Urban Ag should live off the unique aspects of the Urb.
Those unique aspects include undervalued resources:
- organic matter- source separated food waste and oils from food producers and retailers, yard waste
- excess buildings and vacant lots
- underemployed people, especially at risk youth who have no connection to nature, food production, useful work
Urban Ag best supplements, not replaces, conventional food supplies.
There is a limited basket of products that are better grown in a city than on a rural farm. Fresh vegetables yes; specialty items and season stretchers, yes; grains and mammals. This is not intended to provide a complete diet.
An Urban Farm should be a good neighbor.
Productive and non-productive areas should be pleasing to see. The inconvenience of living next to chickens and occasionally noisy machines should be offset by free eggs to immediate neighbors. Those neighbors, friends, volunteers, and customers should be treated to a harvest feast of pasta when the garlic, basil, and tomatoes come in. Public spaces to sit and linger will be constructed as part of the building and grounds.
Labor that teaches should replace capital intensive automation when possible.
The Ecolab will favor manual systems that provide opportunities to be more connected to the process and learn from experience rather than relying on automated systems.
Education is key.
Information about contaminants in cities is the important to health and decreasing risk – perhaps more important than remediation. A working, open demonstration of several practices of how to protect yourself from lead in soil or how to retain storm-water would be valuable to urban residents.
The business model should be open source and open book as much as possible.
This project should track flows of energy, water, carbon, and money, and have that data available to those who would want to implement any part of it.
The Ecolab will test and publish the results of various techniques and technologies for conserving
- Water, including capture and use of storm-water, and
- Greenhouse gas generation reduction through landfill diversion of food waste
Sustainability requires financial stability.
The farm should become self supporting from income as quickly as possible. Income streams should be managed to maximize support for the workers and farm systems. Workers should be justly compensated.