Monday, November 10, 2008

RISE OF URBAN FARMING



Lest you think there isn't an American precedent for urban farming, check this photo CQ's Craig Crawford found of President Taft's pet cow, Pauline, grazing next to what is now the Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. Below, a more recent photo of London

Guardian, UK - Londoners will be encouraged to turn flat roofs into vegetable plots as part of a scheme to grow food on 2012 patches of land across the capital by 2012, Boris Johnson said today. The "Capital Growth" project is the first initiative delivered by Rosie Boycott since she was appointed chair of London Food by the London mayor over the summer.

The former newspaper editor wants councils, schools, hospitals, housing estates, and utility companies to identify derelict land that can be turned into vegetable gardens by green-fingered Londoners keen to grow their own spuds rather than buy transported produce from the supermarket.

Boycott also envisages that spare pieces of land can be found on canal banks, banks of reservoirs, and disused railway yards.

Boycott said: "London has a good deal of green spaces - some derelict or underused - but not being used as well as they could be. We also have a veritable host of enthusiastic gardeners who are well equipped to turning derelict or underused spaces into thriving oases offering healthy food and a fantastic focus for the community. . .

Boycott said in an interview in yesterday's Times that it was hoped that the 2012 makeshift plots could be found in time for the Olympics so that some of the homegrown food could be provided to athletes.

The demand for allotments has rocketed over recent years as environmental awareness has increased. But a survey conducted by the London assembly two years ago found Londoners in some parts of the capital were waiting up to 10 years for an allotment, due to a dramatic decline in the number of available plots caused by owners wanting to put the land to other uses. . .

Capital Growth - 30,000 people in London rent allotments to grow vegetables and fruit, and 14% of households grow vegetables in their garden.

There are 12,064 hectares of farmland in Greater London, representing approximately 8% of London's land area.

Farmland in London declined by 30% between 1965 and 1997.

In a survey conducted in 2005, about 57% of farmers in and around London were either approaching or over retirement age (i.e. aged over 55); less than 1% were under 30 (about 14% in total being under the age of 44). Some of the main barriers to entry for enthusiastic younger people wanting to take up food growing are money, access to land, appropriate business support, training, and connection to strong and loyal market outlets for their food. This is one of the things that Capital Growth will seek to address - connecting enthusiastic food growers with land, skills and community, to help them establish thriving food businesses for the future.

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