately add more carbon to the atmosphere — or subtract it?
That question led to what Ingrid M. Lubbers, a soil researcher at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, christened the “earthworm dilemma” in a paper published in 2013 in Nature Climate Change. Scientists have been keen to resolve it ever since.
“It’s just another of the many reasons why you need to know more about systems,” Dr. Lubbers said in an interview. “Because there could be an effect that would enhance climate change and enhance the rising temperatures.”
Earthworms recently have spread to Alaska’s boreal forest. In some areas, the biomass of earthworms is 500 times greater than that of moose, a keystone species.
The boreal is special. In warmer climates, the floor of a typical forest is a mix of mineral soil and organic soil. In a boreal forest, those components are distinct, with a thick layer of rotting leaves, mosses and fallen wood on top of the mineral soil.
Soil scientists once thought that cooler temperatures reduced mixing; now, they wonder if the absence of earthworms is what made the difference.
This spongy layer of leaf litter contains most of the carbon stored in the boreal soil. As it turns out, most of the invading earthworms in the North American boreal appear to be the type that love to devour leaf litter and stay above ground, releasing carbon.
Erin K. Cameron, an environmental scientist at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who studies the boreal incursion of earthworms, found that 99.8 percent of the earthworms in her study area in Alberta belonged Dendrobaena octaedra, an invasive species that eats leaf litter but doesn’t burrow into the soil.
In 2015, Dr. Cameron published the results of a computer model aimed at figuring out the effect on leaf-litter over time. “What we see with our model is that forest-floor carbon is reduced by between 50 percent and 94 percent, mostly in the first 40 years,” she said. That carbon, no longer sequestered, goes into the atmosphere.
Not only that, in a 2009 study she calculated that earthworms had already wriggled their way into 9 percent of the forest of northeastern Alberta, and would occupy half of it by 2049.
Ms. Shaw, of the Canadian Forest Service, found that 35 to 40 percent of the plots she examined in northern Alberta contained earthworms. The leaf litter, which can be more than a foot thick, was thin and churned up where earthworms were present.
If Dr. Cameron’s calculations bear out, it means the lowly earthworm stands to alter the carbon balance of the planet by adding to the load in the atmosphere.
The global boreal forest is a muscular part of Earth’s carbon cycle; at least one-fifth of the carbon that cycles through air, soil and oceans passes through the boreal, said Sylvie Quideau, a soil biogeochemist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Currently, the boreal absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it adds, but that is changing.
On one hand, warmer temperatures could extend the growing season, allowing trees to grow bigger and store more carbon, said Dr. Kurz, the forest researcher in British Columbia. But rising temperatures also release carbon to the atmosphere, by thawing permafrost and increasing the number of forest fires.
All told, he sees earthworms as another factor — if not the main one — nudging the boreal toward becoming a global source of carbon.
In northern Minnesota, the boreal forest has slowly been invaded by earthworms. They have altered not just the depth of the leaf litter but also the types of plants the forest supports, said Adrian Wackett, who studied earthworms in the North American and European boreal forest for his master’s degree at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul.
Endemic species such as the pink and white lady’s slipper — Minnesota’s state flower — as well as ferns, orchids and the saplings of coniferous trees rely on the spongy layer of leaf litter.
As earthworms feast on that layer, they allow nonnative plants such as European buckthorn and grasses to thrive, which in turn push out endemic plants. This process, combined with the effects of warming over time, may slowly transform Minnesota’s boreal forest into prairie, Mr. Wackett said.
Native plants such as the pink and white lady slipper, the state flower of Minnesota, may see their ranges shifted by the novel work of earthworms.
“Even though worms themselves are tiny and don’t individually seem to constitute a threat, when you think of how many of them there are, they’re very important organisms, for the good or the bad,” said Mr. Wackett.
Last summer, Mr. Wackett and his supervisor, Kyungsoo Yoo, a soil scientist at the University of Minnesota, found that invasive earthworms also have spread to parts of Alaska’s boreal forest, including the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
In severely affected areas, the biomass of earthworms underground is 500 times greater than the biomass of moose in the same areas. Even where earthworms were sparse, they still matched the biomass of moose, which is considered a keystone species in Alaska.
To his horror, Dr. Yoo also found earthworms right on the edge of the permafrost in the northern boreal. The pace of permafrost melt and its release of carbon is of great concern to researchers who model climate change.
His biggest concern is that earthworms will penetrate even further north in the boreal and spread into the permafrost. “Their impact alone could be quite devastating, based on what we have been seeing in Minnesota and New England and in parts of Canada,” said Dr. Yoo.
No mechanism exists to eradicate earthworms from the boreal forest; their impact is permanent. However, earthworms move less than 30 feet a year on their own. Educating people to not transport them into unaffected parts of the forest might help keep those areas earthworm-free, said Mr. Wackett.
