If you know the Clinton/Bush global pols are tied to that Kissinger ---control oil control a nation/control food control a nation's people----then you see where Bush became that oil/energy global control and Clinton became that global food control with BIG AG, BIG MEAT, BIG DAIRY, AND MONSANTO. So social Democrat knew in the 1990s consolidated food was that goal. Below you see it playing out in real time----the Ukraine fight is not about what politics is good for its citizens---it is about sending in global fracking corporations and as we see here---Monsanto and the killing of small farms.
International Economic Zone policies brought to nations around the world aways start with that and guess what? A US loaded with US Treasury, state and local government bond leverage debt will see this IMF move towards sending US cities like Baltimore into a global investment firm/global corporate capture for lack of revenue. That is the goal of Obama and Clinton/O'Malley neo-liberals and Bush/Hopkins neo-cons in loading Baltimore with the most bond leverage debt IN THE NATION. None of this was legal----politicians cannot deliberately conspire against citizens to hand control to global corporations so a Mayor of Baltimore can revisit all these Wall Street leverage deals/bond deals to make them in the public interest.
What does this have to do with building a real, local fresh food economy? We know the current goal is moving all fresh food into the hands of McMansion estate holders and global industrial farming. Citizens around the world have been fighting this for decades--Americans need to wake up to what will become an autocratic control of our vital food access.
Ukraine Agreed to a Monsanto “Land Grab” to Get a $17 Billion Loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
By Christina Sarich
Global Research, March 15, 2015
Natural Society and Global Research 11 January 2015
Region: Europe, Russia and FSU
Theme: Biotechnology and GMO, Global Economy
In-depth Report: UKRAINE REPORT
6153 941 51
11.2KThis article was first published by Natural Society and Global Research on January 11, 2015.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) is helping biotech run the latest war in Ukraine. Make no mistake that what is happening in the Ukraine now is deeply tied to the interests of Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, and other big players in the poison food game.
Monsanto has an office in Ukraine. While this does not shout ‘culpability’ from every corner, it is no different than the US military’s habit to place bases in places that they want to gain political control. The opening of this office coincided with land grabs with loans from the IMF and World Bank to one of the world’s most hated corporations – all in support of their biotech takeover.
Previously, there was a ban on private sector land ownership in the country – but it was lifted ‘just in time’ for Monsanto to have its way with the Ukraine.
In fact, a bit of political maneuvering by the IMF gave the Ukraine a $17 billion loan – but only if they would open up to biotech farming and the selling of Monsanto’s poison crops and chemicals – destroying a farmland that is one of the most pristine in all of Europe. Farm equipment dealer, Deere, along with seed producers Dupont and Monsanto, will have a heyday.
In the guise of ‘aid,’ a claim has been made on Ukraine’s vast agricultural riches. It is the world’s third largest exporter of corn and fifth largest exporter of wheat. Ukraine has deep, rich, black soil that can grow almost anything, and its ability to produce high volumes of GM grain is what made biotech come rushing to take it over.
As reported by The Ecologist, according to the Oakland Institute:
“Whereas Ukraine does not allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture, Article 404 of the EU agreement, which relates to agriculture, includes a clause that has generally gone unnoticed: it indicates, among other things, that both parties will cooperate to extend the use of biotechnologies.
There is no doubt that this provision meets the expectations of the agribusiness industry. As observed by Michael Cox, research director at the investment bank Piper Jaffray, ‘Ukraine and, to a wider extent, Eastern Europe, are among the most promising growth markets for farm-equipment giant Deere, as well as seed producers Monsanto and DuPont’.”
Read: Former Pro-GMO Biotech Scientist Admits GMOs are NOT Safe
The nation WAS Europe’s breadbasket – and now in an act of bio-warfare, it will become the wasteland that many US farmlands have become due to copious amounts of herbicide spraying, the depletion of soil, and the overall disruption of a perfect ecosystem.
The aim of US government entities is to support the takeover of Ukraine for biotech interests (among other strategies involving the prop-up of a failing cabalistic banking system that Russia has also refused with its new alignment with BRICS and its own payment system called SWIFT). This is similar to biotech’s desired takeover of Hawaiian islands and land in Africa.
The Ukraine war has many angles that haven’t been exposed to the general public – and you can bet that biotech has their hands in the proverbial corn pie.
Citizens in the US are being made to think the fight against Monsanto is only about genetic engineering and whether it is harmful to our health. That is the smallest piece of this global movement fighting this these few decades of Clinton/Bush/Obama. Yes, there are concerns for health over GM foods because no clinical trial research over a few decades to see if it is harmful ever occurred. The gorilla in the room on Monsanto and GM is creating a mono-culture of seeds and product and killing off our natural seed and food sources. It means this-----each area of the US and nations around the world have different soil, climate, and seasonal conditions that natural food sources have adapted to over millions of years. That makes them best at rebounding from drought, natural climate disasters, and local events like volcano eruptions filling the soil with ash. Natural food sources are also FREE for farmers to harvest seed for next year's crops which is what all small farmers do especially in developing nations. GM seeds are not only genetically engineered for best growing results----they often have inserted genetics that act as insecticides and fertilizers altering how that plant grows. This is behind the mass honey bee kill and other vital insects needed for agricultural growth. Mono-culture of Monsanto GM seeds and food are behind massive crop failures around the world from plant diseases like fungus that would not normally have occurred but from the lack of diversity of natural seed and food sources.
This is the top issue in fresh food economy. If we are controlled from where we get our seed----as organic farmers have shouted for these few decades----we lose control of our fresh, local food economies. Organic farmers are being pushed out of business because GM food sources release seed that blows through wind, water, and pollinating insects and animals into their organic fields making it impossible to say these foods are organic.
