SoilWeb: An Online Soil Survey Resource

...even a SoilWeb iPhone app allowing you to use the GPS capabilities of your phone to assist in shopping for, say, the perfect vineyard location. SoilWeb maps cover most, but not all, areas of the US (Los Angeles isn’t included for some reason). While highly technical, terms are explained via hyperlinks. You click on the table to the right of the map for more detailed information including suitability for farming. Of course in urban areas y...

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Novella Carpenter Harassed by City of Oakland

Urban farmer and author Novella Carpenter is getting harassed by city of Oakland employees. From her blog Ghost Town Farm: Here’s the deal: After getting off the plane from Salt Lake City and making my way home to a cup of tea, I sit down at my kitchen table and I see this guy in a City of Oakland car taking photos of my garden. I go down and he said I’m out of compliance for “agricultural activities”. I’m supposed to get a Conditional Use...

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Content Mills: Pimples on the Information Superhighway

Yes, there really is a “How to Get Rid of Pimples on the Buttocks” video on eHow. If only they had a how to get rid of eHow article. Google’s powerful search engine has become an essential component of the urban homesteading toolbox. From diagnosing tomato diseases to cooking Ethiopian injera Google has the answers. In recent years, unfortunately, low quality “content mills,” such as ezinearticles and suite...

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Playin’ Possum

...20;it is legal and safe to do so”  (can I employ our local gang?) Habitat control is a great way to keep the population of critters like opossums at manageable levels. But there’s a problem here for those of us in urban or suburban areas. I could do all of these things (minus the gunplay) but what if several neighbors on my block have fallen fruit, outdoor pet food, and open basements? What we need is an integrated pest management v...

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Food and Flowers Freedom Act Update

...ntroversial. In fact, those of us at the meeting to support the act left before the vote was taken. It tuned out the council was pre-occupied with a contentious debate over rent control that ended in a fight breaking out and the council chambers being cleared. At least, it seems, we can all get behind locally grown fruit and flowers. For more information on the history of the Food and Flowers Freedom Act, see the website of the Urban Farming Advo...

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It’s Elementary

I’m writing another article for Urban Farm Magazine, this time on elementary school gardens. If you have a hand in running or organizing an elementary school garden, outside of California, send me an email at [email protected] I need another interview or two, though I can’t guarantee I’ll talk to everyone. I took the picture above at a volunteer work day at the 24th Street Elementary School in the West Adams d...

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Birds on a Wire

A neighbor told me this morning that when the house next door to him was for sale the owners asked him not to hang laundry on his clothesline because it would, “bring down their property value.” And, of course, many housing developments have the same anti-clothesline restriction. Is it some distant cultural memory of 19th century tenement buildings, an id-based Ralph Kramden, an intense fear of anything urban? Maybe this clever desi...

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Is Peat Moss a Sustainable Resource?

.... If you do the math that comes to one of every 6,000 acres of peat moss is harvested each year. And here is the cherry on top. Peat bogs are living entities. The peat bogs grow 70% more peat moss each year than is harvested. With that data I consider peat definitely a renewable resource. But Ball’s single source for these facts seems to be the Canadian Spaghnum Peat Moss Association. Linda Chalker-Scott, Ph.D., Extension Urban Ho...

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Santa Monica Legalizes Beekeeping

Last night the Santa Monica city council voted to amend their municipal code to allow beekeeping on single family properties. Now, legalizing beekeeping is a bit like legalizing sunshine. Bees, after all, do their thing whether or not the government permits it or not. For every beekeeper in an urban area there must be hundreds of feral bee colonies living in walls, roofs and compost bins. Nevertheless, Santa Monica took a big step forward, join...

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Why Did We Change Our Name?

...to stay. I like it a lot better than “Homegrown Evolution.” It’s easier to remember and I dig the symbolism. “Everything changes and nothing remains still …. and … you cannot step twice into the same stream.” as Hereclitus says. The publishing and blogging world is getting a bit crowded in the “urban homesteading” category. It’s time to expand the conversation and explore some new home...

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