Andy writes:

Hello Vincent & Dickson,

I’m a high school science teacher in southern Ohio, and I raise a typical outdoor garden with my family each year as a hobby.

I have a few questions for you: Is the vertical farm (indoor farming in general) the only profitable form of urban agriculture?  Please make a clear distinction between what constitutes urban agriculture and what sets it apart from gardening.  Does the typical gardener have a place in the future of urban agriculture?

I love the new podcast.  I’m an instant fan and subscriber!



Renzo writes:

May I suggest a book, it was recommended originally by one of the U of California’s Professor who is part of NOAA. This book is by William J. Burroughs (Dickson may know him). The title is “Climate Change in Prehistory -The End of the Reign of Chaos” gets into how stability in the climate helped the development of agriculture.

Thank both of you for the new podcast. Well done.


Sam writes:

Dear professors, I write today with a tiny amount of sadness. The term I liked for your TWI* podcasts (“Twiad”) now leaves UrbanAg out. Bummer! On the other hand, I’m delighted to hear more stories and conversation. You have a subscriber already!

The very early history of human culture has always fascinated me as a scientific topic, in part because it uses such wonderful and diverse methods. The littlest things, under our microscopes and in our test tubes, can tell us a story of our oldest ancestors! Dickson mentioned starch grains and alluded to some of the results from the various and sundry genetic methods, but there is now airborne lidar to study ancient cities, mass spectrometry for all sorts of things (artifact and climate analysis among them), as well as this very topical article I found today about how human bones were affected by the advent of agriculture.

It uses a method, new at least to me, of analyzing bones from Europeans who lived 5300 BC to 850 AD. All the coolest science has lasers now, and this method uses them to very accurately measure the shapes of leg bones. Because bones grow in response to the forces they experience, and by comparison to medical scans of modern humans, the researcher was able to uncover interesting gender-specific changes over time in the lifestyles of humans.

Regarding ancient astronomy in the US, I can mention Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, which uses the shadows of rock slabs on a spiral petroglyph to predict solar and lunar cycles.

I can’t wait to hear more stories about the origin and future of farming. Thanks for the great podcasts!

Stephen writes:

Dear Urban Agrome,

I just listened to the first episode of your latest podcast, thanks for putting together a new learning resource.

You discussed briefly what the oldest (known) city is, mentioning Jericho. That seems to be one of many cities that like to call themselves the oldest continuously inhabited city–and those seem to be easier to find on Google. I had learned that the oldest city was Çatalhöyük, a dense settlement in Turkey where homes abutted or even were built one on top of one another without any streets–entrance was usually through the roof. However apparently some people call that a ‘proto’ city. I have no clue what the distinction is, but it was apparently first settled over 9000 years ago, whether or not that makes it the oldest city. Part of its claim to fame is, because the city was abandoned, we know a lot more about the earliest settlement than we do for a place like Jericho which has thousands of years of history obscuring the oldest people, as well as the agriculture.

Second, when you guys briefly brought up apples in cities, I was reminded of something that isn’t quite urban agriculture, but is surely related. There is a small company where I live that produces alcoholic cider from apples harvested from yards throughout the city. Anyone with an apple tree or a few in their yards can donate the harvest and become part of a ‘community orchard’ in exchange for a discount on the finished product. The idea is that many apples from existing urban apple trees end up rotting in the yards anyway. They sold the cider to the public for the first time last year. You can find out more here:  I should add that this isn’t the only time I’ve heard of the concept; I have a friend who has considered doing something similar in another city, and I’m sure the model exists elsewhere.

Thanks again,


Frank writes:

Dickson and Vincent,

Thank you for taking your wonderful format and style of the TWIX podcasts into a new and important area.  Hopefully you won’t let the frequency of TWIP suffer as a result.

I would hope that you will apply your regular scientific rigor of separating coincidence from causation to your review of history.  I couldn’t help but wince when I heard you claim that the second green revolution occurred because people had to invent new technology to meet the growing need for food.  I believe that technology inexorably advances and is then applied to any use for which customers will pay.  Increased food production was certainly one of those applications of the technology of the industrial revolution.  Unfortunately, we see the application of new technologies to destructive purposes too often.

Thanks again for advancing your unique educational system. and in particular for UrbanAg.  I’m looking forward to the coming episodes.

Best Regards,


Tim writes:

Dickson’s & your new podcast is great. Really enjoying the history of farming discussion. Since you guys said neither of u have worked on a farm I extend the invitation to u both to be farmers for a wknd some time. NE dairy farming isn’t without requirement of considerable land base but cows can graze grass on poor land for row cropping.Cows also happily walk around and over rocks and trees that tractors don’t handle real well. ; )