Question of the Day: How Is Your Victory Garden?

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 07/03/2008 - 10:40.

Now that my family has land that we may use for a while, we are growing our own food... and enough for many other families, it seems. One $1.07 packet of radish seeds planted in May is already many pounds of crisp, bright, beautiful, healthy fresh veggies... and eating my first fresh radish of my life taught me radishes are actually delicious. Same for Kale, and all the varieties of lettuce covering our farmland... really fresh pesto is to die for... can't wait for the carrots and shallots!

The other day, Evelyn and I took some lettuce, radishes and herbs to my parents, and we talked about urban farming we have planned for the Star Neighborhood, and how much better is fresh local food than the food-like imported facsimilie at the grocery stores, and both my mom and dad reflected back to their childhoods, when their families had victory gardens, and my dad's uncle farmed over 1,000 acres near Toledo. This took them home, from where we Americans never should have left in the first place.

As I reflect upon eating the best food of my life for nearly free, and global warming, and the future of urban farming, and the prospect of healthy futures for humans and our Earth's ecosystem, I wonder what it will take for Americans to embrace growing food for their families and communities... when will we as people redefine "Victory" and "Garden"? When will cities plant public food in public places, and when will acres of suburban chemlawns be cause for embarrassment and legislation rather than prestige? Perhaps after more people experience real food for their first times, and choose to accept no less. Or must we wait until more common people die from poor environmental stewardship, and more common people may no longer afford to buy imported food, and we must choose between Soylent Green and really being green!

Do you yet see any sincere, substantive changes in our NEO culture leading toward growing an independent green republic of NEO? Lots of veggies growing in your neighborhood? May you pick strawberries in any of our parks? How is your Victory Garden doing?

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Where was the header image taken?

Lakeview Cemetery, below the dam

It appears this is the Metzenbaum family crypt... perhaps Howard is home here. I love this strange place - there is a huge dam that doesn't seem to do much of anything and a field large enough to feed 1,000 people if it were not just mowed, processed grass but rather food. I'm planning to propose to Lakeview Cemetery that they allow urban farmers to grow food on some of their 70 acres slated for future development (above and beyond this spot)... that could produce lots of food worth like $7 million for someone... and we'll soon have the urban farmers to farm the land.

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rumors of rich soil, too

Norm, I hear the soil over there is really rich, too, and has a lot in common with Soylent Green...

There is a timeless synergy

Sudhir and I were thinking about the 70 undeveloped acres of Lakeview Cemetery, and the rich edges of what is "developed", being planted with caskets and ashes, etc., and it occured to us we could plant grapevines and they could produce wine... in addition to all sorts of food in the fields... this land of the dead could bring much food and cheer to 1,000s.

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Huge Props to MetroHospital for promoting City Fresh

I was talking to Sudhir this afternoon and he said he had the TV on and saw an ad for MetroHealth promoting City Fresh. I saw the same ad tonight, during the Channel 8 news. That is fantastic - an ad for local food and its champion. They also have a fresh stop...


116th and Buckeye

Thursdays 4 - 6 pm

Contact: dkaiser(at)

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Darren and Johanna and Fresh Stop

Our Fresh Stop over here in Brooklyn Centre is now in its second year and functioning better than imagined. Darren and Johanna Hamm have been bringing it along, and it's grown legs of its own as well. It is a great idea, and it's scalable, and easily replicable.

Again, it requires very little initial outlay and can be up and running in no time. Financing is not needed.

or City Fresh

Maybe it's called City Fresh. I just know the produce is excellent, and the variety compels us to open up the cookbooks.

City Fresh provides Fresh Stops

That's our team - we meet every other Tuesday at 6 PM when Maurice finishes up the Fresh Stop at Huron Hospital, in East Cleveland. One way we are scaling this is to add farming production closer to market. Another is to create a pilot Fresh Stop Market, from a typical 40oz and lotto joint...

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Hangiin' in the cemetery

You and me both!  Looks like we like the company of dead people.  Yeah, I have a lot of friends, but they're not on line!

"Urban farmers growing profit in Cleveland"

In this report on WKYC, Morgan Taggart of Ohio State University Extension says "research shows, with the right crops, urban farmers can earn $68,000 on a half acre." The report also says "more than 180 vacant lots have been transformed into fertile community gardens and farms", and "Urban agriculture is catching on." Let's see how well it grows...
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Coit Road Farmers Market and Community Garden

With a new interest in America to eat real food, or perhaps live longer than possible on fake food, farmers markets have become fashionable, popping up in parking lots throughout the suburbs, which used to be farms themselves, where people with lots of money spend some on fancy foods. But since 1932 the Coit Road Farmers Market has been  bringing fresh food "from our farms to your table", and a new community garden across the street brings prospects of even fresher food to come... today's header of the day.



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East Cleveland, Garden City

There are enough vacant lots over there to support rehab of the houses on lots not yet torn down; the community can save itself, and save itself authentically, and on its own terms.

If a lot would earn over $60K a year, that's about the cost to stabilize a property nicely.

It's a symbiotic relationship between what's gone, and what remains. The remnant of a loss supports a save.

No financing needed; just wait a year.

That is the plan, with education

The important critical success factors we are adding to these good economic realities - opportunities - is a vocational school in the Hough/Star Complex teaching around 200 students urban agriculture, farming, and a separate vocational school teaching around 200 students building renovation, all in the heart of the neighborhood being farmed and rebuilt, surrounded by hungry people needing good, convenient housing. With the expert support of City Fresh designing the education program, programming the farms, and commercializing the products, we have a revolutionary alignment.

