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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Urban Farming

From Vacant Lot to Garden Spot: L.A.-based Nonprofit Greens Up Blighted Land

November 18, 2014 |
Viviana Franco is founder and executive director of From Lot to Spot, an organization that spearheads efforts for more community gardens and green space throughout Southern California.  photo courtesy of Viviana Franco/From Lot to Spot

Viviana Franco is founder and executive director of From Lot to Spot, an organization that spearheads efforts for more community gardens and green space throughout Southern California. photo courtesy of Viviana Franco/From Lot to Spot

Los Angeles-headquartered From Lot to Spot is true to its name—the organization transforms unused, vacant lots into vibrant spots of green space and parkland.

According to founder and executive director Viviana Franco, From Lot to Spot has spearheaded several urban and community garden initiatives throughout Southern California, including several in Riverside.

Franco says Riverside hired From Lot to Spot as a partner in building up the gardens, specifically in capacity building and leadership processes. These gardens include Tequesquite Community Garden, Arlanza Community Garden , and East Side Community Garden at Emerson Elementary School. Read More

Q&A with Keith Tanner: The Debate Over Affordable Housing and Urban Farming in San Francisco

November 3, 2014 |
Keith Tanner Image courtesy of the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance

Keith Tanner
Image courtesy of the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance

San Francisco broke new ground this past July by becoming the first California city to allow for tax incentives on land used for urban farming. The city’s Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Ordinance piggybacks on California State Assembly Bill 551, which permits state municipalities to create the zones. Under the ordinance, property owners must commit to using their land for agricultural purposes for five years or more. The city’s Planning Department determines a parcel’s eligibility, and the Assessor-Recorder is responsible for determining the change in property tax.

While the legislation has been embraced by many in the city’s urban farming community, it’s also ruffled some feathers among those concerned about affordable housing in the city. Read More

DC Urban Agriculture Bill Could Encourage Farming With Tax Breaks

October 15, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of DC Greens

Photo courtesy of DC Greens

The urban farming movement finally appears to be coming of age in the nation’s capital.

No longer just a novel idea, it’s now on the cusp of receiving institutional support from DC’s city leaders–that is if its backers can get votes to line up in their favor.

Earlier this year, District Council Members David Grosso and Mary Cheh introduced a piece of legislation called the DC Urban Agriculture and Food Security Act of 2014 that would not only provide a framework for urban ag, but actively encourage it while fostering the consumption of local foods by underprivileged residents. Their bill seeks to achieve these goals through a three-fold strategy of identifying vacant city-owned properties that could be used for farming, incentivizing private landowners to lease out space to farmers through a tax abatement and offering a tax break for fresh produce donated to food pantries and shelters. Read More

Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Conference Enhances Offering; Adds Keynote and Rooftop Garden Tour

October 8, 2014 |

10460362_727611740607629_8779402262242269463_nCommitted to bringing the best in urban agriculture experience, information and resources to the Southland, organizers of Seedstock’s 3rd Annual Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference have continued to enrich the Nov. 11-12 symposium’s offerings, making “Reintegrating Ag: Local Food Systems and the Future of Cities” an event not to be missed.

On Day One, lucky urban farm field trip participants have been granted the addition of a special tour of the 200-square-foot rooftop garden atop Los Angeles’ famed Jonathan Club. The historic social organization partnered with Farmscape, the largest urban farming venture in California, to design, install, and maintain a system of raised bed planters for intensive food production. There, in Farmscape’s first rooftop installation in Los Angeles, fresh greens are grown for the Club’s onsite restaurant. Read More

RecoveryPark Urban Farm Launches, Employs Recovering Detroiters

October 6, 2014 |
Image courtesy of RecoveryPark

Image courtesy of RecoveryPark

“Detroit has too much vacant lands, and too few jobs,” reads a statement on RecoveryPark’s website.  “We have a solution to both.”

The Motor City-based nonprofit venture seeks to use urban agriculture to revitalize neighborhoods and create jobs for recovering addicts and others with barriers to employment

Founded by former financial consultant Gary Wozniak, the initiative has big ambitions: an urban farm, a food processing center and possibly an indoor fish farm. Originally pitched as a network of gardens stretching out over a 2,475-acre area on on the city’s east side, the farming zone has since been scaled down to a  narrower 110-acre footprint. Plans call for a hybrid season with plants growing in the ground, in high tunnels for season extension and inside a hydroponic system. Construction is expected to take five years. Read More

California’s Largest Urban Farming Venture Finds Opportunity in Demand for Local Food

September 22, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of Farmscape Gardens

Photo courtesy of Farmscape Gardens

Farmscape Gardens is California’s largest urban farming company, bringing edible gardens to residential and commercial customers alike. The sustainability focused company has reach over 300 clients since its inception in 2009. A recent expansion into the Bay area reflects the growth of the local food market and the success of the Farmscape business model. 

“We have a lot of two-income households with kids for whom it’s really important to have access to fresh food in their lifestyle and access to a dynamic landscape, because vegetable gardens change every day, but they don’t have the time to do that. We step in and fill that void,” says Dan Allen CEO of Farmscape Gardens.  Read More

Young Leaders in Ag: Tyson Gersh Blends Ag Innovation With Passion For Social Justice

September 2, 2014 |
Tyson Gersh. Photo by David Sands.

Tyson Gersh. Photo by David Sands.

Tyson Gersh works out of a rustic office in a rehabbed building overlooking a majestic urban garden in Detroit’s North End neighborhood. Lined with flowers, the farm bursts with an abundance of organically grown herbs and vegetables. A nonprofit called the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative oversees the field. Gersh, a 25-year-old-college student, is its president.

He established the all-volunteer organization in 2012 with fellow U-M student Darin Mcleskey to provide fresh healthy food to low-income families and to support the local community. Beyond growing food, its mission involves fixing up nearby buildings, converting some into ag-related structures like a retention pond and others into assets like a community center and veterans’ housing. Volunteers are also working on tech, developing data metrics they believe will help other urban ag projects grow. Read More

Seedstock Sustainable Ag Conference’s Urban Farm Field Trip to Tour Diverse Local Food Operations in Los Angeles

August 21, 2014 |

reintegrate agriculture urban logoAttendees of Seedstock’s 3rd Annual Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference will get a sneak peak at Los Angeles’ first multi-faceted food production business incubator for local entrepreneurs along with a tour of a blossoming 1.5-acre high school campus urban farming operation in Pasadena and a visit to a shipping container farm in the L.A. Art District.

The field trip, an excursion into the wide-ranging diversity of sustainable urban agriculture, will kick off Seedstock’s “Reintegrating Ag: Local Food Systems and the Future of Cities” two-day event on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014.

In the Lincoln Heights area of Los Angeles, a former 56,000-square-foot industrial building is undergoing major renovations to ultimately house L.A. Prep, an accelerator for small food producers who have outgrown their startup spaces. The project, which broke ground this summer, will have its first tenants taking occupancy in early 2015. Read More