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)
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
The Oakland Avenue Farmers’ Market in Detroit sells fresh-grown food every Saturday “in a historically low-income and black neighborhood where such options aren’t readily available,” says the Detroit Metro Times. Now it's facing competition from the Michigan Urban Farm Initiative, which gives away produce each Saturday.
Under the name of “Tokyo Salad,” the Japanese subway operator Tokyo Metro is growing lettuce, salad greens, and herbs in a hydroponic warehouse under an elevated section of its Tozai Line, said the Mainichi newspaper.
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.
John Wooden High School, a so-called continuation school in the Los Angeles school system, is small, operating without a pool or a gym but it has a farm. And most days, Alex Snyder, 17, "eats lunch with a pot-bellied pig named Peanut," says the Los Angeles Times.
Urban agriculture, a comparative newcomer to the American food system, would gain wider access to loans and farming advice from USDA experts under a bill announced by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the lead Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee. The legislation is an early, if not the first, entry for inclusion in the 2018 farm bill.
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.
Two of three urban farmers "have a social mission that goes beyond food production and profits," says the NYU Steinhart School, citing research by associate professor Carolyn Dimitri and colleagues.
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.
Small-scale urban farmers in drought-stricken California are finding creative ways to keep plants alive without wasting water, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The 12-week farmer-development program FARMroots in New York City instructs immigrants with agricultural backgrounds on the practicalities of farming in their new country, says the New York Times.