Posts By Abbie Stutzer
Kettering University and Metro Community Development in Flint, Michigan, are working together to build an aquaponics farm that could eventually feed area neighborhoods.
Metro Community Development first approached Kettering University to help research and plan the potential aquaponics facility, says Dr. Matthew Sanders, professor and director of the Center for Culminating Undergraduate Experiences at Kettering University.
Bridget Holcomb, newly appointed executive director of the non-profit Women, Food & Agriculture, has always been interested in issues concerning sustainability. For her, it’s a no brainer that the current generation needs to live sustainably to improve the lives of future generations.
“For anyone interested in issues around sustainability, it is not long before we realize that food and agriculture is center to how we live sustainably,” she says.
Denise O’Brian, a southwest Iowan farmer, founded WFAN in 1997 to help raise women’s voices who work in agriculture. For the past 17 years, WFAN has helped female farmers in the Midwest and other regions and world network and learn.
Spring Creek Farm, founded by Louise Kellogg, houses Alaska Pacific University’s Kellogg Campus in Palmer, Alaska, with about 800 acres bequeathed as part of a family trust.
“The goal was to create a campus for the University, a very small one,” says Steve Rubinstein, the director of APU’s graduate program in Outdoor and Environmental Education. “And also to keep it as a working farm and to use it for other various educational aspects. We always had the goal of providing educational programs. It was not necessarily slated to become a vegetable farm, but that’s where we took it – it seemed to be a good direction.”
Cedar Point Church in Maryville, Tennessee started growing its hydroponic garden for two reasons: to develop a program offering a sustainable and healthy food source to its church family, and to build a sense of partnership between church members and the community.
While the garden is still in its early stages (it was started about three months ago), Kurt Steinbach, the church’s lead pastor is enthusiastic about the growing produce. Currently, Harvest Farms Co-op, the name of the church’s hydroponic gardening operation, grows several varieties of tomato, bell pepper, hot banana peppers, Anaheim peppers, green leaf lettuce varieties, eggplant, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and green beans. In late June, the co-op was preparing for its first harvest.
States throughout America are embracing urban farming and gardening more and more every day, setting up shop in new cities and spreading the love of fresh greens to people across the state. One that has recently emerged into the urban community gardening scene is Nebraska.
Sarah Browning, extension educator of horticulture at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, says Nebraska has successful community gardens in many communities, both large and small.
“Here in Lincoln, there are several community garden areas managed by Community Crops,” Browning says. “These gardens are open to anyone in Lincoln to rent for a season. There are also several private community gardens, managed by church or neighborhood groups, that are open to use by their members.”
Raleigh City Farms, in Raleigh, North Carolina, was founded for a simple reason – the city didn’t have any urban farms.
In 2010, after the founders settled on a vision of what Raleigh City Farms would become, and the farm received its 501(c)3 status, and they began looking for land.
It took the original founders some time to find the farm’s land, and once they did, they had to get it rezoned for agricultural use. Finally, in 2012 they broke ground and by March 2012, volunteers came to the new farm’s site to start distributing compost.
Garden Dreams Urban Farm & Nursery started operating in 2001 after founder Mindy Schwartz began acquiring and remediating vacant properties in Pittsburgh. Once the lots were fixed, she started gardening.
Hannah Reiff, Garden Dreams’ production manager, says that when the farm and nursery first began to operate, they didn’t sell much. In fact, Garden Dreams’ start was quite humble – the organization was just selling off some extra tomato seedlings. Now, though, the operation is impressive.
“Overall, Philadelphia has accepted urban agriculture,” says Amy Laura Cahn, staff attorney for the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. Cahn works with existing community gardening projects to help preserve their legacy.