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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

While scanning through Twitter today I found a link that made me want to re-think one of my slides. According to Grist the Dervaes family of Path to Freedom farm in Pasadena, CA trademarked the term ‘urban homestead‘, with a filed, but unapproved, claim on ‘urban homesteading’ and ‘urban homesteader’.

I featured them in a slide in my presentation on urban agriculture last week and extolled the virtues of their excellent work in promoting the intensive and important work of urban agriculture. With the discovery that they have attempt to not just capitalize (hey, I’m all for making a living!), but to prevent others from even talking about urban homesteading without paying the a royalty is just crazy.

As this is a US trademark, it falls under some of the most draconian patent laws in the world, the same that sent students and grandmothers to federal court to defend music copyright infringements a few years ago. Since I’ve never been privileged enough to receive a cease and desist letter, I thought I’d use this blog to egg on some US trademark lawyer, and rack up the legal bills for some serious schmucks.

Urban homestead. Urban homestead. Urban homestead. Urban homestead.

(Put that in your pipe and smoke it, trademark be damned!)

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Last night I gave a Pecha Kucha-style presentation on urban farming put on organized by Shannon Courtney, Shannon Mader, and a whole host of super talented and motivated folks from PEI.  It was amazing to so many people who had come out to defend local food, and I was completely stunned at the local food producers.  If you have the misconceived notion that farmers are not intelligent, articulate, and passionate, then you don’t know a farmer.

Here is what I took away from last night.  First, farmers are scared, not about making a living (though that was something that scared them all, I am sure), they are scared for the food future of Islanders and Canadians.  Government and corporate agriculture are building a massive regulatory weight that can only be born by mega farms that employ the latest technologies in both equipment and seed while paying little regard for the sustainability of the land.  Volume is profit, and corporations are in place only to make profit.  While some of the speakers where vocal about their fears of losing the skill and ability to grow locally, every single food producer had the same message — we are at risk of losing our food independence permanently.

The second thing I realized is that I was a puzzling anomaly in that I am only a food consumer, not a producer.  Perhaps I should have outed myself as the chicken-guy in the presentation, but I focused more on the ‘why’ of urban agriculture, rather than ‘why I did it’.  I hope people realize that I am just like they are — passionate and invested in the interest of a sustainable PEI.  I’m not perfect — I still buy bananas imported from Guatamala, and shrimp imported from Africa — but I recognize that I can make a difference by making a change in the way that I chose to source my food.  (Hint: Direct from the source is best)

If anything I learned that farmers are desperate for us, as eaters (or as Shannon Mader said ‘citizens’ and ‘community’ — anything but ‘consumers’), to engage them, to learn about the food they produce, and the enjoy the bounty of their labours.  They aren’t trying to get rich, they are just trying to produce good food and make a decent living for them and their neighbours.

I’ll write more about some of the points from my slides once the presentation is posted to the Local M.E.A.L. website in the coming days.  Until then start scouting your farmers market and farm-gate for the first greens of the season.  They should start coming in shortly, even in the icebox that is PEI!

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On Thursday, Feb 24, I will be speaking at a local food symposium organized by some very talented friends, associates and complete strangers.  The intent of this evening is to elevate the discussion around local food and what it means to us as Islanders, as East Coasters, and to us as Canadians.  (You can check out the website or Facebook group for details)

As I am the ‘urban chicken’ guy (or at least the only one crazy enough to out myself in the media) I thought it would be appropriate to discuss urban agriculture.  Though we may shun the idea of animals living in the city, the idea behind urban agriculture is widely accepted throughout the world, and not just in developing nations.  Market gardens were very much commonplace in England, even after the necessities of WWII subsided.

While I won’t divulge everything I am going to talk about in 6.5 minutes (thanks to the Pecha Kucha style selected for the evening) I will say that urban agriculture needs to have a place in our future lives.  We cannot afford to export the responsibility for a our food, and the complicit effects on our communities and economies, to other nations.  As both water, land and the bodies to toil in the fields of mega-farms begin to dwindled, we will have to assimilate food production back into our lives.  We won’t all be farmers — I love the amenities of the city and don’t want to give them up — but raising a supplementary food source requires only a little effort and a desire to change.

I’ll post more (no, seriously, — stop laughing!) after the presentation and try to flesh out each of the talking points a little more.

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