Protesters around the world march against Monsanto
AP 12:08 a.m. EDT May 26, 2013(Photo: Mark Collier, AP)
- Organizers say two million people joined the protests
- The marches against genetically modified food were held in 436 cities in 52 countries
- Monsanto says their seeds increase agricultural production and conserve resources
MORELOS ANGELES (AP) — Protesters rallied in dozens of cities Saturday as part of a global protest against seed giant Monsanto and the genetically modified food it produces, organizers said.
Organizers said "March Against Monsanto" protests were held in 52 countries and 436 cities, including Los Angeles where demonstrators waved signs that read "Real Food 4 Real People" and "Label GMOs, It's Our Right to Know."
Genetically modified plants are grown from seeds that are engineered to resist insecticides and herbicides, add nutritional benefits or otherwise improve crop yields and increase the global food supply.
Most corn, soybean and cotton crops grown in the United States today have been genetically modified. But critics say genetically modified organisms can lead to serious health conditions and harm the environment. The use of GMOs has been a growing issue of contention in recent years, with health advocates pushing for mandatory labeling of genetically modified products even though the federal government and many scientists say the technology is safe.
The 'March Against Monsanto' movement began just a few months ago, when founder and organizer Tami Canal created a Facebook page on Feb. 28 calling for a rally against the company's practices.
"If I had gotten 3,000 people to join me, I would have considered that a success," she said Saturday. Instead, she said an "incredible" number of people responded to her message and turned out to rally.
"It was empowering and inspiring to see so many people, from different walks of life, put aside their differences and come together today," Canal said. The group plans to harness the success of the event to continue its anti-GMO cause.
"We will continue until Monsanto complies with consumer demand. They are poisoning our children, poisoning our planet," she said. "If we don't act, who's going to?"
Protesters in Buenos Aires and other cities in Argentina, where Monsanto's genetically modified soy and grains now command nearly 100% of the market, and the company's Roundup-Ready chemicals are sprayed throughout the year on fields where cows once grazed. They carried signs saying "Monsanto-Get out of Latin America"
In Portland, thousands of protesters took to Oregon streets. Police estimate about 6,000 protesters took part in Portland's peaceful march, and about 300 attended the rally in Bend. Other marches were scheduled in Baker City, Coos Bay, Eugene, Grants Pass, Medford, Portland, Prineville and Redmond.
Across the country in Orlando, about 800 people gathered with signs, pamphlets and speeches in front of City Hall. Maryann Wilson of Clermont, Fla., said she learned about Monsanto and genetically modified food by watching documentaries on YouTube.
"Scientists are saying that because they create their own seeds, they are harming the bees," Wilson told the Orlando Sentinel. "That is about as personal as it gets for me."
Chrissy Magaw was one of about 200 protesters who walked from a waterfront park to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Pensacola.
She told WEAR-TV that knowing what you eat and put into your body is the most important decision you make every day.
BIG AG was behind Monsanto and GM because they are the ones wanting to increase yield any way they can. I understand small farmers see this benefit as well and they do not like people fighting against GM because it makes life easier for them as well. We need to look at the BIG PICTURE. Before GM and Monsanto products small farmers over-planted because they knew they would lose some plants from insect/disease/weather and had the resources on hand to fight all this naturally. Too much fertilizer----too much insecticide has made soils unusable in the long term so this is not the solution to our need for fresh, local food economies. It doesn't mean we cannot use fertilizer or insecticide---we certainly do not want them in GM seeds.
What global Monsanto does in its march to control all food sources in nations around the world---and the US----is to use this PATENTING of seed to claim rights to plants that show to be GM. This includes plants in fields planted with natural seed but filled with GM seed blown in the wind, brought by water, and passed with pollinating insects and animals----SEE HOW THIS MEANS ALMOST ALL CROPS? These claims by Monsanto to crops of local farmers having nothing to do with GM has been happening around the world these few decades and is now coming to the US. This is why our local small organic farmers are being shut down----leaving us with global Whole Foods as an organ food source which we have right to doubt if these foods are really organic.
Don't let global industrial food fool you as to this issue being only about whether GM is safe to eat-----it is about controlling a nation's and the world's food sources.
Goliath and David: Monsanto's Legal Battles against Farmers
Private Eyes are Watching You
"Monsanto is big. You can’t win. We will get you. You will pay""As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country. They fan out into fields and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities. Farmers say that some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records. Farmers call them the 'seed police' and use words such as 'Gestapo' and 'Mafia' to describe their tactics" Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear.
Monsanto has sued many a farmer when their GM crops have turned up on the farmer's fields even though the farmers say they never planted them (examples  ). Farmers who get into the Roundup-Ready (RR) System lose their independence, and are obliged to sign a lengthy and restrictive agreement. . What's more Monsanto contracts out to private investigation firms like Pinkerton, to regularly check up on their farmers (and independent, non-GM farmers as well), taking samples unannounced from their fields to make sure they are not in violation  . It also maintains a hotline so farmers can turn in their neighbors for suspected violations.
According to Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers Monsanto pursues hundreds of new investigative leads a year, 600 in 2003 for example, aimed at farmers.
"The odds are clearly stacked against the farmer: Monsanto has an annual budget of $10 million dollars and a staff of 75 devoted solely to investigating and prosecuting farmers. The largest recorded judgment made thus far in favor of Monsanto as a result of a farmer lawsuit is $3,052,800.00. Total recorded judgments granted to Monsanto for lawsuits amount to $15,253,602.82. Farmers have paid a mean of $412,259.54 for cases with recorded judgments".
To be fair, there are undoubtedly a percentage of cases wherein the "violating" farmer signed the contract with full knowledge of what he was getting himself into. Equally without doubt however, there are many who either signed without reading (or understanding) the fine print, or who were perhaps given a bag of seed by a friend (not uncommon), or whose crops were pollinated by a neighbor's GM field - the HT trait going undetected (how many farmers routinely test for herbicide tolerance?) until a large portion of his crops are GM, or who perhaps gave the engineered seed a trial run one year then next growing season changed his mind only to find that the persistant stuff keeps coming back effectively putting him in violation, etc.
