September 15-19, 2014

Urban Agriculture

Over 80% of Americans live in urban areas. Urban agriculture is a story of growing food on windy rooftops, in once vacant lots and empty warehouses. As Eli Zigas of San Francisco’s SPUR explains it: “Urban agriculture’s real contribution is…in the number of people it touches who can then understand and learn about food, how we grow it and how it feeds us.”

Novella Carpenter knows the story. Alongside other urban farmers, Novella grows nutritious food on the vacant lot of an impoverished West Oakland, California community that would otherwise be a food desert. Will Allen knows it, too. He’s sprouted a good food revolution in Milwaukee and it’s growing across the Midwest.

On the East Coast, MIT’s CityFARM has gathered engineers, architects, urban planners, economists and plant scientists to explore and develop new ways to grow food in highly-urban areas with less chemical inputs. In New York City, Jon Feldman and Eddie Diaz’s beekeeping operation was once illegal, but the buzz they created shifted local policy around urban apiaries, benefiting urban farmers, backyard gardeners, and bees suffering from colony collapse. Their neighbor, Ben Flanner, of Brooklyn Grange Farm knows the challenges of urban farming. Though the Grange is located entirely on rooftop gardens, it soars, supplying produce to local restaurants, at farmers markets and a local CSA.

Craig Ruggless and Gary Jackemuk of Winnetka Farms practice hyper-local food production, turning the backyard of their suburban home in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley into a sprawling urban farm. Perhaps Seattle Urban Farm Company’s Colin McCrate says it best, “Y.I.M.B.Y., Yes! In my backyard!”.

Like these urban farmers, Mary Seton Corboy of Greensgrow Philadelphia Project knows, “You have to plant yourself along with your seeds right in the community that you’re trying to serve.”

Dr. Wayne Roberts, former director of the Toronto Food Policy Council, has spent a great deal of time considering how cities, food and people intersect and how we might feed the world’s expanding population.

Nourish Initiative Chef Bryant Terry’s lends insight into the rise of urban farming and its importance in building healthy communities, engaging young people, and bringing fresh, homegrown food to cities.

Tucker Taylor, culinary gardener at Kendall Jackson Winery, has grown a healthy community of his own, planting the seed of urban farming in his area, watching it grow.

Southern Foodways Alliance highlights the cultural implications of urban farming with Jones Valley Urban Farm, while Sara Fulton-Koerbling, also based in the South, shares a story about the Arkansas-based collective to which she belongs to encourage people to start their own local urban gardening groups.

These tales of urban agriculture are strengthened when we use an even wider lens. Perennial Plate takes us to urban farms in China with “Tale of Two Cities”, Food Tank explores how urban agriculture can help Central American cities, and Sustainable Food Trust explores what a rooftop revolution looks like.

Inspired? Wondering how you can activate urban farming in your area? Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health student, Melissa Poulsen’s’s thoughtful research on “Integrating Urban Farms into the Social Landscapes of Cities” may provide a few answers. Share your own insights and discoveries about urban farming by joining the Food List!

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Urban Agriculture

“Urban agriculture is about growing and distributing food in the communities where people live, work, shop and play. If you are out in your field or in your garden and you stand up and look around and there are neighbors and people around you who have some kind of influence over what you do there, you’re an urban farmer.” —Katherine Kelly, Cofounder and Executive Director of Cultivate Kansas City

Urban Edge

“An urban edge is the border between a city or suburb and its surrounding environment, often defined by the boundary of urban infrastructure, such as sewers, or by a sharp contrast in density or the built environment.” —Eli Zigas, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research, S.P.U.R.


“A greenbelt is a ring of land encircling an urban area free of residential, commercial or industrial development. Often protected by policy, a greenbelt usually consists of open space, forests, parkland and / or agricultural land.” Eli Zigas, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research, S.P.U.R.

Hyper-Local Food Production

“Hyper-local food production is food grown, processed and consumed at the neighborhood level of a community.” —Colin McRate, Seattle Urban Farm Company


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Local Book CoverTitle: Urban Farm
Featuring: Novella Carpenter, Farmer and Author of three books: Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, The Essential Urban Farmer, and Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad through the Wild
Location: Ghost Town Farm, Oakland, California
Found on Page 162 in Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America

Novella Carpenter’s mission is to grow food for herself, her friends, her neighbors and her larger community.

