City Farmer's Urban Agriculture Notes


Lawrence F. London, Jr.
Title: City Farmer's Urban Agriculture Notes
Urban Garden

Urban Agriculture Notes

by City Farmer

Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture

Established 1978
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Prepared by Michael Levenston, Executive Director
(C) Copyright City Farmer 1994-1996

On-line on the World Wide Web since October 15, 1994


Welcome to City Farmer's home on the World Wide Web. After 19 years digging in the fields of Urban Agriculture, we want to share with you what we have learned. The Web makes it possible for us to reach a much larger audience than we were reaching before the arrival of on-line publications.

Our non-profit society promotes urban food production and environmental conservation from a small office in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia and from our demonstration food garden in nearby Kitsilano, a residential neighbourhood.

Urban Agriculture is a new and growing field that is not completely defined yet even by those closest to it. It concerns itself with all manner of subjects from rooftop gardens, to composting toilets, to air pollution and community development. It encompasses mental and physical health, entertainment, building codes, rats, fruit trees, herbs, recipes and much more.

Please note our new web address http://www.cityfarmer.org

Our Office wants you to know about some of the issues we deal with from day to day. There are very few offices in the world that have our experience serving city farmers all year round or have done so for as many years as we have. These pages will grow as we select the latest breaking information that comes to us, as we review our large library of resources for useful documents to put on-line, and as we hook you up with other Urban Agriculture Web sites that most certainly will emerge.

Urban Agriculture Notes is written for those who want to start up their own "Office of Urban Agriculture", for those who have already done so, and for gardeners who are curious about what we refer to as political horticulture. So sit up, bear with us as we add to this site week by week and listen to the birds singing in our garden.

More About City Farmer's Work - Update December, 1996
  • Our Compost Hotline has received 17,000 calls since 1992.
  • 3000 visitors a year come to our Demonstration Garden.
  • Since 1992, City Farmer has taught 431 children's wormshops for a total of 9771 "contacts".

Diary of a Compost Hotline Operator[new]
"There was a foaming, brilliant yellow, mass oozing across our big worm bins in the worm corner. What could it be?"

Food Crops We Grew In 1996
City Farmer's head gardener, Wes Barrett, demonstrates 12 month gardening at our Food Garden in Vancouver.

City Farmer Donates Garden Produce To Vancouver Hospice


The Easiest Way
To Predict The Future
Is To Invent It

Article about Cuba's Urban Gardens by the World Sustainable Agriculture Association
"In 1995, there were an estimated 26,600 popular garden parcels (parcelas) throughout the 43 urban districts that make up Havana's 15 municipalities."

Urban Agriculture in Zimbabwe[new]
"...recommended to the serious student of either urban food security and urban poverty, or urban planning and urban management in Africa." International Planning Studies

Yaounde, Cameroon: Capital Becomes Garden City
"In the past, urban agriculture had been discouraged by officials of the ministries of health and environment, who saw farms in towns as breeding grounds for mosquitoes, snakes and rodents."

Urban Agriculture in Nairobi, Kenya
"The case of Mama S., a single mother with six adult children serves to illustrate the role food production can have in the education of children from low-income households. Mama S. states that revenues from food sales allowed her to put all her children through school."

City Farmer Included in 1997 Web Calendar
"Urban Agriculture Notes" has been included as one of 365 sites in the world's first Web Calendar. The 1997 Daily Webpage Desk Calendar by (R)evolutionary systems includes our web site as the July 10th site for 1997. Why that day? Vanity. It is the date of this webmaster's birthday.

Buy a calendar by following the link and our non-profit society receives a $2 commission!

International Group Supports Urban Agriculture:
New Web Site!

Urban agriculture group forms a Global Facility: to reduce food insecurity, create jobs and improve the environment in cities. A new WWW site introduces the work of the international Support Group for Urban Agriculture (SGUA).

Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs and Sustainable Cities
Landmark publication just released (February 1996) by the United Nations Development Programme. Written by Jac Smit and his team at the Washington based Urban Agriculture Network, this book marks the beginning of a new age in the development of Urban Agriculture.

Urban Farms: How Green Is My Barrio
"A nationwide inner-city revival brings jobs, fresh produce, and soon, goats?" reports Dec/96 Christian Science Monitor article. "Some 750 cities have community garden programs, up from 23 in 1976."

21st Century Cities
What Would the World be Like in the 21st Century if Cities Were Nutritionally Self-Reliant? Paper delivered by Jac Smit in Marmaris, Turkey on April 20, 1996

City Farmer's Net Bulletin Board
As announcements of upcoming events cross my desk, I'll thumbtack them up here.

Jerry Seinfeld's Worm Bin
"What's The Deal With Worm Composting?"

