This new video from Inhabitat profiles Added Value, a non-profit urban farm in Brooklyn that promotes the sustainable development of the Red Hook community by inviting teenagers from the neighborhood to participate in urban farming projects. Added Value is focused on teaching life skills that extend beyond urban farming.
Since 2001, they have been bringing the local youth together and encouraging them to positively engage with their community. Together they have helped revitalize local parks, transformed vacant lands into vibrant urban farms, improved access to healthy, safe and affordable food, and begun to grow an economy that supports the needs of their community.
Check out the video. It’s a great profile of a thriving urban farm that has provided a safe haven as well as a purpose for South Brooklyn teens. It’s exciting to see these kids making a difference in their community! read more
The Gary Comer Youth Center Roof Garden is an after-school learning space for youth and seniors in a neighborhood with little access to safe outdoor environments. Last year alone, it produced over 1,000 pounds of organic food used by students, local restaurants and the center’s café. Sleek and graphic, it turns the typical working vegetable garden into a place of beauty and respite.
Located in Chicago’s Grand Crossing neighborhood, the Gary Comer Youth Center offers a safe, welcoming
after-school space for indoor activity. Its 8,160 square foot green roof is a model for using traditionally underutilized space for urban agriculture and exceptional in its balance of an aesthetic vision with practical needs. The garden provides the crowning touch to an award-winning building recognized for its bold architecture.
The landscape architect worked closely with the architect and donor to develop a vision for a green roof to include a flower and working vegetable garden, and suggested that the center employ a full-time garden manager to enhance educational program development and manage maintenance. The result is a garden used in extremely creative ways for horticultural learning, environmental awareness and food production. read more
In this article, Lesley Lammers discusses the passing of the baton from one generation of farmer to the next, citing the demographic of these new farmers as college educated and showing a 30% increase in women since 2002. This new generation of farmers is focused on taking farming into the future by growing sustainably. They’re not only serving areas that were formally food deserts, but also bringing organic produce to thriving metropolises.
Lammers also provides some great resources for farm funding, locating available land, training and support for new farmers. There’s even a link to 40 Farmers Under 40, which profiles some of the young farmers who are making a difference across the country. It’s a great article, definitely worth checking out whether you’re interested in farming yourself or just appreciate the people who are having a positive affect on our food supply! read more
Vending machines selling seed bombs are popping up in Los Angeles and one that we know of in front of Bi-Rite Market, one of our favorite food stops in San Francisco. Designers from Common Studio have repurposed old gumball machines and placed them strategically in urban locations. Pop in a coin and out rolls a “bomb” made of seeds and compost encased in clay. What guerrilla gardener can resist a ready made seed bomb? Check out the list of seed bomb vending machine locations.
In addition to making the world a more beautiful place, guerrilla gardeners can sleep well knowing that proceeds from the vending machines are donated to Project H Design, who apply their talents to improve the lives of the socially overlooked. Look for an OGP post on this amazing organization in the near future! read more
Gotham Greens plans to produce 30 tons of produce annually with the first hydroponic rooftop farm in New York. Constructed on a church rooftop in Jamaica, Queens, at an estimated cost of $1.4 million, the 12,000 square foot greenhouse is powered by 2,000 square feet of solar panels and captures rainwater for irrigation.
They intend to create a model of sustainable urban agriculture. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority awarded a $400,000 grant to the project based on their energy savings plan. They’ll even use a biodiesel van to deliver produce to customers throughout the city, including Whole Foods and local farmers markets.
Gotham Greens is already planning their next project, a 20,000 square foot hydroponic rooftop greenhouse atop a manufacturing plant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. With hopes of ultimately building 100,000 square feet of hydroponic greenhouses throughout the five boroughs by 2030, this will be an interesting group to watch! read more
Carpinteria High School in Santa Barbara County, California has developed a healthy food program that started with an organic garden. The students quickly embraced the garden and the program has continued to grow. The school’s horticulture class tends the garden every couple of days, the veterinary science students contribute their stable sweepings to the compost pile, the culinary class uses the food grown in the garden as does the cafeteria where lunch is prepared daily using the fresh organic produce.
The garden was started with the support of Carpinteria Unified School District Superintendent Paul Cordeiro who believes that health and education are related, and that garden and culinary classes play an important role in the quality of student’s lives. Carpinteria’s healthy food program continues to grow with plans for a new culinary kitchen where adult classes will also be offered and an on-campus community garden made available to families. read more
Virginia businessman Mark Lilly discovered there were people in his community of Richmond who did not have access to healthy food and decided to do something about it. He bought an old school bus on the internet and began stocking it with organic produce sourced from local farms.
Intent on bringing healthy choices to the local “food deserts”, he and his wife Suzy began parking the bus in an abandoned supermarket parking lot and occasionally in front of fast food restaurants in order to make their point. It’s not enough to simply make good food available, according to Mr. Lilly, you have to change the mindset. “Folks here are addicted to bad food and first you’ve got to wean them off it before you can sell them the good stuff,” he says. He and his wife try to ease the transition by giving out cooking advice and recipe leaflets. Their approach seems to be working, they’ve already bought a second bus and hope to one day have an entire fleet. read more see the video
Representatives from Yale, Harvard, Brown, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and Princeton gathered to discuss university food issues at the Real Food Summit held at Yale University on February 12th. Each of the universities are actively involved in providing local sustainably grown food to their student body. UPenn and Harvard are planning their first student run gardens and Dartmouth already has a student run organic farm which provides 4 percent of the university’s food requirements. At Princeton almost half of the food purchased is produced within 200 miles of the university and Yale has an on-campus organic farm and sustainable dining program.
At the summit the university representatives discussed existing food programs as well as possibilities for the future. Representatives were enthusiastic about creating a network amongst the universities and sharing ideas about sustainability on an ongoing basis. Another summit is already planned for Fall 2010, where representatives from each university will discuss their progress. read more
New York artists Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray launched Windowfarms in February 2009 with the goal of creating a hydroponic growing system so inexpensive and easy to replicate that inner city dwellers would be inspired to grow their own food. The vertical vegetable gardens were designed to be made from recycled materials or inexpensive items from the local hardware store.
Windowfarms made their initial design available on the internet and after 7 months and a mere $5,000 investment their idea took off. Articles turned up in Grist, Art in America, Wired Blog and others, along with hundreds of thousands of hits on their website from all over the world. The public embraced the simple design and submitted ideas for improvements. “A distributed network of individuals sharing information can implement a wide variety of designs that accommodate specific local needs and implement them locally. Ordinary people can bring about innovative green ideas and popularize them quickly. Web theorists claim that this capacity to ‘organize without hierarchical organization’ will be a fundamental shift in our society brought about by the web over the coming decades.” To date, 29 viable designs have been submitted and windowfarms are popping up all over the world. video 1 video 2
USC’s Keck School of Medicine Childhood Obesity Research Center and Loreto Elementary School in Cypress Park, CA have partnered to create LA Sprouts a 12 week program designed to reduce childhood obesity and encourage healthy eating habits. The fourth and fifth grade Loreto Elementary School students will gather twice per week at the Milagro Allegro Community Garden for gardening, nutrition and cooking classes. USC plans to monitor the effectiveness of the garden program in order to develop similar programs in the area. read more