Thursday, October 25, 2012

Urban Roof Gardens in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY — Climb to a rooftop and scan the horizon of this metropolis, and you’re likely to see nearby rooftops or balconies with vegetable gardens.

Urban rooftop gardening is on the cusp of a boom here, sponsored by a City Hall that sees gardening as a way to alleviate poverty, provide residents with their own healthy food and add some green to one of the world’s most populous cities.

In a program begun five years ago, Mexico City’s municipal government has given grants to 3,080 families to build gardens on their rooftops, sometimes sheltered by simple greenhouses to protect from nightly mountain chill and occasional hail. Many more families have attended urban gardening classes and struck out on their own to grow tomatoes, lettuce, chilies, scallions, guava, passion fruit and other edibles.

“There wasn’t anything up here before,” Sergio Hernandez Rodriguez said from his rooftop in the Coyoacan district, where 2-foot-tall garden beds now display an array of corn, celery and chilies alongside aromatic herbs and lavender.  Off to the side, his wife puttered inside a greenhouse made of plastic sheeting and clear mesh and supported by a metal frame where tufts of romaine lettuce peaked out from holes in horizontal PVC tubing.

“I’m hoping to grow strawberries in here before long,” Estela Lopez said as she showed off the simple hydroponic system using a pump made for a fish tank. The couple spends hours each day tending to their rooftop garden, building compost and nursing seedlings. The project is already paying off – literally. “I can sell to my neighbors,” Lopez said. “They know it’s very clean.”

On Mexico City’s flat roofs, tiny gardens help feed families, provide an urban respite (McClatchy)

Regenerating Urban Centers

A lecture by permaculture instructor, Andrew Faust, on using permacultural design principles to make incremental upgrades to the urban landscape to help move the city in the direction of self-sufficiency and create an environment in which people can live and thrive. He suggests that broad, abstruse issues like global weirding and peak oil distract us from the very real, immediate, and achievable actions we can take to improve our situation. This lecture was presented on Friday, 29 September 2012 at The Commons Brooklyn in NYC.

C-Realm Special: Regenerating Urban Centers (C-Realm Podcast)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Urban Wildlife

A mountain lion roams the streets of downtown Santa Monica until it is shot by authorities.

A black bear searches Glendale neighborhoods for meatballs until it is captured and caged.

Episodes of large carnivores entering urban areas are seemingly on the rise, and scientists say the beasts may be following a path worn by urban coyotes, as well as skunks and raccoons before them.

"We used to think only little carnivores could live in cities, and even then we thought that they couldn't really achieve large numbers," said urban ecologist Stan Gehrt. "But we're finding that these animals are much more flexible than we gave them credit for and they're adjusting to our cities."

Is the success of urban coyotes a sign of bigger things to come? (L.A. Times)