Urban Home Composting
If all our urban organic waste was turned back into crop nourishing humus, think how fertile the ground would become.

America's First Composter[new]
"As evidence of George Washington's devotion to composting, he erected a highly unusual building specifically designed to compost "manure" and to facilitate its "curing" into usable fertilizer."

Composting With Red Wiggler Worms
The great advantage of worm composting is that this can be done indoors and outdoors, thus allowing year round composting. It also provides apartment dwellers with a means of composting.

City of Vancouver Distributes Worm Bins!
Newsweek magazine, Feb. 12, 1996, reports "Entire cities are getting into the act. Vancouver sells worm bins, wrigglers included at half price." (Kitchen Help: Wrigglers Under the Sink, page 76)

Dealing With a Rat in a Compost Bin
An individual who calls the Compost Hotline is usually quite shocked that he has a rat on his property.

Community Gardens.
By far the largest collection of information on this subject can be found amongst the membership of the American Community Garden Association (ACGA)

Northwest Territories' Community Garden
"Our greatest advantage is the long day length: June 21 has 21 hours of daylight and we only start to get a true night by mid-August."

Garden Policy Approved
Vancouver Park Board approves a unique community garden policy. Spring, 1996

Politics of Community Gardening in Germany
Lecture given by Professor Gert Gröning at the 1996 ACGA conference in Montreal. [8500 word document (56K) published on one page.]

International Urban Agriculture.
A number of excellent publications have come out which show International Urban Agriculture being treated very seriously by development professionals.

City Farming in Albania
"The pigs ate the family's kitchen waste: bread, leftover food, vegetable parings, etc. If their neighbours minded the smell or noise, they said nothing; most people are in the same situation and understand that people do what they have to in order to survive."

Combating Hunger in Mongolia
Using Urban Agriculture

In 1990/1991, 850 families grew vegetables in the city. This year (1996) the number has increased over 20 times reaching 21,000. More and more families have begun to realize that home gardening might be a way to improve their standard of living.

City Farms in United Kingdom
Things you can do here include: daily feeding and mucking out, milking and cheese making, beekeeping and general animal care.

Report Highlights and Promotes the Benefits of Urban Agriculture in the UK
"In the UK, many poor urban neighbourhoods have become food retailing deserts, where access to good food shops and markets is rare. Parts of the countryside too are becoming desertified - economically - with farming employing only 2.2% of the population."

Bangkok Food Gardens
Short-life vegetables are lettuce, phak khana, khuenchai, phak bung (morning glory), tang-o, scallions, cucumber, and cauliflower.

Urban Agriculture in Philadelphia
The hundreds of garbage strewn vacant lots have stimulated citizens to create what has been called "the largest comprehensive urban greening program in North America."

Montreal Community Gardens
Pierre Bourque, community garden champion and a 30 year veteran of Montreal's civil service, was recently elected Mayor of Montreal.

Food Gardens in South Africa
The Foundation sells a wide variety of resources in a number of different languages including English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, and S. Sotho.

Australian City Farms
For the first time, a booklet has been produced to document the activities, focus and set-up of Australian city farms, community gardens and creative living/enterprise centres.

City Farm in Perth, Australia
"We all wanted to move out of the city and find some greenery. Then we thought, 'Why not bring the greenery to the city?'"

School Gardens
"The food garden increases their sense of wonder. It's pretty magical, but at the same time, it demystifies the concept of food production."

Setting Up These Pages On The World Wide Web
City Farmer doesn't need a mailing list, a layout artist, a printer or publisher, a distributor, tons of paper or postage to produce this new publication. (This article was written in the early days of web publishing, May 1995, just a year or so ago. Much has changed. See following article.).

UPDATE: Setting Up Pages On The World Wide Web - A Case Study
This revised piece was originally published in the May 13, 1996 edition of Canada Internet Daily.

Cities Feeding People Homepage[new]
This site provides information about the program initiative on urban agriculture (UA) at Canada's International Development Research Centre. UA projects in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Morocco, India, Cambodia, Kenya, Ghana, are described. The site also describes a Latin American UA organization named AGUILA currently grouping nearly 40 institutions from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Peru.

Canada's IDRC Produces 'Cities Feeding People' Series
Copies can be obtained free of charge.

Urban Food Production: Evolution, Official Support and Significance by Luc J.A. Mougeot
A major paper (16,479 words) by the Senior Program Officer, Environment and Natural Resources Division at Canada's IDRC.

Victory Gardens: The Garden Warriors of 1942
In 1943, there were 209,200 Victory Gardens in Canada, and on the average they produced 550 lbs. of vegetables each. One gardener in seven was a city dweller.

Rooftop Gardens
Toronto's Rooftop Gardens Resource Group delves into roofing, structural considerations and building codes.