Monsanto v. Geertson Seed FarmsFacts of the case
On April 27, 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments regarding Monsanto’s bid to overturn a federal appeals court’s decision that a nationwide ban on GM alfalfa should remain in place until a court-ordered environmental impact statement (EIS) is complete . That decision found that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) did not do a thorough enough study of the impacts GM alfalfa would have on human health and the environment and ordered the agency to do another EIS review .
While a draft was released publicly in December 2009, “there is no anticipated date” for the final EIS, Suzanne Bond, a spokeswoman with the USDA division charged with regulating GM organism—the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)—stated .
Although it remains undisputed that USDA violated environmental laws and that it must rigorously analyze the GM crop’s impacts before deciding whether or not to approve it for sale, Monsanto is arguing that the lower courts should have allowed the planting of GM alfalfa to go forward in the interim . The ban has prevented RR alfalfa from being planted since 2007 .
The Geertson case hinges on Monsanto’s claim that organic farmers did not demonstrate a “likelihood of irreparable harm.” That standard was also the focus of a 2008 decision in which the Supreme Court upheld the Navy’s use of sonar for training exercises in Southern California despite potential impacts on animals (please see Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council). Alison Peck, a law professor at West Virginia University, said it is unclear whether the justices will use the Monsanto case to further refine the test for environmental injunctions or delve more deeply into issues specifically pertaining to GM crops .
The Monsanto case stems from a 2006 lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Led by the Center for Food Safety and Phillip Geertson, a producer of organic alfalfa seeds from Adrian, Oregon, the plaintiffs claimed that RR alfalfa could spread its genes to alfalfa in neighboring fields, potentially preventing the other farmers from marketing their produce as organic. This would also prohibit farmers from exporting to countries that prohibit GM crops. Organic farmers convinced the court that they faced a “likelihood of irreparable harm” from genetic contamination, securing a ban on planting of RR alfalfa (until USDA’s EIS is complete) .
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, the brother of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, ruled that the government needed to examine the GM alfalfa’s impact even though there was no reason to believe it was harmful . (Because of Charles Breyer’s involvement in the case, left-leaning Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will not take part in the Monsanto case).
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
The law under which organic farmers were allowed to challenge USDA’s oversight of the GM alfalfa, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), is what may suffer the most from the court’s eventual decision . NEPA requires that whenever a federal agency undertakes a federal action that can significantly affect the quality of the environment, the agency is supposed to consider and document potential environmental effects of their actions . Judge Breyer ruled in his 2007 decision that even a remote possibility of genetic contamination justified environmental review under NEPA .
NEPA is a key legal tool for environmental groups seeking to challenge federal agencies’ decisions; the vulnerability of NEPA in this case is why so many organizations, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, have filed amicus briefs against Monsanto.
Conversely, industry groups have described the lawsuit as a typical abuse by advocacy groups, saying the litigation is intended to obstruct and delay action even though there is little or no risk of harm to plaintiffs. Business groups, including the American Petroleum Institute, filed amicus briefs urging the court to set a high bar for plaintiffs who seek injunctions against industry while suing for environmental review. For a full list of amicus briefs filed in favor of Monsanto, please see this link.
Legal experts do not expect a blockbuster decision on the merits of regulating GM plants, but the case has drawn widespread interest because the justices could issue a ruling that would raise or lower the threshold for challenges under NEPA . Justice Antonin Scalia appeared unconvinced by the respondents’ reasoning during oral arguments and stated: “This isn’t contamination of New York City’s water supply…This is not the end of the world, it really isn’t. He went on: “The most it does is affect the farmers who want to cater to the European markets” . A decision is expected in June 2010.
SCALIA MEANS MARKETS IN NATIONS HAVING FORBIDDEN GM PRODUCTS.....INCLUDING EUROPEAN NATIONS.
Implications of decision
The case could have broader implications regarding Monsanto’s GM sugar beets, which have also faced opposition from environmentalists . In September 2009, federal district Judge Jeffrey White of the Northern District of California, said that Monsanto’s RR sugar beets were not properly assessed and required an EIS, overturning a previous decision made by the Bush administration to deregulate the crop. White ruled that the USDA should have assessed the impact the sugar beets could have on closely related crops .
The plaintiffs (represented by Earthjustice and The Center for Food Safety) were looking to Judge White to block the further cultivation of RR sugar beets while the EIS is prepared; currently, Monsanto is the only supplier of sugar beets . However, on March 16, 2010, Judge White denied the request seeking a temporary ban on the GM sugar beets. While Judge White denied the preliminary injunction, he indicated that permanent relief is likely forthcoming: “The parties should not assume that the Court’s decision to deny a preliminary injunction is indicative of its views on a permanent injunction pending the full environmental review that APHIS [Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service] is required to do.” The court further explained: “While the environmental review is pending, the Court is inclined to order the Intervenor-Defendants to take all efforts … to use conventional [non-GE] seed” .
I posted earlier an article that shouted out against the fact that our USDA---created originally to promote small farming and protect our food supply has been these few decades simply working for global Monsanto AND BIG AG. All the Federal funding that used to be used to keep our food supply safe and inspected is now being sent to fund global Monsanto research and promotion around the world. Our US food supply is now as bad as before FDR created this social Democratic approach to fresh food security and safety. THAT IS THE GOAL OF CLINTON/OBAMA WALL STREET GLOBAL CORPORATE NEO-LIBERALS WORKING WITH REPUBLICANS ---TO END ALL NEW DEAL POLICIES LIKE THIS.
