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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
own.

“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
community.”

jpritchett<at>thewhig.com

© 2007 Osprey Media Group Inc. All rights reserved.

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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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we’re organized we’re pissed. we’re here to resist.

I was down at the Resist Atlantica protests this morning to welcome the delegates to the big business brainstorm for a sick and short-sighted plan to use public investment for the creation of more corridors and trade routes to import cheap asian goods and export more raw natural ‘resources’.

Last night Steven Sinclair and Maude Barlow spoke about how this plan is flawed, even from a business perspective. Using mass amounts of our (presently) cheap remaining oil to build highways that need oil to be used and maintained for mass trade of consumer goods that will likely not exist in 20 years is a pretty horrible idea. Unless, of course, it will make you rich in the meantime, which frankly, is not a perspective that I can understand.

So our mission, as I see it, is to emphatically resist that which we don’t want, and to passionately build what we do want. We need to stock our cities full of food and medicines, (and fibre, fuel, resin, receptacle, and dye plants), so that we can survive, even thrive, without the dominant system.

SeeMore Green is one of many hubs that we can create. It is a place to cultivate knowledge, skills, strategy, compost, and plants. The more food and medicines we have in our city, the more of us are going to survive.

Dismantle globalization, renew locally.

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