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Category: Local Food

More High Rise Food

by Scott Smith

Agro-Housing building

Another design for high rise farming is getting attention and awards. Here’s a quote that stops me in my tracks:

The irrigation is automatic, the greenhouse is sealed against insects and there is no need for pesticide, and the windows provide the light and heat necessary for growth”.

Uh… what about pollination? Sure, you can plop some bee hives inside the greenhouses, but what about the fact that domestic bees are inefficient pollinators without the interference of wild bee populations?

Hoop House Workshop

by Scott Smith

Too bad this workshop is way up north of Traverse City.

A free one-day workshop for farmers and aspiring farmers on how to grow crops in low-cost “hoop house” greenhouses will be offered on Friday, Oct. 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Black Star Farms in Bingham Township.

Leelanau Enterprise

Free Range Hogs|Low Impact Farming

by Scott Smith

I love this picture and I love this article.
Free Range Sow

“No matter who you are or what your background is, everyone has a ceiling to break through,” [Mike Jones] says. “All my ancestors on both sides of my family have been farmers, but they never owned land. So mine was to own my own farm.”

It took him more than 20 years to reach his goal. Determined to make something of himself, Jones became the first in his family to attend college. He finished his degree with help from the GI Bill, then worked for several confinement hog farms—many of which now contract with Smithfield Foods—to learn the business. He did well, but kept looking for ways to improve the system.

“Finally I came to the conclusion it couldn’t be done,” he says. “I didn’t see how the environment could be managed in a way that was tolerable to me. The profit was there, but I didn’t want to be there.”

Jones’ decision to leave was one of conscience.

“I began to get callused to animals’ suffering, and this bothered me,” he says. “I thought, ‘This is how human rights abuses get started.’ First the animals get abused, then the people.”

There’s a reader comment at the end that claims it would not be feasible for all pigs to be raised in this way. He may be right that not all pigs could be raised in exactly this way, but I think all pigs can be raised in a better way than an entire lifetime spent on 6 square feet of concrete. We can all eat less meat and, most of all, stop turning our noses up at certain cuts. Our pig lasted us nearly a year. We didn’t get to eat bacon and pork chops everyday. Some of those days we ate soups made with neck bones and hocks. There is a cookbook out there about the moral necessity to use the entire animal if we are going to eat it, but I can’t find it. I heard a brief section of an interview with the author on NPR a while back but I’ve searched for the program a number of times to no avail. Does anyone know what this book is, or did I dream it?

Local Food Rising

by Scott Smith

I saw an article about this a while ago, and the topic resurfaced the Washington Post (stop me if I’m repeating myself). This is one of those ideas that is going to fuel the backlash against the local food movement. You know, all of those writers/bloggers who are talking about the high cost of local food – lambs that can be raised more efficiently in New Zealand, heating greenhouses with fossil fuels just to call it local, etc. While I understand what the critics are saying, I think that they are missing the point of “local.” Local shouldn’t just be about where it’s grown. I don’t think proponents of local food are saying that we should get to eat whatever we want whenever we want all season long. My personal take on the grass roots local food movement is that we should not only eat locally, but seasonally.
High Rise Farm of the Future
So, back to the article… I wonder if anyone has done a study on just how much energy it is going to take to produce these high rise farms and what they will smell like. To me, it reeks of corporate farming… just more of the same especially where animal husbandry comes into play. Any thoughts?


by Scott Smith

I have been wholly uninspired in the blogging department lately. I did find this website, which I plan to comb through later this evening.

And their national partner
Buy Fresh, Buy Local

An Edible Landscape

by Scott Smith

I’ve been working on making my perennial border more edible. So far I’ve planted some oregano that survived the winter in a terra cotta pot and a couple of eggplants – ‘green goddess’ and a white variety whose name I can’t remember now. I’ve also planted several packets of Hungarian Blue Bread Poppies. I haven’t seen a single sprout yet, but I let the first planting dry out so that one is probably on me.

Hungarian Blue


Green Squatters

by Scott Smith

I’m a little late in posting about this. Barb! sent me this article about a group in Lafayette, Indiana (Purdue University Alliance of Libertarian Socialists) that has started planting food on a piece of property that doesn’t belong to them. Their idea comes from the 17th century English group, the Diggers. This idea of creating social equality through access to food and the abolishment of private property was also practiced in the 60’s by the San Francisco Diggers and, I think, is similar to the Fallen Fruit project I blogged about back in June.

