collecting and commenting on future agriculture

reField has migrated over to LandLogics

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Hi All,

This is just to announce that reField is going to have its content migrated over to Along with this migration is a merger of research/interests in the field of “land logics”  (land-use, foodprints, agriculture, and feed-infrastructures) with the collaboration of Fei-Ling Tseng.

All further updates and new-posts will be done via…see you there.


Written by Matthew

August 14, 2010 at 01:26

Posted in Uncategorized

City Farmers and Locavores: Free Food in the City

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This was a Jane’s Walk I attended called City Farmers and Locavores: Free Food in the City.

The premise of the walk was to visit a number of local-urban venues rich in urban-agricultural potential, and learn about their roles in supporting neighborhood nutrition.  The walk was concentrated primarily along Queen Street West, starting from Trinity Bellwoods Park and concluding at the The Drake Hotel.  Sarah Elton (Locavore) and Lorraine Johnson (Author) lead the tour with really great information about specific urban-agricultural topics at each of the 5-stops along the walk.

Meeting at Trinity Bellwoods Park Gate

Walk Leaders: Sarah Elton (Left) and Lorraine Johnson (Right)

Our first stop was in Trinity Bellwoods Park, at a native Carolinian tree with edible pink blossoms!  Both Sarah and Lorraine described how edible blossoms comprised a small source of Urban Foraging, which could include collecting from city owned fruit, nut, berry and weed plants. Lorraine described how you could use the flower blossoms in salads, and recently I discovered a whole set of recipes for flowers, which makes me wish I had actually tried a few blossoms before our next stop (I felt a little bad though watching all of the walkers suddenly attack the tree and eat a whole bunch of the blossoms).

Lorraine explains how you can eat the blossoms right off the tree!

Once told the blossoms are edible...the tree was attacked!

Our second stop, still in the park, was the Trinity Bellwoods Greenhouse.   Here Lorraine and Sarah described how community Greenhouses offer a real advantage for city-dwellers who may not have access to a backyard, or even sunny window ledge to grow some of their own small plants or herbs.  The Greenhouse is fully functional in the winter, with a small heater and water tap.  A “walker” described how someone in the city was developing a travelling Greenhouse, and how it would move between neighborhoods distributing veggies and serving as a moving classroom for people.  Sarah described how farmers in Maine (mostly lead by the pioneering of Eliot Coleman) are developing the Four Season Farm, which is a system of placing a greenhouse type addition onto existing agricultural fields to make them perform all-year round.  These four-season farms sound kind of like field prosthetics! (I hope to find out more about them, and include them in the Agri-Tech Catalog soon).

Lorraine describes how the Greenhouse works all year round.

You can see the heater and water hose for 4-season growing capacity.

Our third stop was at a plot of (what seemed) un-kept greenery at the intersection of Queen Street West and Crawford Street.  In fact we learned that it was a an area dedicated to growing native grasses.  In fact along any boulevard (according to Lorraine and Sarah) you are allowed to grow any kind of grass species, whether it be the traditional lawn grass or productive crop-grasses!

Here you can see the local edible tall-grasses

Our forth stop was up along Shaw Street (close to Queen Street West).  Here we learned about the Kentucky Coffee Tree and how it is actually quite a rare tree in Ontario. The tree has some of the longest leaves of all Ontario trees and produces a type of legume which could be used as a coffee substitute, but also how it can be poisonous.  As an original native tree to Virginia, it was described how Kentucky Coffee seeds were used as gambling chips during the time of Canada’s discovery by European settlers, by both aboriginals and Europeans alike.  The seeds traveled as bargaining chips (and planting seeds) up along the Mississippi until they reached Southern Ontario.

Lorraine describes the story of the Kentucky Coffee Tree.

Our final stop was at the back of the Drake Hotel, where Sarah and Lorraine described that one of the best fronts in promoting local foods is through restaurants and their chefs.  “It is hard to convince 300 people to eat local for dinner, but it is easy to have 1 chef use local foods for his restaurant of 300 people at dinner”.  And we learned how the chefs at the Drake are using a small garden plot at the back of their property for growing herbs and spices.

