Urban Farm Magazine

We have a article on urban farmers across America in the premiere issue of a magazine bound to appeal to readers of this blog, Urban Farm. Our article, Where Urban Meets Farm, profiles the efforts of our friends the Green Roof Growers of Chicago, Em Jacoby of Detroit and Kelly Yrarrazaval of Orange County. All of these fine folks have repurposed urban and suburban spaces to grow impressive amounts of food, a common sense trend popular enough to have spawned this new magazine.

Editor Karen Keb Acevedo says, “Urban Farm is here to shed a little light on the things we can all do to change our lifestyles, in ways we think are monumental as a whole, yet at the same time, barely noticeable on their own.” The first issue has practical articles on goats, bees and chickens as well as how to get rid of your lawn. There’s also a nice article by John Jeavons, who developed the Grow Biointensive method, and wrote the seminal book How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits.

Check your local newsstand for Urban Farm or pick up a copy of the premiere issue here.

SIPS and Kraut at Project Butterfly

We’ve got an event tomorrow–that’s Tuesday August 25th at 7:30 p.m. in downtown Los Angeles at Project Butterfly. There will be a lecture followed by two demos: how to make a self irrigating pot and how to make sauerkraut. Cost is $20. RSVP to [email protected]. Here’s the 411:

Step into the 21st century by making your house, apartment and kitchen a center of production. This lecture/workshop by the authors of The Urban Homestead, Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen will introduce you to how to grow your own food, make pickles, ferment beer, keep chickens, bake bread and turn your waste products into valuable resources. By stepping into the DIY movement, we’ll create a paradigm shift that will improve our lives, our community and our planet.

Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne, authors of The Urban Homestead, have become increasingly interested in the concept of urban sustainability since moving to Los Angeles in 1998. In that time, they’ve slowly converted their 1920 hilltop bungalow into a mini-farm, and along the way have explored the traditional home arts of baking, pickling, bicycling and brewing, chronicling all their activities on their blog Homegrown Evolution [ www.homegrownevolution.com ]

In this workshop, we will be learning two projects ::

Project #1: Making a self-irrigating planter
Project #2: How to make sauerkraut!

Contribution:: $20 [ includes a delicious light vegetarian meal and drinks ]

Location:
Project Butterfly Loft
821 Traction Ave #108
Los Angeles CA 90013

Blurbs:
“The Urban Homestead…touches on vegetable gardening, poultry, DIY cleaning products and beer making — all outlined with a sense of play and fun.
—Whole Life Times

“…a delightfully readable and very useful guide to front- and back-yard vegetable gardening, food foraging, food preserving, chicken keeping, and other useful skills for anyone interested in taking a more active role in growing and preparing the food they eat.”
-Boingboing.net

The Food and Flowers Freedom Act

Local food is coming back to Los Angeles. Homegrown Evolution is proud to be a part of a new group, the Urban Farming Advocates (UFA). Not in LA? Start your own UFA branch. City codes need to be changed everywhere! UFA activist Glen Dake posted the following notice on the Garden Council website:

Problem: In 1946, a Los Angeles municipal code known as the Truck Gardening Ordinance was written to allow the growing of vegetables in a residential (R1) zone for sale off-site.

What this means, however, is that it is prohibited for city dwellers in R1 zones to grow fruits, nuts, flowers or seedlings and sell them off-site – at local farmers’ markets for example.

Furthermore, no one at City Hall can agree on what Truck Gardening is.

We think it’s time for the City of Los Angeles to come into the 21st century and amend its municipal code to support the burgeoning urban farming movement. It’s time L.A. legalized urban farming in R1 zones as part of its commitment to greening our city.

SOLUTION:

On July 8th, 2009, Council President Eric Garcetti introduced a motion to explore allowing “the cultivation of flowers, fruits, nuts or vegetables defined as the product of any tree, vine or plant, and that these products be allowed for use on-site or sale off-site.”

A group known as Urban Farming Advocates – Los Angeles, has named this motion the Food & Flowers Freedom Act. We’re asking for your support so that City Hall will change the law quickly and let L.A. become a leading center for urban farmers.

Urban farming provides access to more local, organic, affordable, fresh and nutritious food. In this time of economic crisis and rising food prices, urban farming can help create green jobs and stimulate the growth of artisanal home-based businesses. Urban farmers help build community bonds and bring a truly local flavor to farmers’ markets.

Angelinos care deeply about buying local organic produce. What about flowers? According to the California Cut Flower Commission, 80% of the flowers we buy are imported from overseas. Imported flowers are not tested for pesticide residues. Let urban farmers meet the rising demand for fresh, organic flowers!

Urban farmers can meet the needs of people for more locally grown, sustainably raised, pesticide-free food and flowers. We have the climate; we have the space.

ACTION:

Please take a moment to support the Food & Flowers Freedom Act by writing to your Los Angeles City Councilmember. Tell her/him you want to support urban farming in Los Angeles. Tell her/him you want the Planning Department to expedite their work and propose ways to legalize urban farming in Los Angeles. Please cc Council President Eric Garcetti and send an email copy to Urban Farming Advocates – Los Angeles at [email protected]

To find out who is your local councilmember, go to this link: http://lacity.org/lacity/YourGovernment/CityCouncil/index.htm

You can also support the food and flowers freedom act by putting the banner above on your blog or website and linking back to this post: http://www.homegrownevolution.com/2009/08/food-and-flowers-freedom-act.html. Thanks!

Chicken Goes to Hollywood

Homegrown Neighbor here.

