Temporal Growth

Joseph Redwood-Martinez is yet another advocate and participant in the movement of urban agriculture.  Joseph’s take on it however, is a different one than I have seen before.  According to his take on the current state of the US economy, the slump in the real estate market has left cities, especially California, full of open and empty spaces. “We know that real estate will come around.  We know that the people that want to build 12 tumblr_mk940g5PiR1s9ugc4o9_1280billion dollar apartments will.  In the meantime lets go for some new creative legislation.  Lets create a new kind of rental agreement, not a lease, but a license.  Lets call it an interim use license.”  His suggestion is an interesting approach to land that is currently inactive.  The Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association did just this with Hayes Valley Farm.  This project is based on an Interim License with the city, transforming this empty space into a growing community center until it can be used for something else.  Free land, volunteer work, and recycled materials keep this project at extremely minimal costs, while getting members of the community together and teach people of the possibilities within their cityscape.  “When economy recovers, not if but when, and when development starts, we move.  Peacefully.  We are not tied to the space, the thing we are tied to is San Francisco.  The thing were tied to is a healthier ecosystem in our city and using this as a demonstration of what is possible in the temporary so all of those vacant realities can be transformed.”

I think it is hard to ignore the powerful message behind bringing community together and making living spaces more visually pleasing.  Projects like these are meant to provide people with opportunity and hope, while converting wasted space into a sustainable and productive area.  By producing a video with a very intimate one on one dialogue we are allured by Joseph’s message.  Images of what he has been able to produce through a community outreach program, getting as many people involved as possible, we as viewers have no choice but to applaud his valiant effort.


Assignment of the Day:

Is short term growth a valuable use of temporally limited space? Is it more valuable to educate people for the short term or grow for the long term?


Brooklyn Grows

I was introduced to the Brooklyn Grange project through a friend who is doing work for the collective.  This project is working to create new and sustainable methods of urban farming in Brooklyn, NY.  Currently Brooklyn Grange occupies two rooftops and is growing over 40,000 pounds of organic produce a year.  Although only three years old, this project has made incredible leaps and bounds towards developing urban farming methods that can be considered for future expansion of urban space.

BGourfarms-NorthernBLVDTheir mission is “To create a fiscally sustainable model for urban agriculture and to produce healthy, delicious vegetables for our local community while doing the ecosystem a few favors as well.”  The intentions of this project are pretty obvious, create a path for future city development through the passion these people share for farming, but the challenge of doing this in a way that appeals to the community and people outside the community is the issue.  We have all heard the arguments surrounding the “local” movement and the importance of creating sustainable living methods, but whether or not people are willing to accept the challenge is the real issue we face.  Through projects like Brooklyn Grange, people are introduced to the importance and success of these sustainable developments on a daily basis.  With only two rooftop farms in action, the BK Grange has produced over 40,000 pounds of fresh produce per year, suggesting the immense possibilites available through rooftop conversion.  According to the USDA “Fact Book”, the average American consumes roughly 20o pounds of fresh vegetables a year.  This means that with only two rooftops, equivalent to only about two acres, Brooklyn Grange provides for over 200 Americans a year.  Imagine the possibilities!  Seeing is believing, and having a rooftop farm in view from your office or apartment window on a daily basis can have some profound impact on your understanding of urban growth possibilities.


I believe that the biggest obstacle we face in the movement towards a “Localvore” sense of consumption is convincing people that this is in fact the step forward we must take.  It is hard to move away from the practices we have had in play for so long, but the time has come where we must make a decision about how we will adapt to our changing global situation.  Continuing to consume products through impractical means of shipping and receiving will, at some point, no longer stand as a feasible option of consumption and instead of having to deal with the total collapse of this system we need to begin incorporating more sustainable methods into our daily lives.  Although I, and I would assume Brooklyn Grange, don’t believe that the solution is as simple as converting our rooftops to Green spaces I do believe that projects such as these open our eyes to the possibilities for the future.  Through a combination of methods put forward by these progressive thinkers, I believe that we can create a more environmentally friendly means of consumption and sustainability.

What do you think?  Are projects like these a step in the right direction, or merely a temporary solution to keep people happy?  And, if you’re not convinced, what do you think is the next step forward?


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Rockaway Taco

Located on the Queens shoreline, Rockaway Taco is a small collective of people working to provide the community with a local food option.  Rockaway taco is a NYC establishment that has created an alternative to the typical city understanding of a “corner store”.  Growing as much of their own produce as possible in the tight confinements of city property lines and encouraging the intake of locally produced goods, Rockaway suggests that our current consumption of goods from far away places is not our only option.  Maximizing our space in urban environments and producing a product that no longer has to be moved long distances is the next logical movement in “green development”.  Rockaway provides the local community with a market full of fresh goods, a menu full of locally inspired food items, and a space for gardening produce that can than be sold through the Rockaway store front.  This video and this establishment have inspired me since the first time I saw it to one day create a sustainable restaurant that not only grows as much of what it needs as possible, but also works to provide inspiration for others to work towards a greener way of living.


Soil Kitchen

The Soil Kitchen documentary is about a collection of Philadelphians that formed a soil-testing center within the city.  The idea behind their effort is to test soil for people who are interested in growing a garden inside the city limits.  Philadelphia is littered with brown fields, places that contain contaminated soils, which not only put the daily lives of the city dwellers at risk, but also prevent people from using the soil for growing.  Providing free soil samples for interested civilians worked to improve city conditions and bring these hazard sites to the eyes of policy makers.

The brains and muscle behind the Soil Kitchen have high hopes of greening our ever-growingcityscapes and bringing local produce to the tables of people that rarely experience fresh food.  “Urban farming is particularly vibrant, because it is so visible.  A lot of our farming happens outside the city so we don’t see the process, but urban farming you can walk by on a daily basis.”  This idea of bringing local opportunity to the immediate eye, sounds to me like the most logical and appealing method.  With cities continuing to grow and goods continuing to further themselves from our central populations, the need to find solutions is becoming ever important.  Incorporating ideas from cities surrounding farmland into the cityscape itself is going to be an important avenue of exploration in the near future.