Urban Farming News

Urban Roots in Detroit

Posted in Uncategorized by Urban Farming News on February 8, 2010

Will Elisabeth Hagen Make Food Safer?

Posted in food security, global hunger, hunger, local food, Uncategorized, USDA by Urban Farming News on February 3, 2010


We are all aware of the prominence of adulterated food. Black pepper and salami are the current culprits. Spinach, peanuts, tomatoes, ground beef…. all harbors for food borne illnesses. Enough is enough.

We need a strict and efficient person to lead the attack. A “Food Czar,” as coined in USA Today.

Elisabeth Hagen, current food safety secretary nominee has an outstanding track record. In four years time, she has risen from assistant deputy of public health, through Food Safety Inspection Service chief medial officer and into the current nomination.

Can she do it? Can the USDA actually improve procedure and food safety?

Proposals include tightening E.coli 0157:H7 adulteration standards (currently, steaks and chops are considered safe if this bacteria is present)

What level do we have to reach before change happens?

My first realization of unsafe food was several years ago during the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak. I remember watching the news with my parents. As a child, I was aghast and terrified. Since then my younger sister has served as a quality control specialist for a large meat producing company. As a result, I grow continuously skeptical of commercial meat products.

I enjoy few things more then a fabulous summer cook out and a delicious, grilled, fresh hunk of meat. (Deepest apologies to my Veg buddies, I love you guys and veggies!). However, in the past few years I only indulge when I am aware of the exact source of the product. Preferably, the steer’s name…perhaps that’s saying too much, perhaps we all need to reach this level of caution.

Perhaps the USDA should step up and ensure that food is safe. Enough said.

– Karleen

Does Monsanto Help Farmers?

Posted in climate stabilization, distribution, farm labor, food security, fossil fuels, global hunger, Uncategorized by Urban Farming News on January 22, 2010

So, with all of this buzz going on around Monsanto this week, I decided to look a bit deeper into this big, bad company.

What is the cost of a GMO?

A farmer’s livelihood? The inability to stop cross  pollination? Increased food production on less land? Eradicating Hunger?

This is a topic that hits close to home for me.  Raised in rural Wisconsin, My family represents a strong hold of small family farmers. I will admit, I was shocked to learn that our family uses GMO’s such as “Round Up Ready”  soy beans (if you’re wondering,  Court Rules For Monsanto, Anti Trust Case Remains reported by NPR) However if you look at the facts, Monsanto does defend small farms around the world.

Farm Facts According to Monsanto

* Today’s farmer feeds an average of 155 people, compared to only 26 people in 1960

* Farmers are a direct lifeline to more than 24 million jobs in the U.S.

* To keep up with population growth more food will have to be produced in the next 50 years as the past 10,000 years combined.

* Go to Monsanto to read more!

Conservation & Security

Clearly we need to keep our farms producing at largest capacity  with high quality.  Many families depend on their crops and need income security. Conservation of natural resources is also a serious concern for farmers. Check out this nifty video, Conserve More featuring Dr. Klaus Ammann

In summery, the video highlights how Monsanto’s engineered seeds reduce the need to till the land, thus reducing fuel cost for equipment. In addition, water is conserved as a natural erosion barrier is maintained. Basically, GMO crops = decreased tractor use + erosion control.  This equation seems a bit too simple…

Eradicating Hunger

The highlight of Monsanto’s lovely website was the bit that stated “True or False: The world grows enough food to feed its population. Generally true, although to eradicate hunger, people in the developing world need to be able to access food either by growing it or through purchase, which means it needs to be affordable”

The “developing world” is a loose term. The United States is still developing, if you want my humble opinion. I hope I can one day tell stories of people being hungry, with out jobs and homes (wait a second…didn’t I hear those as a kid?)

What will it take to really end hunger?   Let’s make like a farmer, roll up our sleeves, work our butts off and find out!

An Education in Native California Species

Posted in climate stabilization, community development, Uncategorized by Urban Farming News on January 20, 2010

When I was asked to become the San Francisco coordinator, I was thrilled. The Bay area provides a multitude of community challenges, diverse micro-climates, well developed native permaculture and a plethora of educational experiences.

I have been gardening my entire life. I grew up in southern Wisconsin and started to work with Urban Farming in L.A…needless to say, these climates are quite different then Northern California. Fortunately, the San Francisco Botanical Garden is right at my back door and a fantastic place to learn, grow and get dirty!