“Food in the city is so important, because you are localizing the food in the actual city where people live. 50% of people live in cities in places like my neighborhood. They’re never going to be able to afford local, organic, sustainably-raised food. We live in a society where supposedly you can vote with your fork and change the system just by buying local food. The thing is, if you look at our society, that’s great for people who have money, but there are people who don’t have access to any food. Look around [West Oakland, California,]. It’s a total food desert.”

From MIT CityFARM, “The future of global food production will mandate a paradigm shift from traditional practice to resource leveraged and environmentally optimized urban food growing solutions. The MIT CityFARM is an anti-disciplinary group of engineers, architects, urban planners, economists and plant scientists exploring and developing of high performance urban agricultural systems.

“Through innovative research and development of hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic production systems, novel environmental, diagnostic and networked sensing, control automation, autonomous delivery and harvest systems, data driven optimization and reductive energy design; MITCityFARM methodology has the potential to reduce water consumption for agriculture by 98%, eliminate chemical fertilizers and pesticides, double nutrient densities and reduce embodied energy in produce by a factor of ten.

“By fundamentally rethinking “grow it THERE and eat it HERE” to “grow it HERE and eat it HERE” we will dramatically reduce environmental contamination and depletion while creating jobs for a rapidly urbanizing global workforce and increasing access to diverse and affordable nutrient dense produce in our future cities.”

From an interview with Dr. Wayne Roberts finalcover_foodforcitybuilding

Dr. Wayne Roberts has spent a great deal of time considering how cities, food and people intersect. Canadian Food Policy analyst, Former Director of the Toronto Food Policy Council and author of two books, Food for City Building and The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food, Wayne sat down with us to talk about urban agriculture, education and how we might feed the world’s expanding population.

Q: What are the most effective examples of urban agriculture you’ve seen?

I’ve been impressed and inspired by urban agriculture projects around the world. Here’s a short list of my favorites, all of which are described at some length in my book, The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food.

In Sri Lanka, women living in shanty towns earn money and gain personal independence by growing medicinal herbs in their tiny yards, which are sold to the municipal health department for use as free medicines given to the public. In Cuba, some urban residents make a living growing organic food in city parks and selling the food in a variety of farmers markets; that’s where most of the vegetables and fruit eaten in the city come from. In the Netherlands, many urban ag projects are called “care farms” because they earn one income stream from selling food, and another by caring for people or Nature. For example, one greenhouse in Amsterdam hires homeless people fighting addiction, and receives financial support from the city because of the therapeutic value of addicts working in a supportive and warm environment to grow food.  In Milwaukee, Will Allen calls his greenhouse-centered urban ag project Growing Power because he sees food as growing the power of individuals and of a disenfranchised Afro-American neighborhood. His brilliantly designed greenhouse couples turns waste into high-quality compost, the growing medium for affordable, delicious and nutritious greens – the cost of which is partly covered from fees for keeping waste out of the garbage stream.  In Toronto, my home town, FoodShare uses urban ag methods to integrate school meals and food literacy by using under-used space – in one case, a huge school rooftop – where students can grow their own food.

As you can see, urban agriculture comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s crucial that urban ag policy enable people to make the widest use possible of the potential that food production offers us.

Q: Is food education a central tenet of urban agriculture?

It’s a bit of a trick question to ask if education is central to urban agriculture. It’s equally a trick question to ask if providing veggies for people on low income is central, or if controlling diabetes and heart disease is central to urban ag, or if having quiet time in a natural setting is central, or if having quality time outdoors with friends is central, or if growing foods that you grew up with in another country is central.

It’s a bit of a trick question because it falls into the trap of thinking anything to do with food or food policy has once central purpose. The argument I put forward in my e-book, Food for City Building, which is based on my work as leader of the very successful Toronto Food Policy Council, is that “the single most important thing to know about food is that there is no single most important thing.”
Almost all food policies worth their salt – or should I say worth their salt reduction? – serve multiple purposes, the value of which depends on the person who’s directly involved. Which one is central to any particular person at any particular time will vary because the whole crux of food policy is that food is multifunctional.

But I won’t just dodge your question about education. Urban agriculture promotes experiential learning about many things – most obviously things that are related to food literacy, but, equally important, to a person’s general life skills and general competence and confidence.

If I was forced to say the most important thing the experience of urban agriculture teaches, I would say empowerment — empowerment through personal and community growth, and empowerment that’s balanced by humility about how much we humans have to learn and how little we control through tools and manipulation alone.

That’s why people get high on urban ag and on food actions generally; it’s a form of empowerment that’s very grounding (literally) and centering.

