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May 20, 2013 Meeting

May 9, 2013

The May meeting of the Experimental Cuisine Collective will take place on Monday, May 20, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Food, Soil and Sustainable Urban Design with Jonathan Russell-Anelli

Locavore, local grown, home grown, community, gardening, community gardening, school gardens, CSA’s, farmers’ markets, healthy foods, slow foods, foodsheds and urban agriculture, let alone food security and safety are some of the many terms that hover around discussions of food, urban sustainability and community health. Yet, often overlooked in this discussion is soil.

Soils function to purify and provide water, recycle nutrients from organic waste, as a habitat for soil organism and as structural support for plants and infrastructure. They are an essential component of the earth system and are the only place on the planet where the hydrosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and lithosphere all interact. There is more abundance and diversity of organisms in the soil than in all the other earth ecosystems combined. Yet we have described and cataloged less than ten percent of the life forms in the system. It is an extremely dynamic in nature, space and time. It is a major driver in climate change and is the foundation of our food system – heck, when combined with water and human ingenuity; it is the foundation of our civilization.

So this evening, let’s discuss Soil – this integral component of the terrestrial ecosystem – in context of our food system and urban sustainability. We will pay initial attention to a number of principle soil concepts and their relation to plant production to lay the ground work for a larger presentation on vegetable production, urban agriculture and urban soils. Discussion is invited throughout with particular emphasis on examination of vegetable production and (urban) soil management.
Time permitting we intend to introduce some simple field test to assess soils and your hands will get dirty. So come prepared.

A visit to the new NYU urban farm lab will follow, for those interested.

Jonathan Russell-Anelli is a Senior Lecture and Senior Extension Associate in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. He was born in Sleepy Hollow, NY, grew up in Brooklyn, NY, Arlington, VA., and Temagami, Ontario. Having lived in Connecticut, Maryland and throughout NYS, Jonathan is now settled in Ithaca, NY in the Finger Lakes Region of New York for his longest tenure in a single location.

Jonathan’s research and extension responsibilities are focused on the nature and properties of soils with particular interests of urban soil, urban agriculture/community gardening, soil contamination and soil management practices. He works throughout NYS and NYC examining the spatial distribution and variability of soil characteristics in the urban environment. His major project areas includes investigations of contaminant distribution in relation to soil processes, land use and land management in a variety of urban centers in the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic, the Mid-West and Eastern Europe.

He supports the Cornell Cooperative Extension master gardener, master forester and master composter programs as well as the NYC and County extension offices. He is the liaison between the NYS Land Grant University, NYS and the USDA/NRCS National Cooperative Soil Survey and was active in the New York City Soil Survey.

Jonathan is a husband, father, son, gardener, dreamer, designer, demolisher, builder, student, teacher, scientist, sailor, brewer, chef, teammate, gamer, outdoorsman, orienteer, leader, follower, – all of which (he believes) are related, integrative and reinforcing – though not necessarily at the same time. He can also change diapers.

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