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Most of us think of farming as an occupation for rural areas. Urban farming is difficult for sure, but it is possible.
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A vacantlot becomes a farm in Minneapolis, Minnesota. SUCHART LOTSCHER
Farming in the city
That evening, my wife used leaves from this basil plant for a deliciousbai krapraw dish. SUCHART LOTSCHER
Most of us think of farming as an occupationfor ruralareas. Cities seem too full of people, buildings and roads for growing food commercially
Urban farming is difficult for sure, but it is possible. Here in Bangkok, for example, people have started experimenting with rooftop farming. Not surprisingly Kasetsart University is an early leader.
In the private sector the Novotel in Siam Square has a rooftop farm growing Spirulina, a blue-green microalgae used to make a stickygreen pastewhich is added to the hotel’s sauces, drinks, and even mud spa treatments.
Urban farming is also possible at the groundlevel, however, and I saw two interesting examples during a recent visit to Minneapolis, the largest city in my home state of Minnesota.
At the Stone’s Throw urbanfarm, the idea is to find and develop vacantlots. Currently, the owners have about 10 lots under organiccultivation, growing a wide varietyof vegetables that are sold through a localfarmers’ market and to communitymembers through a communitysupported agriculture (CSA) programme. Under the CSA, localsbuy shares in the harvestand receive producethroughout the growing season.
Farmer Robin explains the problems she and her fellowowners face to my brother (right) and me. SUCHART LOTSCHER
While the farm is becoming profitable it has its shareof problems. First, potentialfarm lots have to be rented and it is not easy to get a long-term rental agreement. Not all lots are suitablefor farming and the soilmust be thoroughly tested to determinethat has not been badly contaminatedby previous users. Water, too, can be a problem since that must often be obtained from neighbours. Then there are the problems besetting organicfarms everywhere – hungry pests keeping the soilhealthy, etc.
An asphaltparking lotis convertedinto an urbanfarm. Photo from the Growing Lots Facebook page.
The nearby Growing Lots urbanfarm knows full well the risks involved in renting property A year ago, Mike and Stefan, the two farm owners, had to leave their first lotand transporteverything several blocks away to a new site, which, like the first, was an asphaltcovered parking lot
Yes, a parking lotcan be convertedinto a farm. All it needs is a plastic covering before the compostand soilis added. Then, says farmer Stefan, the main job is to producehealthy soil With healthy soil you can grow just about anything.
For more on urbanfarming in Bangkok and Minnesota, here are some links:
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algae: very simple plants, such as seaweed, that have no real leaves, stems or roots, and that grow in or near water - สาหร่าย
asphalt: a thick black sticky substance used especially for making the surface of roads - แอสฟัลต์, สารชนิดหนึ่งมีสีน้ำตาลหรือดำเหมือนดินน้ำมัน
beset: to cause someone difficulty or danger over a period of time - รุมเร้า
commercially: for business purposes - สำหรับการค้า
community: the people living in one particular area - ชุมชน
compost: a mixture of decayed plants, food, etc. that can be added to soil to help plants - ปุ๋ยหมัก
contaminated: made dirty, polluted or poisonous by the addition of a chemical, waste or infection - ปนเปื้อน
converted: changed from one form to another - เปลี่ยน โอนจากที่หนึ่งไปยังอีกที่หนึ่ง
cultivation: the preparation and use of land for growing plants or crops - การเตรียมดินสำหรับเพาะปลูก
currently: at this time; now - ในปัจจุบัน
delicious: having a very good taste - อร่อย
determine: to discover something by examining evidence to or calculate something - กำหนด, ระบุ, แสดงผล
fellow: of a person that you work with or that is like you - ซึ่งอยู่เป็นกลุ่มเดียวกัน
ground: the outer surface of the earth, that we walk on - ผิวดิน, ผิวโลก, พื้นดิน
harvest: the activity of collecting a crop, in this case a rice crop - การเก็บเกี่ยวผลผลิต
level: the height of something in relation to the ground - ระดับ
local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น
locals: people who live in a particular place - ชาวบ้าน
lot: an area of land used for a particular purpose - ที่ดิน, ผืนดิน, แปลงที่ดิน
neighbour: someone who lives near you, - เพื่อนบ้าน
obtain: to get something that you want or need, especially by going through a process that is difficult - ได้มา, ได้รับ
occupation: a job - อาชีพ
organic: produced or practised without using artificial chemicals - (เกษตรกรรม)เชิงชีวภาพ
paste: a smooth mixture of crushed meat, fish, etc. that is spread on bread or used in cooking - กะปิ
pests: insects or small animals which are harmful and annoying - คนหรือสัตว์ที่รบกวน
potential: possible - ความเป็นไปได้
private sector: businesses and industries that are not owned or controlled by the government - ภาคเอกชน
produce: things that have been made or grown, especially things connected with farming - ผลผลิต, ผลิตผล
profitable: able to earn money and expenses are subtracted - ให้ผลกำไร,ได้ผลประโยชน์
property: land owned by someone - ที่ดิน, อสังหาริมทรัพย์
rent: to pay money for the use of something for a period of time - เช่า
risk: the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen - ความเสี่ยง
rural: connected with the countryside outside big towns and cities - ในชนบท, บ้านนอก
sauce: a liquid food that you put on other foods to give them a particular flavour - น้ำปรุงรส, ซอส
share: one part of something that is divided between two or more people - ส่วน
soil: the substance on the surface of the Earth in which plants grow - ดิน
sticky: made of or covered in a substance that sticks to things that touch it - เหนียว
suitable: acceptable or right for someone or something - เหมาะสม
transport: to move people or things from one place to another - ขนส่ง
treatment: the process of providing medical care - การรักษา
urban: connected with towns and cities - เขตเมือง
vacant: empty - ว่าง
variety: many different types of things or people - ความหลากหลาย