There aren’t many activities – there certainly aren’t enough in our society – that give a hands-on lesson in awesome empowerment, empowerment that balances self-respect with grace and awe, based on respect for all the forces that make food and health possible.

The really nice thing about having multiple food goals is that food goals aren’t mutually exclusive. On the contrary, the more the merrier. You can enjoy the personal high of food production and also enjoy the taste of eating fresh food. It’s the non-exclusive nature of food that leads Vandana Shiva to say that “the food movement is a movement of ands, not buts.”

That’s why we don’t want to get caught in the trap of saying food has only one main thing going for it.

Q. If urban agriculture can’t make a big dent in feeding people, what’s the point?

To be honest, I see food as the icing on the cake of urban agriculture. A green roof – just to give one example – more than pays for itself by holding onto rainfall and keeping it out of the sewers, which is a huge savings for the city. The food is a bonus, on top of a whole suite of positives — keeping water out of the sewers, producing oxygen in a smoggy city by having more plants to pump out oxygen, providing a safe and comfortable place where neighbors can meet and strengthen their ability to act as a community, providing a safe harbor for pollinators at a time when they’re stressed in a countryside choking with pesticides, and on and on. The same goes for almost all forms of urban agriculture.

Urban ag can pay its way just by making use of all the so-called waste that cities pay billions to haul away to landfills. In fact, I believe shifting so-called food waste – about half the food that’s produced around the world is wasted – from a waste removal to a resource management perspective is a major function of urban ag. Cities should use the money they now waste hauling garbage away to pay urban farmers to grow food.

When we start paying people to grow food in cities, we will get production up. I believe a reasonable start-up objective for a city action plan is to produce  a third of everyone’s five servings a day of fresh fruits and vegetables within city borders. Another third should be grown in the area surrounding the city, and the final third can be brought from further afield. There are so many ways that first big step will benefit a city government and budget, a smart city will invest a major portion of the current budgeted which is dedicated to waste removal to food production.

Dr Wayne Roberts is best-known for managing the renowned Toronto Food Policy Council. Since retiring in 2010, he has served on the boards of several well-respected food non-profits and has written two books – The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food, and a low-cost e-book, Food for City Building.

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Local Book CoverTitle: Good Food Revolution
Featuring: Will Allen, Founder and CEO
Location: Growing Power, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Found on Page 212 in Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America

Food resilience means the creation of a community food system that can reliably produce adequate good food that’s safe, wholesome, and affordable to all.

Growing Power plays a vital role in the Milwaukee food shed, providing people from diverse backgrounds equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food. Their national outreach programs teach community leaders across America how to grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner.  Training covers such topics as anaerobic digestion for food waste, bio/phyto remediation, aquaculture, vermiculture, small and large scale composting, urban agriculture, permaculture, food distribution, marketing, youth and leadership development, community engagement and project planning.

Using aquaponics, Growing Power raises about 100,000 fish per year.  These include tilapia, a warm-water fish native to Africa, and lake perch, a cool-water fish native to North America.

While tomatoes only grow in the summer months in the veggie garden, over 150 varieties of produce, including spinach, arugula, chard, turnip and collard greens, lettuces, and peppers grow throughout the year.

Visit the Jones Valley Urban Farm with filmmaker Matthew Graves. As a “non-profit, production, organic, urban, teaching farm”, Jones Valley Urban Farm nourishes southern culture in the town of Birmingham, Alabama and beyond. Together with volunteers, the farm turns vacant urban property into bountiful gardens and uses the proceeds from produce and flower sales to fund educational programs.

The Southern Foodways Alliance documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. They set a common table where black and white, rich and poor — all who gather — may consider our history and our future in a spirit of reconciliation. A member-supported non-profit, based at the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture, Southern Foodways Alliance stage symposia, produce documentary films, collect oral histories, sponsor scholarship, mentor students, and publish great writing. Donations from generous individuals, foundations, and companies fund our good work.

In cities across the U.S., urban farming is gaining traction as a way of productively using degraded vacant land while increasing access to fresh produce within cities. As urban farming continues to be promoted by municipal governments and others, it is important to understand how to ensure these projects are viable. One consideration for urban farms located in populated areas of a city is the reaction of residents who live in neighborhoods surrounding farms. Urban farms differ from urban gardens in their emphasis on income-generating agricultural activity. As such, they can challenge traditional images residents might have for how land is used in city neighborhoods. Urban farming projects are most likely to survive and thrive if they have local support, but how can these projects gain community buy-in? Through interviews with urban farmers, neighborhood leaders, community residents, and other key stakeholders in Baltimore City, [Melissa Poulsen, MPH, and Mari L. Spiker, MSPH] sought to understand the processes that are most effective for gaining the acceptance of city residents for urban farming.

