Farm City Forum - Pecha Kucha - Farming Concrete - Mara Gittelman

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On 09/25/2010, cartographer Mara Gittelman presented her project, Farming Concrete, that aims to research and map food production in community gardens in NYC. …

On 09/25/2010, cartographer Mara Gittelman presented her project, Farming Concrete, that aims to research and map food production in community gardens in NYC.

Farm City Forum concluded Farm City, a three-week series of events exploring the possibilities for urban agriculture in the current reality of NYC as part of Crossing the Line: FIAF Fall Festival from 9/12 to 9/25/2010. Farm City Forum took the format of an “unconference,” a lively participant-driven series of discussions exploring how to shape the future of urban agriculture. Three Sessions, each with its own distinct approach, brought together artists, farmers, urban planners, architects, food activists, and authors. The Primary Goal of the Forum was to engage participants in a visioning process about transformative possibilities of urban agriculture as a means to generate new thinking and experimental action positively impacting a more sustainable future.
The Forum's Secondary Goal was to explore how artistic interventions transform and illuminate urban agricultural endeavors and vice versa.

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  • Project to measure food production. Core team of around 15 individuals this summer, 4 this fall, but more than 40 individuals have volunteered their time from a weekend to the duration of the project.
  • Land ownership, not all of this is under production, but we’ll hopefully have some of that data soon. Land that is NOT under production is also enormously valuable – seating areas that provide space for meetings and passive recreation, shade, an escape, a reminder of home or wherever one grew up.
  • Enormous community assets – composting and partnerships with schools are just a few examples – these number are from a survey I conducted last year through growNYC and greenthumb
  • So data is important. If we’re going to go forward with any sort of urban ag policies, we need to know what’s currently happening on the ground. Community gardens often get left out of the conversation when talking about and planning for urban ag…having sound data can change that. It is also especially powerful when it’s participatory, done by the gardeners, the numbers are just crunched by us – you’re way more likely to use data if you helped build it. You’ll hear a bit more on the history of urban ag and historical data collections from Daniel at the end of the panel.
  • The first three are our partners. GT, JF, and NYRP. Intern recruitment & outreach started in May and is still going on today, Gardeners started weighing their produce when we got the first scale out on June 15. In one month, we delivered 100 scales. It took us 6 weeks from our first team meeting to get all of our scales out to interested gardeners, however that means it wasn’t until nearly August that we really got going on the mapping. Before we knew it, summer was over & our core team was gone…the project became even more decentralized.
  • The first step was outreach, which was arguably the most difficult step in making this project a success. We were lucky to have such a big team
  • On the ground, the study is actually quite simple. It takes place in two pieces: weighing harvests and mapping crop inventory. With the weighing we get pounds per plant by crop, and with the crop inventory we get number of plants per crop per sq foot, specific to each garden. We can then extrapolate accordingly.
  • This is an example of one of the harvest logs. We used two different kinds to see which one worked better – one with the crops listed, and one with blank slots. The important thing here is to record number of plants, which is becoming a challenge as we get some logs in without this component. Pounds are recorded by date so that we can track how much is harvested over time.
  • This is the other harvest log, and an example in which a gardener changed her sheet to be more like the other one. We plan to do an evaluation of the study around November to start planning for next year, and part of it will be about the methodology, what worked, what didn’t.
  • Some highlights in the tedium of data entry.utilizing trellises to the point where they look like grape vines
  • Challenges – hard to stick with this sort of thing through the summer. Many of the scales we delivered to gardens ended up unused, hard to collect harvest logs, coordinate mapping, hard to make sure protocol was followed
  • Despite challenges, we made incredible relationships, turned gardening folks on to data and data folks on to gardening. There are gardens doing incredible things outside of the usual list of incredible things – a garden in the Bronx grows sugar cane, many grow calalloo, a caribbean green that you can’t find in grocery stores. Some gardeners in Harlem plant more than 100 tomato plantsin one bed
  • Gardeners are continuing to weigh throughout the rest of the season, and FC volunteers are going to continue to map as long as the plants are in the ground. If you want to volunteer or know anyone who likes to spend time in gardens, please contact us!

Transcript

  • 1. measuring food production in nyc community gardens
  • 2. 500
    community gardens
    93
    acres of land
  • 3. 65.6%
    compost
    20
    of these are public
    42.8%
    partner with at least one local school, another
    39.1%
    would like to
  • 4. 81% grow food
  • 5.
  • 6.
  • 7.
  • 8.
  • 9.
  • 10.
  • 11.
  • 12.
  • 13.
  • 14.
  • 15. 100
    scales distributed
    80+
    harvest logs collected
    83+
    maps drawn
  • 16. We are tracking yield from at least
    530 tomato plants
    across participating gardeners
    One gardener in Brooklyn harvested
    12.5 lbs of garlic one day in June
    11.5 lbs6 days later
    12.5 lbs 3 days after that
    Another collectively harvested
    8 lbs of callaloo
    in one day for their farmers’ market
    A gardener in Harlem harvested
    10.5 lbs of okra
    in one day
  • 17.
  • 18.
  • 19.
  • 20. volunteer@farmingconcrete.com
    www.farmingconcrete.com