As scientists analyze the effects of the earthworms they know about, they also are keeping an eye on a new invader: Asian earthworms, which have made their way to southern Quebec and Ontario.
“I’m not sure what their implications are for carbon, but they’re pretty aggressive and they seem potentially to be better competitors than European earthworms,” said Dr. Cameron. “That’s another issue on the horizon.”
The garden is set to be named after local hero Yvonne Conolly: Britain’s first black headteacher
By Lucas Cumiskey
May 20, 2019
Jeremy Corbyn is backing a new community gardening project run by Friends of Wray Crescent (FoWC), which has seen it partner up with grassroots outreach group Streets Kitchen so the homeless can help grow their own food.
The project, which is funded by Islington Council and the mayor of London’s Greener City, has so far seen more than 200 volunteers muck in to help create raised plant beds where neighbours and community groups can plant their own crops. The garden is situated at the Thorpdale Road entrance to Wray Crescent Park and is set to be named after local hero Yvonne Conolly: Britain’s first black headteacher, who worked at Highbury’s former Ringcross Infant School.
The Labour leader and Islington North MP told the Gazette: “I’ve seen plants that have been put there – it looks really good.
“Big thanks to Streets Kitchen and Islington Arts and Media School for supporting this great project. People growing understand a lot about themselves, as well as the things they’re growing. It’s a fantastic initiative and I’m pleased it’s happening in Wray Crescent Park.”
Jacob Nickles at the urban farm in Tinsley where scientists are using pioneering hydroponics techniques to grow food without soil. Picture by Chris Etchells.
“It is estimated that 35 Mount Everests worth of soil a year is lost to erosion.”
By Ben Barnett
May 19, 2019
An attempt to harness the potential of hydroponics is underway on the border of Sheffield and Rotherham, where a team of scientists are using a disused building at the former Tinsley Infant School to grow a range of fresh produce, from salad to tomatoes, using specialist foams that chemically, physically and biologically resemble soil – a product developed by University of Sheffield PhD student Harry Wright.
Such has been the success of the so-called “urban farm” project to date that scientists have found that they can grow plants up to 10 times faster than in soil.
A public open day at the facility was held on Saturday, where project leader Jacob Nickles, a knowledge exchange associate from Sheffield University’s new Institute for Sustainable Food, explained how the system worked.
“This technology is the way forward,” Mr Nickles said.
“By 2050, we are facing having to feed 10bn people worldwide and we don’t have the space or resources to do so. Both hydroponics – and aquaponics to raise fish – solve a number of issues in one go.
“For example, you can build these units upwards rather than outwards.”
He said there was “absolutely” still a place for traditional farming methods but it was important globally to help soils recover.
“The whole purpose of using synthetic soil is an attempt to move away from conventional soils,” the scientist explained.
Culross Palace head gardener Louise Arnot in the historic garden. Picture: Gordon Terris/The Herald
The garden is not free of pests. Slugs, snails, greenfly, caterpillars, pigeons and people are all found at various times of the year on or in plants.
By Susan Swarbrick
The Herald Scotland
May 17, 2019
How do you choose what to grow at Culross Palace?
The theory is that the plants in the garden should have been introduced into cultivation by the time George Bruce was trading and building the palace, roughly 1550-1620. There are some ornamental exceptions which, along with some of the varieties of apples, date from the 1800s or early 1900s.
What makes it so special?
It’s a representation of a husbandry plot rather than a garden as such. “Husband” in this case being the person who tends the plant growing area which was something quite valuable as it helped provide food for the house dweller.
Garden, as we use the term, is something coined later and with a slightly different meaning and what is displayed here is at odds with that expectation. Today many of the plants growing here are considered weeds or unpalatable. However, in times past they would have been used for flavouring meals, in medicine, brewing and dyeing.
People recognise the familiar herbs like parsley or fennel but are surprised if they get a chance to taste garlic mustard or sorrel.
The garden is organic. Can you explain what this means?
A guiding principle rather than a hard line. As a rule, we don’t use manufactured/synthetic additives to give plants a boost. Rather, this comes from homemade compost derived from the green and some woody waste generated on site and applied as part of a rolling programme where it’s needed.
When she first moved in, the land was predominantly a mango orchard with around 500 trees bearing seven varieties, with some coconuts, cashew nuts and black pepper crops.
Today, apart from being lush with mango trees, a number of other fruits like banana, papaya, mulberry, chikoo, pineapple, jackfruit, wild berries, cashew apples, heirloom tomatoes among others also grow on the farm. While some of the spices grown at the farm include turmeric, ginger, pepper, greens like lettuce, baby spinach, basil, native sorrel, moringa, amaranth and vegetables like doodhi, papaya, pumpkin, tomatillos, brinjal, yam, lemongrass are also grown at the farm.
