Councilwoman Perry Wants Cash For Former Urban Farm « CBS Los Angeles

Councilwoman Perry Wants Cash For Former Urban Farm « CBS Los Angeles.

Councilwoman Perry Wants Cash For Former Urban Farm « CBS Los Angeles

July 29, 2011
Actress Darryl Hannah waves as she is removed from a tree in a community farm by fire fighters in South Central Los Angeles 13 June 2006. Hannah and dozens of other protestors were arrested as sheriff's deputies evicted farmers and supporters from the urban "South Central Farm," enforcing a court order obtained by the owner, who wants to develop or sell the 14-acre property in the middle of an industrial section of Los Angeles. (credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Actress Darryl Hannah waves as she is removed from a tree in a community farm by fire fighters in South Central Los Angeles 13 June 2006. Hannah and dozens of other protestors were arrested as sheriff’s deputies evicted farmers and supporters from the urban “South Central Farm,” enforcing a court order obtained by the owner, who wants to develop or sell the 14-acre property in the middle of an industrial section of Los Angeles. (credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles councilwoman wants to give up the right to build a park on the former site of a controversial community farm south of downtown and take a cash payout to spend at existing parks instead.

Councilwoman Jan Perry says in a letter this month to the city agency that agreed to a deal to sell the 14-acre property eight years ago that it’s not a practical location to build a new park and the money could be better spent at nearby facilities.

She wants commissioners to let the land’s owner pay the city an estimated $3.6 million dollars instead of setting the property aside for a park.

The garden formerly at the site was bulldozed five years ago amid protests from Darryl Hannah, Joan Baez and other celebrities.

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NYT- U.S. News: Drought in 14 States Means Disaster for Many –

NYT: Drought in 14 states means disaster for many – US news – The New York Times – msnbc.com.

Image: Wilted Corn

John Bazemore  /  AP

Wilted corn is shown just outside the range of a farm’s irrigation system in Oglethorpe, Ga., on June 15.
By Kim Severson and Kirk Johnson
The New York Times
updated 1 hour 58 minutes ago 2011-07-11T23:23:31

The heat and the drought are so bad in this southwest corner of Georgia that hogs can barely eat. Corn, a lucrative crop with a notorious thirst, is burning up in fields. Cotton plants are too weak to punch through soil so dry it might as well be pavement.

Farmers with the money and equipment to irrigate are running wells dry in the unseasonably early and particularly brutal national drought that some say could rival the Dust Bowl days.

“It’s horrible so far,” said Mike Newberry, a Georgia farmer who is trying grow cotton, corn and peanuts on a thousand acres. “There is no description for what we’ve been through since we started planting corn in March.”

The pain has spread across 14 states, from Florida, where severe water restrictions are in place, to Arizona, where ranchers could be forced to sell off entire herds of cattle because they simply can’t feed them.

In Texas, where the drought is the worst, virtually no part of the state has been untouched. City dwellers and ranchers have been tormented by excessive heat and high winds. As they have been in the southwest, wildfires are chewing through millions of acres.

Last month, the United States Department of Agriculture designated 213 of the 254 counties in Texas as natural-disaster areas. More than 30 percent of the state’s wheat fields might be lost, adding pressure to a crop in short supply globally.

Even if weather patterns shift and relief-giving rain comes, losses will surely head past $3 billion in that state alone, Texas agricultural officials said. (Read More)

Urban Foodies Look to Their Past and Find Recipes for Healthy Futures – COLORLINES

Urban Foodies Look to Their Past and Find Recipes for Healthy Futures – COLORLINES.

Urban Foodies Look to Their Past and Find Recipes for Healthy Futures

Photo: Timothy Vollmer/Creative Commons

Wednesday, June 22 2011, 10:17 AM EST

Ola Akinmowo has built an oasis in her apartment in central Brooklyn, a neighborhood that food justice advocates have identified as a food desert.

