Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Urban Agriculture

Comments

The bee's knees: DIY honey craze sweeps New York

Photo: Shelley Fank This fall marks the first full year of legal honey harvesting in New York City -- and oh how sweet it is. In March of last year, the New York City Board of Health and Mental Hygiene took Apis mellifera, the common honeybee, off their list of insects and animals considered too dangerous for city life. As a result, beekeepers registered a record number of hives with the board in 2011. So many, in fact, that local suppliers were unable to meet the unprecedented demand for starter colonies. Meanwhile, NYC's hard core "beeks" have come out of …

Comments

Another urban garden bites the dirt

With the current groundswell of interest in urban homesteading and super-local food production, it's no surprise people are fired up about their right to garden! But it appears that the widespread, incredulous response to the case of the Michigan gardener who faced jail time for growing veggies last year wasn't enough to convince  local governments to update their urban agriculture policies. The latest example? Adam Guerrero of Memphis, Tenn., received a citation last week for the "nuisance" caused by the raised vegetable beds and sunflower plants in his yard. This case has an especially ridiculous twist: Guerrero, a high school …

Read more: Food, Urban Agriculture

Comments

Peebottle Farms: Chicken run

Barred Rock chickens.Photo: Nina LalliLast week, a friend called me for no reason -- just to "say hi," which I think is incredibly intrusive and even presumptuous. But I was feeling pret-ty good at that moment, and picked up. It went like this: Friend: "What're you doing?" Me: "Just hangin' out, drinking the kombucha I bartered some eggs for." Friend: "Jesus f***ing Christ. Don't ever talk about that to me again." How did I arrive at this height of clichéd existence, living as a Brooklyn creative type with connections to kombucha brewers and a backyard chicken coop? Easy: It turns …

Comments

When soil isn't green (it's people)

Volunteers participate in a soil remediation project at Hayes Valley Farm in San FranciscoPhoto: Zoe KrollAs someone who works on urban agricultural policy, I'm often asked, "Is city-grown food safe?" The question comes from aspiring urban gardeners and concerned eaters alike. And it seems to stem from both a fear of the known and a fear of the unknown.  First, the fear of the known: Common urban contaminants include lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals leaked into soil from old paint, leaded gasoline, modern car exhaust, and industrial land-use. These metals are responsible for a whole host of maladies. Heavy …

Comments

Securing a food future in cities: a case study in repurposing military bases

The Alameda Point Collaborative Urban Farm is a one-acre farm growing a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, honey, and-with the introduction of new aquaculture ponds-will soon offer fish as well. Neat rows of plants are surrounded by olive and stone fruit orchards, but beyond this farm, towering cranes are positioned on the horizon. This farm is in a unique location. The Naval Air Station at Alameda was founded in 1927 when wetlands were filled on the tip of this island in the San Francisco Bay to build runways for military planes. As a naval port, the base was most …

Read more: Food, Urban Agriculture

Comments

New Agtivist: Lisa Gross is covering the city with trees

Lisa Gross.Lisa Gross is an artist and urban food activist who heads up a budding coalition called the Boston Tree Party. The group organizes the planting of pairs of heirloom apple trees around the city of Boston in the hopes of ultimately forming a patchwork of free fruit and community engagement. Inspired by what she calls the City of Apples, Gross has worked with delegations of tree stewards all around the city to transform Boston's public spaces, as well as the social and environmental health of its residents. An artist with an MFA from the School of the Museum of …

Read more: Food, Urban Agriculture

Comments

Ask Umbra at the tar-sands protests and on the radio

The tar-sands protest.Photo: Tar Sands ActionDearest readers, Saturday, I have the honor of being a part of two great things. The first is joining protesters at a rally in D.C. as part of the Tar Sands Actions that have been going on since Aug. 20 in front of the White House. The second is that I'll be on a radio show called Mrs. Green's World. The show airs live from 3 to 4 p.m. EST (noon Pacific). The program is based out of Tucson, Ariz. We'll be talking about some of your favorite topics from my column and the tar-sands …

Comments

Raising chickens is totally rock and roll

Jenifer Jourdanne has expensive tastes, expensive shoes, and "designer chickens." In an essay in xoJane, she talks about how her long-standing backyard coop didn't dent her rocker cred: I will have you know I was a maverick. I was the girl in the early 90s at Viper Room where people would say things like “Slash, come over here, no really, this chick has pet chickens!" I mean I am sure they probably thought I used them in an adult act but sorry to bore you, they just walk around my herb gardens looking for snails. Backyard agriculture, says Jourdanne, doesn't …

Comments

Peebottle Farms: Cooped up in the city

Tei's hen ladderPhoto: Nina LalliGardening is a gateway drug. Smoking pot didn't make me want to snort coke and getting a wimpy tattoo never made me crave bigger tattoos, but show me a sage bush and a bunch of sorrel and all I can think about is a chicken coop. Growing vegetables is pretty amazing, but animals who give you stuff is about as thrilling a prospect as I can think of. Because I love animals, I love food, and I really love free stuff. Almost immediately after my boyfriend, Tei, and I cleaned up the filthy yard behind his …

Read more: Food, Urban Agriculture

Comments

Airport beekeeping project is a win-win-win

A buzz-worthy idea.I'm jaded, but sometimes an idea is so good that it breaks through my cynical shell and gives me hope. The Chicago O'Hare Airport apiary is one of those ideas: The project addresses three problems at once and should be immediately replicated by the rest of the airports in the world.  Problem 1: Bee populations are mysteriously dying. Read more about colony collapse disorder and the threat it poses to agricultural production.  Problem 2: Vacant land near airports cannot be used for development. FAA regulations prohibit many economically productive uses because having a plane crash-land on an office …