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Sustainable Cities, a panel discussion about the multifunctionality of urban farms as hubs of production, social interaction, education and diversity, is just one of many exciting events to look forward to at this year’s Urban Agriculture Conference from May 15 – 17.
Rose Brook had the pleasure to meet and interview panelist Marie Dehaene. Born in Tours, France and living in Paris, Marie started her career as a landscape architect and has travelled extensively around the world to consult the city government of Paris about sustainable urban agriculture.
She will be jetting off again this summer in North America, working with international cross-disciplinary teams based in Montreal, Chicago and Paris for a research project detailed on French language website roofscape.org. Marie is also working on publishing a book about urban agriculture to be written in French.
What was it about urban agriculture that interested you initially?
People ask, “Why are you doing that?” Actually, it’s normal to me. I couldn’t choose between horticulture and landscape architecture. Growing things as well. I love food, giving importance to food and maybe changing the system. Everything I like, I can find in urban ag.
You have to deal with many things — social projects, environmental projects. You get to work with a lot of people from different backgrounds. The project in the South Bronx is going to be really different from a hip one in Williamsburg.
That’s what I like. You don’t get bored.
How have your travels informed your work in Paris?
My work is in Paris. It’s quite new in France, so I have been inspired by other places. But you have to keep in mind that it’s not always the same. Something you can do in New York doesn’t mean that you can do it in Paris.
You have cultural [differences], if you think about it. Pollution, for instance — everybody is freaking out about that in Paris. At any conference, any meetings, you can be sure that people are going to ask you about that.
In New York, I don’t have that impression. It’s different. I was asking people what they are doing: “Oh you know, I’m breathing the air in New York. I’m going to wash my carrots. I’m going to cook them. I’m not really worried about that.”
You have to really know the context of where you are working. You can’t just move one project to another one. [You should] have a good knowledge of where you’re working.
Tell us about appearing on Le mouv’ radio station in Paris this morning.
It’s strange and new to so many different types of people. Today was for everyone, for people who never heard of urban ag before. It’s interesting because you have to explain what it is to a lot of people to make projects. They just think it’s like tomatoes on the balcony, nothing big. Or it’s just a hip thing.
I like to talk about and present different projects. It is really great to see people realizing that urban ag is so much more than they thought before. I think we feel a bit stuck in Paris trying to explain how it can be a powerful tool to build better cities.
Can you give us a hint of what you’ll discuss on the panel? What do you wish to highlight about multifunctionality?
I choose to speak about projects that I know in New York, Montreal and Paris. I choose to speak about the diversity of projects because I didn’t find the equivalent in New York.
There’s no space for urban ag in Paris. You [need to have] different goals for projects to make sure that you can find a site, [such as] art or social benefit in some way.
That’s what I wanted to highlight—hybrid projects that we can have. You can’t say this project grows food—you have to do more. Space in the city is precious, so you have to make the most of it.
Another way to look at it is that you need money to do these projects. If you can have a bit of culture, awareness to food, a social project — it’s easier to get money.
I think that a way you have to look at urban ag is to make sure that these projects can actually start. You don’t need to have a background in agriculture. Of course at some point you have to work with people like that because you need some knowledge. But everybody can start something if they feel like it.
To discover more about extraordinary international multifunctional urban farms from beyond our own city limits, catch Marie Dehaene and other urban agriculture experts at the Sustainable Cities panel on Thursday, May 16. Learn more about registering for the conference here.
About the author
After returning to her hometown of NYC from living over six years in England, Rose Brook earned her green thumb from herb container gardening on her window sill and volunteering at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Now studying for her Horticulture certificate, Rose also works as a Youth & Teen Advisor for the Greenpoint YMCA—growing the love of urban gardening and a greener city for residents of all ages.
The goals of pruning are usually to control the size of a shrub, to remove dead or damaged wood, to clear out dense, choking growth and to maintain the shrub in a pleasing shape. How you prune will depend on why that particular plant needs attention.
Selective pruning: If your goal is to control the size of a shrub, balance its shape, remove dead or damaged wood or open it up a bit, take it branch by branch. Using clean, sharp pruners, cut just above the place where one stem branches off from another. Don’t cut in the middle between nodes, which will cause an unsightly bristle of growth. Pause often to step back and consider the effect of your pruning so far, and stop when you’ve done enough.