Masters Thesis: The Potential of Rooftop Gardening
Joseph St. Lawrence has written eloquently about his work creating a roof garden on a warehouse in downtown Toronto. We have published 15,000 words of his 22,000 word paper.

Rooftop Gardening in St. Petersburg, Russia
"This year we also started a ground level garden in the Artificial Limb Institute which rehabilitates invalids who lost legs or arms in the War in Chechnia (mostly boys of age 18-25)."

Funding an Office of Urban Agriculture
Some people assume that City Farmer is a government department and address their letters to "The Minister of Urban Agriculture".

New York Gardens Threatened With Destruction![new]
"Many of the 750 community gardens in New York City are now under threat of destruction as the City sells off 11,000 lots. Almost all of the 50 gardens on the Lower East Side of New York City, 25 gardens in Harlem and Coney Island, and 20 gardens in Brooklyn and the Bronx are slated to be bulldozed."

Photographs of Community Gardening in New York
Operation Green Thumb celebrates the beauty and joy of New York's community gardens in an exhibition of 43 photographs. Published in conjunction with the show is a wonderful booklet titled Tales From The Field II, Stories By GreenThumb Gardeners

Tree Mushroom Cultivation Relieves Poverty
Su Decheng, a mushroom scientist from China, reports that in one county he worked in, "the average annual income per capita reached 1,800 Chinese yan (CN $300) in 1993, and 75% of it came from mushrooms." Just a few years earlier before mushroom growing technology had been introduced, the yearly income of the population was less than 300 Chinese yan (CN $50)

$$$ From Your Garden
"Design information for a model garden that will produce over $10,000 of vegetables from less than 1/3 acre."

Arable Acres Within City Limits
It's amazing to discover that the City of Vancouver has enough land available so that its inhabitants can grow all their own vegetables within city limits.

Julie McCarroll's Horticultural Delights
Beautiful posters and cards created by this Toronto watercolour artist.

The Tele-Garden
No garden space whatsover? Then garden through your computer screen! "This tele-robotic installation allows WWW users to view and interact with a remote garden filled with living plants. Members can plant, water, and monitor the progress of seedlings via the tender movements of an industrial robot arm."

Composting Toilets
In Vancouver, British Columbia, a 30,000 sq. ft. office complex, utilizes composting toilets and urinals for human waste disposal. The new building is not connected to the city's sewer system.

City of Vancouver, Compost Capital
Vancouver is a model city when it comes to composting. The City's Engineering Department supports both a yard and worm bin distribution program, a Compost Demonstration Garden and Hotline, and large-scale yard waste composting.

Gardening Questions? Visit one of these sites.
The Internet is a treasure chest full of gardening secrets and these excellent sites will link you to many of them.

Horticulture Therapy
Strolling along a path in her electric wheelchair, she paused, and a gleam came to her eye. Glancing mischieviously over her shoulder, she leaned closer to confide, "I like getting dirty the best."

The Spirit of Healing. This piece was presented at "The Healing Dimensions of People-Plant Relations Research Symposium" in March 1994. It follows the course of the presenter's experience with cancer and how environment, landscape and gardens played a vital role in the recovery process from her illness.

World's Urban Population
Majority of world's population will live in urban centres by 2015, UN report says.

Rain Barrels
The City of Vancouver is providing subsidized rain barrels for up to 1,000 residents under a pilot program to conserve water.

Vancouver Begins Disconnecting Downspouts
Disconnecting residential roof downspouts from the combined sewer system may be an important way to reduce water pollution caused by Combined Sewer Overflows.

Chickens In Soup
Some people believe that an egg-producing hen is of greater value than a barking dog or a noisy lawnmower, but City Hall doesn't agree.

Urban "Animal" Agriculture Comes to Chicago
For 52 years, Heifer Project International has brought livestock to rural communities throughout the world to combat hunger and poverty and help restore the environment. Now they are bringing dairy goats and honeybees to the inner city.

Condo Farming
Victoria urban farmers work with developer to build "edible" three-storey condominium.

Sprouting at Home
Fresh organic vegetables every day from a square foot of counter space.

Improving Nutrition Through Home Gardening
The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization publishes Improving Nutrition Through Home Gardening: A training package for preparing field workers in Southeast Asia.

Dietary, Social and Economic Evaluation of Philadelphia Urban Gardens [new]
A 1991 report in the Journal of Nutrition Education found "that gardening is related to an increased frequency of vegetable consumption and to the reduced frequency of milk product consumption."

Waterwise Gardening
Even in rainy Vancouver water-saving, gardening techniques are recommended for coping with summer droughts. City Farmer in cooperation with the City of Vancouver has opened a new public garden which demonstrates conservation methods such as contouring of the ground, soil conditioning using compost, collection of rain water, the use of native plants, and passive watering.