John Slavin in the Lafayette Journal & Courier

I’m still not ready to abolish private property rights and give my land away, but I can’t help but find the idea of access to public spaces for the growing of our own food appealing.

Local Food Restaurants and Farmer Markets

by Scott Smith

First, is it Farmer’s Market or Farmer Markets? I can’t quite decide. Localharvest.org uses Farmers’ Markets.

There are a couple of restaurants in our area — we’re between the cities of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek — that make it known they use locally grown food. Does this affect your decision to eat at that restaurant?

I’m not so sure how much of a part it plays in my decision process. I think where is it, parking situation, are there GFS boxes being pulled out of the owner’s Cadillac, and have they made me sick on a previous trip. For some reason, my tummy doesn’t like eating out much, and as my wife says, I’m a delicate flower.

I do equate restaurants using local foods as better. If I’m going to the trouble of putting deodorant on and taking my ball cap off, I want to eat at a decent place. I figure if the chef is cutting deals with local farmers, they care about the food a bit more. It’s harder to deal with many small operations than a couple of big distributors. Riskier too, I should think.

I don’t leave my cave much, but I wondered how other people feel about local food.

My other thought was farmers’ markets. Do you shop there and think you’re getting better produce or a better deal? Is it an altruistic decision? In Chicago and Philadelphia, I didn’t think about whether it was local food or not. I liked the idea of a mall of cheese, meats and produce. Out here, I haven’t attended a good farmers’ market. Perhaps Robinson has some insight she could share in the comments.

Links to our local food restaurants — Food Dance and Journeyman.

Journeyman photo

Fallen Fruit

by Scott Smith

Fallen Fruit is an interesting project I discovered through Celeste’s blog. This group has been working on their project in LA since at least sometime in 2005 but I’m not sure about that part of it. I can’t really explain their premise any better than their manifesto does:

A SPECTER is haunting our cities: barren landscapes with foliage and flowers, but nothing to eat. Fruit can grow almost anywhere, and can be harvested by everyone. Our cities are planted with frivolous and ugly landscaping, sad shrubs and neglected trees, whereas they should burst with ripe produce. Great sums of money are spent on young trees, water and maintenance. While these trees are beautiful, they could be healthy, fruitful and beautiful.

WE ASK all of you to petition your cities and towns to support community gardens and only plant fruit-bearing trees in public parks. Let our streets be lined with apples and pears! Demand that all parking lots be landscaped with fruit trees which provide shade, clean the air and feed the people.

FALLEN FRUIT is a mapping and manifesto for all the free fruit we can find. Every day there is food somewhere going to waste. We encourage you to find it, tend and harvest it. If you own property, plant food on your perimeter. Share with the world and the world will share with you. Barter, don’t buy! Give things away! You have nothing to lose but your hunger!

While I admire their intentions, I do find some of what they want questionable. For instance, I don’t think that all trees in cities should be trees that bear fruit that humans want to eat. Oak trees feed a great many animals (there are still squirrels in cities, right?). Maple trees give us sap for syrup making. And, really, there is nothing inherently wrong with a tree simply being beautiful or providing shade without also providing fruit. I think monoculture is a mistake even in the urban landscape, but my view of this project may be skewed by looking at it from where I live.

Celeste mentions the waste of not harvesting a tree (Fallen Fruit appears to believe that people should harvest any fruit they see going to waste, even on private property, but again, I may be reading into what they are saying). I mentioned that we have several apple trees at the back of our property that are completely overgrown and really beyond bringing back into shape. Now, if I were really determined I could probably figure out how to harvest the apples from those trees, however I don’t. I leave them to become windfalls and the deer come along and happily gobble them up and steer clear of the beds that I plant which I’d really rather not share with those lovely browsers (which many people will tell you is the best way to deter animals from your garden – plant something they like better somewhere else). To me, those apples are not going to waste simply because they are not feeding people. But again, I don’t think that there are a lot of deer wandering in LA.

The finer points of whether or not I want to share my sad apple trees with someone who thinks that they are going to waste may be getting in the way of the fact that this is really right up the alley of what I’ve been interested in lately (at least interested in blogging about). This whole idea of planting and harvesting food from “nontraditional” spaces (really what’s more traditional than growing your own food no matter where you live?). I have e-mailed the folks at Fallen Fruit hoping to get some additional information and/or dialog on how they see their Public Fruit Park working out in the long term.

Cherry Trees in Full Bloom
Hmmm. What do you suppose happens to all of those cherries in Washington D.C.?