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Sizing up Oakland  RSS feed

 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
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Location: Oakland, CA
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A neighbor and friend of mine recently published a report, with an inventory of arable public land in Oakland.  He found 1,200 acres, which he conservatively guesses could supply 5 to 10% of the food our city eats.  It would be interesting to see a parallel inventory of privately-held or bank-owned, un-developed land.

Here's a good summary from City Farmer News, but if you're interested, I recommend following the links to the full report:

http://www.cityfarmer.info/?p=2484#more-2484

It might be good to see work like this done for more cities.  Edit: the report mentions that similar inventories have been compiled for Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle.  It's good to see such an effort spreading.
 
                            
Posts: 20
Location: Pittsburgh PA
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I moved from Oakland to Pittsburgh PA in Jan 2008 after vising Portland and Seattle, for a related set of reasons -- Oakland and the East Bay are covered in concrete -- Pittsburgh is intermingled with an astonishing amount of forest, all of which can be highly productive, most of which has been completely ignored for nearly 50 years (since the last clear-cuts and fires). I bought a house here for four thousand dollars and there are thousands of acres available for a few hundred dollars per parcel -- and the county has a pretty good GIS system for investigating real estate. Pittsburgh could feed, fuel, clothe, and shelter itself within 5 miles of city limits. (I'm a big booster for Pittsburgh over the East Bay, though I loved my time there!)

http://www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/finance/html/properties_for_sale.html
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Location: Oakland, CA
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ajmot wrote:the county has a pretty good GIS system for investigating real estate. Pittsburgh could feed, fuel, clothe, and shelter itself within 5 miles of city limits.


Good to hear!

It may be that cities in the western US are the only ones with a short enough history that provisioning them locally is a novel idea.

ajmot wrote:Oakland and the East Bay are covered in concrete


Yeah, I wonder if people here will eventually do something like what was done in the Azores, where they broke up the pumice covering the landscape and built drystone walls around the fields.
 
rose macaskie
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  What about allotments, in london there were some allotments bits of land divided into ,  peices to be given to londoners to grow things in, this was organised by the government and  in russia peòple had their dashas accoding to kabir 424. I know a p0olish lady who says her parents had an allotment. It is nice for people to have a peice of land were possible. I love having a bit of land to cultivate.  agri rose macaskie.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Location: Oakland, CA
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rose macaskie wrote: What about allotments...


The report mentions community gardens (very similar to allotments) as the most appropriate use of some of the spaces surveyed, but recommends others to be small or medium-sized farms, or school gardens.
 
rose macaskie
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    JOel hollingsworth,  It would be great if they make small farms, maybe small farms would give employment to some people, though i suppose you need to borrow money to start a small farm and the banks aren't lending.

      If they are going to do school gardens i have just tried planting seeds from out of some tomatoes and a melon and some eggplants in pots on my kitchen table and they are all growing and i can never get seeds from packets to grow so i suggest getting the children to bring vegetables and take the seed from them, its more fun and it seems to be easier than growing from packets. I used to grow seeds i picked up from Madrid pavemants from the trees growing along the roads and they worked too, mostly they have acacias along the streets here. i can't get maples to grow. date seeds grow wellat least start well and then hardley grow at all.  I have planted grocery shop leeks, the leeks are sold with a few roots on them and onions in my garden and they are doing well, i saw leeks flowering in the strange madrid botanic gardens, strange because they grow beds of fruits and vegetables and what you expect in botanic gardens is trees from all over the world not veggies. They have a nice lay out though in th emadrid botanic gardens and plenty of treees.  The flowering leeks were enormouse and imposing, I had never thought of growing leeks for decoration. agri rose macaskie.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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rose macaskie wrote:i suppose you need to borrow money to start a small farm and the banks aren't lending.


I think there's an effort to get around that problem.

The report I was discussing focuses on publicly-owned land, so a mortgage would not be necessary.