When global corporations take over our Federal agencies and now our corporatized universities---all data coming from research promotes the selling of a product and we now have no PUBLIC INTEREST research being done by our Federal agencies and corporate universities.
Monsanto Has Taken Over the USDA
NationofChange / News Analysis
Published: Thursday 9 May 2013
Clearly, an investigation of large-scale government corruption by this singularly destructive corporation is long overdue.
The organization is called Monsanto.
Monsanto is, of course, the world's largest biotech corporation. These are the people who brought us Roundup weed killer and the resulting superweeds and superbugs, along with growth hormones for cows, genetically engineered and patented seeds, PCBs, and Agent Orange -- which Monsanto now wants us to use as herbicide on genetically engineered corn and soybeans.
This chemical company -- responsible for environmental disasters that have destroyed entire towns, and a driving force behind the international waves of suicides among farmers whose lives it has helped ruin -- has monopolized our food system largely by taking over regulatory agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A recent study links Roundup to autism, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's.
While Hungary has just destroyed all Monsanto genetically engineered corn fields, the USDA takes a slightly different approach toward the chemical giant. The USDA has, in fact, never denied a single application from Monsanto for new genetically engineered crops. Not one. Not ever.
The takeover has been thorough. Monsanto's growth hormones for cows have been approved by Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lobbyist turned USDA administrator and FDA deputy commissioner. This was after Margaret Miller, a former Monsanto employee, oversaw a report on the hormones' safety and then took a job at the FDA where she approved her own report.
Islam Siddiqui, a former Monsanto lobbyist, wrote the USDA's food standards, allowing corporations to label irradiated and genetically engineered foods as "organic."
The recently passed and signed law nicknamed the Monsanto Protection Act strips federal courts of the power to halt the sale and planting of genetically engineered crops during a legal appeals process. The origin of this act can be found in the USDA's deregulation of Roundup Ready sugar beets in violation of a court order. The USDA argued that any delay would have caused a sugar shortage, since Monsanto holds 95% of the market.
The revolving door keeps revolving. Monsanto's board members have worked for the EPA, advised the USDA, and served on President Obama's Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.
Clearly, an investigation of large-scale government corruption by this singularly destructive corporation is long overdue.
'Risks Associated with GM Farm Animals
The genetic engineering of food animals entails certain risks'.
When people shout out against GM and shout for labeling it is mostly tied to a health concern when it deals with GM BIG MEAT. This is because almost no research has been done on how GM changes systems inside these animals and how those changes will eventually effect citizens. They just DO IT. Scientist know these kinds of changes are occurring and they highly suspect these will have bad health effects down the road. It mirrors the explosion of junk food tied to GLOBAL BIG AG in the mid-west with all that corn crop tied to Monsanto----they had to create food products to sell all that Monsanto corn crop and we know how bad that was for our nation's health.
I will pick on IOWA because it is a BIG AG/BIG MEAT state but all those mid-west states tied into Monsanto and Bill Clinton gained political power by being the Monsanto pol. When we see Senator Harkin from IOWA as head of our Congressional health committee knowing he is BIG AG and BIG MEAT---running as a Democrat-----a very Clinton Wall Street global corporate neo-liberal----we know a few national media articles making him look to be posing progressive in our health and food concerns is not real. Many of these BIG AG and BIG MEAT states are Republican and Maryland's food policies are tied to these same Wall Street global food.
This article comes with video but increasing censorship has computer software becoming unable to play certain video posts.
Risks Associated with GM Farm Animals
The genetic engineering of food animals entails certain risks. It is possible, for example, that the expression of novel proteins could cause allergic reactions in susceptible people. The likelihood that a foreign protein is allergenic depends on the particular gene product, the food in which it appears, and the individuals who consume it.
As part of the regulatory process, it is therefore essential to test that meat, milk, or other food products derived from transgenic farm animals are not substantially different from those produced by standard methods. There are also concerns that the mass-breeding and potential escape of transgenic animals could pose long-term risks to the environment.15
Another problem is a lack of transparency. Although researchers appear to be looking into many different aspects of transgenic livestock, biotech companies are not required to disclose these activities. All that is known about such research and development activities comes from published academic papers and what companies have chosen voluntarily to disclose.
Let's bring all this back to building local community fresh food economies. The article below is right----a city like Baltimore cannot possibly create enough fresh food economy to feed ALL CITIZENS IN THE CITY. It is vital to know what a state like Maryland is doing with its GREEN SPACE SUSTAINABILITY land grabs we are all told is about public interest green policy. As I showed more and more that Maryland real estate green space sustainable land often hundreds of acres large are now being parceled out to what looks to be GENTLEMEN FARMERS-----these huge landed estates that will have fresh food controlled by that land owner.
This is a policy for local fresh food economies that must change. We must have open small farmland surrounding Baltimore and in our outer communities to REALLY meet the needs of creating a stable, healthy, local fresh food economy for Baltimore.
We have heard talk from Clinton/Obama neo-liberals for two terms of Obama about funding things like roof-top farming but every time I ask a building which would be ideal for this why they are not doing it---the answer is the same----THE COSTS OF MODIFYING BUILDING STRUCTURES TO HOLD THESE ROOF-TOP GARDENS IS TOO MUCH and funding has not been given to make these vital structural changes----it is all going to subsidize ordinary global corporate campus and national chain high rise buildings.
When we build new public school buildings all should have this structural support but do they? Citizens haven't a clue and you can bet with global corporations in charge they will build on the cheap.
The other issue is solid, permanent PUBLIC GREENHOUSES that are large and too expensive for a community group or non-profit to buy and maintain. That is why they must be publicly funded and this will spark small business greenhouses as well. This is the structure for REAL local fresh food economies IN EACH COMMUNITY.
Urban farming is booming, but what does it really yield?
