Quantifying Community Garden Crop Yields

An informal study looking at the urban farming yields, by Mara Gittleman67 gardens, with a total area of 1.7 acres in NYC generated 87,000 lbs of food, with a market value of roughly $200k in 2010.  This is equivalent to about $3/square foot.  Just looking at the financial aspect, if we’re talking about land which could be developed, the net present value, discounting at 5%, of $3/sq ft, is (even if we go out 100 years) only about $60/sq ft. If you build a 5 story building, then property values need only be greater than $12/sq ft for the urban farming not to make (economic) sense, and I’m going to go out on a limb, and guess that property values in most of NYC are, um, substantially higher than $12/sq ft.

Like Water for Electricity

Union of Concerned Scientists gives an overview of how water is used in the generation of electricity.  I came across this Op-Ed at the NYT that claimed more water is used for electricity than agriculture, and just could not believe it, but apparently if you look at surface water withdrawals, it’s true (power: 41%, ag: 37%).  “Withdrawal” just means the water is taken from the river/lake/whatever.  Usually most of it is put back (hotter), which means it can be used again for agriculture.  In any case, the Texas grid came very close to shutting down 10% of its generation in 2011 because of the drought, right as it was experiencing its highest ever loads.  Yet another fun climate-energy feedback.

Why Urban Farming is an Awful Idea

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Boulder County is looking at some kind of county-wide sustainability program, with an associated tax which will be on the ballot this fall.  The City of Boulder is revising its Climate Action Plan, looking toward a goal of climate neutrality in 2050.  An extension of the tax which supports our climate work will also be on the ballot in the fall.  One thing that none of that money should go toward?  Urban farming.

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Links for the week of May 29th, 2010

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Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations by David Montgomery

David Montgomery‘s Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations reminded me a lot of When the Rivers Run Dry by Fred Pearce, except that instead of looking at how we have allocated our water resources globally, it focuses on the way humanity has husbanded (or not) its soil resources throughout history, through a vast array of case studies in what we got wrong.  It also reminded me a little bit of Energy at the Crossroads, insofar as the last chapter or two, instead of being a concrete, level-headed outline of what we need to do if we actually want to solve the problem which has been presented, it devolves a little bit into a lament.  You’ve convinced me there’s a problem.  Clearly you have some idea of what the solution looks like.  Please don’t be afraid to put that idea into words, even if you think the plausible solutions are so far removed from our current way of doing things that someone is going to think you’re crazy.  I think a lot of the most credible solutions to our sustainability problems sound “crazy” to “normal” people these days… but that’s just the way it is.  We still need to know what the available solutions look like, or at the very least, what characteristics one can sketch out which any available solution has to have.

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Links for the week of September 4th, 2009

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