Thursday, November 29, 2012

Farming on the Rooftops of Brooklyn

From a 10,000 square foot rooftop greenhouse to an acre+ sized rooftop farm, Brooklyn's skyline seems to be coming increasingly agricultural. And it's a concept that makes sense.

While high-tech vertical farms may be more technophile eye candy than a working model for our food system, it seems hard to argue that many of our city's have vast acreages of flat roofs that could become productive, food growing, community-building spaces.

Farming on the Rooftops of Brooklyn (Treehugger)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Chicago's Urban Farm

Chicago’s Black Belt area, on the historic South Side, was once a hub for jazz, blues, and literature, but today is riddled with vacant lots, poverty, and blight. Now, a new plan envisions the area as a thriving urban farm district.

In the coming weeks, the city’s planning department is expected to approve the creation of a green belt with a strong focus on urban agriculture within the neighborhood of Englewood. The plan is an element of Chicago’s Department of Housing and Economic Development’s (DHE) Green Healthy Neighborhoods initiative, designed to shepherd and foster redevelopment in 13 square miles of the South Side. Years of disinvestment and population decline have left the area riddled with 11,000 vacant lots totaling 800 acres.

At the core of the blueprint is the three-mile long New ERA (Englewood Re-making America) Trail, which will serve as the “spine” of the farm district, Strazzabosco says. A former railroad line, the three-mile-long trail will become a linear park with foot and bike trails and farm stands. The area designated as the district begins directly across from the trail, as that’s where an estimated 100 acres of city-owned, vacant parcels are located. Over time, they can be converted into farms and other agricultural projects.

Not only will the farms bring healthy and affordable food to the community, the hope is that they will also create jobs and attract new housing, industry, and businesses. Two half-acre job training farms already exist in the district — Growing Home’s Wood Street and Honore Street farms — as well as the 1.7-acre for-profit Perry Street Farm. All grow seasonal vegetables such as tomatoes, kale, lettuce, and beets. A fourth half-acre educational farm run by the Center for Urban Transformation and Angelic Organics Learning Center will be planted next spring.

Farms, however, are just the beginning of an overall urban planning project to rebuild the South Side from ground up. Think of it, says Brandon Johnson, “as a 21st-century community that just happens to have farms.”

Chicago’s urban farm district could be the biggest in the nation (Grist)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How Big Is Too Big?

Many people have the misguided belief that cities are energy efficient. Cities compared to other environments are often more efficient with respect to transportation, because fuel use actually drops off in city centers due to the availability of mass transit. But the embodied emergy as a whole in the infrastructure, people, and information in cities suggests the opposite. Cities are actually energy hogs, that concentrate energy. In a future of waning energy, are our biggest cities too big to fail? What size city is sustainable?

Cities: Too Big To Fail? (A Prosperous Way Down)