The benefits of city-based agriculture go far beyond nutrition.
Photo by Marcin Szczepanski
Writer Elizabeth Royte
@ElizabethRoyte science and environment writer and author
April 27, 2015 — Editor’s note: This story was produced in collaboration with the Food & Environment Reporting Network, a non-profit investigative news organization.
Midway through spring, the nearly bare planting beds of Carolyn Leadley’s Rising Pheasant Farms, in the Poletown neighborhood of Detroit, barely foreshadow the cornucopian abundance to come. It will be many months before Leadley is selling produce from this one-fifth-acre (one-tenth-hectare) plot. But the affable young farmer has hardly been idle, even during the snowiest days of winter. Twice daily, she has been trekking from her house to a small greenhouse in her side yard, where she waves her watering wand over roughly 100 trays of sprouts, shoots and microgreens. She sells this miniature bounty, year round, at the city’s eastern market and to restaurateurs delighted to place some hyperlocal greens on their guests’ plates.
Leadley is a key player in Detroit’s vibrant communal and commercial farming community, which in 2014 produced nearly 400,000 pounds (181,000 kilograms) of produce — enough to feed more than 600 people — in its more than 1,300 community, market, family and school gardens. Other farms in postindustrial cities are also prolific: In 2008, Philadelphia’s 226 community and squatter gardens grew roughly 2 million pounds of mid-summer vegetables and herbs, worth US$4.9 million. Running at full bore, Brooklyn’s Added-Value Farm, which occupies 2.75 acres, funnels 40,000 pounds of fruit and vegetables into the low-income neighborhood of Red Hook. And in Camden, New Jersey — an extremely poor city of 80,000 with only one full-service supermarket — community gardeners at 44 sites harvested almost 31,000 pounds (14,000 kilograms) of vegetables during an unusually wet and cold summer. That’s enough food during the growing season to feed 508 people three servings a day.
In addition to raising vegetables, urban gardens can help families raise kids who enjoy the outdoors. Photo of Rising Pheasant Farms’ Carolyn Leadley and family by Marcin Szczepanski.
That researchers are even bothering to quantify the amount of food produced on tiny city farms — whether community gardens, like those of Camden and Philly, or for-profit operations, like Leadley’s — is testament to the nation’s burgeoning local-foods movement and its data-hungry supporters. Young farmers are, in increasing numbers, planting market gardens in cities, and “local” produce (a term with no formal definition) now fills grocery shelves across the U.S., from Walmart to Whole Foods, and is promoted in more than 150 nations around the world.
THIS IS WHAT I MEAN ABOUT GROWING LOCAL AND THEN SELLING TO NATIONAL/GLOBAL FOOD CHAINS---WE MUST SUBSIDIZE THE SMALL BUSINESS FRESH FOOD GROCER IN EACH COMMUNITY. WE DO NOT WANT TO BE SELLING OUR LOCAL FOOD TO WALMARTS.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that 800 million people worldwide grow vegetables or fruits or raise animals in cities, producing what the Worldwatch Institute reports to be an astonishing 15 to 20 percent of the world’s food. In developing nations, city dwellers farm for subsistence, but in the U.S., urban ag is more often driven by capitalism or ideology. The U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t track numbers of city farmers, but based on demand for its programs that fund education and infrastructure in support of urban-ag projects, and on surveys of urban ag in select cities, it affirms that business is booming. How far — and in what direction — can this trend go? What portion of a city’s food can local farmers grow, at what price, and who will be privileged to eat it? And can such projects make a meaningful contribution to food security in an increasingly crowded world?
Like anyone who farms in a city, Leadley waxes eloquent on the freshness of her product. Pea shoots that have traveled 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) to grace a salad are bound to taste better and be more nutritious, she says, than those that have traveled half a continent or farther. “One local restaurant that I sell to used to buy its sprouts from Norway,” Leadley says. Fresher food also lasts longer on shelves and in refrigerators, reducing waste.
New York City–based Gotham Greens produces more than 300 tons per year of herbs and greens in two hydroponic facilities. Photo by TIA (Flickr/Creative Commons)
Food that’s grown and consumed in cities has other advantages: During times of abundance, it may cost less than supermarket fare that’s come long distances, and during times of emergency — when transportation and distribution channels break down — it can fill a vegetable void. Following large storms such as Hurricane Sandy and the blizzards of this past winter, says Viraj Puri, cofounder of New York City–based Gotham Greens (which produces more than 300 tons (270 metric tons) of herbs and microgreens per year in two rooftop hydroponic operations and has another farm planned for Chicago), “our produce was the only produce on the shelf at many supermarkets across the city.”
Despite their relatively small size, urban farms grow a surprising amount of food, with yields that often surpass those of their rural cousins. This is possible for a couple reasons. First, city farms don’t experience heavy insect pressure, and they don’t have to deal with hungry deer or groundhogs. Second, city farmers can walk their plots in minutes, rather than hours, addressing problems as they arise and harvesting produce at its peak. They can also plant more densely because they hand cultivate, nourish their soil more frequently and micromanage applications of water and fertilizer.
As social enterprises, community gardens operate in an alternate financial universe: they don’t sustain themselves with sales, nor do they have to pay employees.Though they don’t get as much press as for-profit farms and heavily capitalized rooftop operations, community gardens — which are collectively tended by people using individual or shared plots of public or private land, and have been a feature in U.S. cities for well over a century — are the most common form of urban agriculture in the nation, producing far more food and feeding more people, in aggregate, than their commercial counterparts. As social enterprises, community gardens operate in an alternate financial universe: they don’t sustain themselves with sales, nor do they have to pay employees. Instead, they rely on volunteer or cheap youth labor, they pay little or nothing in rent, and they solicit outside aid from government programs and foundations that support their social and environmental missions. These may include job training, health and nutrition education, and increasing the community’s resilience to climate change by absorbing stormwater, counteracting the urban heat island effect and converting food waste into compost.