I visited her for dinner one night last week and she made a vegan version of the Eba Egusi, a dish that consists of ground cassava (yucca) made into a mound, with a stew featuring ground melon seeds and red palm oil, both of which she purchased in the neighborhood African market. For breakfast, she makes a smoothie with fruits purchased from the farmer’s market in a nearby yuppie neighborhood, or frozen from Trader Joe’s. She puts in flax seed oil, oatmeal and spirulina from the health food store on Fulton Street, central Brooklyn’s main drag. Her 9-year-old daughter, who is not a fan of smoothies, eats roasted potatoes, some fresh fruit and perhaps some vegetables.

(Read Full Article)

Restoring the world’s forests while feeding the poor | Nigel Sizer and Lars Laestadius | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Restoring the world’s forests while feeding the poor | Nigel Sizer and Lars Laestadius | Environment | guardian.co.uk.

Restoring the world’s forests while feeding the poor

Trees are being cut down for farming, but a new study shows that a lot of land already cleared could be used instead

Cleared forest, Borneo

Cleared virgin forest on land given over to palm oil plantations in Borneo. Photograph: Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images

“We are one shock away from a full-blown crisis,” stated Robert Zoellick, the president of the World Bank, at a recent meeting of the bank and the IMF. He was referring to a critical increase in poverty, resulting from the escalating cost of food. The UN’s food price index has risen 37% since March 2010. Basic cereal prices are up 60% over this period. Wheat is up 63%, and maize 83%.

Roughly 1 million people slide into extreme poverty for each 1% rise in global food prices, the bank’s analysts calculate.

Availability of land for farming is a key factor in long-term food supply and prices. As the human population expands, the remaining forests, wetlands and other fragile ecosystems will come under greater threat as farmers push further into the frontiers of the Amazon, Borneo and the Congo, as well as intensifying production in North America, Europe and beyond. Feeding billions more and feeding the poor properly will be possible only if better use is made of available land.

About half the world’s forest has been cleared for farming or seriously damaged by logging, fires, drainage, pollution and other ills. But where forests once grew they can grow again.

A new analysis, carried out by the World Resources Institute, South Dakota State University, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, found that more than 1bn hectares of land where forest once stood is now degraded, and could be put to more productive uses. This is an area larger than the entire United States.

Some of this degraded and underused land could be used for food and tree crop production without cutting down another square inch of standing forest. In order to make this possible, governments and development agencies need to invest in more careful planning, incentives, investment and controls. Special care is needed to ensure that local communities that may be using parts of the land are respected and fully involved in decisions to intensify use or to restore forest.

The remainder of the 1bn hectares could be restored to forest and woodland. Once restored, it will also play a greater role in supporting nutrient cycling, reducing erosion, sequestering carbon,managing water and further supporting food production across the wider landscape downstream.

In Indonesia, the World Resources Institute, together with a local partner, Sekala, is putting these ideas to the test by working with the Indonesian government, communities and industry to shift new oil palm estates on to already cleared and burnt land instead of cutting species-rich rainforest. Indonesia has rapidly become the world’s largest producer of palm oil. The government plans to expand oil palm plantations by about a million hectares a year to meet surging global demand for vegetable oil and biofuel. Until now, it was assumed that most of this expansion would result in the clearing and burning of precious rainforest. With more careful mapping and analysis, a new vision has emerged. Top officials are proposing new plans to use degraded land for the expansion of plantations. Mapping has shown that there is more than enough such land potentially available to meet demand.

Brazilian groups are looking to the Indonesian experience as they struggle to find space for that country’s expanding beef, soya and sugar cane enterprises. Through a careful process of defining degraded land, mapping it, and consulting with existing landowners and local communities, plans and policies encourage a shift in future investment to this kind of land and away from the forests of the Amazon.

Development agencies, charities, national governments and business should transfer some of their attention to the opportunity of restoring already cleared and degraded land to more productive use. This needs to be done equitably and should be driven by the local communities, who have the most to gain from the long-term potential of these efforts to contribute to enhanced food production, ecosystem services and poverty reduction.

• Nigel Sizer is director of the World Resources Institute’s Global Forests Initiative, and Lars Laestadius is a senior associate of the WRI, both in Washington, DC.