Renewal pruning: If a shrub is thickly overgrown, you can clear it out and renew its vigor in stages. Each year, cut out some of the oldest, thickest branches down to the ground. In spring, they will be replaced by new growth. Cut out no more than one-third of the shrub in a year. In three years, you will have all new growth.
Rejuvenation pruning: If a bush has become dauntingly huge and dense, you may not have to give up on it. Most deciduous shrubs can be totally cut back within an inch or two of the ground in late winter and will start new growth in spring. In a couple of years, the shrub will be back at a good size. Then you can keep it under control with regular selective pruning.
Taken from article by Beth Botts, ChicagoTribune online
Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’, Siberian bugloss
The Perennial Plant Association has named Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ as the 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year. The Perennial Plant of the Year program helps consumers select plants that perennial industry experts find to be outstanding and easily grown. Each year a perennial is selected that is suitable for a wide range of clinmate types, low maintenance, and exhibits multi-seasonal interest.
Siberian bugloss, brunnera, heartleaf brunnera, and false forget-me-not are common names for this perennial. It grows 12 to 15 inches tall and will spread to 20 inches. This multi-seasonal selection has blue flowers in the spring and frosty silver leaves with green veins, which provide color throughout the growing season.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 to 8
Light: Plants thrive in shade but will tolerate morning sun if soil conditions remain moist.
Soil: This perennial performs best in shady ares with good moisture, retentive soils.
Unique Qualities; From mid to late spring, blue forget-me-not blossoms are held in clusters several inches above the brilliant frosty leaves. Rough leaf texture makes this perennial less palatable to browsing deer.
Uses: Jack Frost brunnera may be used along the front of a shade border, is excellent in a container, or can be combined with other ground cover perennials such as hostas, ferns, and epimediums.
For more information, Perennial Plant Association www.perennialplant.org
An evergreen shrub, American cranberry can be successful used as a ground cover in wet areas or as an elegant accent along the edge of a pond. The tiny leaves line 8 to 10 inch long vines that look like branches, The delicate pink flowers are barely noticeable in early summer, but you can’t miss the bright scarlet fruit that follow. The cranberries will be larger than what you might see sold in the grocery store. they ripen as the plant’s foliage turns purple in the fall, and they taste sweeter after the first frost.
Yukitsuri at Kenrokuen Garden, Japan
Snow that falls in the winter in Kanazawa is heavy in weight because the snow contains a large quantity of moisture. In order to prevent the branches of the trees in Kenrokuen Garden from breaking, yukitsuri is performed. Yukitsuri, which literary means “snow hanging”, is a method of protecting the branches with ropes attached in a conical array to the trees.
Skillful gardeners use more than 800 ropes to give yukitsuri to the Karasaki pine in Kenrokuen Garden, which is famous for the great shape of its branches. Yukitsuri is a true symbol that tells the coming of winter to Kanazawa. The first snow of the season falls in Kanazawa between late in November and early in December. Kanazawa becomes a snow-covered town from January to February.
The oldest surviving record of yukitsuri dates from late in the Edo Period (1603-1867). It instructs Kenrokuen gardeners to “tie trees to prevent snow damage,” but makes no mention of specific techniques. The type which is pictured in the photograph is called ringotsuri (apple suspension). It is believed to have been developed some time after apple saplings were first brought to Japan in the 1870s, as a way to support the weight of the fruit.
Erecting a ringotsuri is a delicate operation that requires a whole team of workers. At Kenrokuen, one man climbs the pole and tosses down coils of rope that have been fixed at one end to the top of the pole. Ten other workers stay below to catch the coils, then climb ladders and tie the ropes at strategic points to support the branches and create a visually balanced composition. An experienced team can put up one ringotsuri over an average tree in about two hours. But a very large tree, like the massive Karasaki pine trees in Kenrokuen, can require up to five ringotsuri structures and a full day of work for an entire team.
Taken from an article by Alice Gordenker for The Japan Times. For full article visit http://bit.ly/f2y2dh
For information on the Kenrokuen garden in Kanazawa visit http://bit.ly/eUqXR3
Green Acres, Green Gardens
A Panel Discussion in Bryant Park
I had the privilege of being asked to speak at the Word for Word Series at Bryant Park on June 2. Peter Kukielski, Curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at The New York Botanical Garden, and myself led a panel discussion on the ins and outs of gardening in an urban environment. The afternoon was hosted by Maureen Hackett, Director of Horticulture at Bryant Park. Topics discussed were soil conditions, shade gardening, plant choices, and alternates to chemical fertilization and weed/pest control. The discussion, of course, included roses. Peter has just authored his first book, Sustainable Rose Garden: Exploring 21st Century Environmental Rose Gardening, and was a wealth of knowledge on all that is roses.
