Everything you need to know about online farmers markets

October 15, 2018 by  
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Online farmers markets are becoming increasingly popular with the rise in demand for locally sourced produce. With an industry that makes hundreds of millions annually, online farmers markets provide consumers with fresh food at their door for minimal costs. From how these markets work to the pros and cons of ordering online, here is everything you should know about online farmers markets. How do online farmers markets work? Online farmers markets typically operate within a geographically defined area, such as a single county. By only doing business in a defined location, these websites can easily work with local farms to market and ship fresh produce to individuals. The downside to this approach is that you can only participate in online farmers markets if you live within a specific area. It also leads to regionally based competition as farmers compete with larger grocery chains, which are increasingly offering deliverable food. The process of ordering from an online farmers market is pretty simple. After selecting the types of food you want to buy, you pay online and have it shipped to your home, or you can select a pickup option. Some online farmers markets will have several pickup locations in an area to make it more convenient on the customer. Larger marketplaces, meanwhile, will usually only ship produce to your home. Related: The ugly truth about the imperfect food movement Online farmers markets versus Community Supported Agriculture Community Supported Agriculture ( CSA ) programs were around long before online farmers markets came into existence. These models work on a subscription basis and give customers an allotment of produce every few weeks. The CSA usually picks the type of produce, and it is often whatever food is in season. It can sometimes be a bit of a gamble. In contrast, online farmers markets give customers an option of what they purchase, including a variety of vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meat, honey, baked goods, preserves and maple syrup. The customer also controls when they receive the goods, and everything is done online. Not only does this benefit the customer, but it also helps farmers with marketing and handling transactions. Pros of online farmers markets For customers, convenience and variety are the biggest pros of online farmers markets. Without having to leave your house, you get to choose from an assortment of fresh produce and goods and have them delivered within a week. While the system is great for consumers, online farmers markets also benefit growers. For farmers, the online market acts like a traditional co-op and benefits growers in a number of ways. This includes handling payments, packaging and distribution; saving time and energy; cutting down on marketing expenses and providing access to a larger market. The majority of growers that participate in online farmers markets operate small to mid-size farms. Without an online presence, these farms would likely struggle to sell their merchandise and compete with larger grocery stores, many of which are also advertising locally produced food. Click Fork, for example, is a co-op based out of Canada that helped save a handful of local farmers from shutting down. With their traditional businesses failing, farmers around Sudbury, Canada, joined forces and built a website to sell their goods. Their website was so successful that the group is looking to expand in the near future. Cons of online farmers markets Depending on where you live, you may or may not have access to an online farmers market. At the very least, your options are probably slim. There is also the issue of only being able to buy produce that is in season and that can grow in your location. While this gives you more options than a traditional CSA, it does not compete well with grocery stores that ship in produce from far-flung locations. For eco-conscious folks, this isn’t much of a problem, but it can be harder to attract larger crowds to eating local, seasonal foods. That said, many people are willing to sacrifice variety when it comes to convenience, and there are not too many things better than ordering food from the comfort of your own home. Another disadvantage to online farmers markets compared to traditional farmers markets is the lack of human connection — it just isn’t the same when you don’t get to shake the hands of the person who grew your food. Where can you order produce online? The number of online farmers markets is growing every year. The majority of these sites serve specific locations, but there are a few that are branching out to wider areas of the country. WildKale is an example of an online farmers market that ships to a wider customer base. The company collaborates with over 30 growers in the northeastern U.S. and plans on expanding across the country in the near future. Depending on your location, you might be able to find an online farmers market closer to home. Good Eggs , for example, serves customers in the Bay Area, while WyoFresh ships produce to locations in southeast Wyoming. If you cannot find an online farmers market that serves your area, there is a good chance one will pop up before long. The future of online farmers markets With the growth of large grocery chains, small farmers across the country are struggling to say afloat. Although selling produce online is preventing a lot of growers from going under, companies are finding it difficult to sustain their online presence. Farmigo, a farmers market based out of Brooklyn, just shut down its virtual market after raising $26 million in startup funds. The company was successful in selling produce online, but the creators discovered that their model was not sustainable over the long run. The company had trouble with the logistics of packaging and shipping a large amount of produce to customers while still turning a profit. There is a lot of promise for the industry as a whole, but figuring out how to scale it up sustainably is the next challenge. Although there are challenges facing online farmers markets , the future is bright. The grocery industry has always been huge, and the market for locally produced food is growing larger every year. Investors may be hesitant to invest in online farmers markets across the country now, but it is clear they are here to stay. Via Farm and Dairy , Supermarket News , Food + Tech Connect and CBC Images via Markus Spiske and Shutterstock