We'll be meeting at the Hough Bakeries to discuss all of this next Tuesday, 6-7 PM, with many of the key players planning to attend - please join us

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Edible cities

This is a report of a visit to urban food growing projects in the United States by a group of four people from different organisations based in London. 

It was organised by Sustain's London Food Link officer, Ben Reynolds, and funded by the US Embassy, who had previously brought Will Allen to London to talk about his project, Growing Power, in the USA. 

The group visited an inspiring range of projects in Milwaukee, Chicago and New York and noted a number of similarities to and differences from urban agriculture initiatives in London, including:

  • A commercial element to many of the US projects, which is much less common in the UK;
  • A more liberal situation in the US than in the UK to encourage composting, but less willingness than in the UK to include animals in some urban agriculture projects;
  • Different approaches to fencing and public access to projects, which varied within the US, depending on context;
  • Imaginative and productive ways of growing without access to subsoil, either in raised beds on hard surfaces or, in one case, in hydroponics on a barge;
  • Inspiring use of an holistic and sustainable approach to fish farming in an urban area which produces marketable quantities of tilapia.

The trip stimulated a number of ideas for how to promote more food growing in more cities.  These include:

  • Using the many possibilities of urban tree planting to promote traditional varieties of fruit and nuts;
  • Untapping the potential of both Royal Parks and other parks to accommodate some food growing in their grounds;
  • Exploring under-utilised spaces such as derelict council property, private gardens and social housing to grow food;
  • Making use of the abundant buildings in urban areas to grow food on rooftops, up walls and in window boxes;
  • Building on the food growing expertise that already exists in a multicultural community, as well as providing education and training for new growers.

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Young Blood

  Yes--and Metrohealth should be giving them some credit and help.  Darren and Johanna are doing their best to revive a great neighborhood.   We have a lot of smart, young couples moving to the most walkable,  GARDEN neighborhood in the city.  And, these folks don't move away once their kids hit school age.  They are finding that the diversity here is the best way to raise a child to be an adult. 

Photos of our garden

I've added photos from our victory garden here:

Vacant Lot Becomes a Garden

Vacant Lot Becomes a Garden

by Bonnie Alter, London on 07. 7.08 Growing Vegetables In Bags


Vacant Lot is an exploration of land use in inner city areas. As part of the London Festival of Architecture some abandoned and derelict patches of land in deepest east end London have been turned into a beautiful oasis of green (vegetables). Forget about allotments--so far away and hard to get to. Instead, seventy individual bags containing in all a half ton of soil have been distributed to form this instant garden. Working with local residents in a subsidised housing project, the architectural firm What If has posed this concept as a possible solution to inner city living. Now, within their individual plots, the participants are tending a spectacular array of vegetables, salads, fruit and flowers.

From an investment of £6 ($12) per person for the seeds, one man has grown 200 lettuces as well as cucumbers, spring onions carrots and beet roots. The vacant lot has become a space for growing food, socialising, picnics and barbecues. And an educational tool as well.



The issue is how to meet the demand for allotments and grow-your-own vegetables in dense urban areas. The answer here has been to take over some neglected areas and work with local people to develop the project. Now Londoner's only grow 2% of their own food, but with the development of more options like this it could increase to 25%. This project raises discussions about the development of London's infrastructure in relation to food, the future of its markets, food distribution and urban agriculture.

As part of the London Festival of Architecture, there will be additional food related events. There will be a lecture about a new urban model for feeding cities, and a day-long conference that will explore how more food growing could be planned for under utilised areas of London. :: London Festival of Architecture


Online Aquaponics Magazine Gets a Makeover

Backyard Aquaponics: Issue 2 Now Available

Backyard Aquaponics Issue 2 image by Sami Grover, Carrboro, NC, USA on 09. 3.08 As I’ve noted before, ‘aquaponics’ – the art of combining hydroponics and aquaculture – attracts a passionate and devoted crowd. And it’s no wonder. The prospect of raising high-quality protein efficiently while also producing fresh, nutritious vegetables is a tantalizing one, especially in these days of rising food prices and diminishing natural resources. Yet while some, like the The Urban Aquaculture Centre in Milwaukee, are pursuing large-scale aquaponics, there is still a strong DIY feel to the ‘scene’. When I interviewed Brian Naess of Snowcamp Aquaponics, he heaped praise on the fledgling magazine that we had featured before, Backyard Aquaponics. I’m sure then that Brian, and similar fish freaks from around the world, will be delighted to hear that issue 2 of Backyard Aquaponics is now available, and issue 3 should not be too far off either. Editor Joel Malcolm emailed to let me know that they’ve been working with a professional magazine designer (and aquaponics enthusiast) to clean up the look of the magazine, and have even redone issue 1 in the process. Read on for a table of contents:

Backyard Aquaponics: Issue 2
Featured Aquaponic Systems:
- A South African System
- Jaymie’s System
This Issue’s Road Test:
- Google SketchUp
Settling in at the Fish Farm
By the Barbeque - Aquaponically Inspired Recipes
Fish Species for Aquaponics:
Questions and Answers:
- Healthy Fish are Happy fish: pt 2
What’s Happening Elsewhere in Aquaponics
Useful Publications and Websites

::Backyard Aquaponics::via email::