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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Urban Farming

New Pittsburgh Urban Ag Law Passes, Boosts Options for Residents

September 2, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of Grow Pittsburgh.

Photo courtesy of Grow Pittsburgh.

by Julianne Tveten

Pittsburgh City Council passed an ordinance in July to ease restrictions on maintaining chickens, ducks, goats, and apiaries in the city.

Drafted by a collection of agricultural nonprofits, the ordinance follows a 2011 regulation that required residents to undergo a hearing process lasting up to three months and pay up to $340 in cumulative fees. Under the new law, Pittsburghers can obtain a permit for $70 and be approved within a day. Read More

From Concrete to Green: Urban Agriculture Initiative Seeks to Transform LA River into Ag Oasis

August 24, 2015 |
Organizers of the LA River food and ag zone envision a myriad of attractions, including farmers’ markets, as well as local transportation facilities. (image courtesy of Leigh Christy/Perkins+Will)

Organizers of the LA River food and ag zone envision a myriad of attractions, including farmers’ markets, as well as local transportation facilities. (image courtesy of Leigh Christy/Perkins+Will)

The Los Angeles River flows from the Simi Hills, northwest of Los Angeles, through the San Fernando Valley and into the Pacific Ocean at Long Beach. A large portion of the river is concrete.

But now, urban planners and other stakeholders envision a portion of the LA River as being home to a robust agricultural zone in the heart of Los Angeles.

Funded by a California Proposition 84 (Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond of 2006) grant, the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation and architecture and urban planning firm Perkins+Will have explored the feasibility of creating an agricultural hub on the banks of the Los Angeles River.

After extensive research and community input, the conclusion was that such an agriculture hub is a viable option. Specifically, it was decided that a 660-acre area along the river in the neighborhoods of Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park and Chinatown is an ideal place to start such an urban agriculture project. Read More

Seedstock Conference to Highlight Confluence of Agricultural Innovation and Local Food Demand

August 19, 2015 |

seedstockconference twoInterested in learning from agricultural futurists, urban farmers, and entrepreneurs pushing the bounds of food access and soilless growing? Looking to meet like-minded ag entrepreneurs and urban farmers? Searching for food buyers, venture investors, or technology partners?

Then you won’t want to miss the upcoming “4th Annual Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Conference: Innovation and the Rise of Local Food” in San Diego on Nov. 3 – 4, 2015. The event will kick off Read More

Urban Farming and the Law: A Q&A with Great Lakes Environmental Law Center’s Nick Leonard

August 17, 2015 |
Picture of Nick Leonard provided by Nick Leonard

Picture of Nick Leonard provided by Nick Leonard

Nick Leonard is an environmental law attorney currently serving a fellowship at the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center. Operating in Detroit since 2008, Leonard is an expert on the legalities of urban farming in Detroit and the surrounding region. Working pro bono, Leonard provides legal advice to individuals, organizations and businesses involved in urban agriculture. Leonard addresses some of the legal questions of urban farmers in Detroit and other cities.

What is the most frequent legal question you hear when it comes to urban farms?

Many of Detroit’s farmers and gardeners have been operating on their current site pursuant to a real property license agreement with the City of Detroit. [This is a common arrangement in cities]. Unfortunately, real property license agreements provide very little security for the license holder as they can essentially be terminated at any time. Many urban farmers and gardeners are very interested in how they can legally obtain a secure interest in their farm property and what they must do to comply with all continuing real property obligations, like maintaining the property in accordance with local property maintenance laws. Read More

Mahindra USA Boosts Michigan’s Urban Farm Space

July 17, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of Mahindra.

Photo courtesy of Mahindra.

Mahindra USA, a Houston, Tx.-based farming equipment manufacturer, shifted its focus towards sustainable agriculture, in 2010. And now the firm is looking to boost small urban farms with a recent investment of $100,000 in Detroit’s urban farmers.

Through its Detroit-based North American Technical Center, Mahindra awarded money and equipment grants to five Detroit nonprofits. The recipients include two community gardening programs, the Neighbors Building Brightmoor’s Farmway group and the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network’s D-Town Farm. The city of Detroit received a Mahindra utility vehicle. The tractor company has made similar awards to other metropolitan areas and their urban farmers in the past.

“As part of the urban ag initiative program it’s a natural fit,” says Martin Cisneros, Marketing Communications Manager at Mahindra USA remarking on the Detroit investment.  “I think it’s a movement we’re generally seeing across the industry; a more sustainable agriculture. Seems like the ecotype farming initiatives, the co-ops, is what you see a lot more of.” Read More

Proposed Ordinance in Pittsburgh Looks to Get Urban Agriculture Out of the Coop

June 25, 2015 |
The City of Pittsburgh will look at a proposed ordinance that would streamline the permitting process of raising chickens, goats and ducks in the city limits. (photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The City of Pittsburgh will look at a proposed ordinance that would streamline the permitting process of raising chickens, goats and ducks in the city limits. (photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Even though raising chickens is legal in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, city residents who want to own these birds have had to deal with cumbersome regulations. But thanks to a new proposed ordinance, this may change.

The previous law, passed in 2011, required Pittsburghers to fork over $340 and undergo a hearing process lasting for several months. Hence, only 13 people in the city have successfully applied for a chicken-raising permit.

Yet many chickens call Pittsburgh home but fly under the radar, according to Shelly Danko+Day, an open space specialist with the City of Pittsburgh. Read More

Women in Farming: Kari Spencer on Building an Urban Farm in the Desert

June 7, 2015 |
Kari Spencer at the Micro Farm. Courtesy of Kari Spencer.

Kari Spencer at the Micro Farm. Courtesy of Kari Spencer.

Kari Spencer has been smitten with farming since she spied her grandfather’s Midwestern garden when she was a little girl. But when Spencer grew up — and found herself in the middle of a desert — she knew she was going to have to invest in some training to successfully tend plants (and eventually animals) in the dry, Phoenix, Arizona climate.

But that’s just what she did, and since learning those valuable desert gardening skills, she’s successfully built an urban farm oasis: The Micro Farm Project.

Seedstock recently interviewed Spencer to find out how she learned her desert gardening skills, her experiences as a female farmer and more. Read More

New Urban Farm Helps to Revitalize Detroit Neighborhood

June 1, 2015 |

postartesianThanks to a new urban agriculture enterprise, the future is brighter for Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood—an area on the west side of the city that has seen so much economic devastation that it was nicknamed “Blight More.”

Jeff Adams, a Brightmoor resident for the past 12 years, founded Artesian Farms, an indoor vertical farming operation that saw its first harvested crop in spring 2015. And there will be quite a bit of harvests to come, as they are scheduled to take place 17 times a year. Read More