Funders don’t necessarily expect community gardens to become self-sustaining. These farms may increase their revenue streams by selling at farmers markets or to restaurants, or they may collect fees from restaurants or other food-waste generators for accepting scraps that will be converted into compost, says Ruth Goldman, a program officer at the Merck Family Fund, which funds urban agriculture projects. “But margins on vegetable farming are very slim, and because these farms are doing community education and training teen leaders, they’re not likely to operate in the black.”
[I]t’s the microgreens that keep Leadley from joining the ranks of the vast majority of U.S. farmers and taking a second job.Several years ago, Elizabeth Bee Ayer, who until recently ran a training program for city farmers, took a hard look at the beets growing in her Youth Farm, in the Lefferts Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn. She counted the hand movements involved in harvesting the roots and the minutes it took to wash and prepare them for sale. “Tiny things can make or break a farm,” Ayer notes. “Our beets cost US$2.50 for a bunch of four, and people in the neighborhood loved them. But we were losing 12 cents on every beet.” Ultimately, Ayer decided not to raise the price: “No one would have bought them,” she says. Instead, she doubled down on callaloo, a Caribbean herb that cost less to produce but sold enough to subsidize the beets. “People love it, it grows like a weed, it’s low maintenance and requires very little labor.” In the end, she says, “We are a nonprofit, and we didn’t want to make a profit.”
Sustainable and Resilient
Few would begrudge Ayer her loss leader, but such practices can undercut for-profit city farmers who are already struggling to compete with regional farmers at crowded urban markets and with cheap supermarket produce shipped from California and Mexico. Leadley, of Rising Pheasant Farms, realized long ago that she wouldn’t survive selling only the vegetables from her outdoor garden, which is why she invested in a plastic-draped greenhouse and heating system. Her tiny shoots, sprouts, amaranth and kohlrabi leaves grow year-round; they grow quickly — in the summer, Leadley can make a crop in seven days — and they sell for well over a dollar an ounce.
Nodding toward her backyard plot, Leadley says, “I grow those vegetables because they look good on the farm stand. They attract more customers to our table, and I really love growing outdoors.” But it’s the microgreens that keep Leadley from joining the ranks of the vast majority of U.S. farmers and taking a second job.
Mchezaji Axum, an agronomist with the University of the District of Columbia, the first exclusively urban land-grant university in the nation, helps urban farmers increase their yields whether they are selling into wealthy markets, like Leadley, or poorer markets, like Ayer. He promotes the use of plant varieties adapted to city conditions (short corn that produces four instead of two ears, for example). He also recommends biointensive methods, such as planting densely, intercropping, applying compost, rotating crops and employing season-extension methods (growing cold-tolerant vegetables like kale, spinach or carrots in winter hoop houses, for example, or starting plants in cold frames — boxes with transparent tops that let in sunlight but protect plants from extreme cold and rain).
“You learn to improve your soil health, and you learn how to space your plants to get more sunshine,” Axum says. Surveying D.C.’s scores of communal gardens, Axum has been surprised by how little food they actually grow. “People aren’t using their space well. More than 90 percent aren’t producing intensively. Some people just want to grow and be left alone.
“Using biointensive methods may not be part of your cultural tradition,” Laura J. Lawson, a professor of landscape architecture at Rutgers State University and the author of City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America, says. “It depends who you learned gardening from.” Lawson recalls the story of a well-meaning visitor to a Philadelphia garden who suggested that the farmers had planted their corn in a spot that wasn’t photosynthetically ideal. The women told their visitor, “We always plant it there; that way we can pee behind it.”
Axum is all about scaling up and aggregating hyperlocal foods to meet the demands of large buyers like city schools, hospitals or grocery stores. Selling to nearby institutions, say food policy councils — established by grassroots organizations and local governments to strengthen and support local food systems — is key to making urban food systems more sustainable and resilient, to say nothing of providing a living to local growers. But scaling up often requires more land, and therefore more expensive labor to cultivate it, in addition to changes in local land use and other policies, marketing expertise and efficient distribution networks.
“Lots of local institutions want to source their food here,” says Detroit farmer Noah Link, whose Food Field, a commercial operation, encompasses a nascent orchard, vast areas of raised beds, two tightly wrapped 150-foot (46-meter)-long hoop houses (one of which shelters a long, narrow raceway crammed with catfish), chickens, beehives and enough solar panels to power the whole shebang. “But local farms aren’t producing enough food yet. We’d need an aggregator to pull it together for bulk sales.”
Link doesn’t grow microgreens — the secret sauce for so many commercial operations — because he can break even on volume: His farm occupies an entire city block. Annie Novak, who co-founded New York City’s first for-profit rooftop farm in 2009, doesn’t have the luxury of space. She realized early on that she couldn’t grow a wide enough diversity of food to satisfy her community-supported agriculture customers in just 5,800 square feet (540 square meters) of shallow raised beds. “So I partnered with a farm upstate to supplement and diversify the boxes,” she says. Now, Novak focuses on niche and value-added products. “I make a hot sauce from my peppers and market the bejesus out of it,” she says. She also grows microgreens for restaurants, plus honey, herbs, flowers and “crops that are narratively interesting, like purple carrots, or heirloom tomatoes, which give us an opportunity to educate people about the value of food, green spaces and our connection to nature,” she says.
Brooklyn Grange in New York grows more than 50,000 pounds of produce each year in its rooftop gardens. Photo © Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm / Anastasia Cole Plakias.