Besides these, a small patch of land outside her home blooms with experimental crops for the next season like purple and atomic red carrots and Mexican varieties such as tomatillo verde and beetroot.
Recalling the beginning of her decade-old journey, in an exclusive interview with The Better India (TBI), Gaytri says, “Over my years of (environmental) consultancy, I recognised that a paradigm shift was needed in the way we treated ourselves and the earth, one that could be scaled up only from the roots. Working in environmental analyses prepared me for the extent of the damage being done to humanity via damage of the earth in our industrial-driven lifestyles. Farming was the way to grow this change (for me),” says the first generation farmer.
Actress Diane Guerrero, Elaine Magee, 11, and Cem Akin spread mulch around one of the trees planted at the community garden on Hewes Street in Williamsburg. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner
The actress, who played Maritza on “OITNB,” helped plant trees at the Los Sures Southside Community Garden in Williamsburg.
By Meghan Giannotta
May 16, 2019
Standing in the Los Sures Southside Community Garden in Williamsburg, actress and activist Diane Guerrero says she’s reminded of her childhood neighborhood.
“I grew up in a neighborhood much like Los Sures with little services,” says Guerrero, of “Orange is the New Black” fame. The actress was raised in Roxbury, Massachusetts, an area she describes as “underserved” and “constantly changing,” not unlike the Los Sures (or southside) of Williamsburg.
“There are still little pockets that are in much need,” she says. “Especially those pockets where the Latin community reside.”
Guerrero is spending her Thursday afternoon at a community garden on Hewes Street that primarily serves nearby affordable housing residents, helping to provide access to locally sourced produce. She joins community rehabilitation organization Southside United HDFC-Los Sures and representatives from the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and sponsor vitafusion to plant 40 new fruit trees in the sustainable green space.
Kathleen O’Keefe co-founded Up Top Acres to bring rooftop farming to D.C. (Leah Beilhart/Lauren Beilhart)
Up Top Acres, which now has about 2 acres of farmland spread across 10 D.C.-area rooftops.
As a kid growing up in D.C., Kathleen O’Keefe didn’t know much about gardening. “My mom grew aloe and that was pretty much it,” she says. But when she saw her first rooftop farm in Brooklyn, during a 2013 trip to New York, something clicked. “I took a picture and put it on Instagram and tagged my friend Kris [Grina] and was like, ‘You want to do this?’” she recalls. Thus was born Up Top Acres, which now has about 2 acres of farmland spread across 10 D.C.-area rooftops.
The business’s produce never travels far — most is carried by hand or bike to its final destination: nearby restaurants and regular folks with farm-share subscriptions. It was a great feat of imagination for O’Keefe, 28, to picture having an entire day off from work — but once she got going on her dream day, she came up with plenty of ways to get off the farm.
The Queen visits the Duchess of Cambridge’s garden at the Chelsea Flower Show - YouTube
And the Family Monsters Garden, made at Swaffham’s Escape Community Allotment run by the charity Family Action, was also named the show’s ‘best artisan garden’.
By Stuart Anderson
Eastern Daily Press
21 May, 2019
“It’s important that we all talk more about the pressures our families face, and it’s been a great experience for the 22 apprentices who’ve helped build the Family Monsters Garden alongside the team from Family Action’s project in Swaffham.”
Among those who have already seen the garden at the flower show, which begins today (May 21), were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who were shown around it by Mr Bayford.
The garden celebrates 150 years of the national charity Family Action supporting families across the country and 100 years of Idverde, which creates and maintains landscapes such as parks and gardens for the benefit of communities.
The garden encourages people to reflect on their pressures and to bring families together and is full of symbolism, such as trees with obvious imperfections to convey how families can grow together after tackling challenges.
There are also boulders and pebbles of different shapes and sizes to represent different family monsters, which become smaller when we talk about them.
Katrina Spade, the founder and CEO of Recompose, displays a sample of the compost
The average burial can cost between $8,000 and $25,000. Cremation can top $6,000.
By Faith Karimi and Amir Vera, CNN May 22, 2019
Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Tuesday legalizing human composting. The bill will go into effect in May next year.
Currently in Washington bodies can either be cremated or buried. The process of recomposition provides a third option that speeds up the process of turning dead bodies into soil, a practice colloquially known as “human composting.” The bill describes the process as a “contained, accelerated conversion of human remains to soil.”
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Jamie Pedersen, said it is an environmentally- friendly way of disposing of human remains.
Katrina Spade, CEO of the human composting company, Recompose, explained the process of turning a dead body into soil to CNN affiliate KIRO.
“(The) body is covered in natural materials, like straw or wood chips, and over the course of about three to seven weeks, thanks to microbial activity, it breaks down into soil,” she said.
Luke Perry’s daughter says he was buried in a mushroom suit
While the body is being broken down, she said, families of the deceased can visit the facility and will ultimately receive the soil that remains. It’s up to the family determine how they want to use that soil.