Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

How I Built Stone Walls to Improve Food Security

To improve food security in my neighborhood, I built stone-walls on a sloped hillside near our home. The walls prevent erosion, allowing my family to grow herbs and vegetables in place of grass. Growing our food reduces transportation costs by limiting the number of times we travel to the grocery store. Because vegetables loose nutritional value the minute they are picked, our family gets more energy from eating less food.

Technically, it is against public policy to plant or build in the land between the sidewalk and road. However, local authorities have seen the new gardens and have not objected. Neighbors love the gardens, and we encourage anyone to help themselves to our produce. It is my opinion that to create food-secure cities, we must abandon policies that discourage urban farming.

If you are interested in building stone walls, below are materials you'll need. Read this guide and get started. Note: The stones were donated by a local landscaping company, but I could have used urbanite or stones from a local riverbed. Stones were odd-shaped, making building more time-consuming, but for free, I won't complain.


Spade Shovel: To move dirt around.

Flat shovel (optional): To level the base for your stones

Hammer: Make stones fit together by chipping off unwanted edges. Pack dirt into cracks with hammer to make wall more sturdy.

Level (optional): a level wall, with a level base will withstand the elements more effectively.

Eye Protection: Sungla**** or safety glass are necessary when chipping edges with hammer.

Stones or Urbanite (concrete chunks): This will be make up the majority of your wall.

Loose Soil: Used to fill in the space between stones.

Coarse sand (optional): used to improve drainage and level the base of wall.

One common objection to Urban Farming is that it is ugly, and decreases property value. However. I think it's clear stone-walls look good, and provide value. What do you think?

To view more photos of the stone wall vegetable beds, click here.

Views: 108

Comment by Ayala Sherbow on March 19, 2010 at 2:32am
lovely walls and informative post!
Comment by Nick Heyming on March 19, 2010 at 4:57am
Beautiful, very nice project. I should build some of my own...
Comment by Carlo Delantar on March 19, 2010 at 5:02am
Very nice project. consider crop rotation so that the soil will still be healthy after rooting out crops. Crop rotation gives out more options to grow crops and it is good for the soil.
Comment by James Ream on March 19, 2010 at 5:31am
Yeaaa Carlo, i like your thinking. I'm considering popping some Chilean Blueberry seeds in the ground this year. I love the company Sacred Succulents, they've got plants and seeds from all over the world. http://www.sacredsucculents.com/
Comment by Patricio Buenrostro-Gilhuys on March 19, 2010 at 6:05am
Very nice walls!!!
Comment by Dennis Sullivan on March 19, 2010 at 6:26am
A question to get the mind working, how would you try and transplant this idea to a more urban environment? Most of the housing in my immediate area is either condos or apartments(where I reside), and building a garden is extremely unfeasible at first look. Immediate thoughts are approaching landowners about possibility of using part of the grounds that are just grass as a garden, or if there is roof access, being able to grow roof gardens, but how would you pitch it to the owners and other tenants?
Comment by James Ream on March 19, 2010 at 6:29am
This is a very good question. Something we should collaborate on. This may be a good Challenge for the Evoke network: Find a Business or Building owner and convince him to let you plant a rooftop garden, or other garden on his/her property. Share your results. This is something I'm planning to do. I will share results when I have. To answer your question: best way to learn, is to try. Lets talk in a week.
Comment by Rahul Dewanjee on March 19, 2010 at 6:45am
i am glad to find this post. commendable. +1 for courage
Comment by Shakwei Mbindyo on March 19, 2010 at 6:53am
+1 Vision. Simple, clever, sustainable, lovely!
Comment by Heather Simmons on March 19, 2010 at 3:28pm
Great post! The pictures are beautiful. You are doing something wonderful for your family and your community. Sounds like you used tools/items that you already had and you were able to get a local landscaping company involved so you could create something new. +1 Resourcefulness

This might sound silly, but you could even hang little potted plants (like herbs) from the tree! Just a thought.


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