Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Organic Farming Multiplying Crop Yields

Research is paying off in higher crop yields for organic farming. Catherine Badgley, Associate Professor for the University of Michigan, is demonstrating the potential to feed more people on less land. A local organic farmer in Ann Arbor, Michigan is able to produce 26 tons of fresh produce a year on only 3 acres of land. Research from around the world is showing that organic farming can produce as much as 4 times the amount of food as industrial Western farming practices.

University of Michigan Organic Farming

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Short Walk to Hampstead Community Farm

Can a community really support itself on locally grown food? The Hampstead community is not only growing some of its own food but using the fastest delivery method: walking. Fresh produce is grown at the Hampstead Farm just down the street from the Town Center.

The Hampstead neighborhood development in Montgomery, Alabama is designed by Duany Plater-Zyberk and Company to “meet daily needs within a 5 minute walk.” Daily living needs accessible by a short walk from home include a market, shops, library, recreation center, and even a farm. The one major missing component for families is a school.

View CNN Video on Hampstead

Hampstead Master Plan

Soft Path - Local Food

Food, Inc. Documentary Uncovers Food Industry Practices

After watching the documentary Food, Inc. (http://www.foodincmovie.com/), it inspired us to write this blog posting. Food, Inc. points out that only few companies control the majority of food supply in the U.S. Business practices employed by these companies elevate profits way above the health of their customers and employees. These companies seem to "own" the politicians who also favor the profits of a few CEOs over the health and well being of the citizens.

Food, Inc. makes an interesting point of how local organic farms could be part of the answer to combat the precarious situation in the U.S. food supply chain and the associated related health issues. The concept of locally grown organic food is a great example of a sustainable soft path effort that fits perfectly into the Human Life Project for building family-friendly communities. The local organic food (including fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, dairy, eggs) has a number of advantages such as being healthier, reduced emissions from transporting the food, and supporting the local economy. The previous posts on Agriburbia are another example of locally grown food.

Could a city really produce enough food to support itself? For the moment, consider supplying a city with vegetables for the entire year. Homeowners could plant a small vegetable garden. Apartment dwellers could place plants on their balconies. Those with larger buildings such as corporations and schools could convert their roof to a "green" roof for growing food. City open space could use the Agriburbia concept to convert unused open space including a portion of maintained lawns into a mini vegetable farm.

For this concept to work, it would require residents to change eating habits. Instead of eating "fresh" tomatoes shipped from another nation during the local off season, they would eat local canned tomatoes. From a practical perspective, who is going to plant and harvest the food and then package the extra produce? Community involvement would be essential to its success. Volunteering might be a path to receive free and affordable fresh food.

Does anyone have an example of a city implementing local food ? (last night we found a clip on ccn.com on a city outside of Montgomery Alabama that is doing this successfully - hopefully more on this soon)