It isn’t just agricultural biodiversity that needs looking after; sometimes it is the agriculture itself. In my in-basket today two stories of farms saved for the future. Coincidence, I’m sure, but it is not hard to glean a single message of nostalgia combined with urban alienation from the rescue of College Farm in north London and Gellatly Nut Farm in British Columbia. I’ve often thought that we should make more of the commonalities between developed and developing countries than we do. Maybe these stories will help.
A great story about urban agriculture in – of all places – Los Angeles mentions corn, sunflowers, chayote, onions, tomatoes and alache, which I had to look up. But I would guess the diversity is staggering, at both species and variety levels. Imagine all those Latino families living the American dream asking their relatives back home for seeds…
The UNEP News Centre has a press release and lots of links on theÂ Billion Tree Campaign. This
“encourages the planting of indigenous trees and trees that are appropriate to the local environment, with mixtures of species preferred over other options. The campaign identifies four key areas for planting: degraded natural forests and wilderness areas; farms and rural landscapes; sustainably managed plantations; and urban environments but it can also begin with a single tree in a back garden.”
Wangari Maathai, the Prince of Monaco and ICRAF are involved. Go to the website and make your pledge!
Over in Austin Texas, there’s a thriving urban farm that offers a massive slice of biodiversity. Author Tom Philpott sings the praises of the produce. Urban agriculture, and an appreciation of the myriad benefits of biodiversity, could be a great way to create a common cause between the rich and the poor, but few people make the connections. How hard would it be to twin farmers’ markets across the globe?
The latest issue of CTA’s wonderful ICT Update is all about urban agriculture, and has a couple of examples of the application of GIS. I’ve always wondered whether urban areas act as “magnets” for PGR, people bringing their crops and varieties along when they migrate to the city and growing them in micro-environments, and/or as “winnowers” of the varieties available in the immediate vicinity, urban dwellers mostly focusing on the convenient and commercial. We even did an inconclusive studyÂ on sweet potato in Nairobi trying to look at this. Is genetic diversity much considered in urban agriculture circles?