the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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the conversation continues: hydroponics divorce people even further from the stewardship of the land

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This recent submission to our series on whether or not hydroponics should be considered organic comes from Joanna Storie, a Doctoral candidate in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences of Estonian University of Life Sciences. She takes a similar stance on hydroponics to our last contributor, adding that hydroponics are not sustainable agriculture in that they divert attention from strengthening rural economies and reinforce urban ways of being that divorce people further from the land.

Have something to add? Email submissions to greenhornsblog@gmail.com.

In your recent blog you asked the question on whether hydroponics is organic or not and I have to agree that it is not. The following statement sums it up for me:


“Hydroponics may be a fine way to grow food and it might be an important part of how cities feed themselves in the future, but it’s no more a form of sustainable agriculture than producing wood fiber in a laboratory is a form of sustainable forest management.”

It also worries me that Hydoponics divorce people even further from the idea of stewardship of the land– which is something that makes the urban areas increasingly vulnerable, because– even if they can produce food in the cities using hydroponic techniques– this will not be the sum total of their food supply.

Recently I submitted an abstract for a conference, which took the position against urban-centric ways of structuring our society, arguing that “rural social networks need to be seen as inherently valuable to the resilience of the whole region.”

I think the hydroponics fits into the urban 24/7 mindset, which values cheap food and devalues rural social network,  thus exacerbating the situation of removing people further from the knowledge of healthy food and healthy environments.


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raising hell(gate) in urban farming

peppers

Throughout its seven years, Hellgate Farm has always done things a bit differently than other urban farms in New York City- from raising backyard chickens and housing an apiary, to producing its own hot sauce. Hellgate Farm is not your typical urban farm. Last season, crops were grown in over seven plots of land throughout Astoria and Long Island City, though Hellgate owned only one of them. The team has been able to develop partnerships with business owners and homeowners across Queens and convert unused growing spaces and backyards to successfully grow upwards of 70 crops this season, fill 30 weekly CSA orders, make and sell their own trio of hot sauces, and sell produce to local restaurants!

In 2017, Hellgate is exploring a new and less traveled business model in hopes of attaining maximum sustainability, profit, and community impact. Unfortunately, this means having to temporarily put the CSA aside.

hot-sauce

Like most urban farmers Rob McGrath, Hellgate’s owner, envisions everyone having access to clean, organic, and affordable produce. To this end, he is looking forward to improving the local food system by working with a large acreage organic farm in upstate New York. With more land Hellgate will be able to provide additional CSA shares for the Queens community. Their goal is to offer at least 50% of the shares at a subsidized price in areas with less access to affordable fresh produce, combined with community education programs.

Hellgate’s impact will be far more reaching even by harvesting one half acre upstate than they could ever accomplish with scattered backyard plots around Queens, but don’t worry, those plots are still going to be used!

In order to financially support their mission, Hellgate plans to use the land in Queens to focus on their value added products. Last year they began a partnership with a factory owner in Long Island City that provides them access to the factory’s rooftop. Due to the climate on the roof, the Hellgate team was able to grow a wide variety of peppers, and as such, Hellgate Farm Hot Sauce was born. They have already sold thousands of bottles of their hot sauce and it has been a profitable venture to date. Hellgate hopes to expand their product yield even more this year and get more bottles in the hands of their loyal customers.

Through their partnerships with local restaurants and sales of their hot sauces, ketchup, and other products currently in development, Rob hopes to be able to get their sister-farm started and restart the CSA as soon as possible. Rob notes, “This is a lifetime project, it will only keep growing and developing!”

With the team’s continued hard work, community support, and growing line of Hell-ishly delicious products, Hellgate’s new business model is well positioned to pay off for all of us!

-Greenhorns Contributor Julia Caruso

 

 


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urban farm manager position in troy, ny

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Capital Roots in Troy, NY is seeking an experienced farm manager for its two-acre urban farm. The position is a full-time growing role, but job description also heavily emphasizes volunteer management, mentorship, and educational skills. Hourly wage offered plus benefits. See full job description here and contact Matthew Schueler, the Grow Center Manager at edcenter@capitalroots.org.

Capital Roots is a nonprofit in Troy that is over 30 years old and manages a diverse array of programs and spaces to increase food access, promote green spaces, and encourage food and environmental justice around the city.


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can costal urbanization happen without landscape architects?

A 2013 Lecture by Pierre Belanger at TU Delft, Faculty of Architecture, Chair of Landscape Architecture within lecture series “How Do You Landscape?”

Starting with the claim that Americans are “geographically illiterate,” Belanger explores the concept of urbanity, especially as it relates to our landscape infrastructure, and you probably haven’t heard anyone speak about urbanization with more nuance or innovative thought. The Harvard professor argues that not only is our land surface urbanized, but so are the ground deep beneath our feet, the air far above us, and most of the bodies of water along our shores. As these processes proliferate, Belanger argues for viewing “urbanity” within a more holistic context. Where do materials that build our cities come from? Where do our wastes go? How does development on land radically alter landscapes under the sea?

“Rather than trying to see the processes of changing climates, we need to essentially work with them. Because right now rather thinking of our urbanizations on coasts as downstream from all these larger inland processes, we should think of them as being upstream of this larger oceanic landscape that we are essentially urbanizing.”


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keeping orchards alive and well

Check out the rad folks at the Urban Orchard Project, based out of the UK. They are an organization devoted to creating, restoring, and celebrating fruıt orchards in London and beyond. The video above provides a quick lesson on pruning old fruıit trees, and they provide more invaluable advice on their webpage.

Remnant Orchards, or what remains of traditional orchards, are valuable and often overlooked resources. They often have high genetic and bio diversity; can serve as food sources to urban populations; foster local character; and help make city spaces more pleasurable to inhabit. The Urban Orchard Project works wıth communities and activists to restore the health of these orchards by extending the life of old trees while newly-planted trees become established. This has the compound effect of providing continuous and long-lasting habitat for wildlife and producing food for human consumption.


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casting call for city women turning towards the farming life

Orion Entertainment
Cole Huling, a casting producer for Orion Entertainment, is currently working on a new TV series that features women who are leaving behind the city/suburban life to become farmers/ranchers/etc., working the land and raising animals. They are looking for women who have recently moved to a farm as well as women who are preparing to move.
 Women with a sense of adventure, lots of energy, and a great story to tell are encouraged to get in contact!
Contact details:
Cole Huling
Casting Producer 
Orion Entertainment


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urban farmers in the northlands

Our friends at Stone’s Throw Urban Farm need your support on Kickstarter!

Stone’s Throw Urban farm is a new vegetable operation formed through the collaboration of three urban farms in the Twin Cities. We transform vacant lots into micro-farms, and run a diversified rotation on about 18 lots around the city. We’re taking on new land this year, with the goal of feeding more people in our community and working towards paying ourselves a living wage. We will be running a 100-member vegetable CSA, selling at the Mill City Market in downtown Minneapolis, and hopefully selling directly to our neighbors.

With the new land we’re turning over this spring, we need help covering some start-up costs. We’re raising money through Kickstarter, and any amount you can give will help us feed our neighbors and grow our own livelihoods as urban farmers. We strive to be a model for urban food production across the country, and hope we can give back to this community of Greenhorns in that way.

Thanks a million for your support!

Emily and the STUF farmers

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/600855877/vacant-lots-to-vibrant-urban-farms?ref=live