Recent Articles About Urban Agriculture

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

This Land is Our Land?

Imagine a country where ideologues bent on land reform turn agriculture into the plaything of the world’s richest investors, and poor local farmers are locked out of millions of acres prime agricultural land. Then stop imagining some African country run by a despot and his friends and start picturing the United States. Rural America is on the cusp of one of the greatest transfers of land in its history and no one’s talking about it. Read more

L.A.’s Ron Finley Wants to Make Gardening Gangsta

 

In 2010, Ron Finley planted a garden on the 150-foot-long curbside strip outside his house in South Central Los Angeles. The produce — tomatoes, kale, corn, you name it — was free for the taking, and the colorful riot of herbs and flowers and vegetables got a lot of attention. The only unwelcome scrutiny was from the city of Los Angeles, which owns the land. Finley received a citation for growing plants that exceeded height limits, and for failing to purchase a $400 permit. By circulating a petition and bending the ear of a receptive city council member, Finley convinced the city to leave his garden alone. Around the same time, he helped start an organization called L.A. Green Grounds, dedicated to installing free vegetable gardens in curbside medians, vacant lots, and other properties in blighted areas. Read more