Sometimes being strategic with crop selection isn’t enough. Brooklyn Grange, a for-profit farm atop two roofs in New York City, grows more than 50,000 pounds (23,000 kilograms) of tomatoes, kale, lettuce, carrots, radishes and beans, among other crops, each year. It sells them through its CSA, at farm stands and to local restaurants. But to further boost its income, Brooklyn Grange also offers a summerlong training program for beekeepers (US$850 tuition), yoga classes and tours, and it rents its Edenic garden spaces, which have million-dollar views of the Manhattan skyline, for photo shoots, weddings, private dinners and other events.
“Urban farms are like small farms in rural areas,” says Carolyn Dimitri, an applied economist who studies food systems and food policy at New York University. “They have the same set of problems: people don’t want to pay a lot for their food, and labor is expensive. So they have to sell high-value products and do some agritourism.”
On a miserable March morning, with a sparkling layer of ice glazing a foot of filthy snow, a coterie of Chicago’s urban farmers toils in shirtsleeves and sneakers, their fingernails conspicuously clean. In their gardens, no metal or wood scrap accumulates in corners, no chickens scratch in hoop-house soil. In fact, these farmers use no soil at all. Their densely planted basil and arugula leaves sprout from growing medium in barcoded trays. The trays sit on shelves stacked 12 feet (3.7 meters) high and illuminated, like tanning beds, by purple and white lights. Fans hum, water gurgles, computer screens flicker.
[W]ith 25 high-density crops per year, as opposed to a conventional farmer’s five or so, CEA yields are 10 to 20 times higher than the same crop grown outdoors.FarmedHere, the nation’s largest player in controlled environment agriculture — CEA —pumps out roughly a million pounds (500,000 kilograms) per year of baby salad greens, basil and mint in its 90,000-square-foot (8,000-square-meter) warehouse on the industrial outskirts of Chicago. Like many hydroponic or aquaponic operations (in which water from fish tanks nourishes plants, which filter the water before it’s returned to the fish), the farm has a futuristic feel — all glowing lights and stainless steel. Employees wear hairnets and nitrile gloves. But without interference from weather, insects or even too many people, the farm quickly and reliably fulfills year-round contracts with local supermarkets, including nearly 50 Whole Foods Markets.
“We can’t keep up with demand,” Nick Greens, a deejay turned master grower, says.
Unlike outdoor farms, CEA has no call for pesticides and contributes no nitrogen to waterways. Its closed-loop irrigation systems consume 10 times less water than conventional systems. And with 25 high-density crops per year, as opposed to a conventional farmer’s five or so, CEA yields are 10 to 20 times higher than the same crop grown outdoors — in theory sparing forests and grasslands from the plow.
Is CEA the future of urban farming? It produces a lot of food in a small space, to be sure. But until economies of scale kick in, these operations — which are capital intensive to build and maintain — must concentrate exclusively on high-value crops like microgreens, winter tomatoes and herbs.
Reducing food miles reduces transit-related costs, as well as the carbon emissions associated with transport, packaging and cooling. But growing indoors under lights, with heating and cooling provided by fossil fuels, may negate those savings. When Louis Albright, an emeritus professor of biological and environmental engineering at Cornell University, dug into the numbers, he discovered that closed-system farming is expensive, energy intensive and, at some latitudes, unlikely to survive on solar or wind power. Growing a pound of hydroponic lettuce in Ithaca, New York, Albright reports, generates 8 pounds (4 kilograms) of carbon dioxide at the local power plant: a pound of tomatoes would generate twice that much. Grow that lettuce without artificial lights in a greenhouse and emissions drop by two thirds.
In the world’s poorest nations, city dwellers have always farmed for subsistence. But more of them are farming now than ever before. In Africa, for example, it’s estimated that 40 percent of the urban population is engaged in agriculture. Long-time residents and recent transplants alike farm because they’re hungry, they know how to grow food, land values in marginal areas (under power lines and along highways) are low, and inputs like organic wastes — fertilizer — are cheap. Another driver is the price of food: People in developing nations pay a far higher percentage of their total income for food than Americans do, and poor transportation and refrigeration infrastructure make perishable goods, like fruits and vegetables, especially dear. Focusing on these high-value crops, urban farmers both feed themselves and supplement their incomes.
Urban farming is common in Ghana and other sub-Saharan countries.
In the U.S., urban farming is likely to have its biggest impact on food security in places that, in some ways, resemble the global south — that is, in cities or neighborhoods where land is cheap, median incomes are low and the need for fresh food is high. Detroit, by this metric, is particularly fertile ground. Michael Hamm, a professor of sustainable agriculture at Michigan State University, calculated that the city, which has just under 700,000 residents and more than 100,000 vacant lots (many of which can be purchased, thanks to the city’s recent bankruptcy, for less than the price of a refrigerator), could grow three quarters of its current vegetable consumption and nearly half its fruit consumption on available parcels of land using biointensive methods.
No one expects city farms in the U.S. to replace peri-urban or rural vegetable farms: cities don’t have the acreage or the trained farmers, and most can’t produce food anything close to year-round. But can city farms take a bite from long-distance supply chains? NYU’s Dimitri doesn’t think so. Considering the size and global nature of the nation’s food supply, she says, urban ag in our cities “isn’t going to make a dent. And it’s completely inefficient, economically. Urban farmers can’t charge what they should, and they’re too small to take advantage of economies of scale and use their resources more efficiently.”
That doesn’t mean that community gardeners, who don’t even try to be profitable, aren’t making a big difference in their immediate communities. Camden’s 31,000 pounds (14,000 kilograms) of produce might not seem like a lot, but it’s a very big deal for those lucky enough to get their hands on it. “In poor communities where households earn very little income,” says Domenic Vitiello, an associate professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania, “a few thousand dollars’ worth of vegetables and fruit grown in the garden makes a much bigger difference than for more affluent households.”
