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Posts Tagged ‘super-micro farming’

“This year, 39 percent of people with backyards told the Garden Writers Association they planned to grow vegetables,” the Christian Science Monitor tells us.

Recent spikes in gas and food prices this spring are turning many in the USA to home-food production, it seems.

We welcome that, of course. We’ve been excited about the whole ‘eat your lawn’ trend for a while now.

The struggles we’re having with our own EarthQuaker garden (much of the plum tree just collapsed thanks to heat and too many plums), also have us looking forward to the renewed appreciation all this home farming should bring the people who do it professionally.

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What if you want to be an urban farmer, but you don’t have an allotment or even a postage stamp-sized front or back yard to plant?

Well, you can take inspiration from the members of Food Up Front, an urban food-growing non-profit based in Balham, in south London.  Even if all you have is a walkway, a window box or a doorstep, they believe, there’s plenty of food you can grow.

Part of what makes Food Up Front an inspired idea is its membership format.  When you join, you receive a  ‘starter kit’ which includes a container, soil, seeds, a planting guide and details of gatherings where you can meet fellow urban farmers.  Other members will actively help you get farming — answering your emails, visit your planting sites and help you find tools, seeds, good sources of compost etc..

Here’s an article about them and other, similar efforts around the UK.

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if we want to encourage people to produce their own food, here’s a great idea:  tax breaks for gardeners!

It’s the idea of Maine gardener and sustainability advocate Roger Doiron.  He says:

There are different breaks that local, state and federal governments could offer home gardeners. Sales taxes on seeds, seedlings, fruit bushes and trees could be removed. Better still, an income tax break could be administered as is done with home offices where people measure and deduct the square footage of their houses used for business purposes. The bigger your garden, the better the tax break. Those with no yard could deduct the rental fee for a community garden plot.

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Here’s more on the trend that we’re calling ‘super-micro farming.’

Firstly, Fritz Haeg has now published his “Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn.” You can find an except from it here.

But why stop at your lawn? Ruben Anderson, over at The Tyee, suggests that we plant the parking spaces in front of our houses. If everyone with a driveway actually used it, he argues, that would free up a ton of new public space. He imagines his own street:

“let’s make it a one-way street, one lane wide, with a couple of pullouts. This maintains access for emergency vehicles, taxis and mini-buses for wheelchairs. We could also throw four spots for visitors into each block. At one end we can put a half-court for basketball, street hockey, skateboarding or rollerblading so once again shouts of “Car!” will mean the players get a short break. For the rest of the block, I propose gardens.

If you can’t imagine your neighbors (or your city) going for the concept, you might be glad to know that elsewhere ‘asphalt gardening’ is already a reality.

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Yesterday we wrote about ‘super-micro farming’ as a trend emerging in response to possible threats to our food supplies.

There’s further evidence of the trend in the San Fransisco Chronicle’s most recent ‘Home and Garden’ section. In a multi-page cover feature, the paper does a nice job of surveying current efforts in the city to turn vacant urban spaces into ‘organic-food producing’ gardens. And it makes the point that this is one way for a ‘metropolis that can feed itself.’ Of over 1,000 vacant lots in the city, at least 600 are farmable, landscaper Kevin Bayuk tells the Chronicle.

It also ties in nicely to invocations by the likes of Michael Pollan, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon to eat (mostly) locally-sourced plants, (mostly) in season.

While it’s perhaps unrealistic to think urban gardens could ever feed an entire city’s population (the main complaint made by people commenting on the articles), they can reduce the need for food to be shipped in from elsewhere. And they can provide city dwellers with a direct (and, for many, uplifting) connection with the food that sustains them.

But in times when much of the rural landscape is turned over to monocultures enforced by the heavy use of pesticides and fertilzers, let’s spare a thought for some of the weeds, bugs and larger plants and animals that would otherwise occupy these vacant lots. Sure, rats and mosquitoes don’t have many fans, but many formerly common native birds, reptiles, pollinating insects and small mammals are losing space to development and intensive agriculture.

If we’re to reclaim abandoned lots for ourselves, perhaps we could be sure to put a good number of them aside as sanctuaries for the plants and animals we’ve managed to threaten so harshly elsewhere.

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