Recent Articles About Urban Agriculture

Half public art project, half tourist destination, a floating food forest called Swale is set to launch along the New York City waterfront in June.

Unlike the Beacon Food Forest in Seattle, Clifton Park Food Forest in Baltimore, and other similar efforts located in public parks or public land, Swale is built on a barge. Occupying the equivalent of one tenth of an acre, the barge will be planted with mature persimmon and paw-paw trees, gooseberries, autumn olives, chives, artichokes, Swiss chard, tomatoes, and dozens of other varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nuts that visitors are invited to harvest and eat, free of charge. Swale will dock at six ports along the Hudson River, including Governors Island, Yankee Pier, and Brooklyn Bridge Park, spending at least one month in each. Read more

Carl Schurz High School isn’t technically located in a “food desert,” but it might as well be. Nine out of 10 students attending this Chicago high school come from low-income households, where highly processed foods and fast food are the norm.

Yet, a surprising development is unfolding within these very walls. On a particularly cold February day, with snow still on the ground, many Carl Schurz students were served fresh micro-greens as part of their Chicago Public School-provided lunch. Read more

When the black cherry trees start budding in New York City, I know it’s time to get back into the garden. Like any good green thumb, I organize my seeds and start my transplants. I look back on last season’s mistakes, and map my growing space with the sophomoric optimism of an annual agriculturalist. I topdress my garden beds with compost to reinvigorate the tired soil. And this is where my story diverges from that of most vegetable growers.

For me, topdressing involves schlepping soil up several flights of stairs. Read more

Scale is of the utmost importance in the tech world. If your idea is good enough, the theory goes, it should be something just about everyone can use. You can charge each person pennies, but eventually those pennies add up to real dollars.

Kimbal Musk, brother of billionaire and business magnate Elon Musk, is applying that principle to the food world. With his sustainable, locally sourced restaurant chain, the Kitchen, and his nonprofit, the Kitchen Community, Musk is making inroads into both local food systems and food education which he hopes can easily be replicated throughout the country and creates a new generation of farmers in the process.

Read more

Two surprising things happened to Curtis Stone the year he decided to start Green City Acres, in Kelowna, British Columbia. First, he became a town celebrity and, second, he made a good living doing it.

In The Urban Farmer, Growing Food for Profit on Leased and Borrowed Land, Stone lays out his methodology for building a successful farm on a quarter acre of land. He strictly follows high-density, bio-intensive methods to create a compact landscape of specialty crops grown for market. Read more


In Lincoln Smith’s basement, shiny, solid Red Oak acorns dry in racks stacked up to the ceiling. A bucket of Sawtooth acorns—a failed storage attempt—sit next to his refrigerator, the contents chewed into beehive-esque patterns by weevils.

Storage is just one example of all there is to learn about acorns as a sustainable food source, Smith says.

“Some of the Eastern Native Americans would bury whole bags of acorns in the riverbank,” he says. “It’s kind of amazing that something that was buried in the riverbank for a year could be edible food.” Read more

A puppy races down the gravel driveway to greet Tyson Hicks-Garlington. The 17-year-old teen rubs its neck as he greets his mentor of several years, John Gordon, Jr. They walk past goats and chickens inside an enormous pen, and stop before lush fields, where Hicks-Garlington introduces himself for the interview with steady eye contact and a firm handshake.

Gordon lets the young man take the lead. As the founder of BoysGrow, Gordon revels in seeing young men speak for themselves. The nonprofit organization pays at-risk teenage boys as they learn about entrepreneurship through growing and selling fresh vegetables. Under the guidance of dedicated staff and volunteers, the young men who work on this 10-acre farm outside of Kansas City, Missouri produce and market their own organic food and artisan farm products like salsa and barbecue sauce. Read more

More than half the seafood eaten globally is now farmed. And yet for some, aquaculture conjures up images of escaped fish, crowded pens, antibiotics, and ocean pollution in Asia, where nearly 90 percent of today’s aquaculture takes place. Now some entrepreneurs are bringing aquaculture on land. In the process, many hope to find a sustainable solution to the growing demand for a low-input, clean source of protein. Read more

Kyle Barnett was a rising star in the restaurant world. The Culinary Institute of America graduate had cooked at a farm-to-table restaurant and eventually landed a high-paying gig as a personal chef at a high-end art studio—a dream job for many. But despite this upward trajectory and his lifelong love affair with food, Barnett says that by 2012 he was just going through the motions. He wanted more. Read more

Under the glass-and-metal canopy of a sprawling greenhouse in Yardley, Pennsylvania, BrightFarms is growing salad greens. A lot of salad greens. Arugula and herbs and the occasional tomato–about 360,000 pounds per year–sprout up in white hydroponic trays. When the plants are ready, they are harvested, packed, and driven up the street (or just next door) to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey grocers where they will be sold.

In the coming year, the company plans to expand its presence into the Chicago and Washington, D.C. areas, boosted by a recent $13.7-million round of funding.

“We look at BrightFarms as an expansion of the local food movement,” CEO Paul Lightfoot told Civil Eats.

But not everyone agrees with that characterization. Read more