Posts Tagged ‘Urban Food Forests’

Les Urbainculteurs

I’ve posted before about Todmorden, England, but I had no idea Quebec was doing so much with urban edibles! This is fantastic and really inspiring to see a city so committed to food security, beauty and empowering locals. Other cities could easily copy this model, and I hope they do!

Les Urbanculture uses the Big Bag Beds and Smart Pots I mentioned Continue reading

Incremental and Lasting Change: Create New Systems and Safety Nets Before Summoning Destruction

Today’s post is actually a comment I left when Ines, the writer of the blog post “Starving the War Machine ~ Let’s Try This Again,” privately emailed me to challenge me to advise people to crash the financial system en masse. Her post throws down the gauntlet to “Hundreds and thousands of people in the Alternative Media and the great researchers, truthseekers, wanna be gurus and Cult leaders that come from all walks of life [and] pride themselves for the knowledge/information/intel they acquired” who continue to operate in the financial system. Apparently, one of my readers, Anthony, suggested in the comments section that Ines contact me, which she did. You can read her post by clicking through the above link. Here are my own thoughts on her ideas:

Thank you for emailing me Ines, and Anthony, thanks for the suggestion. While I personally spent many, many years starving the war machine and then later trying to get our community set up so that it could survive the kind of financial chaos Ines is championing, I have found that a) most people are not interested in self-sufficiency or even resilience; b) this sort of widespread chaos is exactly what the PTB are hoping for; and c) it takes money to get things in place as a safety net.

This is not an excuse. I have poured thousands of dollars into rehabbing land and creating a food forest, which I’m turning over to 5 other people when we move. I also use these gardens to make bumper crop food donations to local food banks, feed neighbors, friends and impoverished people I encounter. I address the issues in the most practical ways I find, which includes doing my best to get local communities to do what you, Ines, and I and others are personally doing: taking responsibility for ourselves, growing our own foods, using plants to heal, focusing on energetic as well as community resilience.

In America, we are nowhere near the level of resilience where I could in good conscience recommend people try to crash the financial system in a week. Right now there are not enough safety nets in place. We are moving to a city that has many more of these nets in place — several public food forests, many, many community gardens, an ethic of “Community Capitalism,” where those who do have money voluntarily funnel it back into local projects that support people and the earth. I forget where you live Continue reading

Vandana Shiva ~ Decolonize the Mind

From the YouTube channel description:

Published on Feb 21, 2014

Most of our cultures across the world have believed in Mother Earth as a Mother and it’s only in this period of the rising of industrialism and capitalism and colonialism that the idea as the Earth as a Mother was destroyed in order to turn the Earth into a reservoir of resources to be exploited.

Right now we can see Mother Earth is rising and say you are an immature spoiled kid and you are going to far and every time a disaster in my view is Mother Earth shaking us up to say get your a[ct] together.

75 % of the food comes from small farms, those who use 25 % of the land and 25 % food comes from those who use 75 % of the land. If those who only providing 25 % food using 75 % of the land controll 100 % of the land, they will bring the foodsupply to 33 %, which means all of the planet is destroyed.

It is the monoculture of the mind which prevents to see the diversity. It is only organic, biodivers and small which will feed the world.

The new science of false objectivity, the new science of false rationality of a tree or nature defining as death, that science was a very patriarchal science and it required women to be killed as witches. The witchhunts, the colonization and the destruction of Nature are the three colonizations, it is a colonization of the mind.

During the ‘Voedsel Anders Conferentie’ in Wageningen in the Netherlands, after planting of a so-called food forest, Migarda Raphaëla, Robin Bukenya and Roland van Reenen had this intriguing conversation with the Indian scientist and activist Vandana Shiva. It was an honor to share the richness of diversity both natural as human. If only we could decolonize our minds, diversity will feeds us in so many ways!

“The Future of Food: Urban Bio-Economies in Europe and America” at the Nanovic Institute

David and I are excited to attend a symposium on Wednesday, May 8 at Notre Dame: “The Future of Food: Urban Bio-Economies in Europe and America.” We’re especially excited to see Will Allen of Growing Power, as well as Ron Finley of LA Green Grounds.

