Solar-powered aquaponic greenhouses grow up to 880 lbs of produce each year

March 17, 2017 by  
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Fresh produce – ideally grown locally right in your backyard – is essential to a healthy diet, but with scores of people either lacking the space, time, or knowledge to cultivate their own food , for many that ideal simply isn’t attainable. Enter French company Myfood . They aim to bring food production back home, and they’re doing it with smart solar aquaponic greenhouses . These groundbreaking greenhouses, which are small enough to fit in a yard or even a city balcony, can produce 660 to 880 pounds of vegetables every year. Myfood is pursuing the vision that everyone should be able to grow their own produce locally. To that end, they’ve come up with small family greenhouses powered by the sun that can function off-grid . Their Family22 greenhouse is 22 square meters, or around 237 square feet, and comes complete with solar panels and a rainwater collection system. Their model City offers a smaller option for those residing in busy metropolises – it’s just 38 square feet. Both models can be installed above ground, making them suitable for backyards or rooftops. Related: The Sunbubble greenhouse is a mini Eden for your backyard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fi728-dgViU Inside the greenhouse, fish swimming around the base of vertical towers fertilize the vegetables growing – no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides needed. Inspired by permaculture , the team also developed raised beds that can surround the greenhouse for added food production. Ultimately, after several months, the beds become self-fertile. The greenhouses are intended for everyone from seasoned gardeners to people with zero gardening experience. Often one barrier that stands in the way of home food production is a lack of knowledge, so Myfood makes it easy for anyone to get started growing their own food through their smart structures designed to control the climate to guarantee success, according to Myfood. The team’s app enables families to remotely monitor the greenhouse. Myfood co-founder Mickaël Gandecki said, “The production of fresh and natural food, close to the consumer, offers a response to the environmental impact and lack of transparency of intensive, industrial agriculture .” Myfood recently unveiled what they described as the first European line of smart aquaponic greenhouses at the Paris International Agricultural Show 2017 during February 25 through March 5. In France and Benelux, a City model costs around $4,820 and the Family22 around $8,577. Those figures include installation, delivery, and tax. Outside the European Union costs are slightly different; not including installation, delivery or tax, the City is around $3,569 and the Family22 is around $6,432. You can find out more on their website here . + Myfood Images courtesy of Myfood

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Solar-powered aquaponic greenhouses grow up to 880 lbs of produce each year

Innovative water-trapping beads prevent crops from rotting in humid countries

February 14, 2017 by  
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Researchers have found an economical way to prevent humidity from destroying crops in both small and large scale agricultural operations. Small beads made from a porous mineral called zeolite absorb water molecules , preventing fungal toxins from growing on seeds and grain in developing countries. The beads prove to be less expensive, time-consuming, and resource-dependent than more common farming practices. Zeolite beads , developed by Rhino Research in Thailand, have been specially engineered so their pores are just the right size to absorb water molecules. This small but effective fix can help farmers in places like Nepal, India, and Kenya, where about a third of crops are lost due to the effects of excess moisture. By placing the beads adjacent to the harvest in mesh bags or other screened-in containers, crops will be safe from a significant amount of the moisture that leads to rotting or the spread of fungus. Related: 93 percent of the world’s seed diversity has vanished the last century Larger operations can also benefit from zeolite beads. Instead of blowing hot air over walnuts, almonds, rice, and other grains, these dry harvested crops can be passed through the absorbent beads. A flow of ambient air is all that is needed afterward, saving batches from being scorched – a problem that ruins quality and taste. To keep the beads effective, heating them in a compact oven removes excess moisture so they can be reused. + Rhino Research Via  Technology Review Images via Rhino Research

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Innovative water-trapping beads prevent crops from rotting in humid countries

