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Harvest Vision: Consume Quality – Demand Local.

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Growing Food Locally: The New Way of Nutrition

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Recently, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur  (D – Ohio) held the summit, “City in a Garden”, at the Toledo Botanical Gardens to explain her initiatives with the stimulus money that is available for Urban Agriculture programs. She also highlighted the potential of the 9th District (Lucas, Ottawa, Erie and Lorain Counties) to solve their struggle to feed the growing number of hungry citizens with locally grown food.

Incase you are unfamiliar with the various efforts that fulfill the concepts of local food and urban agriculture, we recommend the article Growing Food Locally: Integrating Agriculture into the Built Environment. In it, you’ll find the following topics:

Erie County and surrounding areas have an opportunity to provide for themselves.

Erie County and surrounding areas have an opportunity to provide for themselves.

– Green Rooftops & Container Farming
– Rooftop Greenhouses with Soil
– Structural Loading Issues for Rooftop Greenhouses
– Rooftop Hydroponic Greenhouses

CIFT's Vertical Hydroponic System can be set up in an empty parking lot or on a roof top.

CIFT's Vertical Hydroponic System can be set up in an empty parking lot or on a roof top.

Vertical Gardening

Here is an abstract that gives a brief summary of the article:

Tremendous energy is expended transporting food from fields around to world to our tables. Large-scale, centralized food production is vulnerable to disease and other threats, and there are health benefits to more local food production. In this context, there is growing interest in producing food closer to home, even in urban areas.


There are two broad approaches to more localized food production. First, the vacant land around buildings—which comprises about 15% of urban land nationwide—can be turned into productive gardens and farmland. There are thousands of community gardens and hundreds agricultural enterprises (both nonprofit and for-profit) that are converting this unused, urban land into productive land for vegetables, fruits, and other crops. In some urban farms, isolation from contaminated soils is provided with a layer of clay.

Second, there is a tremendous amount of commercial roof area in urban and suburban locations, and some of this space is suitable for productive green roofs or rooftop greenhouses. With greenhouses, soil-based growing is practiced by some, but most growers have turned to lighter-weight hydroponics (growing in which nutrient solutions replace soil). The innovative field of aquaponics marries aquaculture (fish farming) with hydroponics to permit ecological systems in which fish waste provides the fertilizer for plant growth.

Both of these approaches offer challenges to architects and farmers alike. Finding plots on the ground that are uncontaminated and receive enough sun for vegetables can be difficult in dense urban centers, and rooftop systems can easily overload existing structural supports if not carefully planned.

An observation from Eat. Drink. Better.,

Urban agriculture has been used by the United Nations in many developing countries to encourage a healthy food chain and to generate jobs in the poorest cities of the world. Conversely, a few enterprising Canadians started farming their backyard and their neighbors’ backyards two decades ago with the mission of reconnecting North Americans to sustainable farming methods. As a direct result of their labors, new methods for intensive planting and harvesting in order to generate much greater yields from small plots of land have been developed to make farming in the city not just possible, but quite often profitable.

The co-founders of The Erie Wire and Local Food Sandusky are going to be launching the Erie Community Gardening Collective in order to bring the success of these concepts to our area. If you’d like more information on how you can be involved, please contact Lauren Berlekamp by emailing her at lcberlekamp@gmail.com. We encourage you to read the report on Congresswoman Kaptur’s summit published on The Erie Wire. For more on this topic, we recommend the articles at www.cityfarmer.info

Why Local Food?

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With the challenge of the changing times, encouraging the growth of a local food system is the best plan for sustaining our community on the north coast of Ohio. The Countryside Conservancy of Northeast Ohio gives several answers to the question “Why Go Local?

Why not? 
Fresh, locally grown foods don’t just taste delicious — they are better for you, your community and your planet.

• Low Mileage from Farm to Plate. Most food travels over 1,500 miles from farm to plate while locally grown food typically travels 50 miles or less reducing pollution, our dependence on fossil fuels, and protecting the environment.

• Fresh Taste, Less Waste. Local food usually arrives in markets within 24 hours of being plucked from the vine or dug from the earth. So, it’s unusually fresh and delicious. Fresher foods keep longer — reducing waste in the kitchen, and providing better value for our food dollar.

• Delicious and Nutritious Food. Because locally grown foods are so fresh, they are also more nutritious, containing higher levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that healthy bodies need.

• Prosperous Farmers. 91 cents of each dollar spent in conventional food markets goes to suppliers, processors, middlemen and marketers; while only 9 cents goes to the farmer. Farmers who sell direct at local farmers’ markets or through Community Supported Agriculture programs keep 80-90 cents of each  dollar. Selling locally, farmers can reduce distribution, packaging and advertising costs and offer us fresher, more affordable food. Prosperous farmers keep farming and operate viable businesses that enhance our communities and strengthen our local food supply.

• Variety: The Spice of Life. Local farmers cultivate mouth-watering varieties of delicious foods like Green Zebra tomatoes, Northern Spy apples, Purple Dragon carrots, Buckeye Chickens, and many other fruits, vegetables, and livestock bred for flavor, nutrients and suitability to our local climate and soils rather than uniformity and endurance to withstand a cross-country road trip. Biodiversity never tasted so good!

• Thriving Communities. Buying local, a greater portion of our food dollar stays home supporting farms and businesses that make up our local communities and our regional economy. Northeast Ohioans spend over $7 billion on food. But less than 1% comes form local farms and producers. Localizing just 10% of our food spending would generate over $700 million for our local economy and communities.

With a dominance of agriculturally-zoned land in Erie County, can you imagine the effect on those of us who live here if everyone replaced even half of their grocery lists with locally grown food? For more information about where the money in Erie County goes, visit our partners at Haag Insight.

Make the most of our harvest vision and support local farmers throughout the year. Roadside stands and Farmers’ markets have fresh surprises that are inexpensive and have become cultural traditions in our community. We look forward to Mulvin’s on 1706 E. Perkins Avenue in Sandusky, the Sandusky Farmers’ Market as well as regional CSA programs. Check back for a more comprehensive listing of local food sources in the coming weeks as we prepare for the 2009 season! Meanwhile, listen here for an explanation about how to support local farmers and consume more nutritious food.

For more information about Agriculture, visit The Erie Wire. We encourage you to visit the sites and businesses of our partners.