Enlightenment in the Food System Lab

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

“Before I started at the Center for a Livable Future,” says Kenai McFadden, “I didn’t even know what a food system is.”

A Bloomberg School graduate student focusing on Health Education and Health Communication, Kenai’s full-time field placement at the Food System Lab has piqued new interests and expanded the way he thinks about community health.

The Food System Lab is an urban teaching farm in Baltimore City that operates on the grounds of Baltimore’s Cylburn Arboretum. Read More >

Who Will Run the Future Farms?

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Do a Google image search for the future of farming, and you’ll find designs for towering vertical farms, aquaponics greenhouses, crop-monitoring drones and harvesting robots. The images are a testament to human creativity. But what’s often missing from the discussion of the future of agriculture is an answer to the question of who will run these future farms.

In many developed countries, young people from farming families continue to leave the farm, and older farmers find themselves without a successor. In both the US.and the Netherlands, there is a shortage of young farmers. Read More >

CLF Aquaculture News: November 2017

Dave Love

Dave Love

Associate Scientist, Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

The largest aquaponics facility in the world opened this summer in Northfield, Wisconsin, owned by Superior Fresh LLC. The facility houses 40,000 square feet of Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout production using recirculating aquaculture methods and is expected to produce its first harvest in 2018. The fish waste is circulated through a 120,000 square foot greenhouse used to raise plants hydroponically. The facility expects to employ 50 people. Dr. Chris Hartleb, Professor of Fisheries Biology at University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, will be working closely with the firm as part of a business-academic partnership. Read more at the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. Read More >

An Allotment Garden Oasis in Holland

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

This post is the eighth in a series – Letters from the Low Country – about food and agriculture in the Netherlands, written by Laura Genello as she studies organic agriculture at Wageningen University.

What would you do with a thousand square foot garden?

It’s a sunny day in the early fall when Lennart and Iris show me their allotment in the volkstuinencomplex, translated as “people’s garden complex.” We walk through a low fence Read More >

Charming Earthworms for Science

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

This post is the fourth in a series – Letters from the Low Country – about food and agriculture in the Netherlands, written by Laura Genello as she studies organic agriculture at Wageningen University.

Almost everyone agrees that earthworms are good for soil in built environments, and for more than a century, we’ve been researching their role in forming soil. In fact, fascination with earthworms can be traced back to Charles Darwin, who first documented their soil forming behaviors. My own interest in worms and soil brought me to a quirky competition held by Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Read More >

Cityplot: Growing Garden Education in Amsterdam

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

This post is the third in a series – Letters from the Low Country – about food and agriculture in the Netherlands, written by Laura Genello as she studies organic agriculture at Wageningen University.

The Netherlands is a country with a heavily industrialized food system. Yet in between the bricks and canals of Amsterdam, nearly 200 registered urban gardens grow. On the first sunny Saturday of spring, I took a train to the western edge of the city to see one of these urban farms in action. I walked under an overpass and past a ramshackle squatter community to arrive at an orchard of tidy rows of fruit trees awakening for the season. I grabbed a pair of work gloves Read More >

CLF at the Future Harvest CASA Conference 2017

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Photo by Future Harvest.

Sometimes electrical wiring saves the chickens. Radish plants can feed the soil in winter.

These pearls of wisdom and many others were shared earlier this month at the 2017 Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (CASA) Conference. Three CLF staffers attended sessions at the conference to broaden their perspectives on how food systems can be improved to become not only more resilient but more profitable. Here are some of the things we learned. Read More >

The New Office of Urban Ag: Thoughts on the Proposed Act

Raychel Santo

Raychel Santo

Sr. Research Program Coordinator

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

scope-of-urban-agAfter hearing rumors of its existence for months, I eagerly sat down to read the text of the new Urban Agriculture Act proposed by Senator Debbie Stabenow. Stabenow, a member of the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, has introduced legislation that would establish an Office of Urban Agriculture (akin to its Office of the Chief Economist, Office of Advocacy and Outreach, and New and Beginning Farmer Office) at USDA. After reading the text, I’m enthusiastic but I have some concerns, mainly in that too much emphasis has been placed on the (dubious) potential economic and production wins offered by urban ag, while giving short shrift to the sociocultural and ecosystem benefits. Before I get to that, though, here is an overview of the plan.

This office would coordinate policies related to urban agriculture across the Department. The legislation—expected to cost $460 million Read More >

Uncomfortable Questions about Urban Ag

Claire Fitch

Claire Fitch

Program Officer, Food System Policy Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

This blogpost was co-authored by Claire Fitch and Carolyn Hricko.

urbanagtweet1Urban agriculture is a topic that can get tricky, fast. Once the glow of growing food in urban spaces fades, big, complex questions arise: What are the goals? Who is it serving? Who is, and will be, the face of urban agriculture? With Farm Bill discussions ramping up, these questions become even more important. Read More >

Within Reason: Getting the Most from Urban Ag

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Boone Street Farm

Boone Street Farm, Baltimore

My teenaged daughter just asked me when our yard was going to look “nice” again. Inch by inch, I’ve been removing grass and replacing it with clover, herbs, milkweeds and some plants that I refer to, mostly ironically, as crops. She dislikes the rows of composting sod, the dying grass, and the soggy trenches that scream “work in progress.” “It’s so ugly,” she said. And then she cried. I had made The Classic Error—I didn’t get community buy-in on my gardening plans. Not only that, I am guilty of Error Number Two: I planted food that I enjoy— tomatillos, cilantro, sunchokes—but that my kids refuse to recognize as edible. Read More >