History tells us that community gardening — supported by individuals, government agencies and philanthropies — is here to stay. And whether these gardens ultimately produce more food or more knowledge about food — where it comes from, what it takes to produce it, how to prepare and eat it — they still have enormous value as gathering places and classrooms and as conduits between people and nature. Whether or not cultivating fruits and vegetables in tiny urban spaces makes economic or food-security sense, people who want to grow food in cities will find a way to do so. As Laura Lawson says, “City gardens are part of our ideal sense of what a community should be. And so their value is priceless.”
The Obama and Clinton Wall Street global corporate neo-liberal posing progressive spin on global corporate control of all our fresh food in the US and their goal to ship our fresh food globally to sell to the rich for high profits while making American citizens tied to importing food from developing nations----COMMUNITY GARDENS AS OUR LOCAL, FRESH FOOD ECONOMY.
Every politician who has shouted this for these several years and in this election is tied to OBAMA AND CLINTON WALL STREET GLOBAL CORPORATE NEO-LIBERALS----these are their talking points. Now, I am not outing our local community non-profits for building these landscape timber plots as community gardens---that is to where Baltimore Development Corporation and its Baltimore City Hall pols send all the GREEN fresh food funding. It is not bad to use these small plots to advocate and educate on growing food. They simply are NOT building a real fresh food economy in each community and this is all Baltimore does towards this issue.
I am a community gardener with this same landscape timber community plot at my local public school but I use it for education, for citizens wanting seed for their own gardens, and less about really supplying fresh food although we do benefit from that as well.
See how the American people are now totally driven by public policy talking points all coming from national think tanks working for Wall Street and global corporations? We must free our state and local government to creating public policy LOCALLY.
Community Gardens In Baltimore
October 21, 2013 8:00 AM
Filed Under: Baltimore Green Space, Community Gardens in Baltimore, Community Greening Resource Network, CRGN, Duncan Street Miracle Garden, Ecowatch, GEDCO CARES, Laurel Peltier, Mura Street Garden, Radnor/Winston Community Garden
2Imagine a once sad-looking vacant lot in Baltimore City that has been transformed into a garden oasis teeming with neighbors harvesting tomatoes, herbs and strawberries. Now multiply that green space by roughly 100 and you have an idea of Baltimore City’s thriving community garden scene.
In just the past five years, the number of Baltimore community gardens has doubled because of a unique partnership between citizens, gardeners, non-profits and our City government.
A community garden is a piece of land gardened by a group of people. Most Baltimore community gardens are created by neighborhood residents or schools who want to beautify a not-so-nice plot of land. The gardens can be set up as cooperatives where neighbors join a membership and share the bounty. Or, a gardener will rent a plot of land that they plant and harvest for their own use. You may have seen the Mura Street Garden near Collington Square Park or the Duncan Street Miracle Garden recently. These are a few examples of the community gardens in the area.
The benefits of community gardens are many from the availability of sustainable and fresh produce to a healthy hobby for urban dwellers and also the overall improvement of a neighborhood’s curb appeal.
Though for many of Baltimore’s community gardeners, it’s being part of a tight-knit group with a shared goal that drives them to spend time planting, weeding, watering and harvesting their gardens.
(Credit, L. Peltier)
Jenny Kaurinki, one of the founders of the Radnor/Winston community garden, says it best, “Where can you get nine months worth of organic produce for $20 plus one hour of work a week?” The Radnor/Winston community garden recently sprouted when 20 families created the garden on an odd-shaped plot owned by Loyola University Maryland. Loyola supported the idea and even provides the garden’s water source. From 20 raised beds, a bounty of tomatoes, garlic, sweet potatoes and produce grows each season. The members work the entire garden and all share the produce, with three garden beds ear-marked for the local GEDCO’s CARES food pantry. “It’s the only produce some CARES clients eat,” shares Kaurinki.
(Credit, L. Peltier)
Community gardens have their challenges with the top two being a reliable water source and land ownership. To ensure that Baltimore’s community gardens are successful, a few key groups were recently formed that provide community gardens with key resources.
In 2008, the Community Greening Resource Network (CGRN) was formed by The Parks & People Foundation and the University of Maryland Extension program. Patricia Foster, president of the University of Maryland Extension Baltimore City Master Gardeners explains, “Our group of volunteers was helping so many community gardens with the ins and outs of securing land and how to plant a garden that a more comprehensive partnership made sense with The Parks & People Foundation.” Master Gardeners attend a rigorous 13-week horticultural program and once graduated, commit to volunteering each year.
CGRN now has over 200 members who pay a $20 fee for access to design, maintenance and expertise. More importantly, the group connects community gardens with the many government and non-profit resources needed to keep a garden going. Anna Evans-Goldstein directs CGRN, “Our most popular events are the ‘Give Away’ days where local nurseries donate their surplus plants and seeds to our network gardeners. Over $70,000 in plant materials have been donated to Baltimore’s community gardens.”
Another key group in Baltimore’s community garden success is Baltimore Green Space. Founded in 2007, Baltimore Green Space acquires community-managed open spaces for its land trust so a community garden has a sense of permanence and can’t later be taken over. Baltimore Green Space also helps gardens access water and provides liability insurance. Miriam Avins, Baltimore Green Space’s founder and executive director, explains, “The Baltimore City government and the Office of Sustainability have been supportive and great to work with in creating workable regulations and programs that support our town’s many community gardens.”
THESE ARE THE AGENCIES CONTROLLING HOW THIS FRESH FOOD FUNDING IS DISTRIBUTED-----AND THESE ARE NOT PERMANENT FRESH FOOD STRUCTURES IN OUR COMMUNITIES.
CGRN’s Evans-Goldstein sums up Baltimore’s community gardens best, “These gardens bring our neighbors together in unlikely ways. I’ve spotted people from different backgrounds and different neighborhoods head-to-head chatting about growing radishes. That’s a positive.”