A small farm on the campus of Butler University in Indiana serves not only as a living example of the potential for urban agriculture, but is also functions as a hub for “research, education, and outreach.” The farm is managed by the University’s Center for Urban Ecology (CUE). Started in 2010 by CUE and student members of Earth Charter Butler, the farm initially occupied about a quarter of an acre of land on the university’s campus, which grew to an acre when grant money allowed for its expansion.
In 2011 the farm hired its first full-time manager and staff member, Tim Dorsey. Like many people drawn to urban farming, Tim didn’t have a background in agriculture. In fact, he graduated from college with a degree in Philosophy and only afterward became interested in issues affecting the food system, such as diminishing farmland and disappearing farm communities. Influenced by authors like Wendell Berry he soon started his own backyard garden that grew and expanded, along with his knowledge. Now Tim applies what he’s learned to the CUE farm and has embraced the project’s multiple objectives, which include creating awareness about the local food system and being a practical, living demonstration of sustainable agriculture.
To Transform the ‘Hood for Good’ Urban Farmer Chanowk Yisrael Plants Seeds not only in the Ground, but in MindsFebruary 6, 2017 | Charli Engelhorn
A common perception of farming encompasses the process of growing food and selling it to the masses. For many American farmers, this process represents their entire enterprise. Yet, for Chanowk Yisrael, being a farmer has greater significance for his family and community. With his wife and nine children, Yisrael operates the Yisrael Family Urban Farm on a half-acre plot in his backyard in South Oak Park, a historically working-class neighborhood in Sacramento, California.
Started in 2007 as a way to safeguard his family’s livelihood in the event of a recession, it took time before Yisrael got the hang of urban farming. However, once he did and came to understand the value of farming in a community, he transitioned full-time to life as a farmer.
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.
On Friday, January 27, Seedstock hosted the inaugural ‘Future of Food – Urban Ag Field Trip’, which provided attendees an excursion into the diversity of urban farming and state-of-the-art hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic agriculture operations in Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the U.S. The sold out tour treated participants to lectures and sessions from pioneering farmers who are embracing innovative business models and growing systems to both increase food security and take advantage of the escalating demand for local food.
The tour kicked off with a stop at The USC Teaching Garden, a joint venture between L.A. Urban Farms and USC Hospitality, which utilizes aeroponic tower gardens to challenge the food systems status quo on campus. The garden was established to supply fresh produce to the university’s on-campus restaurants, dining halls, catering services, and hotel, while also teaching students and staff about flavor and sustainability. Attendees heard from Chef Eric Ernest, Executive Chef of USC Hospitality, discuss the economic viability of the garden. Chef Ernest noted that the garden is not just for show, and that its 90 aeroponic garden towers grow enough food for campus retail units to break even each year. “The garden is about connecting chef and customer,” said Chef Ernest. We also heard from L.A. Urban Farms founder Wendy Coleman, and partner Niels Thorlaksson, discuss the technical details of the farm, its water usage, and maintenance requirements. Thorlaksson explained that each aeroponic garden tower utilizes 5 – 10 gallons of water per week.
To provide an up close and personal look at a series of innovative community development ventures that have emerged to increase food security, reduce food waste, create jobs, enhance food access, and improve health and nutrition in communities, Seedstock has put together the ‘Future of Food – Community Development Field Trip’.
Slated for Friday, March 17, 2017, the second ‘Future of Food’ field trip will look at the impact of community food systems ventures in Southern California, and include lectures from experts in the fields of community garden and urban farming program development, food access, and food justice.
The tour is the second in a series of Seedstock ‘Future of Food’ field trips that was recently launched to facilitate the exploration of food system innovations that are generating economic and community capital.