Recent Articles About Urban Agriculture

Faces and Visions of the Food Movement: Karen Washington, ‘Queen of Urban Gardening’

In the early 1990s, after years of working as a physical therapist, Karen Washington noticed that many of her patients were steadily gaining weight and struggling with diabetes. She realized the people seeking treatment shared something else in common—a lack of fresh produce in their diets. The connection hit home when Washington saw her own son experience the same ailments she heard from her patients. The lifelong New Yorker and dedicated mother vowed to do better for her family and her community. Read more

The Brooklyn Grange Welcomes Refugees to Mutual Benefit

This piece originally ran in Edible Brooklyn.

Matt Jefferson was surprised last summer when a refugee-intern from Burkina Faso, whom we’ll call Anna, asked if she might have some overgrown kale and mustard leaves.

They are tough and bitter when they get so big, explains Jefferson, manager for the Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm, and normally go straight to the compost. But in Anna’s homeland, she’d learned to add them to soup, and here they went into her pot with peanuts, rice and dried fish power, a delicious mix of techniques she learned in Africa and ingredients she grows in Brooklyn. Read more

Portland’s Zenger Farm Goes Beyond Accessibility

To get to Zenger Farm in the outer reaches of Southeast Portland, Oregon, you must pass mini-marts, gas stations, auto repair shops, a strip club, and several busy lanes of traffic. This isn’t the Portlandia that most people know.

The nearby Lents neighborhood, nicknamed “Felony Flats,” is a gritty area with no Main Street to speak of, fewer resources, and higher unemployment rates than most of Portland. And although the city has been working to revitalize the area, rebuilding streets and adding bike lanes, the results have been slow and subtle.

Spanning over nine acres, Zenger Farm is a green oasis in this kingdom of asphalt. Read more

Cleveland Crops: Training People with Disabilities to Farm

Amy Kleinman had never had a job with lasting appeal. Most recently, Kleinman, 28 and living with Asperger syndrome, taught at a day care center. “I was having a lot of trouble there,” says Kleinman. “Not with the kids—I loved the babies. I was having problems with the adults.”

Then, three years ago, Kleinman got a job at Cleveland Crops, an urban farm and nonprofit dedicated to community development and food security. Read more

The Elephant in the Garden: Study Urges Urban Growers to Tackle Soil Contamination

Urban gardeners don’t like to talk about contaminated soil. After all, who wants to dwell on the chemical legacy of industry, illegal dumping, paint chips, and leaded gasoline when you can discuss bees, the weather, or the cool purple beans you’re growing?

But city growers must tackle this elephant-in-the-room subject. That’s the message Brent Kim, a program officer at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, wants you to know. Read more

It Takes a Village: Designing St. Paul’s Frogtown Urban Farm

Urban farms are almost a cliché these days. Since the mid-2000s, media attention and increasing grassroots efforts have looked to urban farming as a kind of cure-all, a way to address a whole range of social, ecological, and economic problems facing cities and their residents. While I don’t want to dispute these ideas, I am interested in a more nuanced understanding of what it takes to make an urban farm “work.”  How can these farms go beyond the hype? What challenges do urban farms face? Read more