Recent Articles About Urban Agriculture

Eli Zigas didn’t wait for someone to offer him his dream job. He created it.

It all started in 2009, when Zigas moved to San Francisco to be an urban farmer. A graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa, Zigas had worked on federal policy issues—clean energy and voting rights—but he yearned for a job rooted in the outdoors.

But here was one problem. “I quickly realized that I didn’t know how to farm,” he says with laugh. Read more

On a recent summer afternoon, Patty Burbacher, a small, light-haired woman, gave a tour of the two-acre lot in Hamilton, Ohio, filled with raised beds brimming with hot peppers, herbs, tomatoes, and a variety of other produce. Corn grew in tall rows, and squash vines mounded up. Burbacher showed off some handsome ripening eggplants.

All summer long, Burbacher and her husband, Alfred Hall, weed, water, and harvest vegetables. The lot is sandwiched between two sets of apartment buildings in the Riverview neighborhood. Though Burbacher and Hall started building all-organic community gardens seven years ago, this garden, on Front Street, is only a year old. Read more

Someone shouts “bingo!” and the crowd at Chicago’s the Hideout hoots and hollers. It’s Wednesday night, and this small but legendary bar and music venue has been transformed into a hub for community gardeners and the produce they grow.

For 12 weeks each summer, the Hideout is home to Veggie Bingo and its cult following of community garden supporters. The fees, $4 a card or three for $10, benefit a different community garden each week and have helped gardens purchase tools and supplies including soil, seeds, sheds, compost, benches, and scholarships for young workers. On this July evening, the numbers are being sung for supporters of the Fulton Street Flower and Vegetable Garden located in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.

Some of the players are regulars while others have come to the Hideout to try Veggie Bingo for the first time. Regular Jenny Hines, who lives in the city’s Logan Square neighborhood, admits to loving the offbeat event, calling it “the best day of the week!”

“I love the spirit in here and the idea that it’s a gathering to support food and community gardens,” Hines says. Read more

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