Local Food Sandusky

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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