Urgent Evoke

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Strategy for making an urban farmers network a reality - feedback needed!!!

There has been a lot of interest discussion about urban farms. Inspired by Patricio's NEXT STEP post (http://www.urgentevoke.com/profiles/blogs/next-step-community-urban-1)

I thought in a way to start doing a network of urban farmers that could grow exponentially. I think the key success is to make a flexible structure were all the members of the network keep it going and just a few people coordinate/motivate people to do this (such as the blog's discussions in this Evoke network).

I'm posting a very simple outline of this strategy here to get some feedback and to try to find people interesting in making this real. The approach follows up the "act locally, think globally" motto as this promotes local action, coordinated at a global level. In this way local "sub-networks" makes face-to-face motivation and collaboration possible, while the "global network" shares experiences, different points of view, efforts to make educational tools, and in general a sense of global working for a better planet (which I believe is a very strong motivation!)

As a strategy to make this real I would propose the following:
1.- Design a practical workshop to learn how to do an urban farm that could work in any house (garden in a sack (http://www.urgentevoke.com/profiles/blogs/solidarities-humanitarian...) looks like a good option, it might be more approaches). The important think about this "start-up" workshop is that people actually end up with a urban farm (at least a small one) by the end of the workshop. This makes it easier for starters and makes it harder to quit.
2.- Design a way to keep communication going though the network. Maybe a "Ning" social network such as this is the best option, maybe a yahoo/google group, something to keep in touch. Suggestions welcome!
3.- So small local teams start some urban farmers and do the first workshops. These people can be people already working in similar projects and would give the initial insight and experiences to local "starters". After a couple of workshops there should be at least 10-20 people with an urban farm in their houses. Since probably these first workshops would be promoted along close friends already interested in environmental issues, a small but solid local network of urban farmers can easily emerge.
4.- Everyone with an urban farm and/or who finishes the workshop gets into the social network. Specially at the beginning it's important to motivate people to share experiences and to organize stuff to keep the network working together (maybe some face-to-face events such as picnics with stuff from your urban farm or get together to build an urban farm in a school. Also some Evoke-like motivations such as weekly/monthly missions, a "best urban farm" contests where people upload pictures/video of their urban farm, anything to get people involved in the network communication)
5.- The social network would work as a way to promote the members to do stuff to grow the movement: People can share educational material as videos or fliers, opportunities to do "big" urban gardens in schools or public parks can arise from the people in the network, etc. Even "Promote Urban Farming in your Vacation" kind of programs could work where a group of urban farmers travel together to do urban farming workshops somewhere else. Possibilities are endless if an active network of urban farmers is made! (Evoke is to me a great example of this =D)

Hope to get some great feedback about this and maybe some more people interested in making this true!!!

Views: 33

Comment by Cian Gregory Accuardi Shelley on March 14, 2010 at 10:15pm
good ideas here
Comment by glim on March 14, 2010 at 10:41pm
i will be teaching a 'gardening for urbanites' class at the seattle free school, but i like the scale of your idea here. the word farm makes me think of something that provides the majority of your foods as opposed to a garden, which has 'some' food. i am looking around my room and thinking about space constraints. i think hydroponics is the way to go here....
Comment by Patricio Buenrostro-Gilhuys on March 15, 2010 at 5:00am
Sayel- I agree with Cian really Good ideas here.
1: I am liking the garden in a sack a lot. It seems it could work in many places, apartments, rooms, dry places with water scarcity and it´s a mobile garden too!!!
2: What will happen to this EVOKE network after the 10 weeks? Could we use all the info that is already here and could this become some sort of "the facebook for social innovators?
3: Exactly the first people in the workshops will be more hardcore and their own experiences will be very heplful
4: I really like your idea of "Also some Evoke-like motivations such as weekly/monthly missions, a "best urban farm" contests where people upload pictures/video of their urban farm, anything to get people involved in the network communication) "
5: Cool idea. Perhaps it´s a combination of something like www.couchsurfing.org and http://www.wwoof.org/

Glim- It´s cool you are teaching that class!!! I think it´s important for the Community Urban Farms to use the techniques that best adapt to the context. In some places it will be hydroponics in others "garden in a sack" etc . . .
Comment by Michele Baron on March 15, 2010 at 5:20am
good ideas!
Comment by Sayel Cortes on March 15, 2010 at 5:23am
Thanks for the comments.

@Glim: That class sounds awesome! I'm sure there are a lot of projects already going on with different approaches. As in nature I believe the most diversity, the better a suitable answer can be found. Either hydroponics or garden in a sack could work very well in different places. Do you have any teaching materials or references we could somehow start to add to this project (a blog post with the info would be great)
@Patricio: You read my mind in most of your ideas. Hopefully EVOKE network will become (keep being) a "facebook for social innovators" after the 10 weeks. If now we have short time to find something to keep the good work!!! Also thanks a lot for the links... I didn´t know WWOOF and looks great.
Comment by Michele Baron on March 15, 2010 at 6:05am
Hey, Savel, I would be honored to share some home-grown info with you, if you would like. Would you consider adding my "mobile garden on a cart" info to your project? --it is a bit lengthy, but could be edited. I built/used carts when living in urban environments--they can wheel to streets or rooftops to catch more daylight/sun, as long as you make them to fit in doorways and elevators. I used sacks (suspended) and containers (on floor of cart) in various levels--was a good, portable garden--and looked good inside in evenings/cold weather. Not good for stairs if you want to bring it in..I also helped some community folk (needy, homeless, others) build carts of their own. Seemed to work well. (Act2part2 of my blog--Michele.
Comment by Sayel Cortes on March 15, 2010 at 6:08pm
Portable gardens!!! that's a great idea!!! I just read your post and it´s awesome (here's the link for everyone else to see it: http://www.urgentevoke.com/profiles/blogs/act2-part-2-food-security. I haven't really figured out how to integrate all the information into a active and practical network. But there's a good first step made by Claire in Diigo, check it out here -> http://groups.diigo.com/group/evoke_team. I just put your mobile cart post there and I look forward for more =)
Comment by Radhika Darbari on March 15, 2010 at 6:48pm
Definately a great idea. I reckon EVOKE problem wise we set up a facebook group now to get us atleast set for not losing communication by not having enought contact details or something after this and keep this as a project definately running as would really make changes, especially as we are from over the globe and as you brilliantly say '"act locally, think globally" this way we will not only think but act globally doing our small parts and influencing more people :-). Sayel if you set up a facebook group just add me as i'm in: facebook just search me as Radhika Darbari, you'll find me :-)
Comment by Michele Baron on March 15, 2010 at 9:25pm
Savel, we move around every few years, but if there is a way to keep in touch with EVOKE teams on the Urban Farm projects, and the other great innovations, I would love to be included--and "act locally" in all our future destinations. Thank you for linking in the Mobile/Portable Garden idea. You, Claire, Patricio, and many others in EVOKE are really inspiring. Looking forward to more of your blogs, too. Thanks
Comment by Sayel Cortes on March 16, 2010 at 5:14am
@Radz: We definitely have to find a way to keep communication going on. I mailed alchemy to ask about the future of the EVOKE network after the 10weeks. I hope the current structure keeps working but if not we should find something else. Maybe facebook. In the mean time Claire created a Diigo group here where people can share, tag and comment links. btw I found you in fb =P
@Michele: Awesome way of spreding the word Michele!!! kind of a nomadic urban farming start up project!!! (long but great =P).

At everyone if you want to join me on facebook just search for Sayel Cortes


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