Posts Tagged ‘food security’

Our global food system faces a crisis of unprecedented scope. This crisis, which threatens to imperil the lives of hundreds of millions and possibly billions of human beings, consists of four simultaneously colliding dilemmas, all arising from our relatively recent pattern of dependence on depleting fossil fuels.

Read more of this great article by Richard Heinberg…

Then,  check out this great podcast

A Hard Look at Agriculture, and Strategies for Collapse

by Healing the Earth Radio.

show notes:

Lierre Keith is the author of the novels Skyler Gabriel and Conditions of War, as well as the forthcoming The Vegetarian Myth. In this interview we talk about the topics she explores in that most recent book. I haven’t read Jared Diamond’s work, but I know he also seriously tackles the issue of agriculture.

For me, Lierre’s is the most solid critique of agriculture I have come across. She talks about how it is at it’s most basic level a war against life and the earth, outlining the ecological impacts of agriculture, which includes it’s effects on topsoil, which is the basis of all life. Sustainable agriculture will always be an oxymoron, and with the fossil fuel era coming to a close, we have to start thinking out of the agricultural box.

From talking about agriculture and it’s current need for fossil fuels, Lierre goes on to talk about the inevitable impossibility of feeding this many people without fossil fuels, and how the end of cheap oil has potential to lead to a population crash. She also talks about patriarchy and how to deal with increased gender violence in disaster scenarios, and what types of mental bonds must go. And we got into talking about how problematic collapse is for people with disabilities, degenerative diseases, and so on, who rely to some degree on industrial technology and industrial medicine.

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Great article about growing local food here.

(and don’t forget, if you want to get on the garden listserv, see post below for address).

The urban gardener

Kingston Whig-Standard (ON)
Mon 05 Nov 2007
Page: 1 Section: Front
Byline: Jennifer Pritchett – Environment Reporter

A Queen’s researcher has found that if Kingston residents grew some
of their own fruit and vegetables, they could reduce greenhouse gas
emissions annually by up to 14,000 tonnes – or the equivalent of
taking 4,700 compact cars off the road.

Sunny Lam, who recently completed his Master’s thesis on local food
production, spoke about urban agriculture at Kingston’s first Local
Food Summit, held over the weekend at St. Lawrence College.

“There just aren’t enough farmers out there to meet the demand for
food,” he said, in an interview.

Lam’s answer to the shortage is growing fruit and vegetables in
backyards, parks, green spaces, community gardens and even vacant
lots instead of trucking it in from other places. Not only would this
help meet the demand for local produce and reduce air emissions from
transportation, but would create up to 800 jobs, he said.

He also said Kingston has a total of 2,000 acres of accessible land
on which to grow food.

Kingston citizens spend around $325 million each year on food and
most of that is spent on items that are brought into the city from
somewhere else, states his research.

Local residents consume about 11 million kilograms of 39 common fresh
fruits and vegetables that could be produced locally, according to Lam.

Those items that are currently trucked in but could be grown here
include apples, beans, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, cheese, corn,
garlic, tomatoes and peas, to name a few.

He said only about seven per cent of those items are currently
produced locally.

He proposes that the number could be much higher if local residents
grew more of their own food and if an emerging brand of farmer called
the “urban farmer” would grow such produce on donated or leased land
and then sell it locally in farmer’s markets and in grocery stores.

“They wouldn’t be like your typical farmer – they wouldn’t need a big
tractor [because they work on such a small scale],” said Lam.

The urban farmer, said Lam, is the answer for many working families
who want locally grown produce but are simply too busy to grow their

“Urban agriculture will contribute to Kingston’s ability to adapt and
thrive in a changing world where expensive energy and dwindling
natural resources are becoming pronounced,” states a summary of his
research he presented to Kingston’s city council earlier this year.

About 28 per cent of Kingston residents currently have some kind of
edible garden, according to Lam’s research.

If more people had a fruit and vegetable patch on their property, he
said, the city’s environment, health and quality of life would improve.

Lam, who is also a volunteer with the Food Down Road project, which
organized the food summit, used Statistics Canada data to determine
how much food is trucked into Kingston on an annual basis and how
many kilometres it has to travel to get here.

Based on those figures, he calculated that cutting the amount of food
transported in could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 14,000
tonnes, or the equivalent to 4700 compact cars driving over 18,000
kilometres per year.

Peter Dowling, an organic dairy farmer on Howe Island and a local
representative for the National Farmers Union, which was also
involved in the summit, said the event was a big success with all 18
workshops selling out on Saturday and more than 300 people – mostly
local farmers – attending.

“As we look forward, we’d like to see a community council on a more
permanent basis developed for guiding the process [to develop a local
food system] and become a sounding board,” he said, in an interview.

Plans to develop such a community council will take place in the
coming months.

Dowling said the whole idea of promoting community gardens was a
common theme during the weekend conference.

“People can connect with their food by actually growing it – you
can’t get any more local than that,” he said. “If you have a
community garden, people can learn from each other. It’s all
possible. We’re all quite optimistic about what we can accompish as a


© 2007 Osprey Media Group Inc. All rights reserved.

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There is so much discussion and attention on food issues these days.  Finally, fortunately, and necessarily.  Here are a couple websites that are worth checking out.

First, the UN has a Food and Agriculture division.  This year, on October 16th, they will celebrate World Food Day with the theme, Right to Food.