Readers in the following countries have accessed our web site since February 12, 1996. We will be looking at our web stats every day to see what new additions can be made to this list.

Anguilla Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Aruba Austria Australia Bahrain Belgium Bermuda Bolivia Brazil Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Canada Chile China Colombia Costa Rica Croatia (Hrvatska) Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Guatemala Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Ireland Israel Italy Japan Kenya Korea(South) Kuwait Latvia Lebanon Lithuania Luxembourg Malaysia Malta Mexico Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua Norway Panama Peru Philippines Poland Portugal Romania Russian Federation Saudi Arabia Singapore Slovak Republic Slovenia South Africa Spain Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Taiwan Thailand Turkey Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay USSR Venezuela Yugoslavia Zambia



Recognition Of Our Site

February 7, 1997. 'Urban Agriculture Notes' has been chosen as the "Farm" link for this week's Homesteader's Links of the Week. (http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/3346)
'Urban Agriculture Notes', has been listed as the Site of the Day for February 5, 1997 on Ithaca Gardens (http://www.woodny.com/garden)
December 11, 1996 "Congratulations! Your site has been chosen for our Best of the Internet Department on Progressive Farmer Online (http://pathfinder.com/PF)! We choose the best non-commercial sites on the Internet that we feel will be of interest to our readers. Your site provides services we think our readers can use and will enjoy."
"Pick of the Crop"

November 13, 1996 "Congratulations! Your gardening website has been named a "Pick of the Crop" as one of the best gardening sites on the Internet. The editors of Virtual Garden (http://vg.com) have reviewed more than 500 gardening sites for inclusion in our Dig the Net link directory, and we've singled out the best for special recognition."

World Wide Web Top 1000

"We're delighted to tell you that your site was nominated as one of the elite 1000 included in this book. The reviews are modified and expanded versions of our Website entries, and some also include screen shots." See page 434.

"Your site, full of great reading material and information, has been named Canuck Site Of The Day for September 30, 1996! It promotes excellence in technology and design in Canada."
Plant Science

"You were one of Planet Science's Sites of the Day on 2 April, 1996. Planet Science is the award-winning online voice of the world's leading science and technology news weekly, New Scientist."

August 22, 1996
"MGI Software Corp. will be launching a new automated Internet Guide Book designed to make it easy for users to find the best sites on the Web. After evaluating thousands of candidates we have selected your site for inclusion in our Guide Book facility. We will be limiting the size of our guide book to about 500 sites this year."
August 9, 1996
Bell Atlantic Internet Solutions has identified your site to be included within its Internet Access Service as a best of the net site.
Frank Severa's Useful URLs

Pick of the week for January 28, 1996

GardenNet's Guide to Internet Resources says:

Urban Agriculture Notes is "the only urban agriculture site on the Internet."

Urban Agriculture Notes is reviewed in seven new books:

1997 Edition
Harley Hahn's Internet and Web Golden Directory

1996-97 Edition
Microsoft Bookshelf Internet Directory

1997 Canadian Internet Directory
by Jim Carroll and Rick Broadhead
Prentice Hall, Canada

1996 McKinley Internet Yellow Pages
by Christine Maxwell

Que's Mega Web Directory
by Rositano, Rositano and Stafford

1996 Edition
New Riders' Official World Wide Web Directory

Over 8,000 Web Sites Described

The International Internet Directory
by Mitzi Waltz, Ziff-Davis Press, 1995
Over 3000 sites from around the world

rating by The McKinley Internet Directory

Point Survey rates Urban Agriculture Notes
in the top 5% of all WWW sites.

"Uptown hipsters will dig this back-to-nature guide to urban agriculture."

"Your home page has been rated by Point Survey as one of the 10 best (in its category/content/presentation/overall) on the Internet. Only the best 5% of all Web sites are included in Point Survey, and we believe your site is among the best of the best!"

NetGuide Magazine reviewed Urban Agriculture Notes
in their August, 1995 issue and in their January, 1996 issue.

"City Farmer has created a 'demo' garden in the heart of the city that gives novices hands-on experience and skeptics a flourishing example of what can be done."

NutForce awards Urban Agriculture Notes
The "Webnut Seal of Approval".

"City Farmer...Coolest way to handle trash and tons of links! "



What would you like us to add to Urban Agriculture Notes ® ?
Tell us about Urban Agriculture activities in your city.

Send comments here cityfarm@unixg.ubc.ca

revised, February 19, 1997

E-mail us at: cityfarm@unixg.ubc.ca
Snail-mail at:
City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture
#801-318 Homer St.
Vancouver, B.C. V6B 2V3

Phone: (604) 685-5832
Fax: (604) 685-0431