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Everything you need to know about online farmers markets

An open letter to Marriott about VERGE 18 and workers’ rights

October 11, 2018 by  
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We are committed as ever to Oakland and the Bay Area, and to the rich and beautiful diversity of our community.

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An open letter to Marriott about VERGE 18 and workers’ rights

Survey Results: Have Your Local Recycling Rules Changed This Year?

October 10, 2018 by  
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Thanks to those of you who responded to last week’s … The post Survey Results: Have Your Local Recycling Rules Changed This Year? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Survey Results: Have Your Local Recycling Rules Changed This Year?

Role-playing video game sparks climate action in players worldwide

September 10, 2018 by  
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Research published last week in the journal PLoS One examined the effects of World Climate Simulation, a role-playing game of the UN climate talks. The video game found that 81 percent of participants showed an increased desire to combat climate change despite political beliefs. The game’s ability to bridge gaps across the political spectrum and engage those who are less concerned about the need for climate action is a major benchmark in propelling the environment to the forefront of national and international policy making. The research group examined the virtual advocates’ beliefs about climate change , emotional responses to its effects and intent to improve climate-change-inducing behaviors. In total, 2,000 participants — from eight different countries, four continents and various age groups from middle school students to CEOs — were selected for the assessment. The analysis concluded that participants exhibited both a greater sense of urgency as well as hope in combating climate change, alongside a desire to understand more about climate science and the impact of climate change. Related: Girl Scouts introduces 30 new badges with emphasis on the environment and STEM “It was this increased sense of urgency, not knowledge, that was key to sparking motivation to act,” said Juliette Rooney Varga, lead researcher of University of Massachusetts’s Lowell Climate Change Initiative . “The big question for climate change communication is: how can we build the knowledge and emotions that drive informed action without real-life experience which, in the case of climate change, will only come too late?” Co-author Andrew Jones of Climate Interactive provided “three key ingredients” in response: “information grounded in solid science, an experience that helps people feel for themselves on their own terms and social interaction arising from conversation with their peers.” Developed nations within the game pledge monetary support to developing nations through the Green Climate Fund, a fund designed to cut emissions and help countries adapt to the change. The real-life climate policy computer model C-ROADS then receives the players’ choices and gives immediate feedback on how the decisions will ultimately impact the environment. C-ROADS has been used to support the real UN climate negotiations as well, as it is an effective simulator of expected outcomes. “Research shows that showing people research doesn’t work,” said John Sterman, co-author of the study and professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. “World Climate works because it enables people to express their own views, explore their own proposals and thus learn for themselves what the likely impacts will be.” The players’ first negotiations usually backslide when they see the future outcomes on their health, prosperity and welfare. The next rounds of negotiation using C-ROADS are generally much more aggressive in achieving emission cuts after players see how climate change impacts their own lives. The game is now being used as an official resource for schools in France, Germany and South Korea. The social interactions fostered by World Climate Simulation are proving a valuable resource in achieving a global movement to advocate for climate action. The game is also showing that education is a key component in successfully implementing climate policy within government. + MIT Image via Glenn Carstens-Peters

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Eco-friendly AgriNesture buildings promote agriculture and job growth in Vietnam