Why American ranchers are feeding Skittles to their cattle

January 25, 2017 by  
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The next time you bite into a burger , do not be surprised if you taste the rainbow. American farmers have been secretly feeding rejected Skittles to their cows as an alternative to grass or corn. The great Skittles cowspiracy was brought to light after thousands of Red Skittles, bereft of their signature S, were found scattered across a rural road in Wisconsin . The X File was closed relatively quickly as experts asserted that these Skittles were likely en route to a cattle troth. Although Skittles are packed with high fructose corn syrup, as so many foods are , they are nonetheless cheaper than the real thing and surprisingly more nutritious, at least according to some experts. Joseph Watson, owner of United Livestock Commodities, said that sweets like Skittles have “a higher ratio of fat [than] actually feeding them straight corn.” Skittles also may be a greener feed product than corn, simply because they would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. Instead, these candies, edible but not nearly up to the mass production standards of a multinational corporation, are converted into animal mass, meat and fat. Related: This all-natural native corn is bejeweled with brilliantly colored kernels These particular Red Skittles, at first perplexing, were investigated and explained by local authorities. “The Skittles were confirmed to have fallen off the back of a truck,” wrote the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office. “The truck was a flatbed pickup and the Skittles were in a large box. Due to it raining at the time, the box got wet and gave way allowing the Skittles to spill out on the roadway.” While the average consumer has no idea that they may be eating candy-fed sirloin, this practice has been ongoing for several years. The use of this diet is believed to increased in 2012, when corn prices increased dramatically. This particular absurdity of growing corn to make the candy to feed the cows to make the burgers, while entertaining, is another sign that our food system has become disconnected from natural cycles. Via the Independent Images via Tim Green  and Gareth Jones

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Why American ranchers are feeding Skittles to their cattle

Moscows Urban Farm teaches kids how to grow their own food

January 23, 2017 by  
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City living often removes people from nature and from where their food comes from, but an initiative in Moscow proves that doesn’t need to be the norm. Russian architecture firm Wowhaus recently completed Urban Farm, a development in Moscow’s VDNKh park that reconnects children with nature by teaching them how to grow their own food and how to cook meals. The farm in the city is the first of its kind in Moscow and covers a variety of agricultural activities from raising livestock to tending vegetable gardens. Located next to the Kamenskiye Ponds, the three-hectare Urban Farm comprises a series of open-air and covered areas built mainly of timber based on wooden house archetypes such as double-pitched roofs. The development is made up of three main educational areas: the livestock zone that includes a barn with chicken coops and pasture for the nearly 60 animals on site including goats, sheep, cows, and more; the workshops zone; and the crop zone that includes greenhouses , orchard, and vegetable garden. The Urban Farm is also home to a restaurant that includes a small cooking school for kids, a kiosk and picnic area, a library, children’s play area, and children’s fishing zone. Children are not only allowed to interact with animals, but are also encouraged to take care of them by preparing their food or directly feeding them. Staff teach children how to further care for the livestock and the economics and management of farming such as balancing a farm budget and making financial decisions. An on-site veterinarian makes sure all animals are well taken care of. Workshops housed in the beautiful arched buildings offer classes on pottery, woodworking, and other artistic pursuits. The greenhouses, clad in a pineapple-like facade, include hydroponic farming for herbs and vegetables, soil-based farming for flowers, and a nursery for more exotic plants. Related: Studio Gang’s Chicago farm school will teach kids how to grow their own organic food “The main objective of the project is to educate,” says a statement on VDNHk’s website . “Live exhibition is aimed primarily at children, but, as the experience shows not only kids, but also adults are happy to come here. All year round there will be held master classes, lectures, thematic presentations of plants and animals, as well as different recreational activities.” + Wowhaus Images via Wowhaus , VDNH

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Moscows Urban Farm teaches kids how to grow their own food

