Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Diet for a Hungry Planet - Urban Agriculture on CBC Radio One

There was a great short piece on CBC Radio One this morning, as part of The Current's "Diet for a Hungry Planet" series. The show looked at issues around urban chicken keeping including examples of Canadian cities fighting to change bylaws; the history & future of urban agriculture on a global scale; and possible solutions to cities feeding themselves in an attempt help reduce our ecological footprint. As well, the final guest speaker on the show was a co-founder of an exciting new group called the "North American Urban & Periurban Agriculture Alliance". More information on this group can be found through the Ryerson University Food Security program (Toronto).

Below is a short summary of the program, and it can be heard via podcast or from the Radio One site at:
(and thanks to various friends who called to let us know it was going to be on the CBC today!)

The Current: Part 2

Diet For A Hungry Planet - Urban Agriculture

As part of our ongoing series Diet for a Hungry Planet, we took note of three unassuming chickens causing a disproportionately large stir in Halifax. Their names were Captain Crochet, Bernadette and Chicken. They provide Louise Hanavan with fresh eggs. But they're ruffling the feathers of some of neighbours like Reg Harper. Ms. Hanavan and Mr. Harper explained the situation as they each see it.

The Halifax Regional Municipality allowed the chickens to stay until the end of February 2008, but what happens then is still very much up for debate. The community council held a public meeting on the issue, voicing some conflicting thoughts on chickens.

In January 2008, a similar battle played out in New Westminster, British Columbia. In the end, a family there was told their property was just too small to keep their six chickens.

For most city dwellers, the idea of raising chickens -- or other food -- in your backyard probably just seems quaint; a throwback of sorts. But for The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), it's a key part of a sustainable food system for the future.

In February 2008, the WMO called for greater investment in urban and indoor agriculture as a way of safeguarding food security in the world's mega-cities. Robert Stefanski is a scientific officer with the WMO and explained the thinking behind the proposal.

And according to Sunny Lam, urban farming could make a big difference in the size of your carbon footprint. He's an independent researcher who studies food and environment issues. He looked specifically at Kingston, Ontario and what would happen to its greenhouse gas emissions if more of the city's residents grew their own food.

Some ever-optimistic people look at these various threads and see a future where cities can feed themselves with community governments, food co-ops and even large, commercial market gardens all playing a part.

To get the lay of the land on that idea, we were joined by Joe Nasr, co-founder of the North American Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Alliance who teaches urban agriculture at Ryerson University in Toronto.

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