The Bryant Park Reading Room offers custom-designed carts for an extensive and eclectic selection of books, periodicals and newspapers; readings and programs at lunchtime, after work and for kids; movable furniture to create a more intimate environment; and kid-sized carts and furniture for children to use. The programming, publications, and environment of the Reading Room are available to everyone for free, without any need of cards or identification.
For more information and the summer schedule check out their website at
Hey green people, think trees! Go for a walk in the park and see what’s blooming – well, everything at once this year: redbud, cherry, magnolia, dogwood…
And duck inside The Hort Library too. We’ve got what it takes to get you ruminating and cultivating. Here are just a few selections on trees from our deeply rooted collections:
A Countryman’s Woods by Hal Borland
Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs by Michael A. Dirr
A Field Guide to Imaginary Trees by Joe Bulgatz
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Great Flowering Landscape Trees by Vincent A. Simeone
The Power of Trees by Michael Perlman
The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-Ups by Gina Ingoglia
The Tree Care Primer by
Katherine Powis, Librarian
Not long ago a small, carefully wrapped package was sent to the library. A hand-written note accompanied the special gift – a pocket-sized album of pressed flower collages from the
The album has a wooden cover with detailed, decorative color engraving surrounding Hebrew letters and the word
This little treasure will be displayed in the fall at the annual show of The American Society of Botanical Artists.
Katherine Powis, HSNY Librarian
HSNY would like share an update of our East Harlem Water Conservation Project
As a follow-up to HSNY’s Election Day water training with 23 teachers, our Apple Seed program challenged each PS 57 classroom teacher to compete for the “water saver” award by creating a dynamic lesson on one of the following topics:
1. Understanding our complex New York City water system
2.Identifying everyday ways to conserve clean tap water
3. Discovering rainwater harvesting and its importance in water conservation. HSNY would like to announce the winners of the competition:
The First Place Water Saver Award was presented to Ms. Montanez and her Kindergarten Class 112. Ms. Montanez describes her project: In class we have been learning about the water cycle and water conservation. We discussed the importance of conserving water. The students wrote and drew pictures of the things they do at home and at school to conserve water. Each child wrote a book and read it to the class.
The books are written in both Spanish and English and each page is illustrated. To connect the project with the core curriculum, the students wrote stories in sequential order (first, then, last) and then created their books in the computer.
Another Water Saver Award went to Ms. Shealy and her Kindergarten Class 126. Ms. Shealy’s class connected the water cycle to their scientific study of the seasons. They stressed the importance of water all living things and created gorgeous colorful images of water as rain, for drinking, for swimming in and for life.
Another Water Saver Award went to Ms. Nelson and her Second Grade Class 232.
Class 232 discussed how useful and necessary water was while creating our PAST, how much we need and use it NOW and how we will need it in the FUTURE. Then they asked ”What if there were no water left on Earth? What would like be like? What couldn’t we do? The students created a scene with water and a scene without water, and compiled their work to create a class pop-up book.
HSNY’s Apple Seed program would like to thank the Catskill Watershed Corporation for its generous support of this project. For more information about our complex New York City drinking water system, please visit their website at http:/www.cwconline.org
To learn more about the PS 57 Water Conservation Project and the Garden of Dreams, please visit our Wed June 25, 2008 blog entry
Article by Pam Ito
Cornus mas, Cornelian cherry dogwood
One of the first signs that spring is near are the soft yellow blooms of the Cornus mas. This handsome woody brings color back into a rather bleak landscape with its flowers that appear before the plant develops leaves. If your garden does not have a Cornelian cherry dogwood, this is the year to think about introducing a tree that heralds the transition from winter to spring.
Sun Exposure: Sun to Partial shade
Bloom Time/Color: Late Winter/Early Spring; yellow
Foliage: Grown for Foliage; Burgundy/Dark
Fruit: Bright red ‘cherries’ in mid Summer
Comments: Flaking bark, tough adaptable shrub to small tree,
fruits attract birds, no serious insect or disease problems,
spreads by suckers