The Drake Hotel's back-lot garden. Didn't know you'd be eating a posh culinary dish and supporting local food did you?

Overall, the walk was a lot of fun, and it opened up quite a few new research topics in local farming and food resources.  A map of the walk route is linked below.

Written by Matthew

May 8, 2010 at 20:35

Agri-Tech Catalog: self-propelled sprayer

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Agri-Tech Catalog: self-propelled sprayer

The self-propelled sprayer has an interesting history of advertisement attached to it,  representing one of the most advertised agricultural piece of equipment I have come across (it has some of the most YouTube video coverage…great to watch those arms unfold).  I wonder if that is because there is a lot of competition arising on the mode of pesticide delivery both from pragmatic (as debated on technical forums) and health concerned voices .

Although not directly related to the debate of efficiency or health, I find the device interesting from a spatial point of view…if perhaps modified the vehicle would be a great ‘ceiling machine) ever been under some of those huge trucks? Obviously there will need to be some serious reconsiderations as to what the delivery method of the pesticide will be, but who knows maybe it could be a useful irrigation technique…a raining mobile ceiling.

Written by Matthew

April 26, 2010 at 16:55

Agri-Tech Catalog: snow maker

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Agri-Tech Catalog: snow maker

Written by Matthew

April 26, 2010 at 02:58

Agri-Tech Catalog: rake

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Agri-Tech Catalog: rake

Here is a simple yet fundamental agri-tool, the rake. One of the very first agricultural tools ever employed in order to “harrow” (or lightly cultivate the surface of the soil). This enabled some of the first farmers to plant seeds in areas that were not originally conducive to supporting plant life.

Written by Matthew

April 25, 2010 at 20:05

AV bird deterrent: scary advertisement

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undated DAZON B.V. advertisement

Here is an interesting image I found while researching the “Bird Cannons”:

A real glorified triumph over nature’s pests for the protection of our crops…look how scared the rabbits are!

The image is courtesy: Pérez, Yuste. Handbook of Agriculture. Marcel Dekker Inc. 270 Madison Avenue. New York, NY USA. 2000

Another note on bird-deterrents, some companies/associations are taking are planning to become very precise in their species deterrence strategies, where they want their systems to smartly identify a bird-type and apply an appropriate counter measure.  Sounds a lot like a fusion between Agriculture and Air-Defense! I wonder if there there would be a renewed interest or strengthened effort in cataloging and identifying birds with this direction the industry is thinking about, perhaps a collaborative effort to help overall identification and behaviors? Great bird I.D. site! Again…maybe specific pests can become really useful once we know enough about them.

Written by Matthew

April 25, 2010 at 16:52

Agri-Tech Catalog: AV bird deterrent

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Agri-Tech Catalog: AV bird deterrent

Due to the increasingly “resistant” aerial pests (aka birds) that threaten crops a number of automatic deterrents have been developed over the past 50 years.  One of the most popular is the “Bird Cannon” which creates a small propane based explosion emitting a large scary sound.  Some of the most popular models can be seen at Birdbusters or ZonBirdCannon. However, what this model “The Razzo” does is combine an audio and visual deterrent without positioning the explosion towards the direction of the bird (and potentially kill it) …rather it contains the explosion in an upward direction which doubles as the ‘lift’ for the visual “dummy”.

However, Scare-Cannons as they are sometimes referred to are still controversial especially as suburban developments encroach near farm lands.

Perhaps there are new ways to think of a pest-deterrent that will not scare people at the same time…or even better would be to think about how these devices would not “deter” but rather coordinate or control pests for productive use and become architecturally designed…ever heard of the Persian Pigeon Towers in Isfahan, Iran?

Still, these deterrents make for interesting, dynamic elements in a field that potentially could be exploited for some other reasons.

Written by Matthew

April 25, 2010 at 16:29