Overcoming Barriers to Urban Agriculture In American Cities

PHILLY’S URBAN FARMING PLAN COULD INCLUDE HUNDREDS, POSSIBLY THOUSANDS, OF VACANT LOTS . MARCH 20, 2019. JESSICA GRIFFIN / FILE PHOTOGRAPH PHILLY.COM

PHILLY’S URBAN FARMING PLAN COULD INCLUDE HUNDREDS, POSSIBLY THOUSANDS, OF VACANT LOTS. MARCH 20, 2019. JESSICA GRIFFIN / FILE PHOTOGRAPH PHILLY.COM

Overcoming Barriers to Urban Agriculture In American Cities

Achieving such yields in a test garden does not mean they are feasible for urban farmers in the Bay Area. Most urban farmers in California lack ecological horticultural skills. They do not always optimize crop density or diversity, and the University of California’s extension program lacks the capacity to provide agroecological training.

The biggest challenge is access to land. University of California researchers estimate that over 79 percent of the state’s urban farmers do not own the property that they farm. Another issue is that water is frequently unaffordable. Cities could address this by providing water at discount rates for urban farmers, with a requirement that they use efficient irrigation practices.

In the Bay Area and elsewhere, most obstacles to scaling up urban agriculture are political, not technical. In 2014 California enacted AB511, which set out mechanisms for cities to establish urban agriculture incentive zones, but did not address land access.

One solution would be for cities to make vacant and unused public land available for urban farming under low-fee multiyear leases. Or they could follow the example of Rosario, Argentina, where 1,800 residents practice horticulture on about 175 acres of land. Some of this land is private, but property owners receive tax breaks for making it available for agriculture.

Bushwick, Brooklyn's Oko Farms Brings Aquaponics And A School Of Fish To The People

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Bushwick, Brooklyn's Oko Farms Brings Aquaponics And A School Of Fish To The People

Nigerian-born Yemi Amu shares a look at Oko Farms, a Bushwick, Brooklyn aquaponics system housing both fish and plants with the same water source since 2013. Given that about 70 percent of freshwater is used for agriculture globally, Oko Farms is recycling at its best. Jen Maylack interviews the urban farmer for Vogue US.

When Amu first encountered the concept of aquaponics, she realized this technique, which uses fish waste to fertilize plants grown in water, and then in turn allows the plants to filter toxins from the water so it can safely be returned to fish, had massive potential. It’s a symbiotic system, relying on the relationship between fish, plants and microbes.  “Nature is really efficient, and I fell in love with that efficiency,“ Amu says. “That source of locally raised sustainable protein, nobody is doing it.”

Seeking knowledge about her own eating disorder, the urban farmer began studying Ayurveda and its emphasis on holistic nutrition, supported by the idea that food is medicine. She then attended Teachers College, Columbia University for a Master’s Degree in Health and Nutrition Education. Soon came rooftop gardening and a passion that grabbed her being.

Jennifer Garner Co-Founds Once Upon A Farm, Supporting Gangsta Gardener Ron Finley

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Jennifer Garner Co-Founds Once Upon A Farm, Supporting Gangsta Gardener Ron Finley

On Saturday, July 14, actor Jennifer Garner celebrated Once Upon a Farm, the new “farm-to-family” food company with a strong focus on babies and children that she co-founded with Cassandra Curtis. The event at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett invited guests from the Hamptons crowd such as Rachel Zoe, Molly Sims, Jessica Capshaw, Estee Stanley, and their little ones to pick fresh produce, listen to live music and plant fruits and vegetables with Ron Finley, the Gangsta Gardener of the Ron Finley ProjectOnce Upon a Farm later donated the gardening plot from the event, along with $10,000 to NYC’s Edible Schoolyard.

Paper Magazine profiled Finley in Aug. 2017. The food justice revolutionary decided to get his hands dirty back in 2010 over the lack of healthy, organic food options in his LA South Central food desert neighborhood. 

"Being in South Central, the food is food-ish stuff," he explains. "We can walk five minutes in any direction and get liquor, but we can walk ten miles in any direction, and we aren't gonna get an organic banana." Finley came to the realization that cities were designed for the interests of commerce, not people: "If cities were designed for people, they would look more like forests, and be lush and beautiful, and the air would be clean." He looked at the green grass parkway he'd been dutifully maintaining outside of his home, and decided, "If they're not putting beauty in my neighborhood, I'll do it myself." The answer was radical in its simplicity: he would grow his own food. He dug up the grass, and planted flowers, herbs, and all the fruits and vegetables he'd previously had to drive miles to buy.

Women's News | Venus Williams Rebounds After Near Miss | Urban Agriculture & Eating Local

Women's News Headlines August 30, 2016

Venus Williams became a professional tennis player in 1994 at age 14. Venus has seven Grand Slam singles events on her victory belt and 14 more in women’s doubles, won with her sister Serena, 34. Venus, with five Wimbledon singles titles wins, became the first African-American woman in 2002 to "earn the world’s top ranking in tennis since the onset of the open era in the late 1960s."

In 2011, her tennis career slowed, as Venus Williams battled injuries and Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that results in joint pain and sometimes crushing fatigue. Under assault from the vagaries of life, Williams withdrew from the second round of the United States Open.

But she has regained momentum. . . 

Venus Williams Struggles In First US Open Match

Update: Venus Williams narrowly escaped defeat on Tuesday, in the first round of her US Open match with Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine, ranked 93rd. Venus had played 17 US Opens and never lost in the first round. Having reached the semifinals at Wimbledon, Venus was seeded sixth, her first top 10 seeding at the Open in six years. Read on at the New York Times

Read more Venus in-depth: Women's News Headlines August 30, 2016

More Headlines

Why Aren't US Police Departments Recruiting More Women? @ The Atlantic

51 Contemporary Artists, but Just Three Women @ New York Times

Urban Agriculture and the New Meaning of Eating Local @ Vogue

Women's News Headlines August 30, 2016