Posts Tagged ‘urban gardening’

Urban Pick Your Own

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

No, we’re not talking about picking dandelion leaves from a tree pit that Fido probably peed on, but rather plucking peaches, apples, and other fruit from city trees — fruit that otherwise would be scraped off the sidewalk and shipped to a landfill or at best composted. As reported in Gristmill, a handful of cities are getting organized about harvesting urban fruit and nuts, using interactive mapping tools posted online so anyone can find the nearest pomegranate or avocado ripe for the taking. 

On Saturday mornings beginning August 2, the Portland Fruit Tree Project will be holding Harvest Parties, where city dwellers get together to collect orphan fruits and donate a percentage to local food banks. Last year, the group gathered 3400 pounds of fruit that otherwise would have gone to waste. 

Urban Grow Bags

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Can half-ton bags of soil lined up in abandoned lots help make cities more self-sufficient in food production? Architects Ulrike Steven and Gareth Morris of What if: Projects Ltd. think so. Working with an inner city neighborhood in London, they arranged 70 of them on concrete in a vacant lot where local residents are now growing an astonishing array of vegetables, fruits, and flowers. For the past two years these unusual containers have been transformed into a vibrant community garden.

One of the local residents describes how his initial investment of about $12 for seeds has yielded “200 lettuces, cucumbers, beetroots galore, spring onions”   so many that he and his neighbors are able to swap a portion of their harvests.

Currently, according to a report in The Times, 80 percent of London’s food comes from abroad and the rest is shipped in from other parts of the U.K. Only a minuscule amount is produced locally. However, a London Assembly member estimates that the city could produce as much as 25 percent of its food using Urban Grow Bags and other means. 

Agricultural Skyscrapers

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Fritz Haeg has been deemed a horticultural revolutionary of late for daring to propose scrapping front lawns for “edible estates.” But his proposal pales compared to Columbia professor Dickson Despommier’s vision of entire skyscrapers devoted to growing crops. Such “vertical farms” could reduce the carbon footprint of city dwellers by conserving energy used for long-distance transport of food to urban markets. Even better, they could free up expanses of farmland to return to forest, radically reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Among the other benefits of skycropping: a year-round supply of organically grown fruits, vegetables, grains, and fish; no weather-related crop failures; no polluting agricultural runoff; lots of green collar jobs in inner cities; and an intensive form of food production capable of feeding the 3 billion additional people predicted by the year 2050, most of whom will live in urban areas.

Several sky farm designs are featured on Despommier’s website. He says roughly 150 30-story towers could feed the entire population of New York City for a year. This article, published in New York magazine last year, explains in detail how they would work.