On Thursday Mr. Homegrown and I escorted my chicken, Peckerella, to her first public appearance. Peckerella was there to assist author Terry Golson, who has written a wonderful children’s book called Tillie Lays An Egg. The book has adorable pictures of her flock and features the adventurous Tillie, who likes to lay her eggs everywhere except her nesting box.
Ms. Golson is currently in Los Angeles to share Tillie’s story with children and chicken aficionados of all ages. Since her chickens reside on the East Coast, Peckerella stepped in to play ambassador. ‘Pecky’ as she is often called, did a wonderful job and was very well behaved, allowing many children to pet her and sitting patiently during the book reading. Her next appearance will be at a reading of Tillie’s story at Chevalier’s books in Larchmont Village this Sunday, August 9th, from 11-1. If you are in the area please stop by and say hello. Peckerella loves to meet her adoring fans. Sorry, Chickenzilla doesn’t fit in the cat carrier so she won’t be able to make it.

Make Mag

Readers of this blog will really enjoy the current issue of Make Magazine.

“Volume 18: ReMake America! These challenging times have presented us with a rare chance to try out new ways of doing things. The opportunities for makers are terrific — we can start at home to remake manufacturing, education, food production, transportation, and recreation. In MAKE Volume 18 you’ll learn how to make an automatic garden, heat your water with the sun, monitor and share your home energy usage, and more.”

Here’s just a few of the many exciting projects:

  • Chicago comrade Nancy Klehm tells you how to compost human waste.
  • Homegrown Evolution has an article on how to install a drip irrigation system in your vegetable garden.
  • Eric Muhs tells you how to collect rainwater to use for flushing your toilet (very clever!).
  • Celine Rich-Darley tells you how to vermicompost in your apartment.
  • Michael Perdriel explains how to make an off-grid laundry machine.
  • Limor Fried and Phillip Torrone hook up a electricity monitor to a computer to twitter their energy usage.

You’ll have to buy a copy or subscribe online to see all this wonderfullness, but the magazine is well worth a subscription. Thanks to editor Mark Frauenfelder for including us and for sending a stack of back issues. I can’t say enough good things about Make’s high tech/low tech synthesis, DIY attitude and humor.

Thank You Chicago!

Some unfinished Chicago business:

Thanks again to Nancy Klehm for hosting me. If you aren’t familiar with Klehm’s work you can read her articles at Arthur Magazine (note especially her take on the swine flu), view some video of a foraging walk she conducted, or take one of her classes.

Also, thanks to Chicago Reader reporter Martha Bayne for writing a nice article about me. Bayne’s also the force behind Soup and Bread, a pot luck which takes place during the winter at a tavern. Folks bring soup and everybody chips in a donation that benefits a Chicago food bank. It’s a Depression 2.0 idea that needs to be cloned in other cities.

And, of course, thanks to the Green Roof Growers, who prove that you can grow food without a yard.

Altadena Heritage of Abundance

Our backyard last week (some ugly stuff framed out of the picture!)

We’ll be doing a talk tomorrow morning as part of a sustainability series in Altadena, CA. We’re going to talk about self irrigating planters, chickens, bees and vegetable gardening. Here’s the 411:

Saturday, May 30 from 9 to 11 a.m at the Altadena Community Center First in a series of events, workshops, and home tours on sustainable living. Reserve your place at this free series kickoff event for members ($5 non-members). More info here.

To RSVP, please leave your name, email or phone contact, number of reservations, and event name at [email protected].

Greywater Workshop at Good Magazine

We’ll be doing a greywater workshop at Good Magazine this Wednesday May 27th from 7 to 9 p.m. Directions and RSVP info are here.

We’re going to focus on what I consider to be the easiest way to reuse your greywater: hacking your washing machine. We’ll take a look at a couple of approaches including our surge tank, pictured above, which we just got around to elevating with scrap lumber to get a gravity assist. We’ll also look at Art Ludwig’s direct “laundry to landscape” system.

Topics will also include:

  • Greywater compatible detergents
  • Choosing the best plants for greywater
  • Creating mulch basins
  • Greywater dos and don’ts
  • Plumbing parts
  • Water conservation and efficiency
  • Greywater cocktails (just kidding)

Hope to see you all tomorrow!

On the Southwest Chief to Chicago


I’m heading to Chicago aboard Amtrak’s Southwest Chief this evening for a series of workshops. Hope to see some of you in Chicago.

When I get back to Los Angeles, Mrs. Homegrown and I will be leading a greywater workshop at Good Magazine on the 27th of May. Details to follow.

In Altadena on May 30th I’ll be doing a talk, “Living Simply, Living Abundantly” at the Altadena Community Center 730 East Altadena Drive from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

And, god help us, we’re twittering (so much for living simply). Follow our twitter feed along the right side of the blog–just above the ad for our favorite greywater detergent. And folks, please buy some detergent so that we can get a sleeper car next time!

Introducing Lora Hall

Please put your hands together and welcome Homegrown Evolution guest blogger Lora Hall. Lora is a neighbor, owns Los Angeles’ largest hen, Southern California’s largest rhubarb plant and is currently finishing a graduate degree at Cal Poly Pomona. Her master’s work involves the use of vermicomposting to break down a variety of materials (maybe we can get her to explain this!).

You can meet Lora in person and pick up some seedlings and fruit trees at the Highland Park farmer’s market (map) where she runs a booth with Trisha Mazure every Tuesday from 3 to 8 pm. When we visited her at the market last week Lora had a bunch of interesting plants including purslane, tomatoes, tomatillos as well as a selection of fruit trees appropriate for our warm climate.

In the LA area and want some fruit trees for your backyard? Some gardening advice? Contact Lora at [email protected]. Lora will be posting as Homegrown Neighbor.