This all-natural native corn is bejeweled with brilliantly colored kernels

January 15, 2017 by  
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Through his quest to reconnect to his roots, Barnes isolated several traditional strains of seeds that fell to the wayside when his ancestors traveled to what’s now Oklahoma in the 1800s . Through years of selective growing , Barnes grew corn that looks bejeweled, creating a colorful celebration of native heirloom varieties of corn. Related: Plant a Wish Restores Native Plant Habitats Around America Barnes didn’t hoard the wealth, however, sharing corn seeds with Native American tribe elders and other growers he encountered. According to SeedBroadcast , “…he was able to reintroduce specific corn types to the elders of those tribes, and this helped their people in reclaiming their cultural and spiritual identities. Their corn was, to them, literally the same as their blood line, their language, and their sense of who they were.” One such grower was Greg Schoen. The two became friends in the early ’90s , and Schoen took the rainbow corn to a new level, creating hybrids by planting the rainbow corn next to typical yellow corn. Schoen eventually passed the seeds to the non-profit organization Native Seeds/SEARCH , who now sell the seeds online . They also protect the seeds in a bank containing around 2,000 rare varieties . Native Seeds/SEARCH began during a project to design sustainable food sources with Native Americans. They continually heard that people wanted to plant the seeds their grandparents did , so the organization started to protect ” endangered traditional seeds ” and the diversity of plants present specifically in the American Southwest. The fabulous corn kernels possess an outer layer tougher than most , which means they aren’t the best for backyard corn-on-the-cob chomping, but they can be either ground for cornmeal or popped like popcorn. You can purchase a packet of the seeds for $4.95 here , and profits go right back to the organization to continue their conservation efforts. Via My Modern Met and Lost At E Minor Images via Glass Gem Corn Facebook

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This all-natural native corn is bejeweled with brilliantly colored kernels

Superbug resistant to last-resort antibiotics found on US pig farm

December 9, 2016 by  
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Antibiotic resistance is a looming public health concern expected to kill up to 10 million people annually by 2050. Now, in the latest worrying development in the United States, Ohio State University researchers have found a bacteria resistant to last resort antibiotics, called carbapenems, on a pig farm that is barred from using them. The pig farm followed what the researchers describe as “typical US production practices” by giving their animals the antibiotic ceftiofur. Newborn pigs receive the antibiotic when they’re born, and when males are castrated, they’re given another dose. Ceftiofur is part of the cephalosporin family, but kills bacteria in a manner comparable to carbapenems. Related: ‘Nightmare’ bacteria found in the U.S. resists all known antibiotics The Ohio State researchers collected samples from the pig farm for five months to discover the superbug, Enterobacteriaceae , which Natural Resources Defense Council expert David Wallinga described in a blog post as “one of the nastier superbugs.” The journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy published the researchers’ study online this week. Study co-author Thomas Wittum told TIME, “How the [resistant bacteria] got onto the farm we really don’t know. But probably it was introduced from the outside from movements of wildlife, people, equipment, etc.” During the study the researchers didn’t discover the bacteria in the pigs, but Wittum told TIME they later did see the superbug in piglets and sows. He said, “…that is the concern: that it could happen on this or other farms .” What does this discovery mean for US agriculture? In 2012, the Obama administration established guidelines that will go into effect in January 2017. The guidelines would limit the use of antibiotics on farms, but they are voluntary. Meanwhile, according to Mother Jones, advisers to the new President-elect appear to be resistant to regulation when it comes to food production. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the bacteria found on the pig farm already kills as many as 600 people every year. Via TIME and Mother Jones Images via Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay

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Foster + Partners breaks ground on major transit-oriented project in downtown San Francisco

