Why urban beekeeping is all the buzz

Globe & Mail, May 20, 2010

The Paris Opera House has one on its roof. So does London’s famed food emporium, Fortnum and Mason. And the Obama White House recently added one to the historic South Lawn.

This week, the Canadian Opera Company joined the rapidly growing urban bee phenomenon – installing two new honey bee hives on the roof of its home at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

“The planet is losing honey bees at an alarming rate,” explains the COC’s general director Alexander Neef, “and we are happy to provide a place for them.”

At their summer peak, the new COC hives are expected to attract some 120,000 bees and to generate about 50 pounds of honey annually. It can’t be sold, because it won’t be pasteurized. But, quipped Mr. Neef, “we might consider giving it away as a bonus to those who subscribe to the opera early.”



Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm

Brooklyn Grange will be a 1 acre rooftop farm situated in New York City. Such a commercially-viable rooftop farm has yet to be realized in this country. We will use simple greenroof infrastructure to install over 1 million pounds of soil on the roof of an industrial building on which we will grow vegetables nine months of the year. Being in the country's largest city, the farm will create a new system of providing local communities with access to fresh, seasonal produce. We plan to expand quickly in the first few years, covering multiple acres of New York City's unused rooftops with vegetables. The business has many environmental and community benefits, and allows our city dwelling customers to know their farmer, learn where their food comes from, and become involved.

The farm will be run by Ben Flanner, who started and ran a proof of concept rooftop farm in the summer of '09. The beyond-organic produce will be sold directly to the community at an onsite stand, affording shoppers a direct relationship with the farm and farmers. Additional produce will be sold to a small group of market-driven local restaurants.

Our model capitalizes on an unused resource - rooftop space - and has the potential to change the way densely populated cities produce, distribute and consume food.

Your contribution will go towards ordering our lightweight rooftop soil, renting a crane to install that soil, and seeds and irrigation for our summer crops.

*All of our produce prizes are for local pick-up. It's a great chance to see firsthand how your food is grown. For those who can't pick up their produce prize in person, shoot an email with your address to brooklyngrangefarm@gmail.com and we'll send you a starter set of our favorite heirloom seeds so you can grow your own!

See video here


Citadins, à vos bêches!

Source: Le Soleil (Québec)

L'agriculture urbaine, c'est plus que des jardins communautaires et des poules dans une cour de banlieue. Voici quelques idées, certaines réalisables, d'autres plus flyées, pour faire pousser du vert et du croquant au milieu du béton.

Les plates-bandes

Vous n'avez pas suffisamment d'espace pour aménager un potager dans votre cour ou craignez de manquer de temps pour entretenir tous vos espaces verts? Plantez des fruits et des légumes dans vos plates-bandes! Un plant de zucchinis peut facilement rivaliser avec un hosta géant, un plant de bleuet remplacer un weigela. Les queues des carottes, tout comme celles des oignons, restent d'un beau vert tout l'été. Les pois mange-tout et les haricots grimpants sont heureux le long d'une clôture ou d'un mur de brique. Ma soeur a même tenté l'expérience, éminemment concluante, des fraises le long du patio. N'oubliez pas les arbres : un pommier, un prunier ou un cerisier mettra de la couleur dans la cour et dans votre assiette. Attention toutefois aux arrosages non sollicités des toutous et des fêtards. Et rangez vos produits chimiques. Pour voir ce qui se fait ailleurs, taper front yard garden dans Google.