– The Right to Food is the right of every person to have regular access to sufficient, nutritionally adequate and culturally acceptable food for an active, healthy life. It is the right to feed oneself in dignity, rather than the right to be fed. With more than 850 million people still deprived of enough food, the Right to Food is not just economically, morally and politically imperative – it is also a legal obligation.

Ideally, a bunch of us write articles for the local papers and programs for radio connecting local initiatives with global movements to continue to educate ourselves and the masses about food security.  For more info, check the website:  www.foa.org/righttofood.

Another idea that I have been hearing about repeatedly is SPIN farming.  Basically, as I understand it, SPIN (small plot intensive) farming is an economic and strategic framework that entrepreneurs can use to grow food in urban areas in an economically successful way.

SPIN-Farming is a very powerful tool for validating the economic viability of urban agriculture….The big opportunities I see for SPIN-Farming are that it provides a farming concept that can be learned and practiced across all economic classes and geographical boundaries, and that it will foster engaged, rather than escapist, agriculture, whereby farmers return to cities and towns and rebuild local food systems that are human in scale and joyful in spirit.

The idea is finding recognition in science and sustainability journals, such as the one the above quote is taken from.  This article is contains a good summary of the key concepts of SPIN farming, about halfway down the page.

More soon…

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So, this Thursday in the SeeMore Green collective garden there will be a garden-play work-party, 6-8pm or so.  Michael and Camilla will host it.  There is some bed preparations to be done, and some weeding, tidying, harvesting, and whatever other fun creative things you can get up to.

There is nothing planned for Saturdays anymore.

But Sundays, my friends, Sundays:  wild-harvesting guerrilla-gardeners bike rides have begun!  Meeting at 9am, Sundays, at One World cafe, bring your bikes, baskets, bags, scissors, and breath!

The idea is to ride around and wild-harvest some of the plethora of medicines and foods that are growing freely in our city.  Right now raspberry leaf, red clover, yarrow, and rose petals are some of the many medicines available.  While we ride around, lets keep our eyes open for plants that could be moved or propgated, and areas of earth that could use some gardening.  Now is the time to harvest and plan;  soon the time to transplant and sheet mulch (to better the soil for planting) will be upon us, and we will be ready!   Also, let talk about street art projects we desire and plan to do them!

The facebook site for wild-harvesting guerrilla-gardeners is up!  Join it!

On Saturday the 11th was the solar dehydrator building workshop with Wayne of Ecology Action.  The day was slow, steady, sweet, and productive.  We dismantled one solar dehydrator that needed repair, and build a beautiful solar collection shute for our new one.  The food box still needs to be built, and that will likely happen in the afternoon of the 21rst (Tues) at the EAC.  If you want to swing by for that email me or Wayne to confirm that time.  It would be a great time to check it out because it is partially built, giving a good idea of how one works and how one might be built.   Check out the photos below!


oh, it is so lovely!  I can barely wait!

And… next week…   August 23:  Thursday eve, between 4-7pm EVERYONE who has ever been involved with Seymour Green IS INVITED to come by the garden.  We are finishing up the documentary begun last year, and want to get a few more images of all the folks ever involved.  The documentary is almost done, and is super-great!  We are hoping to screen it in the Garden on September 13th.

On the 23rd, (of Aug) after our chatting and photoing in the garden, lets go out to the Spryfield  for live music in the Urban Farm Museum community garden, 7-9pm.

And one last nutritious note, if anyone is interested in Nova Scotia food security policy, the document Thought about Food? Understanding the Relationship between Public Policy and Food Security in Nova Scotia can now also be accessed through the Dept of Health Promotion and Protections’ Website at http://www.gov.ns.ca/hpp/repPub/LensDocument.pdf.

May the forest be with you.

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Here are a bunch of tasty tidbits that have passed through across my screen lately that may be of interest.

First up, Spin Farming. Small Plot INtensive farming is a business model out of Saskatechewan to do successful organic market gardening in urban environments.  Here is a lovely article about it.

Second, SeeMore Green made the newspaper already.  Here is the link to that cute article.

And, out of BC, Every Lawn A Garden.  Hallelujah.  “The objective of “Every Lawn A Garden” is to help persons increase their capacity for gardening so that everyone can reach the stage of growing some of their own food supply”, because when the borders close and grid fails the Superstore is no longer so super.  This site is a fantastic compilation of resources.

I recently bought the book Guerrilla Gardening: A Manualfesto! (What a juicy read.  The author, David Tracey speaking in Vancouver for Necessary Voices.

Guerrilla Gardening: A Manualfesto 

"The term "guerrilla" may bring to mind a small band of armed
soldiers, moving in the dead of night on a stealth mission. In
the case of guerrilla gardening, the soldiers are planters, the
weapons are shovels, and the mission is to transform an
abandoned lot into a thing of beauty. Once an
environmentalist's nonviolent direct action for inner-city
renewal, this approach to urban beautification is spreading to
all types of people in cities around the world.

These modern-day Johnny Appleseeds perform random acts of
gardening, often without the property owner's prior knowledge
or permission. Typical targets are vacant lots, railway land,
underused public squares, and back alleys. The concept is
simple, whimsical and has the cheeky appeal of being a not-
quite-legal call to action. Dig in some soil, plant a few
seeds, or mend a sagging fence -- one good deed inspiring
another, with win-win results all around.

Guerrilla Gardening outlines the power-to-the-people campaign
for greening our cities."

And, last but not least, here is a link to an interview with Derrick Jensen in Common Ground, titled Mayday For the Planet.

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