September 10, 2018 by  
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Although the majority of Vietnam’s population relies on agriculture , rapid industrialization and a skyrocketing population in recent years has led to urban sprawl and the decimation of fertile agricultural land. To combat these trends, local architecture firm H&P Architects has made mending the relationship between people and nature one of the main guiding principles throughout its work. In its latest example of eco-friendly architecture, the firm created AgriNesture, a green housing prototype that can be clustered together in vulnerable rural areas to revitalize the local population. In M?o Khê, a town a few hours from Hanoi in northern Vietnam, sits one of the first prototypes of AgriNesture. Likened to a “cube of earth cut out from a field,” the boxy building is clad in locally sourced materials including plant fibers, rammed earth and bricks. The two-story structure is also built with a reinforced concrete frame — which cost VND 150 million (equivalent to USD 6,500) — and topped with a green roof , where agriculture can be practiced. The structure is also integrated with a rainwater collection system for irrigation. A light well brings natural light and ventilation deep into the home. The AgriNesture structures can be clustered in blocks of four around a central courtyard. These building clusters lend themselves to multipurpose uses, such as multigenerational housing, education, health or community centers. Because the cost-effective architecture only relies on two main parts — the reinforced concrete ‘Frame’ and the locally sourced ‘Cover’ materials — owners will not only be able to select their own surface materials best suited to their local conditions, but also customize the interior to their liking and add additional floors if desired. This hands-on and site-specific building process will help create jobs and bring economic stability, according to the architects. Related: This stunning brick “cave house” in Vietnam is open to the elements “AgriNesture will be, therefore, a place of convergence, interaction and adaptation of various local contrasts (natural vs. man-made, residence vs. agriculture, individuals vs. communities , etc.),” the firm said, “thus enabling it to be not only a Physical space but also a truly Human place.” + H&P Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Nguyen TienThanh

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Earth911 Podcast, Aug. 31, 2018: Sustainability In Your Ear — Community Gardening’s Annual Meetup

August 31, 2018 by  
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Bill Maynard, a leader in the American Community Gardening Association … The post Earth911 Podcast, Aug. 31, 2018: Sustainability In Your Ear — Community Gardening’s Annual Meetup appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Podcast, Aug. 31, 2018: Sustainability In Your Ear — Community Gardening’s Annual Meetup