Read the full report focused on strengthening the relationship between urban farms and local communities.

Melissa Poulsen, MPH, is a PhD student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future-Lerner fellow. She is passionate about creating a food system that is good for health–both human health and the health of our planet. Her current research examines community perceptions of urban farming, what influences those perceptions, and the ways in which urban farming projects gain acceptance from local communities.

Strawberries-Canas-Urban-AgConserving Arkansas’ Agricultural Heritage is a project of the Southern Center for Agroecology dedicated to protecting and improving the genetic diversity of uniquecanas-urban-ag-chick heirloom seed varieties. CAAH works with a network of seed savers, small farmers, market gardeners, backyard gardeners and gardening enthusiasts throughout the region to preserve agricultural folkways and knowledge. Agricultural tradition is preserved and passed down to future generations of food producers by saving seeds and exchanging them with growers throughout the region along with the stories and meaning that have become part of their essence.

Excited to meet other farmers, gardeners, and Southern food lovers, Sara Fulton-Koerbling joined CANAS in 2013. Here she explores the group’s evolution.

I joined CANAS (the Central Arkansas New Agrarian Society) before I even lived in Central Arkansas. I was fresh of the heels of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Conference (SSAWG) and eager to ingratiate myself with this group of awe-inspiring farmers, gardeners, and local food enthusiasts. I was so grateful to finally find a group of people who knew that devoting your life to small scale, sustainable food production was not only admirable but also practical. The first meeting I went to was at the local pizza place and we all sat around a large table and talked about what part of the conference was most engaging, what we learned, and how the spring planting schedule was shaping up.

CANAS started in January of 2011 as an opportunity for a small group of folks growing food in Little Rock to get together to commiserate over beer and pizza. It was, admittedly, more of a social club at first. By the time I came upon CANAS two years later, they were fundraising, hosting garden workshops, and nurturing an online resource–sharing community. In 2014, we hosted the first annual CANAS Conference: Cultivating Community, a day-long series of workshops devoted to planning, growing, and utilizing the freshest, healthiest, local food. Our largest presence is an active 400+ member Facebook group where folks share knowledge, skills, and resources. Posts range from shared grief over vine borers and advertising the latest extension workshop, to offering pear trees for gleaning and looking to hire help for the okra harvest.

Most members of CANAS actively grow food, whether it’s a small backyard garden, an aquaponics set up, or a full-scale vegetable production farm. While Arkansas is typically thought of as a rural state, I like to think of it in terms of agriculture. In fact, “urban” and “agriculture”, for a lot of people, are diametrically opposed terms. CANAS is a coalition that aims to cultivate Urban Agriculture in central Arkansas by serving as a network of communication and cooperation. Ultimately, CANAS desires to instill in the community the beauty and necessity of a closed-loop, local, democratic food system.

Growing food in an urban environment might seem disconnected from the pastoral vision of acres of crops stretching into the distance. Truth is, it is. However, as I’ve started growing food in the city, I’ve begun to see things in a different light. For example, there is so much wasted fertility in an urban setting. Last fall, I rode my bike around town on the lookout for the mother lode of black plastic bags waiting for me on the curb. After a brief survey of the yard to decide whether the contents within could contain more round up or trash than leaves, I made a mental note to come back to haul it to the garden. People probably think I’m crazy, but I’m not the only one who does this. City-dwellers are literally paying someone to haul away all of their fertility. Those bags I gather over the course of months will soon line pathways and mulch beds, slowly breaking down to feed a diverse ecosystem of plants, fungus, insects, bacteria and, one day soon, my community.

What’s the take away? Only a few, short years after breaking bread with friends, the table set to discuss the ins-and-outs of growing delicious food at home gardens, CANAS, continues to inspire individuals like myself. I encourage you all to start a similarly-focused group in your own area!

Sara Fulton-Koerbling loves all things food. She is a sociologist and trained personal chef, a market gardener and passionate community organizer. In Little Rock, AR, she is the Healthy Eating Specialist at Whole Foods Market. Sara also co-directs the Central Arkansas New Agrarian Society a grassroots organization dedicated to strengthening the regional economy and demonstrating sustainable living practices.

