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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Urban Farming Supports Collapse Preparation

With unpredecented rises in food prices many people, including urban dwellers, are trying to reduce costs by growing their own food and bartering services or goods for food, and vice versa. The U.S. used to practically feed the world. Then we went from a large agricultural society to a manufacturing society now to an entitlement society, so the bits and pieces that we can see if people learning to take care of themselves, especially through these urban farming co-operatives are good news.

The simple and undeniable fact is that Long Range Survival Planning for the collapse has got to include the ability to grow your own food. 

The below is from an article titled Farmscape Brings Urban Agriculture to Los Angeles

In a dry and sunny city like Los Angeles, planting grass is one of the more useless ways to use your property. It takes a lot of water to grow and it's expensive—but beyond that, what's the point when the climate supports much more interesting flora, like succulents, and delicious ones, like fruits and vegetables?

A company called Farmscape is proving that there's enough of an appetite for farming on residential land to turn the proposition into a high-growth business. The less-than-four-year-old company has 12 full-time employees—including seven farmers who receive a living wage plus healthcare—and is looking to keep growing. So far they've installed more than 300 urban farms throughout the L.A. area and maintain 150 of them weekly. Projects range from a rooftop garden on a downtown Los Angeles highrise to small plots for families.

An exciting project in the works is a three-quarter acre-sized farm for a restaurant in the West San Fernando Valley. And the diversity of the projects is echoed by the diversity of their clients. "When we first started, we expected that our clients would be of a higher income level and would be two-parent working families," says Bailin. Instead, Farmscape has been delighted to build gardens for preschool teachers, single mothers, and institutions and businesses that want employee gardens as perks.

Bailin says the challenges of farming in Los Angeles are manifold. "You have to account for spaces that haven't had life or biodiversity for decades and then you kind of have to bring it back." The company uses raised beds to avoid contaminated soil and drip irrigation systems to provide water.

And their newest challenge? Running for office. The company has thrown its hat into the ring for the office of mayor of Los Angeles in the 2013 election, running on the platform of bringing back farms into the city. Bailin says it's an ironic way of questioning the bounds of "corporate personhood," extended to a corporation's right to free speech by the Supreme Court's ruling on Citizens United in 2010. "We’re testing the limit of what it is. If corporations are already deciding our politics by giving a bunch of money and lobbying, why not see if we can take out the middleman that would be the politician and make corporations the politician?"

It's a joke, of course, and the company will presumably never make it onto the ballot, but it's a clever way to get the word out about the company while making a statement. And perhaps this corporate candidate wouldn't be so bad anyway.

A related article on Urban Gardens:

Urban agriculture is not a new idea, but it’s being resurrected in cities throughout the country (and, for that matter, the world), in part because it’s one way of fighting childhood obesity, which, along with diabetes, is a serious health concern for children of all ages. The number of urban gardens in the United States has grown dramatically in such cities as Los Angeles, Detroit, Milwaukee, and San Francisco, where local governments and residents agree that these gardens are an important way to give children and residents access to healthy food like locally grown fresh produce.

Five Innovative Urban Gardening Programs in Los Angeles with links.

Urban Farming Food Chain Project
A partnership between Green Living Technologies and Emslie Osler Architects, this organization constructs “edible” food-producing wall panels and mounts them on buildings. The people who tend these vertical gardens use them for their own purposes (meaning produce is not sold commercially), but they currently have four locations in and around downtown Los Angeles.

Silver Lake Farms
Launched in 2004, Silver Lake Farms just began a Community Supported Agriculture program offering subscribers a weekly box of fresh produce, grown locally in Silver Lake. They also hold workshops on how to start your own vegetable garden, and sponsor a volunteer program that connects urban residents with local farms, community gardens, and homesteads to help out with some of the work.

Market Makeovers
Responding to poor access to fresh fruits and vegetables in their communities, South Los Angeles’s Healthy Eating, Active Communities initiative and Public Matters have teamed up to engage young people and convert corner stores into sources of healthy foods via an online toolkit.

Urban Homestead, Pasadena
An advocacy group for self-sufficient city living via farming and homesteading, this family-owned operation was started in the mid-1980s on a one tenth of an acre backyard plot. Most of the produce is sold to local restaurants and caterers.

Urban Farming Advocates
Formed in June 2009, Urban Farming Advocates is a group of individuals, small business owners, and organizations seeking to legalize urban farming in the City of Los Angeles. Their goal is to revise outdated ordinances that restrict people's freedom to use residential land for urban agriculture.

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