And a small enough farm would need hardly any equipment at all.  A company that seems kind of focused on creating a fad, although their methods seem sound and their goals sound noble, suggests that it makes the most business sense to find a market that can be served profitably using only hand tools, a rototiller, and a minivan or light truck. The system in question actually rents space in residential yards...it's called SPIN farming, and at first I wondered if this name was chosen facetiously ("spin" as in bias or hype).  I'm glad to see that some information is now publicly available...

http://www.spinfarming.com/free/
 
rose macaskie
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Like the name, would appeal to the types hippy things don't appeal to.,cool modern and a bit wicked.
      I have not read all of the sections you can open but i got a bit lost when i opened up the  farming incubator section. Would the spin farmers have an expert composter person incubating on their farms it seems they were to be several farms sharing the same facilities. they  could include and egg incubator, i have long meant to buy one since i saw one in a shop, horrible cosumeras i am.
       Also, reading the bit on incubators I got that panic sensation the smell of failure brings me when the incubator section started talking about killing all the seeds and such in ht ecompost, the sort of i wont be successfull at all that sensation, blue funk, i think this is not for me reaction.
      To look cool and technical maybe you only need a light scattering of technological words, i suppose scattering comes from the word, "scat" i did not know that word till Brenda Groth used it, scatological, scatter, interesting, old English i suppose. You only need a scattering of technological words not a real deep end use of them. It is all art how much is enough to convince, to sound technological. Here in Spain the book that is meant to help you with your tax form is impossible to read, i doubt even lawyers use so many words more usually in legal terminology than everyday language in one sentence.  In language teaching they talk of words called passive vocabulary, words that you understand but aren't confident enough about where and when to use them  to use them and that make things hard to understand if there are to many in one sentence. 

   I remember a program in The Hughleys series when Mrs Hughey wants to go and pick apples, an option some farmer offers and Mr Hughley says that that is what their ancestors escaped from and he is not going to pick apples and so they don't, a pity a nice way to spend an family afternoon maybe with a prettyness surfeit.
      It is really different picking your own apples from working as a picker, about the hardest worse paid job there is from sunrise to sunset. The country is so beautiful, walk out your door and there you have a sky with a moon in it a really whitches night set up or you migh tconsider you are in the middle of a painting by Pinkham Ryder, really dramatic ambiental and pretty. Picking apples in the fresh air, thinking i am getting some exercise this has to be good for me, the prettyness of  red apples against a blue sky and not too many apples all at once because this is not an apple farm so a few apples in autumn and lettuces in summer makes it a  pleasant pastime. I like combining sport and work.
      Maybe you need some Kennedy's picking apples to persuade everyone that apple picking is cool or some car tuners, i reckon the car tuners would be better, their must be a car tuner with a really cool garden, they are really efficient people. It is cool it makes you feel good if its not all day and night, but how to make it look cool.   
       The same principle is is at work in the bit about Dolly Parton, visiting her old childhood house, on television, I think it was a CNN documentary about her, wearing shoes that have a enormously high heel and saying, "this is a country girl walking in the mud" with a little laugh as she toddled across a lawn. It was funny and a sharp little remark with a lot of social commentary in it.
       The many programs on the idle rich are a disaster, its all right downing the rich, the trouble is that other people while they hate them want to copy them and so everyone else goes silly, you have to have your intelligent hard working rich, Shark, House style.  The rich i once knew were not idle, humans tend to look for occupations, so really idle rich is a lie anyway, also they want to get richer, a good reason to work, they are privileged so you can do them on that, on having the luck to get a lot of help in their life, parents who give them a long edducation servants who do the manual work so they are freed to learn more socialising and talking to those who know or reading o rpaying for courses.  They want to be the only ones who get thelped up what meanies. Though only those who are really money grabbing work as hard as a fruit picker,  they are not as lazy as the television would have them look.
      You can present them as bad  but part of their luck is to get educated for longer and have better jobs so they aren't just talking about their hair and clothes and boyfriends around the swimming pool in many section of the wealthy but law an dagriculture an dpolitics and such seriouse themes. As people want to hate and copy them this educated type who don't want to look silly, would be the type of rich you should present to the country on television if you want o advance you runderpriviledged. Present the  Paris Hilton who can cook a lasagna, a complicated and hard work dish which she cooked one day for a family who she had been parked with for that months programs, an dprobably coverse about seriouse themes as all hostesses should and not the just  clothes buying Paris Hilton. 
      I have a friend who has descended from being a person who had a degree and was a socailly responsible communist person i don't think comunism works but i would rather people had a communist ideology than a fascist one, a potentially intelligent type young woman into complete twitdoom and i think its because she thinks its elegant. The stupidity must have always been there in her already, she fills in what  she does not know making things up, if you are truthfull it obliges you to look things up or ask and then you don't get too ignorant. It keeps you real. agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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      Talking about privately owned land, you can't imagine what an awful lot of land the church owns in th middle of madrid where peices of land are really valuable. How many churches and whole blocks filled with old convents and such and they call others materialists, if they topped their churches with skyscrapers full of flats they would get masses of rent for the poor everywere or for supporting films that support their ideology or for lobbying.
  The church must have so many empty rooms, i thought that the tramps could do with places to leave their junk, blankets and clothes and such, that the nuns could have opened a hole in the convent wall for them to keep their blankets in and another for them to wash their clothes in est up like a clothes washing shop, at he same time as they open one to make a garage for their car . The church is so backwards in using what it has that i think it only asks money off others to reduce the creative effective power of others not because it really wants it.
  What do they think riches are nice for? You can start projects if you are rich, the church  can start projects they should not call others rich untill they have the money to start projects too and still have too much. Also people treat the rich ewell they treat them as if they were responsible and worth listening to that is a really good reason to have money.

