halfmoonhead  asked:

Can you elaborate on your thoughts on urban farming/the rich vs poor?

I think there are three issues:

1. Who makes money? (As in, “the big bucks”)

I’ve talked about this a lot with sex and farming, in that even when there is a sizeable portion of female farmers (30-50%), less than 3% of operations of a large scale are owned by women.

As the article said, you could break down who actually makes money from urban farming projects (and vertical, hydroponic, and aquaponic systems especially), by race and sex. Overwhelmingly it’s young white males with access to investment capital who actually make the big bucks, while women and minorities tend to the non-profitable, community-building, soil-based farming projects.

This is a wage gap, and an opportunity gap.

2. Who can treat gardening like performance art, and who does it to survive?

Someone with an MFA and very little practical knowledge about plants can dream up a floating urban garden project, and have all their permits expedited and get grant money flowing in.

Immigrant grannies who live in inner city communities and know how to grow everything in their front yards are the ones who are more likely to face zoning violations, resistance from municipal authorities, and run up against architectural controls.

This is not even getting in to issues like gentrification and environmental racism, that also limit access to safe places to grow.

3. Who does the “urban farming is the future” paradigm, serve?

I think languishing rural communities really get thrown under the bus in all this: “urban farming” has a cool factor, whereas traditional farming conjures up words like ‘redneck,’ and ‘hillbilly.’

Rural communities are being de-populated by urbanisation, and family farms are being bought up by mega-producers, and this is something that is dangerous for the food system. It’s only allowed to happen more when agricultural innovation is seen as something synonymous with “urban.”

Moving out on to the land to do sustainable soil-based production doesn’t have the same cachet as building a rooftop project out of shipping containers, even if the productivity may be higher and environmental impact lower.

In essence I think it’s complicated, but it mostly boils down to the actually profitable business of “urban farming” becoming the domain of already-on-top urbanites.

Crops Ahoy: Farms That Float

No Land? No Problem. If Barcelona-based Forward Thinking Architecture has its way, farms of the future will operate autonomously as they float on the open sea. Stretching eco-friendly concepts to the limit, the ambitious design firm has come up with the idea of Smart Floating Farms, large triple-decker agriculture barges that feature fish farms down below, hydroponic gardens up top, and solar panels on the roof to keep things running. They don’t exist yet, but they’re certainly providing plenty of food for thought.

The concept hits all the current buzzwords: preservation of arable land, local organic food sourcing with less “food mileage,” environmental protection, self-sufficiency and sustainability.

More from the Huffington Post


Aquaponics update 8.26.2017

The rain and heat are keeping the tank a little green, but the pH is doing okay with no ammonia registering. The fish are still eating vigorously. More babies, too.  I’m beginning to worry about overcrowding.

Greeted by a beautiful eggplant blossom in the northeast grow bed this morning.

I started using a weekly 9-3-6 foliar nutrient spray on the cucumbers in the northwest bed - I’m really excited about how they’re growing, with no hint of wilt. :-)

Of the ten strawberries planted in the southeast grow bed, only 2 toughed it through the summer, but one is sending out runners, so I’m hopeful for next season.  I also planted a few seeds from the watermelon my dad brought back from Water Valley Mississippi (sal-ute!).  I’d love to face the dilemma of how to handle a watermelon in the grow bed if it actually grew.

The southwest grow bed and is still a mess, basil and Everglades tomatoes fallin’ all over the place. Let me know if you need some basil seeds….


Charles Hendrix showed me around his Aquaponics greenhouse the other day. Aquaponics is a growing process in which Tilapia (and, less so, goldfish and koi) provide nutrients for the plants (which are primarily lettuces and others which thrive with constantly wet roots) and the plant beds help filter the water. It has a lot of potential to feed hunger stricken communities near rivers and could help lessen agricultural water waste in drought-stricken areas like California.