Posts By Trish Popovitch
On Rich Soil Long Since Forgotten, an Urban Farm Rises to Reconnect Region to its Agricultural RootsFebruary 1, 2017 | Trish Popovitch
California’s San Fernando Valley, located in Los Angeles County, was once well known for its rich croplands and farming communities. From its founding in 1874 until the mid 1920s, an abundance of fruit orchards, cattle and sheep ranches, and large-scale wheat farms made agriculture the valley’s biggest industry. However, as a result of the arrival of affordable automobiles and rise of the aircraft and motion picture industries, urban development driven by a population boom encroached upon agriculture and the glory days of food production in the San Fernando Valley came to an end.
In San Fernando Valley today, however, on a formerly vacant plot of land a small urban farm has emerged to help reconnect the region to its agricultural roots. Founded in 2011 in Panorama City by Elliott Kuhn, Cottonwood Urban Farm is a sustainable farming venture that not only offers a reliable source of locally grown fruits and vegetable to area restaurants, chefs, and community members, but also functions as an educational resource for the community.
“North Minneapolis is going green
Give us a call and learn what we mean
Where once lay urban blight
Now sits luscious garden sites
Gardens without borders
Classrooms without walls
Architects of our own destinies
Access to food justice for all.”
– Michael Chaney, Project Sweetie Pie
In a collaborative effort to revitalize the economy and the community of North Minneapolis, Project Sweetie Pie, an urban farming movement working to seed healthy changes in the community, has as one of its principal goals the mentorship of 500 local youth in growing food, obtaining practical sales and marketing skills, and becoming leaders. Launched in 2010 Project Sweetie Pie has made great strides towards this goal by aligning dozens of community partners with hundreds of urban youth to implement community garden and farm stand initiatives, which together have resulted in a framework for a more self-sufficient and self-aware urban community.
“Beyond growing vegetables, beyond growing soil, we’re building community through agriculture,” says Dave Victor of Orchard Gardens Neighborhood Farm and Community Garden. “That’s a big part of the mission, a big part of the vision for the farm. It’s all about providing healthy fresh local food for low income people.”
Dave Victor, after five years honing his growing skills with Garden City Harvest, became the manager of Orchard Gardens Neighborhood Farm just last year and he couldn’t be happier with his new position.
“Just like any sustainable agriculture farmer the focus is on building soil,” says Victor. “I tell people that I’m a vegetable farmer but first and foremost it’s all about growing soil and building that soil ecology.”
To Grow Community and Jobs of the Future, Suburbanite Launches Vertical Farming Enterprise in DetroitJanuary 3, 2017 | Trish Popovitch
After spending time with street children in Brazil as part of a missionary trip, Jeff Adams, founder of Detroit, Michigan-based urban vertical farming enterprise Artesian Farms, felt compelled to change his community. “If we can go 7,000 miles to work with young people we won’t see again, what can we do in our own backyard?”
13 years ago Adams moved from the suburbs of Detroit to the urban neighborhood of Brightmoor—roughly four square miles on the outskirts of Detroit full of abandoned homes and derelict industrial buildings.
“My wife and I sold our house in the suburbs and moved to the Brightmoor neighborhood in the city of Detroit. What I noticed was in our community there was a lack of jobs for people who are 18 to 30 years old that had some limited skills and limited availability to transportation to get to a job,” says Adams. “I started looking for opportunities to employ people. I set up a business incubator and started looking around to see what we could do.”
Talking about the homeless population of America is popular these days. And yet fixing the situation seems, to many, an impossibly overwhelming task. Others are proving it’s not. The Santa Cruz Homeless Garden Project (HGP) uses sustainable agriculture as the springboard to a safer, productive and more hopeful life for many. The agriculture and gardening training provided to the homeless of Santa Cruz County through the project has culminated in both jobs and permanent housing for its trainees.
“We find people that express much greater degrees of well being after they are with us for a year, whether it’s in their diet, in their sense of self, in their ability to set goals and achieve them, in how connected they feel to the community,” says Darrie Ganzhorn Executive Director of the Homeless Garden Project.
Established in 1990, the HGP was the brainchild of Paul Lee, a member of the Citizens Committee on Homelessness. Lee began spending nights along with other board members in the homeless shelter.