Farm City
Harrell Fletcher and Jon Rubin

In agriculture a new term and practice has emerged in the last several years: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). In the CSA model, "shareholders" pay a membership fee at the beginning of the farming season and then receive a box of produce every week. This creates a direct, reciprocal relationship between farms and the people they feed.

The FarmCity project is a functioning, small scale, modified CSA. In our decentralized version there isn't one rural farm site; instead, five Mission District households act as both shareholders and farmers. These
participants grow, with our assistance, at least one crop in their own backyards, patios, or window boxes; each week they share their crops with the other households.

During the course of the project we will produce five newsletters, each one focusing on a participating household--the people who live there, the crop they are growing, and their views on their neighborhood. The project will culminate with a potluck that brings together the households with food made from produce they have grown. In this way FarmCity not only localizes agricultural production and distribution, but also connects people who live in the same neighborhood but are strangers to each other.

In the gallery at Southern Exposure a working greenhouse will be constructed to demonstrate one possibility for urban agriculture. Integrated into the greenhouse will be documentation from the newsletters, and free seeds and gardening information that viewers can take home to start their own urban farms. We see FarmCity as a model for a potential city-wide system of agriculturally based collectives that use available urban space to grow and share low cost fresh produce.

Try This at Home:
Albieís Nutrition Garden

In the spring of 1996 Albie Miles of the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UCSC began a project to grow all of his own food. His garden took up only 2,500 square feet, with an additional 2,000 square feet devoted to paths, propagation area and compost piles.  Albieís intention was to determine empirically just how much space, time and energy it would take to produce enough food to support one average manís nutritional needs. At the same time he wanted to maintaining the soilís fertility with cover crops, and compost produced from the remains of the plants he grew. To do this Albie concentrated on high caloric crops like grain corn, amaranth, spring wheat, potatoes, dry beans and winter squash, along with an assortment of vitamin rich vegetables including chard, kale, collards, broccoli and carrots.
From April to October Albieís diet consisted almost entirely of food represented in the garden. His was provided with approximately 2,900 calories a day and almost all necessary nutrients. A typical breakfast consisted of toasted amaranth porridge with winter squash. For lunch he ate stir-fried or steamed vegetables with wheat and amaranth chapati bread. Dinner most often consisted of bean or vegetable soup, stir fried potatoes and greens with corn tortillas or polenta.
Most people arenít willing to live at a basic needs level by growing all of their own food. But even those who want to develop a small garden to supplement their diets can learn from the nutrition gardens example.  Albie recommends growing dark leafy greens because they offer the most nutrition, potatoes for their high calories, and both for the smallest investment of time and space.
You can learn more about Albieís nutrition garden along with other
information about small scale farming at