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Nourish logo no F+C-1In this short film from the Nourish Initiative, chef Bryant Terry discusses the rise of urban farming and its importance in building healthy communities, engaging young people, and bringing fresh, homegrown food to cities.

Chef, educator, and author renowned for his activism to create a healthy, just, and sustainable food system, Bryant Terry’s fourth book, Afro-Vegan (named one of the best cookbooks of 2014 in June by, was published by Ten Speed Press/Random House April 2014. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed Vegan Soul Kitchen. Bryant’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, NPR’s All Things Considered, O: The Oprah Magazine, Colorlines, and Vegetarian Times, among many other publications. Bryant presents frequently around the country as a keynote speaker at community events, conferences, and colleges, including Brown, Columbia, NYU, Smith, Stanford, and Yale.

Plant Seeds in the Sidewalk

By Tucker Taylor

When it comes to urban agriculture, the benefit is not as much about the food that is produced as it is in the community that is created and the conversations that begin on food production. When I first began a garden of my own I started with a few potted herbs on my patio. I didn’t grow much, but what I grew made enriched my cooking. What really struck me was the conversations that sprouted on my sidewalk and in my street. My neighbors would ask about different varieties, growing techniques and recipes. Later on, as my garden grew so did the conversations. They evolved into larger topics such as the state of food production, farm workers’ welfare and healthy living. As the conversation grew, so, too, did my garden. An abundance of produce in hand, I began trading with other urban gardeners for eggs and breads and artisan products, enriching my lifestyle. Together, we’re thriving, planting seeds, watching them grow.


Tucker TaylorTucker Taylor is an expert in certified organic farming, specialty produce, and sustainability. Taylor strongly believes in soil cultivation—with a healthy dose of compost—as the key to a good harvest. He is now the first Director of Culinary Gardens for Jackson Family Wines, where he spearheads the cultivation of all the company’s gardens globally. Prior to joining the Kendall Jackson family, Tucker oversaw landscaping at every property of the world-renowned chef Thomas Keller’s restaurants (French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon, Ad Hoc), setting the standard for today’s farm-to-table fine dining. Follow him on Instagram @farmert.
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Urban Agriculture

By the end of the 20th century, nearly 80% of Americans lived in urban areas. And they no longer knew who grew their food. Then something happened. Across America, an urban farming movement has begun. Whether it’s on city rooftops, beside freeway off-ramps, in vacant lots, and even in their front yards, when people like Novella Carpenter in Oakland, California grow food in cities it reconnects them to where their food comes from.


Excerpt from Lexicon’s Film Discussion Guide “Urban Agriculture”:

An urban farming movement is happening throughout the country. Whether it’s on city rooftops, beside freeway off-ramps, in vacant lots and even in front yards, urban farmers are reconnecting people to where their food comes from.

Can urban farming significantly supplement a foodshed?

Download Film Discussion Guide


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Local Book CoverTitle: Urban Apiary
Featuring: Jon Feldman and C. Eddie Diaz
Location: Brooklyn, New York

Found on Page 142 in Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America

Eve Felder’s bees in Duchess County inspired Jon Feldman to start his own urban apiary. He’d always assumed that one day he would live out in the country with a small garden and bees close by. He never considered keeping bees in the city; he thought the noise and pollution would keep the bees from doing their jobs. Then his friend Brandon had the idea to put them on the roof above Roberta’s garden. When they began, beekeeping was illegal in New York; now they get ten gallons from each hive.

Havana_organoponic_Plaza_de_la-Revolucion-INIFATHow Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Can Help Central American Cities

The Latin American and Caribbean region has seen its urban population sharply increase over the last few decades. This, combined with increasing rates of poverty and food insecurity throughout the region, has led many cities to implement urban and peri-urban agriculture.

Learn how urban farming combats the challenges of food insecurity and poverty.

Can Urban Growing Feed Cities?

When Tiana Begum and her two teenagers moved into their new home in a 1970’s council flat in West London, the landlord didn’t just hand over the keys but also the pamphlet for their local veg-box scheme, which delivers fresh produce grown in the rooftop greenhouse above their heads. ‘That’s not food miles,’ Tiana exclaimed, ‘that’s food metres!’

Read on about the Rooftop Revolution.


