The 50 machines needed for life — Starting with a Tractor
There is a physicist-turned-farmer looking to redefine the way we build the world. Marcin Jakubowski is the mastermind behind a group of DIY enthusiasts known as Open Source Ecology and their main project, the Global Village Construction Set. The network of engineers, tinkerers, and farmers is working to fabricate 50 different low-cost industrial machines. A complete set, they say, would be capable of supporting a sustainable manufacturing and farming community of about 200 people almost anywhere across the globe—a “small-scale civilization with modern comforts. Marcin Jakubowski’s TED talk. Global Village Construction Set.
Five Ways to Follow a Farmer
AgChat Foundation is celebrating one year of connecting consumers with farmers and ranchers using social media by identifying five ways to engage with real farmers, from foodies and farmwives to cattlemen with a cause. In just 12 months, AgChat Foundation has successfully inspired farmers to add tweets and posts to their daily chores. It even earned a coveted spot on the 2011 SXSW® Interactive Festival program, last month, presenting alongside the country’s brightest in emerging technology. AgChat Foundation has compiled a list of suggested “farmer follows” that they think are great. AgChat Foundation post.
Five Borough Farm: The Future of Farming in NYC
Five Borough Farmis a project of the Design Trust for Public Space, in partnership with Added Value, to create the first citywide, comprehensive urban agriculture plan for New York City. Over the course of this year, the Five Borough Farm team will be evaluating the city’s existing urban agriculture activity, establishing a set of metrics by which to quantify the benefits of urban agriculture and creating policy recommendations for relevant city agencies. The project officially kicked off in December with a half-day workshop that tapped the minds and expertise of 90 urban farmers and urban agriculture advocates. Two people have been selected by the Design Trust to lead the effort: Nevin Cohen and Rupal Sanghvi. Sanghvi, who specializes in program evaluation and public health, is the project’s Metrics Fellow and therefore is responsible for quantifying and measuring the impact of urban agriculture on the city and its residents. Nevin Cohen, an urban food policy expert and chair of Environmental Studies at the New School, is the Policy Fellow, which makes him responsible for surveying the existing urban agriculture landscape in New York City and identifying new opportunities and recommendations. Design Trust post.
In New Food Culture, a Young Generation of Farmers Emerges
For years, Tyler Jones, a livestock farmer here, avoided telling his grandfather how disillusioned he had become with industrial farming. After all, his grandfather had worked closely with Earl L. Butz, the former federal secretary of agriculture who was known for saying, “Get big or get out.” But several weeks before his grandfather died, Mr. Jones broached the subject. His grandfather surprised him. “You have to fix what Earl and I messed up,” Mr. Jones said his grandfather told him. New York Times story.
Agricultural Urbanism Project Falters
Southlands is a 538-acre tract of land south of Vancouver that has been the subject of contentious public hearings to decide whether it should be developed or returned to the province’s agricultural land reserve – or be turned into what planners at HB Lanarc have called “agricultural urbanism,” a mixed use residential, commercial, and farming subdivision. The outcome of an ongoing public consultation process will determine the fate of the property and, to some extent, the public’s view of these kinds of mixed use projects. The project that emerged included environmental innovations like greywater recycling, solar power and energy conservation, as well as New Urbanist traditional neighborhood design features such as walkability. But the most innovative feature was the effort to integrate food production into the heart of the project at different scales – including private kitchen gardens, community gardens, one-acre neighborhood parcels, and a farmers market and cooking school. Urban Food Policy post.
Looking back, Looking Forward: Sustainability and UK food policy 2000 – 2011
This report identifies six major themes that shaped food policy during the 2000s: governance, climate change, nutrition and health, children, food security and fairness and social justice. It and narrates the story of their evolution. It concludes that while progress has been made, not enough has occurred to dispel our concern about failures to achieve systemic change. It argues that a consensual strategy came together towards the end of the decade (culminating in Defra’s Food 2030 vision. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland too, were driving parallel but different and interesting policy developments in the 2000s. Yet while there was progress in awareness and delivery on sustainability in some respects, not enough has occurred to dispel the SDC’s concern about failures to achieve systemic change. To make matters worse, just when a genuinely consensual perspective had finally taken root, and a policy process had begun, both with input from the SDC, it seemed to go into suspended animation in Whitehall after the 2010 election. Report.
Planning and Food Security within the Commonwealth: Discussion Paper
Access to food is a basic human need but unfortunately that human need is not being met in many areas and achieving food security is a major challenge. Planning has a significant role to play in addressing threats to food security but this is not a topic that is currently featuring strongly in planning practice. This must change. Commonwealth Association of Planners paper.
Baltimore Seeks Urban Farmers
The Baltimore City Department of Planning and the Department of Housing and Community Development issued a Request for Qualifications to farm city-owned vacant land. Those applicants deemed qualified will be able to lease city property for up to five years with an option to renew. Baltimore expects to lease 35 acres of land in parcels one acre and larger. Baltimore Request for Qualifications.
Food Sensitive Urban Design
Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL) policy research manager Kirsten Larsen presented to the Sydney Agri-food conference on the concept of ‘Food Sensitive Urban Design’ – a term coined by VEIL to explore opportunities for integrated food production and consumption in urban and peri-urban planning and development. This presentation outlines the need and opportunities for integrating food into sustainable urban developments, as well as outlining some preliminary definitions and principles to shape the idea of Food Sensitive Urban Design. Kirsten Larsen slides.
The Wheat Movie
The Wheat Movie is a documentary project that explores the microeconomies between wheat farmers, millers & bread bakers on North America’s eastern seaboard. This film is currently in pre-production, and will be shot in the early summer 2011. The goal of our project is to examine the growing movement towards organic and heirloom varieties of hard (bread) wheat in surprising areas of the United States. Traditionally a crop for the great plains, hard wheat is sprouting up and down the East Coast, providing millers and bread bakers with high-quality organic local grain. But can the new models this opportunity requires be sustained? Website
AND IF YOU HAVE TIME
Cow Art and Social Media
Cow artist and veterinarian, Kathy Swift, is also a board member of the AgChat Foundation. We got to visit while I was in Gainesville, FL doing a little John Deere work. Our conversation is ZimmCast number 300! I guess that’s a milestone of sorts. You figure out how many years that is. With the AgChat Foundation recently turning one year old, our visit was very timely. We talked about becoming agvocates and Kathy shares some of her experiences for people who want to become AgNerds. You can learn more about what Kathy does on the Cow Art And More Blog. And follow her on Twitter. Kathy talks about her experiences with social media on ZimmCast. AgWired post.