December 9, 2016 by  
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Foster + Partners has just broken ground on Oceanwide Center—a major transit-oriented development that will dramatically transform the heart of downtown San Francisco into a more walkable and interconnected place to live, work, and play. Designed in collaboration with Heller Manus, the mixed-use urban project is located in the city’s Transbay Area near Market Street and the financial district. The development will feature environmentally friendly design that includes adaptive reuse and LEED-seeking structures and systems. Despite its modern design, the Oceanwide Center will be skillfully woven into the existing urban fabric through the addition of 26,000 square feet of new public space to tie the building into the public realm. The urban project will also include two mixed-use towers: a 625-foot, 54-story residential and hotel tower, along with a 910-foot, 61-story residential and office tower along First Street. All together Oceanwide Center will provide 2.4 million square feet of new hotel, office, and residential space. Two historic buildings on First Street will be restored and revitalized. The First Street Tower can be seen as a visual beacon for the project with its eye-catching crystalline form that articulate the facades on the skyline. The interior features an open layout with offset cores. The structure is 30% lighter than traditional buildings with a central core of similar size, yet is designed for seismic stability. Its innovative MEP and vertical transportation systems are designed to meet LEED Platinum certification. The second mixed-use tower, which contains a new Waldorf Astoria hotel and is designed to LEED Gold standards, is located along Mission Street and will be clad in stone with unique ‘glass vitrine’ windows. Related: Foster + Partners unveil plans for a pair of hurricane-resistant high rises in Miami “I have always had a great fascination for San Francisco – a city with a youthful spirit has allowed it to constantly reinvent itself, yet retain a unique sense of urbanity,” said Lord Foster. “The Oceanwide Center encapsulates that essence – it is a pioneering example that combines spaces to live and work with a vibrant public realm in the heart of the city. The project now marks a major milestone with its groundbreaking, as the evolution of a sustainable model of high density, mixed-use development that I have always promoted.” The Oceanside Center is expected to be complete by 2021. + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners

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Foster + Partners breaks ground on major transit-oriented project in downtown San Francisco

America’s first urban ‘agrihood’ feeds 2,000 households for free

December 7, 2016 by  
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When you think of Detroit , ‘ sustainable ‘ and ‘ agriculture ‘ may not be the first two words that come to mind. But a new urban agrihood debuted by The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) might change your mind. The three-acre development boasts a two-acre garden , a fruit orchard with 200 trees, and a sensory garden for kids. If you need a refresher on the definition of agrihood, MUFI describes it as an alternative neighborhood growth model. An agrihood centers around urban agriculture, and MUFI offers fresh, local produce to around 2,000 households for free. Related: Amazing farm-to-table, eco friendly housing development in California is a locavore’s paradise In a statement, MUFI co-founder and president Tyson Gersh said, “Over the last four years, we’ve grown from an urban garden that provides fresh produce for our residents to a diverse, agricultural campus that has helped sustain the neighborhood, attracted new residents and area investment.” Through urban agriculture , MUFI aims to solve problems Detroit residents face such as nutritional illiteracy and food insecurity. Now in the works at the agrihood is a 3,200 square foot Community Resource Center . Once a vacant building, the center will become a colorful headquarters and education center. As MUFI is a non-profit operated by volunteers, they’ll receive a little help to restore the building from chemistry company BASF and global community Sustainable Brands . Near the center, a health food cafe will sprout on empty land. MUFI describes the agrihood as America’s first sustainable urban agrihood. There are other agrihoods around the United States, such as this one Inhabitat covered earlier in 2016 in Davis, California. But the California agrihood is expensive; many people couldn’t afford to live there. The Michigan agrihood is far more accessible. MUFI isn’t stopping with the community center. They’re also working on a shipping container home, and plan to restore another vacant home to house interns. A fire-damaged house near the agrihood will be deconstructed, but the basement will be turned into a water harvesting cistern to irrigate the farm. + The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative Images via The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative ( 1 , 2 )

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America’s first urban ‘agrihood’ feeds 2,000 households for free

