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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Minda Berbeco

Chickens in the City – Practical Advice on Managing an Urban Coop and the Neighbors

August 13, 2012 |

Chickens pecking at your toes? Fresh eggs daily? Sounds like rural living. With the rise of the urban locavore movement, though, poultry are becoming commonplace in cities all over the country.

When Khrysti Smyth first started keeping chickens in her urban yard in Somerville Massachusetts, it was not only for the fresh eggs, but to reconnect with nature. Read More

Pest Eating Chickens Play Role in Creating Sustainable Agriculture Systems

August 12, 2012 |

When Malena Laylin first moved to Virginia, she wanted a place to not only raise a family, but raise animals as well.

“We got our chickens in the spring of 2006 when the local producer of pastured, organically-fed chicken eggs stopped selling.” Not interested in buying conventionally grown and processed meat and produce, Laylin and her family sought a way to ensure a steady supply of fresh and sustainable food. Read More

Urban Agriculture: Overcoming the Legacy of a City’s Past

August 3, 2012 |
City Farm Sustainable Urban Vegetable Farm Chicago

'City Farm,' an urban farm in Chicago

When most people think about cities, heavy industry, crowded housing and vacant lots are some of the images that can come to mind. Lush vegetable fields and orchards dripping with ripe fruit are rarely part of the picture. Yet with the proliferation of the local food movement and urban agriculture, this is exactly what is starting to pop up in urban environments all over the country.

“Cities, by their nature, are always changing and transitioning to something else,” says Catherine Tumber, author of the book Small, Gritty, and Green: the promise of America’s smaller industrial cities in a low-carbon world.  “What we now call ‘local food’ in the context of the city has a long history, from family garden plots and victory gardens to truck farming.” Read More

As Farmers Feel Heat, Need to Explore Irrigation Options Grows

July 17, 2012 |

Over 1,000 heat records in the United States were broken over the past two months, with expectations of more to come throughout the summer (1). The intense weather has shriveled corn (2) and scorched soybeans (3). In response to the heat wave and associated drought, one reporter visiting a tree farm in Ohio quipped, “Orange Christmas trees are not exactly what comes to mind when thinking about the holiday season” (4). But the intense heat and lack of rain in the early summer has caused concern about massive crop failure this year (5), potentially making those orange Christmas trees a reality.

With extreme temperatures and drought, farmers have been forced to rely more heavily on irrigation systems. Unfortunately water, especially in the Western States where irrigation is most common (6), is becoming a limited resource (7). Read More

Biopesticides in Agriculture – Taking Advantage of Pre-existing Warfare between Biological Organisms

July 12, 2012 |

In 1904, Louis Henderson, one of the first botanists to explore the Western States, was called out to a farm in the Boise valley to solve an unusual mystery. He was taken to an apple orchard where he found a patch of blackened, wilting trees surrounding a bee hive. The farmer was stumped: were the bees killing the trees?

Henderson quickly identified the problem. The disease was fire blight, a necrotic wilt disorder caused by bacteria, and it was being spread by the busy, little pollinators (1).

In those days, there were few options for battling disease and pestilence outbreaks like fire blight. The treatment was to cut back the diseased trees and burn the cuttings. Read More