Last week was my first round of volunteer work in the Native Plant Garden. I had a grand time weeding and removing grass from a sunny hill. Recently a tree was removed and this bed is becoming a native restoration area. Terry, the manager of the Native Garden was eager to share his wealth of knowledge.

Here are some fun facts:

Rhamnaceae : A California Native, Blue Flowers are characteristic, there are tons of varieties and common names. This one is “Ray Hartman”

Asteraceae: A San Francisco area native : it was thought that all of the Bary area wild plants were gone. However a couple months ago during a highway construction project a large specimen was discovered. Several cuttings have taken root at the botanical gardens and plans to move the wild plant are in the works. Cool!

Red Admiral Butterfly: ok, this is not a plant – it’s not even a Cali native.  However, this species can not survive cold weather to much of North America must be recolonized each spring. The web like cocoon is visible only to the observant eye. Terry pointed this nifty insect out to me – good thing too…few weeds escape my wrath!

I’ll keep you all updated as I learn more about native plants, restoration and preservation.

Food Insecurity Impacts Millions of Americans

Posted in community development, food security, hunger, local food, Uncategorized by Urban Farming News on January 14, 2010

Food security is a serious issue. The USDA has declared that 49 million Americans are “food insecure.” I found this great article on Food First check it out.

How can we help? Plant gardens, teach people to grow their own food ,  give urban dwellers food security. Go to Urban Farming to see our efforts and help!

In San Francisco, food security is also a local issue. I have been working with the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC) to establish new gardens. The TNDC provides housing to low income people and families. Combating food security is a major goal.

This afternoon, I’m meeting with some of the TNDC residents to discuss food security and hopefully a new garden. Let’s make a difference!

Also heading to the San Francisco Botanical garden this morning. Today is my first day as a volunteer gardener’s assistant in the California native plant garden!

Cheers
-Karleen

Fresh Food for Good Health

Posted in Uncategorized by Urban Farming News on January 7, 2010

I love food. Growing, cooking and above all eating. Who doesn’t? However it’s no secret that many Americans have issues with food. We’re over-weight, consume on average over 200 lbs of sugar a year and just don’t eat enough veggies. Worse, some people don’t even have access to fresh produce! What is going on here?

Michael Pollan, acclaimed food author of In Defense of Food and recent Food Rules made a lovely appearance on the Daily Show on Monday night. I found this to be very interesting with a direct correlation to our goals at Urban Farming. Pollen raises the point that we eat far to many by-products and not enough real food, “the food industry creates patients for the health care industry” Thus, our lack of nutrition tends to create more chronic conditions, leading to more life long dependencies on prescription medications.

This note struck a chord in my heart. At 15 years old, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. I control my “chronic condition” with diet, exercise, topical meds and herbal remedies. My family’s rural lifestyle and connection to the earth has everything to do with my holistic approach. Fresh food and good nutrition are essential to life.

This is where gardens come into play. Every person who has access to fresh food is a stride forward. Of course, it’s not really so simple. We can’t dictate what other people will eat or how they will get their food, however we can educate others and share our passion. Just a bit of food for thought.

Check out Michael Pollan’s blog on Huffington Post. Look forward to a review and discussion of Food Rules as well.

Salutations and Seedlings

Posted in Uncategorized by Urban Farming News on January 7, 2010

Welcome! I’m delighted to present Urban Farming’s official blog. Here we join together, sow seeds, share our triumphs and harvest food as a community.

Urban Farming’s mission is to end hunger in our generation. We plant food gardens on unused green space, cement lots, rooftops and walls. In addition, we are committed to stabilizing climate change. We are aware of our environmental impact. The non-profit was founded in Detroit in 2005. Those 3 original gardens have branched out into 18 cities across the nation and abroad. We’ve got limbs spreading in every direction, building communities and expanding.

Why should you read this blog?
· This is an open forum. Let’s discuss current food security and environmental impact issues.

· What’s happening in your neck of the woods? We’ve all encountered successes and challenges. We need to communicate with each other.

· Who inspires you? It’s time to acknowledge pioneers of the Urban Agriculture movement. We can all learn from thoughtful interviews and informative posts.

With our eyes on the same page our hands can work in unison. We can indeed achieve our goal to end hunger. Let’s share our passion, present our challenges, revel in our success and speak our minds. Stop over each week and see what’s happening in the gardens. I hope to hear from all the Urban Farmer’s out there soon!
Cheers,

Karleen
San Francisco