    I also thought when trying to do what i could for tramps, which i spent more than ten years trying to do but being me I really was trying to find out what was out there because i am cutiouse about doing things. Well one idea i had for tramps was that if they had communal work shops, as many of them had been skilled workers once, they might be able to make things to sell. Work benches and saws and such.
  There was certainly a crane driver, road builder among them, so if there was a communal machine to make terraces with and ponds he could have made the terraces for people.
  To tell all the truth about tramps, i have wondered if a part of them don't come under the category of criminals the police make darn sure don't get back into ordinary life. A sort of extended punishment, the general public does not control. I saw a ex-prisoner on television who said that each time he got a job the police would find an excuse to arrive at his work place to cheque up on him in front of everyone so getting him frowned on and chucked out. Do we trust police judgement should we let them effect peoples life like this? I don't know i didno thav eaccess to police files i don''t know what crimes the men and women i knew had commited. I think we should not we should want to know more about it. There are also the mad-ish and alcoholic. agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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Turning over the spin farming in my mind i have a different answer., Are you joking? It is quite good really, to call trying to grow a lot in a town garden spin farming. I wondered about growing enough food to feed a family on a balcony or in a normal town house garden and you suggest its a spin and that brings me to my senses, of course its not really possible its spinning things a lot. Mind you i have read non permaculture articles saying you can grow a lot of food on balconies. I hope that its being a spin does not reduce bill mollisons message that growing things in towns is great and good for the ecology.

    The article you posted on using compost to increase the carbon dioxide in green houses and how much faster plants grow with a lot of carbon dioxide, is the reason why its so important to have green gardens everywhere, so they absorb the town carbon dioxide. If growing foods is more fun than growing flowers and it is, you can have melons hanging off your balcony and be a public danger. There is planting tomatoes to come out of the bottom of plastic cooking oil canaster you make a hole in th bottom and cover it with coffee making papers and plant the tomato upside down through the coffee paper that stops it falling out of the hole and the plant hangs down instead of growing up. If its more fun grow food then grow it and  if not grow ordinary things, trandescanti is ordinary and looks good because it hangs and hanging things look good on the rail of your balcony at least form inside your rooms and is really hard to kill if you don't water it.
  You say food is cheap, meat is cheap but  i spend masses on vegetables, food is not cheap, if you can grow your own you can save a lot of money for other things. agri rose macaskie.
 