Singapore, the City in a Garden, sets an example for a green planet

August 15, 2018 by  
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Singapore has transformed itself from a hub of pollution to an environmental dream-city in the past 50 years. From afar, the country’s landscape looks like any other modern city with abounding skyscrapers etched into its skyline. On the inside however, a green heart has grown at the center of the city, spreading into the minds of its people and up the walls of its buildings. This heart was initiated by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew — often called ‘Chief Gardener’ — who pushed his imperative of a clean and green Singapore until it became reality. In the 1960s, raw sewage loaded already-polluted canals of the city-state with so much waste that they poured sludge-like  waters into the Singapore River and surrounding areas. “In the 1960s, Singapore was like any other developing country – dirty and polluted, lacking proper sanitation and facing high unemployment,” Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources for Singapore, explained in his recent address to the Global Environment Outlook 6 (GEO6) . “These challenges were particularly acute, given our constraints as a small island state with limited resources; we did not even have enough drinking water.” These problems encouraged rapid industrialization to help improve living conditions for the citizens of Singapore, but the widespread urbanization only aggravated the environmental concerns. Related: A rainforest-like green heart grows within Singapore’s Marina One Yew saw the decay as “a blighted urban jungle of concrete [that] destroys the human spirit.” He believed that “we need the greenery of nature to lift our spirits,” hence planting the first tree of many in 1963 to inspire a generation of eco-warriors into action. This has become The Singapore Story  of the ‘Biophilic City in a Garden.’ The incredible journey began with this small deed, shortly before Singapore’s separation from Malaysia. Now, the city sits at the center of architectural innovation and technological design and has become a green global powerhouse. “We merely wanted to rise above the region we found ourselves in,” Lim Liang Jim, group director of the  National Biodiversity Centre at the National Parks Board, said in an interview with UN Environment . “Lee Kuan Yew had a plan. Keep us clean. Keep us green.” The generation that pioneered this change understood that if Singapore became “a nice place to live, then people will come and invest. Then we moved up,” Jim explained. But the movement was not solely economic or aesthetic in nature. The small self-governing city-state was urged to clean up the region by Singaporeans who wanted to stay on their land. These residents launched a strenuous 30-year campaign, cleaning up pollution and creating agencies where there were none to support their cause. This lead to the inception of the National Parks Board, which decided there should be greenery and plant life everywhere people looked. The board rejected the idea of being confined to a concrete jungle and instead constructed a sustainable model for any city to follow. Part of the ongoing changes involves educating students from an early age on the importance of environmental awareness, protection and advocacy. “We are going back to history, to ensure that we build from the ground up and ensure that the youth of Singapore don’t take our 50 years of history for granted,” said Lim, who believes that history can be easily forgotten by the minds of young Singaporeans who only know the smell of fresh air and the sights of lush greenery. “[Environmentalism] has to be something that is driven by the grassroots movement, it has to become in a sense political. You can’t easily turn a nature reserve into buildings, it would require some reasoned discussion with the public. We have to make sure that the younger generation appreciates our nature and biodiversity and do not take them for granted.” Related: Giant glowing bottle walls light up Singapore for “plastic binge” awareness This is Singapore’s mission in preserving the achievements it has made while ensuring the future of its vision as an environmental champion. It believes that its citizens are entrusted a with stewardship that makes caring for common spaces second-nature. The residents built this new Singapore from the ground up, adding innovative features like the SGBioAtlas , which allows members of the public to become ‘citizen scientists’ by uploading photos of plants or animals and to the National Biodiversity Centre’s central database. Other ongoing projects include urban planning and zoning as well as policy changes and public awareness campaigns focused on a smaller carbon footprint and zero waste, among other goals. With its visionary leadership, Singapore’s long-term plan includes a phase of sustainable development found in its Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 , which underlines improvement in sectors that include all 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals through 2030. “Our approach has been to build a livable and sustainable city through pragmatic policy-making based on sound economic principles and science; a focus on long-term planning and effective implementation; and the ability to mobilize popular support for the common good,” Zulkifli said. Singapore has set the standard for a clean and green future worldwide, and it looks absolutely inviting. + The Singapore Story Via UN Environment Images via Joan Campderrós-i-Canas ( 1 , 2 ), Jaafar Alnasser and Jo Sau

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Singapore, the City in a Garden, sets an example for a green planet

A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest

August 15, 2018 by  
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Barcelona- and Mexico City-based firm  Cadaval Sola-Morales has just unveiled Casa de la Roca, a beautiful, dark timber home topped with a green roof  and located in a remote forest in Mexico. The single-story structure features a jet-black facade crafted from felled trees and finished with a living roof to help camouflage the home into the peaceful, secluded forestscape. When designing Casa de la Roca, the architects were focused on one objective: to create a home that would easily blend into the landscape for years to come. Acting accordingly, the architects chose materials based on durability. The structure, which sits on a low-maintenance concrete foundation, is clad in reclaimed timber from local felled or dead trees. Related: Living trees grow through the ceiling of Cadaval & Sola-Morales’ Tepoztlan Lounge in Mexico The exterior walls were then coated in black paint to add longevity to the structure. “We used paint (and not dye), to add another layer of material protection; dye tends to lose its qualities over the years,” the architects explained. “It is black, responding to the desire to blend in with the landscape, seeking a certain anonymity in front of the vegetation and exuberant views.” The dark exterior essentially allows the home to hide deep within the forest , but that wasn’t enough for the architects. Once the dwelling was constructed, the team finished the entire roof with vegetation, creating an even stronger connection between the man-made and natural. According to the architects, the home’s layout of three long hallways that converge into the main living space was also inspired by the landscape. The team wanted the house to have three private lookouts at each end to provide distinct views of the forest. The three “arms” of the home come together at a central point, which is also where people can come together and socialize . The interior space is both elegant and welcoming. A minimal amount of furniture is spread out over the open-plan living room, so the main focus is always on the incredible nature that surrounds the home. Extra large floor-to-ceiling windows and doors allow optimal natural light into the home, while also creating a seamless connection to the forest. + Cadaval Sola-Morales Via Wallpaper Photography by Sandra Pereznieto

