Unnatural gardening

The sad saga of the Thomas Street, Box Hill garden that was posted on Lucazoid’s site got us looking at urban agriculture.

The residents had turned the entire backyard into an organic vegetable garden only to discover their landlord was a lawn lover who considered they had damaged the property. The whole garden had to be ripped out and the lawn replanted – not everyone appreciates the adaptive reuse of their lawn.

There is another great Australian urban gardening site here describing a garden near the centre of Bendigo.

Being a sports hater I particularly liked the argument against sport:

Industrial agriculture triumphs when it comes to eliminating labour costs. I have a simple answer to this: STOP PLAYING SPORT! Middle-class folks now spend five to twenty hours a week at the gym!!! Football players train twice a week and devote at least one day of their weekends to football. Convert this “labour” to gardening – end of labour problem.Three in ten hospital beds are taken up by victims of sports injuries! Sport is pointless, dangerous, mindless and unproductive and most sports, in fact, are nothing but training for warfare and perpetuate a militariastic culture. My panacea for the world’s ills is stop playing sport and take up gardening – then in future efficiency calculations count all labour hours as “recreation”.

Right on!!! And any reader naively thinking that carpet can be adaptively reused as a weed suppressor should check out the reasons his site is named half an acre of carpet.

But lawn-loving landlords notwithstanding, not everyone disapproves of urban farming, in fact some cities actively support it. And increasingly there are more technological versions of urban farming like this project to adapt a trailer as a glass house for hydroponic gardening.

But why stop at small scale efforts, think big! If cities are the problem why can’t they become the solution, that is the key to the adaptive reuse philosophy. Why not use city buildings for farming or even build skyscraper farms?

The Vertical Farm Project has been advocating the development of vertical farming technology and documenting all aspects of the concept, but we have an ingrained suspicion of high tech solutions to problems that are basically caused by human greed and that ultimately require socio-political solutions.

However, problems should also be looked at from all angles and often need more than one solution. Anyway, even combining office and farm in one building would be pretty good….why not adaptively reuse the city?


  1. gricegrocers
    Posted 11 Sep ’06 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    With concrete floors and gutters throughout such a “farm” it would be so much easier to use water efficiently.
    I wonder how much solar light they could reflect back into the building and would it be enough to simulate field conditions? And how to prevent nutrient/fertilizer runoff?

  2. grice
    Posted 14 Sep ’06 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    alleged alleged alleged but reminds me of a person called juanita. http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=124225

  3. admin
    Posted 22 Sep ’06 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Several decades ago I knew Doris Owens (and Juanita, for that matter) and I know from personal experience what developers will do if you get between them and a bucket of money. I’ll find out more if I can and report back.

  4. Ben
    Posted 24 Sep ’06 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Hi Ian,
    turning a high rise into a farm is bit like Richard Branson “investing” in efforts to curb global warming. or his idea to make the rocket for his space tourism thing as energy efficient as possible.

    while i like a bit of sport the quote with regards to the labour issue elequently illustrates that the issue of how we allocate energy (in this case physical exertion) cuts across all spheres of life. (if you add the distances travelled across the vast expanses of surburbia by sport playing individuals its energy equation looks even worse). so yeah i would agree with a call to dedicate that energy into gardening, particularly if, like me, you have a landlord who doesn’t mind if you dig up the lawn.

  5. Ian Milliss
    Posted 24 Sep ’06 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got to agree Ben. It’s a characteristic of the extreme-capitalism meme that every “solution” is designed to extend the power and control of corporations so, for instance, even though there may be a lot of money to be made in providing the technology for distributed systems like domestic solar power, extreme-capitalism would rather pull out all stops to enforce massive centralised systems like nuclear electricity generation that enhance corporate power and remove autonomy from consumers. It is also why water tanks were banned in Sydney once reticulated water was available.

    Extreme-capital currently controls most food production in the developed countries at least and the last thing it would like to see is an increase in home grown food. If home grown suddenly became a major movement you can guarantee there would also suddenly be endless media beat-ups purporting to expose how home grown food is bad for you. And if you think that sounds far fetched check out this story in the Guardian showing how brainwashed (and just plain dumb) some people are.

  6. Posted 25 Sep ’06 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    This connects up with one of the links you posted above. The guy from the Australian urban gardening site makes the observation that many people are far more worried about bacteria and germs than they are about the pesticides being sprayed onto the food they eat. This is the sort of corporate-induced paranoia that has the potential not only to produce super-bacterias that can withstand the totally unnecessary anti-bacterial soaps and cleaning products, but also helps to create the sort of mentality that opposes the recycling of water and the adaptive reuse of our shit that this guy has down to an art;
    and governments are totally complicit in this absurd fear mongering, (I’m thinking of a newspaper report at some stage last year saying how many germs and bacteria there are on train seats, i’m sure there was some spin-doctor behind that thinking “this will justify transit officers issuing fines for people having their feet on the seats”). where stupidity fails to keep you towing the corporate line its time to update the soap you’re using for the brainwashing, preferably with something that will kill free/radical thoughts.

  7. Ian Milliss
    Posted 25 Sep ’06 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    That reminds me of the Mythbusters episode where they tested whether leaving your toothbrush in the bathroom near the toilet would result in it being contaminated with faecal coliform (shit). Sure enough, it did.

    Problem was that the control toothbrushes in other rooms were equally contaminated because we live in a world of aerosol shit, we are breathing it every moment, test any surface and you’ll find it.

    The thing is, it’s good for you to some extent, that’s why kids who grow up on farms have less asthma than kids brought up in sterile apartments. Depite the fact that Omo packets now say “dirt is good” it would still be interesting to see how corporations could manage to sell mothers on the idea of spraying powdered cow manure around their infant.

  8. Ian Milliss
    Posted 26 Sep ’06 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I have done a bit more research since last night and apparently we can combine the last few comments because the genetically modified food lobby has already been attacking organic food for supposed e. coli contamination. Check it out here (but where did they get that atrocious logo?).

    How could I have been so naive as to imagine that corporate rent-a-reptiles would not be busy already? It is the nature of every ideology that all contradictory evidence has to be stamped out by any and every means and everybody must conform to the ideology in every tiniest aspect of their life. And speaking of corporate rent-a-reptiles, check out George Monbiot on corporate fake science which also serendipitously mentions corporate attacks on organic food and other corporate attempts to derail reality.

One Trackback

  1. […] We’ve talked before about the adaptive reuse of entire city buildings for urban farming, a dubious idea that seems to be yet another attempt to extend corporate control of food production, an issue that is already reaching crisis point. […]

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