The coronavirus is forcing urban farms to adapt, creating more space between people and even shifting the types of crops they grow. “We had wanted to plant a ton of snap peas this year,” says Saara Nafici, farm director at Red Hook Farms in Brooklyn, New York, “but harvest will be too labor intensive.” To conform with social-distancing rules, the farm is reducing the number of staff working at a given time and spreading out its washing and packing stations. Lower staffing levels mean adding new work slots, so everyone gets their hours in and the farm work gets done.(No paywall)
High-tech, indoor, urban agriculture is growing in places like New York, but so is controversy around them, according to FERN's latest story, produced in partnership with Edible Brooklyn magazine. The story, by Rene Ebersole, points to one indoor company that produces high-end specialty greens for restaurants called Farm.One. "In a town of eight million, Farm.One is part of a rising movement to cultivate produce where large numbers of people live by using high-tech systems and smart greenhouses placed at grocery stores, in basements and even inside cargo vessels."
In recent years, vacant land in cities across the country has been colonized by community gardens, giving the often-poor residents access to fresh produce. Now, though, developers of affordable housing are targeting those same empty lots, putting them at odds with the gardeners in communities that need both housing and fresh food, reports FERN's latest story, published with NPR's The Salt. No paywall
On a 47-0 vote, New York’s city council passed legislation to create a digital hub meant specifically for urban agriculture, said Metro Media.
Danielle Marvit, who could fairly be called the tomato maven of Pittsburgh, didn’t hesitate when asked to list her favorites among the dozens of tomato varieties sold as seedlings by Garden Dreams, an urban farm set between vacant Victorian-era houses in Wilkinsburg, Pa.
The USDA could spend more than $1 billion over five years to promote urban agriculture, farmers markets and regional food systems under legislation backed by a dozen House Democrats. Lead sponsor Marcy Kaptur filed the bill with an eye toward its inclusion in the 2018 farm bill, to be drafted soon.
City officials in Long Beach, California, are laying the framework for an Urban Agriculture Enterprise Zone program “that would encourage more urban farms to crop up in vacant lots across the city,” says the Press-Telegram.
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed an amendment to the California Seed Law, exempting “non-commercial seed sharing activities from industrial labeling, testing, and permitting requirements,” says Shareable.
From small gardens to roof-top farms greenhouses, urban agriculture "is taking off and taking on new forms," says the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, which released a 35-page assessment of the movement.
As the global population zooms toward an estimated 9.7 billion people at mid-century, a 34-percent increase in 35 years, more and more of them will live in cities. "By 2050, 66 percent of the world's people are expected to live in cities, fueling unprecedented demand for food," says a report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to reduce property taxes by up to $15,000 for owners who convert vacant lots in unincorporated parts of the county to agricultural use.
Lead contamination, often acute, is common in New York City’s urban garden soil, according to a new study from the City University of New York. Published in the journal Soil Science earlier this month, the study evaluated 1,652 soil samples, volunteered from 904 home and community gardens, for contamination by a number of trace metals. It says the city’s soil contains higher average concentrations of lead than a number of other metropolitan areas, including Hong Kong, Beijing, London, Bangkok, Berlin and Baltimore.
In North America, women more commonly are the farmer's wife than the farmer, notes Modern Farmer. In Canada, 27 percent of farm operators are women. In the United States, 14 percent of farms are headed by women.
The board of supervisors in Los Angeles County took the first step toward implementing a state law that allows local governments to designate urban agriculture incentive zones, with lower taxes for owners of small plots who promise to grow food on them for five years, reports the Los Angeles Times.
In Brentwood, a "para-urban" community in Contra Costa County on the eastern outskirts of San Francisco, an amalgam of groups combines to keep 20,000 acres of farmland in production and out of subdivisions, office parks and strip malls, says Kristina Johnson at Civil Eats.