Colin Thomas
Posts: 21
Location: Castlegar, B.C. Zone 6a-6b
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Thanks for sharing what your friend is doing Joel. Tell him to keep up the good work.

I plan to size up my city and take control of the vacant land for the people with or without the cities approval. It is going to take time to build up plants, compost, and people. I plan to create gardens for all the locally ownded cafe's and resturants and lower income people. I have big ideas/plans for my community.

Colin
 
rose macaskie
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  Wow! Colin Thomas, you plan to take control of the spaces for the people willy nilly. That will be fun and is brave, do you have any experience taking things over, fighting with the authorityies etc . I suppose a list of the ins and out of squatting on land should be interesting for lots of towns.
  As to compost if you can just get lots of plants going that is a lot of roots living and dying in the land and leaves fallling on it, then you don't need to compost it.
  If you put down seed for birds they will come and compost it for you.
  I whatched the space at the bottom of trees on the street here, which fills up with seedlings from the seed that falls off the trees and the seeedlings disappeared with no sign of digging, herbicides i suppose, anyway if you are controlling the space you can denounce the use of herbicides. agri rose macaskie.
 
Colin Thomas
Posts: 21
Location: Castlegar, B.C. Zone 6a-6b
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Ok,ok, 'take charge' was perhaps the wrong words to use. I should have said 'make use' of the vacant land.

But really I do not think it will be that big of a deal to use vancant land to create food gardens for the community. Just have to do things right. Talk to the neighbors, ask about the land, who owns it (if anyone), if they would mind if it became a community garden. Let them know that it would be their gardens, their kids gardens.

In regaurds to the city not liking it, I am not sure on that one. Depending on the lot location they might not even know about it. If it is city land and it is not being used, and a garden is put their, and the cummunity supports it, good luck trying to remove it with out the locals putting up a fight. If they insist then perhaps moving the garden to anohter site will solve the problem. The growth of our city is quite small so it is not like the city is in short supply land.

Maybe I am being naive but I really don't see running into too many problems.

Colin


 
rose macaskie
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I really believe in other people having abilities i have not got,  you had thought that if the neighbors protested then the authorities would have problems taking away gardens on waste lands so you do know what you are doing or have plenty of ideas. It is possible to know what ones playing with more than others do, i thought it was a good idea and that taking land of the cities for gardens is a pioneering idea and the ways of doing it can be investigated and shared, i was not trying to pretend you were going too far.
  Did you see the film "Be Cool" with Uma Thurman and John Travolto. Uma Thurma is back in the role of supporting woman who does not have a clue and  John Travolto manages the world and he is new in town, with mastery. I believe in people who know how to work things as john travolto did though i don't maybe i did a bit at school but not in adult life and i believe that the information is in part communicable, so i thought your idea was cool and may be as you worked it you would be able to communicate it.

  In Kill Bill Uma Thurman is at least trying to be in control, though all she can mange is to kill everyone, it is sad to see her in a role where she is is just there to say, yes dear, is not even trying and is beside some one who is such a genius at managing in the world. The film is by someone who wanted male retribution for a film in which the wonderfull seven becomes the wonderful one and that one a girl. Quentin Tarantinos films again and again treat with women who control the situation or at least try to, it is impossible not  to think he is  a absolutely top of the list woman's liber. it is not that women shoud thump others but such terrible lacks of control as they have often suffered from are wrong.
    It seems you have a lot of apple trees you could maybe transplant some  for one. then you could do mixed planting that would be an excuse for moving some of the apple trees to mix things up a bit. in the video of "trees on their own roots and coppiced orchards" paul wheaton posted in the apple seed forum the man seemed to think he could get trees grown from seed fruiting really quick. agri rose macaskie.
 
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