Education & Science
On an April evening in northwest Washington, D.C., 11 gardeners sat at picnic tables watching Eriks and Andrejs Brolis, co-owners of Urban Farm Plans, a landscape design company and urban farm school. Some participants looked as if they'd hurried straight from the office, wearing dresses or button-down shirts; others sported T-shirts and jeans.
This is how to earn a good living (a six figure income) farming just 1.5 acres of land. It's possible, and you can do it too. You always hear the naysayers talk about how it's not possible to grow enough food for your family on 1 acre or even 2 acres.
Available open space in San Francisco may be scarce, as real estate prices continue to rise and prominent urban ag projects have given way to condo development, but the hunger for urban agriculture shows no sign of waning. Wait list times for some community gardens are upwards of several years.
The soil teems with billions of hidden microbes. Researchers have begun to catalog how these organisms are changing the world. Janet Jansson first started to wonder about the vast universe of underground life as a student at New Mexico State University in the late 1970s.
Even though the number of farmers in Maine is increasing, the structure supporting them is riddled with holes.
Organic agriculture alone may or may not be able to feed the world, but a recent study suggests that it can provide a relatively healthy paycheck for its practitioners. David W. Crowder and John P. Reganold, two researchers at Washington State University, conducted a meta-analysis of studies on agricultural economics to learn whether organic farming is more profitable than conventional farming.
"Some food hubs are building infrastructure to store food year-round which creates an actual response to the question: ' How can we feed a nation wi thout big agriculture?'" noted Kate Petcosky, New Entry Sustainable Farming Project's Food Access Coordinator in Lowell, MA.
The most luscious watermelon the Deep South has ever produced was once so coveted, 19th-century growers used poison or electrocuting wires to thwart potential thieves, or simply stood guard with guns in the thick of night. The legendary Bradford was delectable - but the melon didn't ship well, and it all but disappeared by the 1920s.
So, it's the time of year out here in the Maritime Northwest where periodic nice days start to happen. A few legitimately sunny Spring days in Seattle send thoughts to the veggie patch, and gardeners everywhere start running to buy plant starts.
The display at the Weiser Family Farms' stand at the Santa Monica farmers market last weekend was sparse, even by early spring standards - potatoes, some green shallots and garlic, a little sprouting broccoli. The lilacs that signal the start of spring for many Southern Californians came and went weeks ago.
Matt Smiley feels at home when he's engaged in physical work. The veins on his arms swell as he digs up a green irrigation hose. The former combat vet says farming is good for his body and his mind. "I think first and foremost it's the connection to nature," says Smiley.
"I am never going to raise chickens!" Guess who said that. Me! Circa 1978 after my second or third time being dragged through a large commercial poultry operation as part of my quest for a degree in Animal Science. The smell was horrible, the chicken clucking was deafening, and the downy feathers were flying everywhere and made my nose itch.
Many of the largest U.S. sellers of organic eggs boast that their hens are vegetarian, and for an increasingly food-curious public, this may be great advertising. A carton of Eggland's Best advertises that the company uses "vegetarian fed hens." Horizon promises that their eggs "come from hens that are fed a 100% organic, vegetarian diet."
As we all become more aware of what we eat and the origin of our food, vegetable gardening is booming. Leading the way is LaManda Joy, founder of the Peterson Garden Project, an award-winning not-for-profit, that has brought community, urban gardening to Chicago in a big way.
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