Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 09/28/2008 - 01:38.

For quite some time I've been looking at all our urban and Xurban land as farmland, for growing food. One farm I find especially exciting is the Free Stamp Park, which features several acres of mowed grass at East 9th Street and Lakefront, next to city hall. From the expansive and underdeveloped Group Plan, there are many other acres of city owned and mowed grass and landscaped land right around there, costing taxpayers lots of money each year, and having little real "green" value beyond decoration. And, there are many people in shelters that society must feed each day, near there. And there are many more hungry people in poverty in homes around there, who eat poorly. And that is expensive to taxpayers, and society. But land may grow food, if people work the land to produce it. That would give homeless and poor people access to income and food, while reducing many costs to taxpayers and society. Wouldn't that be an interesting use of this land... and a far more beautiful and exciting setting for the Free Stamp, so important to our community.


green is green is green

The movie "Meteor Man" comes to mind, where the hero plants organic gardens on vacant lots throughout the city. It also would be great if it were cost effective for micro-farms to exist anywhere and locally grown meant something. But farming is labor intensive and time is money, small farms have small returns. Still, these gardens could supply food banks with fresh produce, work for some and education for all. And we don't have to legislate much to do this, just get over our love for the useless proliferation of grass. Hey, the new "Victory Garden", you got land, allow others or you yourself grow food for food banks, get a tax credit.

I was just going to suggest free, open source farming for you

I see you've been brainwashed by the food industry...

One half acre of urban land can produce for one farmer perhaps $60-70,000 in produce per year. While it is a physical process, I would not say working with your own earth and growing beautiful fresh food is labor, unless of love.

Do you have any land with open sunshine around your house - you may be able to pay your note and feed your family without leaving your backyard.

And a world expert on the subject has a farm in your general area, I believe, so the knowledge you need is not far away, or expensive to access.

Disrupt IT

wow open source farming

Didn't know I was deluded and misinformed. Alas, I have moved from my grandparent built quarter-acre villa in a southeast Cleveland sub-urban community, west to a stamp sized city lot in Lorain with a huge tree in the middle and zero topsoil. My brown thumbs can't even manage house plants and heat sensing gov surveillance helicopters keep me from growing tomatoes hydroponically in my basement. Then those stupid cigar trees are surrounding my yard, I would have to remove them all. If I had the bucks, I would replace my busted garage with a greenhouse, grow plants in containers, all year round. I could put solar on the roof to charge my electrically enhanced car and might even put in a small fish tank to raise tilapia. Jack and Nancy Todd were heroes of mine in college. The self sustaining solar-ark concept was interesting.

appropriate use

Mall B was a victory garden in WWII times. Soon again?

revisit the past, with a twist

Last nite it dawned on me. This new economy, putting so many out of work, splitting wages in half, we just might have to bring back local farming as a regular part of our life. That is one transition many will find hard to make. Our concept of farming is like coal mining, at least for me, out of sight and out of mind. We really don't care to be intimate with where our food comes from. Our view of the future is still the Jetsons and our reality of farming is giant machines tending to miles of flat treeless land, with the song "This land is our land" playing in the background. All done by somebody else.

I think we ought to perhaps have Eco-Villages similar to Hale Farm to show folks how to do local farming with todays methods and skills. The vacant lot garden, the micro-farm, back yard greenhouse. Even have green buildings, solar power, the whole shabang, to put this in the context that anyone can do it and have it. As much as I like the Epcot Center in Disney World, yet I've never been there in person, it is pretty much a Jetsons like concept show. To scatter a few of these Eco-Villages throughout Ohio in real neighborhoods will help common folks grasp the concepts and put them into our culture. Colleges like Oberlin, Ohio State and Case Western Reserve Univ, even Lorain Community should all have Eco-Villages as living/learning environments for students and residents. These should be hands-on proving grounds. If people can get healthy by their own effort, we won't need huge medical facilities offering services none but wealthy can afford.

We have the Home and Flower show every year, it is more and more fluff and peddling and useless display gardening. And where are the demos of green technology the average home owner can appropriate? The governor wants to create a green Ohio but is only looking at industry and business. While the higher ups are maneuvering their lawyers we down on the ground could be trading potatoes and carrots.

Just maybe always dreaming of being elsewhere is killing us. Maybe we need to embrace where we are. Is it really better somewhere else? When we get there is it over crowded because others think the same? Running all over the country trying to find a convenient or prosperous advantage. This is why property values are over our head and people who have chosen to stay here have it hard. We have created a market of trading property. Owning property does not make money. But we are told we own it even though we are paying for it. Land should be a stable and cheaper commodity and the building on it should depreciate over time. The American citizen is killed by his own goods and services. We need to make some adjustments to improve life for Americans in America.


Urban Agriculture Leader, Will Allen, Named MacArthur Genius


by Jeff Nield, Vancouver, British Columbia on 10.17.08 

Will Allen Photo
Will Allen fishing for tilapia by cpentecost via flickr

Earlier this year, Sami recognized the good work of the organization Growing Power. The John D and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation took the praise one step further and named the organization's co-founder and CEO as a "MacArthur Genius". Will Allen is one of over two dozen recipients - including doctors, scientists and artists - of the foundation's $500,000 no strings attached fellowship award for 2008.

Check out the foundation's video about Allen and why he was chosen for the award after the jump.


The MacArthur Foundation points to Allen's practical solution to inner city hunger as the reason he was chosen for the award.

Rather than embracing the “back to the land” approach promoted by many within the sustainable agriculture movement, Allen’s holistic farming model incorporates both cultivating foodstuffs and designing food distribution networks in an urban setting. Through a novel synthesis of a variety of low-cost farming technologies – including use of raised beds, aquaculture, vermiculture, and heating greenhouses through composting – Growing Power produces vast amounts of food year-round at its main farming site, two acres of land located within Milwaukee’s city limits.


While Allen is well known in the sustainable agriculture world, this award has brought increased attention to his work. Good Morning America ran a story on his work in acknowledgment of his prize. The story was rebroadcast on Planet Green's Focus Earth. It's great to see Allen's innovative, small scale, low input food system design being recognized as an effective solution.

John D and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Growing Power