Cuba’s urban farming program a stunning success – International Herald Tribune

or Miladis Bouza, the global food crisis arrived two decades ago. Now, her efforts to climb out of it could serve as a model for people around the world struggling to feed their families.

Bouza was a research biologist, living a solidly middle-class existence, when the collapse of the Soviet Union — and the halt of its subsidized food shipments to Cuba — effectively cut her government salary to US$3 a month. Suddenly, a trip to the grocery store was out of reach.

So she quit her job, and under a program championed by then-Defense Minister Raul Castro, asked the government for the right to farm an overgrown, half-acre lot near her Havana home. Now, her husband tends rows of tomatoes, sweet potatoes and spinach, while Bouza, 48, sells the produce at a stall on a busy street.

Neighbors are happy with cheap vegetables fresh from the field. Bouza never lacks for fresh produce, and she pulls in between 2,000 to 5,000 pesos (US$100-250) a month — many times the average government salary of 408 pesos (US$19).

Read more @ the International Herald Tribune Cuba’s urban farming program a stunning success .

Reconstruction of infrastructure priority in quake-hit areas

China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MHURD) stressed in a circular on Tuesday that infrastructure restoration was a priority in reconstruction after the May 12 earthquake.

The MHURD ordered governments at all levels to draw up construction plans by June 8, including building locations and materials.

It instructed officials to better manage construction of interim housing in quake-hit areas to ensure its safety.

The government is to assess all school buildings in quake zones, said a statement from the earthquake relief headquarters of the State Council.

Local governments must organize personnel to conduct safety appraisals of all school buildings as soon as possible to ensure the safety of students as they return to school, according to the statement.

SOURCE: Xinhua – Reconstruction of infrastructure priority in quake-hit areas.

Mud Lick Creek Project Fights Erosion, Pollution – Science – redOrbit

A half-million-dollar plan to re-engineer and protect Mud Lick Creek is designed to enhance what is one of Roanoke County’s most popular parks.

County Engineer George Simpson led a discussion Monday morning with 30 to 40 people at Garst Mill Park on a project to fight erosion and pollution of the creek there.

Approximately 3,000 linear feet of Mud Lick Creek run through the park, making it one of the park’s most prominent features and one that’s especially popular with children, who wade in it.

The project, which the county is calling a “restoration,” is a pilot, Simpson said, attempting to re-create the natural contours of the stream. Similar programs may be attempted in other watersheds threatened by pollution and erosion if this one is successful.

SOURCE: redOrbitMud Lick Creek Project Fights Erosion, Pollution – Science –

Urban Farmer II – Vancouver Sun

Neophyte farmer Nicholas Read is spending the summer learning how to grow food. With the help of City Farm Boy Ward Teulon, who runs a network of 14 backyard vegetable farms in Vancouver, he hopes to learn to tell the difference between a seed and a weed. This is his second report.

Even this early in the growing season, some crops are ready to harvest. Spinach, radishes, a few varieties of lettuce, several kinds of salad greens and herbs are all ready to eat. That’s because these crops can tolerate a cool soil temperature; others can’t. It’s also why if you visit a farmers’ market now, you won’t find much else unless it’s been grown in a greenhouse.

read more @ the SOURCE: Vancouver Sun – Urban Farmer II.

Vertical farms and future cities

What do vertical farms, green roofs, soft cars, breathing walls, and Dongtan, China, have in common? They were all subjects of discussion at Friday’s Future Cities event in New York City, part of the four-day 2008 World Science Festival.

To a packed house, Columbia University microbiologist Dickson Despommier described his vision for feeding the planet’s burgeoning, and increasingly urban, population. The vertical farm takes agriculture and stacks it into the tiers of a modern skyscraper. Instead of stopping at the corner pizzeria for dinner, Despommier suggested, you could pluck a nice head of lettuce, maybe some corn, and some tomatoes for a big salad, all in your own building, on the way to your apartment. You can’t get fresher or more local than that.

SOURCE: Gristmill – Vertical farms and future cities | Gristmill: The environmental news blog .

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