Ministry of Urban Agriculture
This report provides a summary of last year's agricultural output as well as future land use.
The mandate of The Ministry of Urban Agriculture is both to spread the knowledge of growing food and encouraging the PUTP to become less reliant on food imports. 2012 was another successful year for both food production and knowledge building. Approx 1-2% of total food consumption was grown locally.
Outside of the PUTP 2012 was a devastating year for farmers in the area due to record low levels of rain and many hot spells. We are happy to report that the PUTP was not as affected as many other producers. In fact, we had a bountiful harvest, especially in the area of Tomatoes.
- Tomatoes - 10 freezer bags
- Yellow Beans - 2 freezer bags
- Raspberries - *20-30 cups
- Lettuce - *10-15 cups
- Green Beans - *5-10 cups
- Strawberries - *5-10 berries
- Onions - 0
2011 output numbers were 30% to 40% less in most categories, except raspberry production where it was similar.
This increase in output is being attributed to the long term strategy the Ministry has employed over the past six years. The starting point of this plan, the summer of 2007, found the 'Backyard' in very poor condition. Soil was classified as 'rock hard clay' or 'almost cement'. Available land was in the range of 100-150 square feet. Plans were made to increase cultivable land and substantially upgrade the fertility of the soil.
The 'set up' of the Backyard was changed drastically in 2008 and 2009, opening up more land to use for food production. A strategy of mixed planting, both perennials and annual plants, was put into place at the same time - three raspberry root stalks were planted on the western edge of the backyard. Soil conditioning has been an ongoing project with additional bags of 'top soil' and manure added each spring, and a constant feed of other organic compostables. This mainly consists of grass clippings in the summer months and a layer of leaves in the fall. Additional inputs of coffee grounds and egg shells are routinely added as well. Experimental treatments of unproven methods* are tried on an ad hoc basis.
*Water from boiled vegetables, including carrots and/or corn on the cob.
Since that time land under cultivation has increased by fourfold to approx. 480 square feet and soil conditions are good to excellent.
Changes in 2012, including installation of a fence around the border of PUTP, have made it possible to shift the 'garden' out of the shade of the house into an area with increased sunshine. Also, newly turned over land is expected to be rich with nutrients and growing potential. As well, past experimentation with planting has given us the knowledge to know what will flourish and what the citizens of PUTP will consume. All of these things in combination should lead to larger yields in 2013.
In contrast, a new program aimed at containing the raspberry bushes may decrease berry production in 2013, but, is predicted to increase yields (and esthetic appeal) in the years to come.
Other long term ideas yet to be implemented include bringing part of the 'Frontyard' into production. Again, poor soil conditions and a giant pine tree inhibit much from growing in this area. Preliminary research has suggested a blue berry bush may be able to survive, and possibly thrive, under such conditions. This may be put into action in 2013 or 2014. Other ideas for fruit or nut trees are on the agenda and may at some point be looked into further.