Thursday, March 11, 2010

Design Project Two :: Charlotte, NC Urban Farm

Today we're designing an urban farm. This one will become real if we can get the funding necessary to start the program. The specific location of the farm will have to remain a secret for now but it's in Charlotte, NC near uptown. Todd Serdula did most of the excellent graphic work on this proposal.

To start with we break down the design considerations into 4 categories.

Physical Components
Programing Elements
Transition and Construction
Marketing and Distribution

The Physical Components can best be thought of as the needs of the plants. At a basic level this means sun, soil and water. The Programing Elements are the energy sources for getting work done. Who or what actually does the work on the farm? What tasks are accomplished using hands, machines or animals? And how are decisions made? These are critical questions more important to the success of the farm than the Physical Components.

We also have to consider Transition and Construction. Farm infrastructure and programing takes development. It's a process that doesn't happen overnight. Lastly we have to think about what will happen to the food once it is ready for harvest. How does it get from field to fork? This will affect the farm design.

We start be identifying several vacant urban city lots owned by a willing partner. The partner also owns adjacent infrastructure including a warehouse, a vacant restaurant and parking. We test the soil and find no major problems. We put the land into cover crops to build soil while the design proceeds.

In this first phase we construct a welcome center, potting sheds and some demonstration gardens. This farm will serve educational needs as well as grow food. During the first phase the upper field will be a summer cover crop that reseeds itself, mostly likely buckwheat.

The lower field gets programed with a special cover crop that not only builds soil but also helps provide funding for the farm. A total of 48 squares, 30' X 30' are planted in sunflowers of various varieties. All of them are yellow except for one square selected at random which is a red sunflower variety. Individuals and companies sponsor squares with the hope that their square will be the winning red sunflower square. A website links participants and offers a 24/7 webcam as well as time lapse photography of the project. It's cover cropping meets cow patty bingo.

Phase Two includes a greenhouse with a float bed transplant system(sun), a composting system including vermiculture(soil) and a rainwater harvesting system(water). It also includes and an orchard, annual vegetable production and a post harvest handling facility with refrigeration, located within an existing warehouse.

Phase Three adds a greenhouse for winter vegetable and summer flower production. It also adds a workhouse for indoor projects and a 'living fence' made up of existing and moved structures to serve as housing for interns, agro-tourists and WWOOFers.

Phase Four rounds out the project with an additional greenhouse for aquaculture, an indoor market and distribution center in the warehouse as well as a value-add restaurant. Additional fruit trees and bushes are also planted. The result is a fully functional urban farm that celebrates community by supporting sustainable agriculture.

I'll update this post as the project moves forward.



Anonymous said...

Are you familiar with Crop Mob? They are based in NC and organize volunteers to do sustainable ag projects like. I'm not affiliated with them, but they might help build the urban farm you show here.

KLH said...

I will mail you my free organic, no-till dvd if you email [] your postal address.

missy said...

this sounds amazing! when is this planned to be completed?

nulinegvgv said...

Crop mob folks are great! This project is still on the drawing board but has recently received support from some local parteners that might make it work. More to come...

KLH said...

How can you take something so simple and make it so complicated?

USA: TX, MS, FL, CA, AR; Mexico, Rep. Dominicana, Côté d’Ivoire, Nigeria,
Nicaragua, Honduras, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Haiti, England, India, Uzbekistan
Workshops in organic, no-till, permanent bed gardening, mini-farming and mini-ranching worldwide in English & Español

Organic, No-Till Community Gardens

1. Restore the soil to its natural health: Contaminations: inorganic pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, etc.
2. Healthy soil: Healthy soil produces healthy vegetables, for high yields, and prevents most of the disease, pest and weed problems.
3. Feed the soil; not the crops [Inorganics feed the plants and poison the soil; organics feed the soil which feeds the plants]
4. Increase soil organic matter every year
5. Little or no external inputs [not necessary to buy anything, from anybody, for the garden except seed.]
6. Leave all crop residue on top of the soil.
7. No-till: no digging, no plowing, no cultiva-ting: No hard physical labor is needed so the elderly, children and lazy people can garden. Nature will till the soil using roots and worms.
8. Permanent beds [crops]
9. Permanent paths [walking]
10. Hand tools & power-hand tools
11. 12-months production [economical nearly everywhere, DIY hoop houses, high hoops, etc.]
12. Organic fertilizers [12 -15 probably not needed after soil is healthy]
13. Organic disease control.
14. Organic herbicides & pesticides
15. Biological pest control.
16. Attract beneficials & pollinators
17. Soil always covered
18. Use green manures/cover crops.
19. Organic matter: Free. Delivered free? When economically feasible, transport to the gardens. Use as mulch.
20. Composting: Too much time and work. Pile excess organic matter until used as mulch. Will compost in the bed.
21. Vermiculture Not necessary. Worms will be in the beds.
22. Drip irrigation [Purchase or DIY drip lines]
23. Agri-training and/or educational tours [Train others. Especially young people]
24. Imitate nature. Most gardeners fight nature. ¡Nature always wins!

Ken Hargesheimer

Thank you for all the DVD’s you sent me. Thank you for all the info. I am applying it in my own vegetable patch. It is working. Got half a pocket of potatoes off a square metre. So would imagine about 10 pounds per square yard. This off previously dead, low, carbon soil. Sure next crop will be better. Got yams coming up on same spot already. Want to plant herbs and spices. I will send photos.

Your advise is so simple. People do not believe me when I tell them. I am so excited about growing things now. This coming from a commercial plum farmer. May you be blessed this holy season a thousand times more than you blessed me with you help. Jeremy Karsen,

Project room: Kyomya, Uganda
We have been working on improving farming techniques for almost a year. Unfortunately, the farmers are planting small plots of land that only feed their family. There is no other choice but to try new techniques to improve the output of their plot. Ken Hargesheimer suggested the "no till" farming techniques as well as the "drip system". Both have proven effective at increasing produc-tion by at least 5 fold. The time is now for Kyomya to become a model agricultural village. []

Viagra Online Without Prescription said...

I think now I am very lucky to get this information as correctly as it could be. Genius. I believe that in my farm it would be very necessary.

kamagra said...

This urban farm it's perfect I know this is only a prototype but I hope it being a reality soon because will serve educational needs as well as grow food.m10m

ray meds said...

Seems to be a great project, the thing is that we are running out of places here on earth we need new lands.