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Entries in Food and the City (6)


Hello Portland. KBOO radio's Kate Welch of The Food Show talks Food and the City today.

Tune into KBOO today for my feature chat with The Food Show's host Kate Welch. The program airs at 11 am Pacific / noon Mountain / 2 pm Eastern. It can be heard in the Portland area over the airwaves, and everywhere else on the internet, via the KBOO website and on iTunes as a podcast.

Also, Carissa Pereira and Barrett Gifford from Portland's Urban Farm Collective will talk about the collective's food gardens in North and Northeast Portland.


Edmonton Book Event #2 Mar 22 at Hardware Grill 4:30 to 6:30 pm, Edmonton

THANKS to those who came out to the Culina at the Muttart event. But if you missed that one, here's the announcement of the March 22 event at Hardware Grill.

You are most welcome to forward this email along to anyone you think would enjoy it.
I will fire up my Global Garden-hopping Slideshow around 5:15 pm. Otherwise, just pop in when you can.
This is a FREE afterwork event in the basement conference room at Hardware Grill restaurant in Edmonton.

There will be a bit of food and drink involved. Greenwood's Bookshoppe will be onsite selling books. But it's a casual book party at which we'll talk, sip, and at about 5:15, I'll fire up my 15 minute global garden-hopping slideshow. Then we'll continue along with happy hour. No need to RSVP. Just come on by.


Edmonton Book Event #1 for Food and the City: March 4, 2:30 at Culina at the Muttart

Yes, come down to the fabulous Culina at the Muttart on Sunday, Mar 4, to celebrate the publication of Food and the City, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. I'll do a short talk and slideshow presentation about the people I met as I researched and wrote the book, and Audrey's will be there selling books. (If you have a book that you want signed, you're welcome to bring your copy along too.) We'll talk, have a few nibbles, and it'll be fun. The event is free, but you may also want to tour the Muttart gardens before or afterward.

Why Culina at the Muttart? It's the perfect blend of urban agriculture (the salad greens and herbs are grown right onsite in the Muttart greenhouses year round), and the menu at Culina is hyper-local.(Why not make a brunch reservation before the party and check out Culina's amazing brunch menu. Just a thought!)

Here's the PDF poster that Audreys Books has done up for th event. So nice.



Birth-Day for Food and the City Book!

Typing that headline made my palms sweat, but yes, today is the official publication date of my book, Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution (Prometheus Books, 2012).

I started thinking about a book on urban agriculture back in spring 2007 after a trip to Cuba, and wrote an article called "Why don't we have gardens like this?" for Maclean's magazine, a major Canadian newsweekly. Just seeing the potential of how much and what types of food Cubans were growing on small-scale community-supported urban farms on raised beds over old parking lots was an epiphany. Then, closer to home, I began to notice food growing in front yards, on rooftops and the proliferation of community gardens in my home town. Even the sight of tomatoes or basil growing in pots on a condo balcony became an increasingly common sight. All of these small acts of producing food in cities sparked and sizzled with potential for me, an enthusiastic food gardener AND a city dweller.

Shortly after that trip to Cuba, I noticed a mainstreaming of interest in issues like local foods and community gardening in Edmonton, Alberta and pretty much everywhere else I looked. By 2008, there were several groups coming together to figure out how to create a critical mass of what was then special interest groups working in food security, nutrition, food banks, social work, and community development. They found that they had much more in common with groups looking at food literacy and community gardening that they probably had initially thought.

Then the community-engagement movment started in the urban planning arena. Suddenly, highly motivated and relatively young urbanites and church groups alike were putting pressure on their city hall to take quality of life into account when making decisions about transportation, waste management, and landuse. Access to local food and taking food production back into the hands of the everyday citizen seemed to be a catalyst for a lot of these decisions.

By 2010, I was racing to keep up with all of the energetic groups that were out there in Canada, the US and the UK. I went back to Cuba to get a better grasp on how they invented a de-industrialized food system, largely through urban agriculture. I then made a side trip to France to look at food gardens in Paris because it was the city where urban agriculture flourished in the mid-nineteenth century. (Ever wonder why it's called "French Intensive Gardening" or we still call raised beds potagers??)

In early 2011, I travelled to Chicago, Detroit and New York. It was winter, so I didn't tour any of the NYC's amazing rooftop farms, but found incredible stories in Detroit and Chicago, two entire chapters in themselves. In Detroit, there was the Hanz Farms project, what is planned to be the world's largest urban farm, right in the vacant land in downtown Detroit. In Chicago, I spent a day touring The Plant, the world's first vertical farm. Rather than a futuristic multi-million-dollor glass-and-steel skyscraper that may never make it off the drawing board, sustainable industrial developper John Edel has taken a former meat-packing plant and turned it into an open-source model for infrastructure resuse that I think is the way of the future...until we run out of all those vacant offices and manufacturing spaces. Which isn't likely to happen any time soon, given the millions of square feet of vacant and abandoned commercial space in cities across the midwest.

As I say in the acknowledgments at the end of my book:

One of the greatest pleasures I got while researching and writing this book was to meet so many passionate people in urban agriculture, food systems, and urban food gardening. I will always treasure the new friends I met along the way who gave their time and energy toward helping me understand why they do what they do. Each and every one, in her and his own way, helped me realize that while growing a few heirloom veggies in the front yard, tending a community orchard, or keeping a beehive on a condo rooftopmay seemlike an insignificant thing on its own, it is these little actions of self-reliance and community self-sufficiency that are at the forefront of the new food revolution. More importantly, the world is a richer, and tastier, place for your important work. To them, I simply say: keep growing.

I look forward to the various book launch events already planned -- and those that will be planned in the next few months. I'll start to work on posting events on this site. You can also follow along on Facebook and on Twitter and LinkedIn. I look forward to the discussions about what is happening in other communities and households, whether they happen on this blog or in real life.

Lastly, the entire book is about how various people and cities are taking control back of their food system. They are doing this by planting seeds in their own communities and reaping the harvest. Small acts add up to big changes in our communities, and really it's up to us to take on those small acts. If you choose to buy a book, please consider the effects of your choice of where you buy your book. Money spent at local independent businesses build strong, resilient, and creative communities. If you can, please consider supporting your local, independent bookstore. The power is in your pocket, so excercise your power in a way that builds the type of community and city that you want to live in.



Meet Your Urban Farmer, short film series from Vancouver, Canada

There's a chapter in my book on Vancouver, Canada. I describe it as being one of the greenest cities I've ever been to:

In other cities, I had grown accustomed to creeping along hte streets looking for a square of green that would let me know that I had finally found the urban food garden I was looking for. In Vancouver, I often had to confirm that I was in the right community garden, on that block!" (excerpt from my book Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution, p. 162.)

Well, this morning, a friend emailed me a link to a great new short film series from Vancouver called Meet Your Urban Farmer. From the looks of the trailer, this is going to be a look at the people in Vancouver growing food in unexpected places. I am looking forward to the release of the installments starting March 2012. I wrote about SOLEfood farm's on Hastings Street in the Vancouver chapter of the book. Here's a link to the blog posts I wrote immediately after my interviews with Seann Dory. If you can grow tomatoes, peppers and French Breakfast radishes like this on a rehabilitated garbage-infested parking lot on the Downtown East Side, then urban ag is most certainly able to change the world:)