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Local Book CoverTitle: Rooftop Farm
Featuring: Ben Flanner, Head Farmer and President, and Robert Lateiner, Farmer
Location: Brooklyn Grange Farm, Brooklyn, New York
Found on Page 165 in Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America

Urban agriculture closes the gap between city dwellers and their food. Rooftop farms serve many functions. They add environmentally beneficial green space to cities, increase the local food supply, cool the building in the summer and reduce the burden on city sewers by absorbing rainwater. An urban rooftop makes the perfect garden because it gets great light and strong winds, which, admittedly, can present a challenge.

Brooklyn Grange chose this rooftop for its structural integrity, size and accessibility.  The Grange’s produce is sold directly to the community through farmstands, CSAs and local restaurants. Ben  Flanne, Head Farmer and President of the Brooklyn Grange, raised funds to build this farm through community fundraisers, Kickstarter, equity investments and interest loans. In its first season alone, the Brooklyn Grange grew 12,000 pounds of vegetables.

Perennial Plate
A Tale of Two Rooftops

A tale of two men, two cities and two farms. Filmed in Beijing and Hong Kong, this short film highlights alternative farming practices in urban China.

The Perennial Plate is an online weekly documentary series dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating. Chef and Activist, Daniel Klein and Filmmaker Mirra Fine are traveling the world exploring the wonders, complexities and stories behind the ever more connected global food system.


Find innovative ideas and facts from our interviews with Lexicon thought leaders.

Eli Zigas of S.P.U.R.

Eli Zigas is the Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager at SPUR, an urban planning think tank and advocacy organization. He managers SPUR’s work on urban agriculture, regional foodshed planning, and creating a vibrant, accessible food system in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Download Interview

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Local Book CoverTitle: (Sub)Urban Micro Farm
Featuring: Craig Ruggless and Gary Jackemuk
Location: Winnetka Farms, Winnetka, California

Found on Page 169 in Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America

Craig Ruggless and Gary Jackemuk started this farm in their backyard in Winnetka, California to grow what they couldn’t find in their local supermarket. Gary says, “In the last twenty years, we’ve lost hundreds of varieties of vegetables from our tables, because commercial growers simply stopped growing them.”

Craig adds, “The U.S. has basically one zucchini and one yellow crook neck squash that is grown nationally and they’re both horrible. People of this generation don’t know they’re missing.


Find innovative ideas and facts from our interviews with Lexicon thought leaders.

Mary Seton Corboy of Greensgrow Philadelphia Project

Mary Seton Corboy is the Founder and Chief Farmhand at Greensgrow Farm & Greensgrow Philadelphia Project. Although named Best Philadelphian by Philadelphia Magazine in 2010, Mary Seton Corboy is a native of Washington DC. A stop over in Philadelphia lasted over 30 years. In 1997, Mary and her friend Tom started Greensgrow in search of a good tomato. She has a BA in Political Science and English Lit from Wilson College and a MA in Political Science from Villanova University. She is an unlikely farmer and an even more unlikely pioneer.

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Local Book CoverTitle: Y.I.M.B.Y. (Yes In My Backyard)
Featuring: Colin McCrate, Founder and Co-Owner of Seattle Urban Farm Company
Location: Roof of Bastille Café, Ballard Neighborhood, Seattle, Washington
Found on Page 166 in Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America

Y.I.M.B.Y. stands for “Yes in My Backyard”. It’s a community-based support of a new concept that improves a community’s overall quality of life and reconnects each individual to their neighbors.

Colin McCrate believes in the principles of hyper-local food production, which he defines as, “Food grown, processed and consumed at the neighborhood level of community.” Coin says, “Almost any city neighborhood can produce vegetables, fruits, small livestock (chickens, goats) and sweeteners (honey) for its residents. Some people want a more nutritious diet.  Others want to save money on grocery bills.  They might be serious cooks who’ve discovered that fresher food tastes better, or concerned mothers suspicious of a food system that recalls large quantities of vegetables each year. Regardless of the original intent, as people begin growing food, they embrace these ideas.”

Colin plants gardens in single family homes, on restaurant rooftops and patios, on Condominium rooftops, and in apartment complex courtyards. He grows things like hakurei furnips, french breakfast radishes, regiment spinach, flat-leaf Italian parsley, surrey arugula, spearmint, deer tongue bibb lettuce, winter density romaine lettuce, Nancy butter head lettuce, and peppergrass.

Recipe of the Week By Chef Ann Cooper

Chef-Ann-Cooper-thumbnailChef Ann Cooper is the Renegade Lunch Lady. She is an internationally recognized author, chef, educator, public speaker, and advocate of healthy food for all children. She is also the founder of Food Family Farming Foundation.

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