Cedar Rapids turns tragedy into triumph with new LEED Platinum public library

December 7, 2016 by  
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Tragedy struck Cedar Rapids, Iowa in June 2008, when a devastating flood swept the city and destroyed hundreds of homes, businesses, and several prominent public structures, including the public library. In the wake of the unprecedented natural disaster, the community and local studio OPN Architects joined together to rebuild the library. The new Cedar Rapids Public Library was reborn as a vibrant, multipurpose center that’s earned numerous architecture awards and LEED Platinum certification. Completed in 2003, the new Cedar Rapids Public Library is located a couple blocks from the original site and overlooks Greene Square Park. OPN’s meetings with the community guided the 95,000-square-foot library design, which, according to the architects, was “driven by the desire to embrace openness, transparency and foster public engagement with and within the space.” The building features large expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass to engage the streetscape and to overlook views of the park and cityscape. Large windows and a two-story central atrium allow natural light to penetrate deep into the building and reduce dependence on artificial lighting. The library spaces are organized around the central atrium in a hub-and-spoke system in which the cafe and coffee shop are located in the Service Core Zone, while the children’s, young adult, and adult fiction areas branch out from the hub. Clear sight lines and open vertical circulation help users navigate their way to their destinations. The second floor includes adult non-fiction collections, a conference space, offices, and a 200-seat auditorium facing the park that spans both the second and third floors. A breakout lobby for the auditorium sits on the third floor, which provides access to the 24,000-square-foot green roof . Related: Boxy new library by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects designed to regenerate Halifax The Cedar Rapids Public Library achieved LEED Platinum certification thanks to its lowered energy footprint, which exceeds the Iowa Energy Code by 55% and uses energy at a rate of 37 ktbu per square foot—a significant savings compared to the pre-flood library’s rate of 100 kbtu per square foot. The exterior glazing that covers over a third of the building envelope is insulating with low-E coating. The building also includes a pump & re-inject geothermal HVAC system, daylight sensors, LEDs, and thermally broken aluminum framing. The accessible green roof harvests rainwater for irrigation, and combined with pervious paving, helps retain 90% of normal annual rainfall and 100% of all rainfall up to one inch in a 24-hour period on site. + OPN Architects Via ArchDaily Images via OPN Architects , by Main Street Studio – Wayne Johnson

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Cedar Rapids turns tragedy into triumph with new LEED Platinum public library

Snails defeat Trump: Irish seawall scrapped

December 7, 2016 by  
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Snails accomplished what 16 Republican primary opponents and Hillary Clinton could not: defeat Donald Trump . The US president-elect just withdrew plans to build a massive seawall that would protect his Irish golf resort from rising sea levels caused by the climate change that he previously said is a Chinese hoax . Environmental activists opposed the development that would have extended 1.7 miles (2.8 kilometers) on Doughmore Beach in the Atlantic Coast village of Doonbeg, claiming that construction of the 15-foot limestone wall would have destroyed the EU-protected Carrowmore Dunes sand dune habitat that is home to the rare prehistoric snail, vertigo anguistor. California-based environmental organization Save the Waves Coalition worked with Irish and European environmental and surfing groups to defeat the wall through the #NatureTrumpsWall campaign, gathering more than 10,000 petition signatures from around the world. Related: Climate denier Donald Trump’s favorite Florida estate is being swallowed by the sea Trump International Golf Links Doonbeg management has reportedly proposed a scaled back barrier for submittal to Clare County Council that would extend to about 600 meters at the south of the beach and 250 meters at the north of the beach. “Trump’s decision to walk away from the seawall proposal is a huge milestone for the #NatureTrumpsWalls campaign and we are very excited by this decision,” Nick Mucha, Save the Waves director of programs said in a statement. “We are proud to have brought worldwide attention to this issue and save Doughmore Beach from their ill-conceived proposal. Our work continues as they consider scaled back measures, but we are excited to spare Doughmore Beach of the monstrous seawall proposal.” While Trump has recently waffled on his past statements denying the human connection to climate change and promising to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement, the documents submitted for the seawall in May were quite clear about the impact of climate change, stating that “rising sea levels and increased storm frequency and wave energy associated with global warming can increase the rate of erosion.” Via Save the Waves Coalition Lead image via Wikimedia , other image via Wikimedia

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Snails defeat Trump: Irish seawall scrapped

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