Local citrus in mid-America? Build your own greenhouse

People are increasingly interested in buying local foods, but there’s no universally accepted definition for what local means for various shoppers. Some have suggested the idea of bio-regions to get a handle on what is truly local.

Still, if you’re sitting in Chicago on a winter’s day as I am, you have to wonder if you’ll ever be able to buy something like a local banana which needs a lot more heat and sun than we have here.

Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert looks at one alternative in his video, a man in Nebraska who built his own greenhouse to grow local.

“Geothermal greenhouses high on the Nebraska plains house a citrus grove with trees holding up a canopy of lemons, grapefruit-sized oranges, green figs and bunches of grapes. The designer, a former mail carrier and farmer, Russ Finch designed the structure and calls it the Greenhouse in the Snow,” Lempert reports. Finch thinks he can even grow bananas!!!

Others are backing the idea of greenhouse agriculture in urban areas. Gotham Greens, a company I wrote about in a past life when I was editor of a food magazine, boasts that it “has built and operates over 170,000 square feet of technologically advanced, urban rooftop greenhouses across 4 facilities in New York City and Chicago. Gotham Greens is actively developing urban agriculture projects in cities across the United States.”

Putting these greenhouses on otherwise unused flat roofs on supermarkets and food warehouses is a great use of space and can provide local jobs for future urban farmers as well.

For more news from the urban agriculture front, check out my son’s blog, From the Ground Up North, which is getting a lot of positive notice in the Twin Cities area.


You want local food, how about bio-region food?

Consumers are more and more demanding local products from the food stores they frequent, there’s little doubt about that, as I’ve written before.

But one long-time food writer, Phil Lempert, argues that many regions of the world simply can’t support much local production and so consumers should be thinking about what he calls bio-regions.

Mondelez has to compete with fruit for the healthy snack trade, can it?
Local is increasingly where it’s at for today’s food retailers. But what is local?

“Much confusion still surrounds what ‘local’ is and is not. A new definition is needed – one that defines local in terms of ‘bio-regions’ in which nature has defined the best growing areas for crops and livestocks based on quality, sustainability and economics based on the soils and climate conditions. Gone are the arbitrary mile radius descriptions as they are replaced with identification of certain regions with detailed explanations of the bio-region,” he wrote earlier this year on his Supermarket Guru site. Continue reading “You want local food, how about bio-region food?”

Meet Tootie & Dotes: Grow Where You Are Planted, a guest post

Blogger’s Note: My son Matt is an environmental designer and has become a major advocate of the local food movement. Here, he’s introducing us to a new site he’s involved with and obviously believes in. Enjoy.

Interested in taking control of your health in the New Year? Curious about urban farming, permaculture and the Good Food Movement? Want to learn more about growing your own food and tips for preserving and preparing it? If you answered yes to any of the following, then check out Tootie & Dotes, a blog-based website that highlights healthy eating, craft goods and the people behind the products.


Named after our co-founders grandmothers, two women who gardened and farmed, raised animals and children, and didn’t take shit from anyone, Tootie & Dotes covers three broad topics – GROW, EAT, FARM. Continue reading “Meet Tootie & Dotes: Grow Where You Are Planted, a guest post”

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