“6ft 7 inch former professional basketball player Will Allen is now one of the most influential leaders of the food security & urban farming movement. His farm and not-for-profit, Growing Power, have trained and inspired people in every corner of the US to start growing food sustainably. This man and his organization go beyond growing food. They provide a platform for people to share knowledge and form relationships in order to develop alternatives to the industrial food system.Will Allen works with at-risk urban youth, helping them learn farming skills for a more positive life trajectory and food system “that works for everybody.” On Wednesday he’ll talk about “The Good Food Revolution.” You can meet him in this video introduction to Growing Power:

“Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where ‘the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.'” On Wednesday, he’ll be talking about “The New Urban Food Forest,” but you might enjoy his talk here about food deserts and what we can do about them:

Future of Food Nanovic Institute

(You can click on the flyer above and then click again to view it full-size.)

Here’s the Nanovic Institute’s event description:

With a grant from the European Union Delegation to the United States, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies invites you to celebrate Europe Day by attending a symposium to be held on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, entitled “The Future of Food: Urban Bio-Economies in Europe and America.” The event (with the exception of lunch) is free and open to the public.

The purpose of this convivial event is to gather farmers, chefs, restaurateurs, policy-makers, academics, and members of our wider community to discuss new developments in urban food systems. As we know, the world’s population is now more urban than rural, a shift that has had enormous effects on food production and distribution. When it comes to feeding urban areas, what are the most pressing problems, ingenious approaches, and sustainable new practices?

Lunch will be a very special Farmers Market feast, sourced entirely from local farmers and purveyors and designed especially by Chef Don Miller, Notre Dame Food Service Executive Chef.

[Note from Laura: Registration for the luncheon buffet ended on May 1, but the event is still free and open to the public. This is a phenomenal gathering of great speakers, community outreach, visionaries and people embodying the idea that “the problem is the solution.” I feel passionate about food security and and food as a social justice issue, so I’m really looking forward to gathering and brainstorming more ideas to implement at the local level. Please join us if you can!]

Happy St. Gertrude’s Day!

A couple weeks ago, David and I attended a Michiana Master Gardener’s 14th Annual Public Seminar led by Mother Earth News contributing Editor, William Woys Weaver. The topic? “Heirloom Vegetable Gardening: Cooking for the future, how to grow and use heirlooms creatively.” He gave us a virtual tour of his own gardens, where he cultivates and preserves some of the richest variety of heirloom seeds in the world.

He also shared the cultural, environmental and human survival importance of maintaining organic, non-GMO, regional, heirloom varieties, as they will save our health, local/family histories, and our food supply from the potential decimation of mono-crops and weak, genetically modified strains. We learned about superior taste and disease resistance, quirky histories of plants, his own family stories of how they came to collect heirloom varieties, and an amazing breadth of knowledge about setting up historical (yet also practical and edible) gardens. We learned about Weaver’s work as a young man and how his connection with Julia Childs helped launch the culinary demand for heirloom vegetables. We learned all these things and more.

Perhaps most relevant for today, however, we learned that we can celebrate March 17th in a way that honors the Earth instead of celebrating “St. Patrick driving all the snakes out of Ireland,” i.e. murdering and persecuting all the Earth-loving Druids. Yes, March 17 has another saint, and she is the patron saint of gardeners! Meet St. Gertrude. She’s also the patron saint of herbalists, cats and those who love cats, and “travelers in search of lodging.” (She’s against rats and mental illness.) Since I spend every day of my life attempting to honor the Earth and helping people reclaim their own sanity and sovereignty from our insane “civilization,” I can, in good conscience honor someone like St. Gertrude. So, thank you, William Woys Weaver. Not only have you provided this planet with incredible information, inspiration, resources and preserved heritage, but you’ve liberated March 17!

In honor of St. Gertrude’s Day, David and I have spent this entire weekend in garden-friendly endeavors. Yesterday began with a trip to the local farmer’s market and local food co-op, followed by a homemade butternut squash soup topped with windowsill grown chives, then followed by attending the first Open Space event for Transition Goshen. As described on their site:

“Transition Towns initiatives are part of a vibrant, international grassroots movement that brings people together to explore how we – as communities – can respond to the environmental, economic and social challenges arising from climate change, resource depletion and an economy based on continual growth.