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A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest

Set sail on these sustainable homes made from old cargo ships

July 27, 2018 by  
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Dutch firm  Studio Komma is working on a ground-breaking circular housing concept that would transform cargo ships into luxury homes. The Marine-doc Estate is an ambitious project that will develop various sustainable communities featuring multiple retired merchant ships converted into luxury eco-homes with expansive green roofs and plenty of outdoor space. The initial phase of the Marine-doc Estate project is kicking off with two communities planned for the Netherlands, with the potential of building more communities internationally. Depending on the building location, each estate would have up to 14 maritime homes spread out over natural landscape with open water connections. Related: Last surviving Ellis Island ferry transformed into a floating home The first step involves lifting the former cargo ships out of their boat yards by crane to be placed into their new locations on land. The estates themselves will be selected according to their landscapes. The eco-communities will be arranged on lush natural terrains in the vicinity of open water in order to strike a balance between providing privacy to the residents and fostering a strong sense of community. Once in place, the original metal structures will then be built out into proper living spaces with sustainability at the forefront of the design. Since the ships vary in shape and size, each home will have a unique aesthetic, but the entire renovation process will focus on retaining the ships’ nautical origins. According to the architects, original features such as the stern, wheelhouse and foredeck will be enhanced with “sleek geometric shapes” on the exterior. Measuring up to 200 feet in length, the elongated volume of the interior will be broken up with flexible partitions that will enable future residents to personalize the layout. To embed the new homes into their landscapes, the firm included a large rooftop garden terrace  on each home that will provide stellar 360° views of the estate grounds. The homes will also have outdoor decks to further connect the new homes with their surroundings. + Studio Komma Via Archdaily Images via Studio Komma / Buro Poelman Reesink

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Set sail on these sustainable homes made from old cargo ships

A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas

July 26, 2018 by  
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When a pair of retired ordained ministers set their sights on creating a sustainable community for “spiritual renewal,” the couple turned to Austin-based design practice Miró Rivera Architects to bring their vision to life. Located on a 47-acre meadow property in Texas , the recently completed Hill Country House serves as the community’s first housing prototype and as a private residence for the clients. Affectionately dubbed “The Sanctuary” by its owners, the spacious farmhouse-style abode combines rural influences with a modern aesthetic on a very modest budget. Arranged in a linear layout spanning 5,100 square feet, The Hill Country House cuts a striking and sculptural silhouette in the landscape with its zigzagging standing-seam metal roof that mimics the surrounding hilly topography. The home is primarily clad in white corrugated aluminum siding interrupted by vertical planks of warm cedar siding. The tapering limestone chimney, inspired by an existing shed on site, was built of dry-stacked local stone. Natural and locally sourced materials were used to reduce environmental impact and to tie the appearance to the landscape. Inside, the home is flooded with natural light and overlooks framed outdoor views. Crisp white walls and tall ceilings lend the home its bright and airy character. The public and private areas of the home are located on opposite ends. “Particular attention was paid to creating spaces that would enable hosting large groups of friends and family, blurring the line between indoor and outdoor space,” the architects explained. “The stark white aluminum cladding is broken at various intervals by warm cypress siding that defines a series of rooms outside the house, including a temple-like screen porch that extends from the volume containing the main living spaces.” Related: Spectacular wildflower roof grows atop a dreamy Texan cabana The environmentally friendly features of the Hill Country House have earned it a 4-star rating from the Austin Energy Green Building, a precursor of the LEED certification system. An 8 kW solar array meets nearly two-thirds of the home’s annual energy usage, while a five-ton geothermal system supplies mechanical heating and cooling. The homeowners’ water needs are supplied by a 30,000-gallon rainwater collection system. According to a project statement, the owners hope their modern farmhouse will serve “as a model for future off-the-grid development.” + Miró Rivera Architects Images by Paul Finkel / Piston Design

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A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas

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