“We don’t look for anyone to blame or anyone to save us, but believe our communities have within themselves the innovation and ingenuity to create positive solutions to the converging crises of our time. We believe in igniting and supporting local responses at any level and from anyone – and aim to weave them together into a coordinated action plan for change towards a lower energy lifestyle. By building local resilience, we will be able to collectively respond to whatever the future may bring in a calm, positive and creative way. And by remembering how to live within our local means, we can rediscover the spirit of community and a feeling of power, belonging and sharing in a world that is vibrant, just and truly sustainable.”

I love, love, love the concept of Transition Towns, and I am thrilled we already have people organizing this movement in Goshen! Here’s Rob Hopkins, a founding member of the Network who founded the Transition Town, which began in Ireland:

As of February 2013, “Transition Goshen is officially the 134th Transition Town in the US.” Yesterday’s Open Space gathering drew people from Goshen College, Goshen, nearby Elkhart and Southern Michigan. People brought different perspectives, skills and knowledge, but we all shared a common interest in:

“Expanding the Garden:

“How can we grow more food in our own backyards and gardens?

“What techniques, ideas, and local resources should our community be aware of?

“Why might we look beyond growing annual hybrid vegetables to cultivating perennial produce, heirloom varieties, fruit trees, and bees? What else might we produce?”

We broke into diverse groups focused on things like expanding urban farms to include more local opportunities to feed the hungry, reclaiming “brown fields” (land no longer in use for industry but still too “toxic” for gardening), developing a community garden at Goshen College, involving Boys and Girls Clubs in community gardening projects, wild food foraging (David’s topic), and edible landscaping and Urban Food Forests (my topic). So many groups covered so many topics that we all agreed to take copious notes and post our information on the Transition Goshen website, since there simply wasn’t time for all of us to participate in all the discussions.

In addition to brainstorming ways to make our dreams of greater local food abundance, sustainability and natural beauty a reality, we also met tons of like-minded or complementary-minded individuals. Our group on Edible Landscaping and Urban Food Forests discussed ways of bridging the gap between environmentalists and politically savvy people who are (rightfully) wary of Agenda 21 and UN-dominance disguised as “sustainable development.” We discussed ways of overcoming public resistance/pre-conditioning to the idea that edible landscaping can also look attractive and require minimal intervention. Smart planning and proper plant selection make a huge difference! We learned whom to contact regarding local regulations, as well as the name of our local “brown field coordinator.” We brainstormed ideas for speeding up the process of repurposing toxic land. Ideas included a particular type of fir tree that can safely reclaim such land in 15 years, possibly lobbying to make industrial hemp legal (as it can detoxify fields fast), and “clay capping” to create a “very, very large raised bed on the scale of an entire field.”

In addition to sharing ideas for selling such concepts to city planners and voting citizens, we also recognized the power of “being the change.” Several of us realized we live very close together, and we agreed to invite each other over to see what we each have going on in our own yards. We shared plans for raised beds, experimental “cubic foot gardening” in round, tiered, raised beds, as well as gardening techniques and tips to circumvent yard regulation issues. We met some really incredible people yesterday! I’m so excited to continue collaborating, and we’ve even agreed to help each other set up raised beds and other projects, in order to make lighter, faster work at each address.

I’ve posted this Pam Warhurst video before, but it serves as a model of possibilities for town-wide edible landscaping, so I’ll share it here again. “How we can eat our landscapes”:

I love Pam’s motto, “If you eat, you’re in!” To me, that sums up the solution to so many potential fears and objections to this sort of grassroots change. Ultimately, it’s not about our politics. It’s about our communities, our health, our quality of life, our local economy, and our very survival. Yes, we face big issues (or hide from them), but we also stand to develop new ways of being and living that far surpass the way things are. Inability to sustain an insane civilization isn’t such a bad thing, imho. We can dare to dream, imagine, and plant things into being. We can do so on a local level, with old and new friends, and we can organically grow our abundance to address social justice, feeding the hungry, keeping money in our own communities, and healing Mother Earth.

Happy St. Gertrude’s Day! I’ll leave you with one more inspirational video, “Guerilla Gardening” for beautifying and refreshing your neighborhood: