Bee hive vandalism in Iowa kills tens of thousands of honeybees

October 15, 2018 by  
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Bee vandals have struck again, this time at the Grateful Acres Farm northeast of Des Moines, Iowa. Last week, farmer Jake Knutson discovered that someone had trashed three of his strongest hives with cinder blocks, logs and bricks, causing him to lose tens of thousands of bees and 150 pounds of honey. The vandalism allowed bees from nearby farms to steal the honey from the exposed containers, and it also left Knutson’s insects to die in the rain. During the past year, hive vandalism has made news all over the world and killed hundreds of thousands of bees, including massacres in California , Ontario and Manchester, England, according to USA Today . Last winter, vandals also hit another Iowa farm, killing 500,000 honeybees. The insects do not fly in cold temperatures, and they died on the ground in the snow. Related: Bees addicted to pesticides much like smokers to nicotine, scientists say In last year’s Iowa vandalism case that caused over $60,000 in damages, two boys — ages 12 and 13 — ended up with felony charges. Knutson believes that kids are to blame for the current damage on his farm. Even though he doesn’t want to see kids get into trouble, he did contact authorities, because the vandals showed up two different times, and he doesn’t believe they should get a pass. “That means whomever did this came back within the last day and a half with the intent to destroy them,” Knutson wrote on Facebook. “The first time I guessed it was curious kids, and I was just wanting to speak to their parents, but after the recent incident I filed a police report and will prosecute when they find them.” Knutson saved as many bees as he could, and he plans to rebuild the hives for next year. One of Knutson’s friends created a GoFundMe account to help the farm recoup its losses. Knutson says that they will be able to recover, but “it just sucks” that someone would destroy everything after the huge investment of time and labor into the hives. Knutson also wrote on social media that bee vandalism seems to be a growing trend among kids, and parents need to teach their children about the importance of bees and seek out a local beekeeper to support . According to estimates, 35 percent of all food production depends on bee pollination. Meanwhile, honeybees continue to die off at an alarming rate. Via USA Today and EcoWatch Photography by Marisa Lubeck via USGS

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Bee hive vandalism in Iowa kills tens of thousands of honeybees

How addressing energy used in food processing contributes to more sustainable agriculture

July 25, 2018 by  
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Greater energy efficiency beyond the farm gate and more sustainable processes inside the farm are the two sides of the same coin.

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How addressing energy used in food processing contributes to more sustainable agriculture

This tiny home lets visitors experience life as homesteaders

July 5, 2018 by  
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Homesteading is a full-time job, but for those who’d like to just try it briefly, you can rent out a beautiful 300-square-foot tiny home made from reclaimed materials located on a six-acre working farm. Available to rent on Airbnb , the Tiny House Farmstay on the  Chittle Homestead  is a small rental home just an hour outside of Seattle that lets guests experience the best of sustainable living. Guests looking for a simple homestead experience can head up to the historic fishing village of Gig Harbor to stay on the charming Chittle Homestead. On their land, Tessa and Tim Chittle built a tiny home out of locally-sourced building materials such as recycled denim insulation and reclaimed cedar wall siding. The house boasts non-toxic paints to create a healthy environment. Related: Cool homestead retreat with vintage trailer brings glamping to Mojave desert At just 300 square feet, the tiny home is designed to maximize space while putting the focus on spending time outdoors. The wood-clad interior houses a small living room and two private bedrooms — a sleeping loft with a queen-sized bed and a Murphy bed on the ground floor. The bathroom is small but functional with a tiny sink and shower, as well as an odorless composting toilet . Outside the tiny house, a long farm table welcomes visitors to enjoy a meal or socialize with one another. According to the owners, guests at the farm will wake up to the sounds of roosters crowing and views of sheep grazing in the expansive meadow that surrounds the home. The land is home to plenty of farm animals and gardens that produce fresh herbs and veggies. The homestead owners are more than happy to share their knowledge with visitors looking to test out the world of homesteading. Guests can assist with the daily chores of taking care of the farm animals, or they can choose to stroll down the beach, go on a kayak adventure or tour the local antique shops. Best of all, guests at the Chittle retreat will take comfort in knowing that the cost of their stay, which averages around $100 per night, goes toward improving the tiny home and its farm. According to the family, “All proceeds from your vacation booking goes to homestead projects that improve the sustainability of the homestead… improving soil, creating habitat for wildlife, increasing food self-sufficiency, and future dreams of solar panels, rainwater catchment and aquaponics.” + The Chittle Homestead Via Tiny House Talk Photography by Markie Jones Photography and Jenna Spesard

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Is the future of farming vertical?

April 6, 2018 by  
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Companies including AeroFarms aim to narrow the farm-to-table gap.

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Is the future of farming vertical?

4 reasons fewer employees are engaged in sustainability, and what to do about it

April 6, 2018 by  
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It’s a troubling trend, but reversing it should be fairly straightforward.

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Building better homes through conscious construction

April 6, 2018 by  
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Christian Grey of The Conscious Builder makes homes that are cheaper to operate, better for the environment and healthier for families.

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Building better homes through conscious construction

6 urban farms feeding the world

October 26, 2017 by  
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A bustling city is the last place you’d ever expect to find a farm. But urban agriculture is alive and well, providing city dwellers with local, sustainable food.  These days, you can urban farms  inside warehouses, on top of buildings, and even on the tiniest plots of land. If you are looking to grow food in your city, take a look at these six different urban farming projects we’ve rounded up to highlight various creative antidotes to the pressing issue that is global food security . Detroit agrihood feeds 2,000 households for free The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative started a three-acre agrihood in Detroit to bring local, fresh produce to the neighborhood. The agrihood includes a two-acre garden, children’s sensory garden, 200-tree fruit orchard, and a Community Resource Center in the works. Nutritional illiteracy and food insecurity are two obstacles Detroit residents face, and the agrihood provides a community-friendly solution offering free produce to around 2,000 households. Related: Wind-powered vertical Skyfarms are the future of sustainable agriculture Rooftop farms in Gaza grow food where resources are scarce Urban farming initiatives don’t need to be massive to make a difference. The almost two-million population of Palestine’s Gaza Strip doesn’t have much land to farm, so in 2010 the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization introduced the concept of rooftop farming on a large scale by giving 200 homes equipment for aquaponic growing systems. Other Palestinians have built garden beds with recycled plastic and wood, planted with seeds from nearby farmers. Ahmad Saleh, a former professor and community organizer, said rooftop gardens empower people and help create healthier populations. Indianapolis warehouse farm is 100 percent powered by renewable energy Old warehouses are being transformed into farms in some areas of the world, like at Farm 360 in Indianapolis , Indiana. The farm’s hydroponic systems are completely powered by clean energy, and the indoor farm produces fresh, local food year-round. The nearby neighborhood had struggled with poverty and unemployment, and one of Farm 360’s goals was to boost economic growth by providing jobs close enough to where employees live for them to walk or bike to work. Farm on Tel Aviv mall roof produces 10,000 heads of greens every month Israel’s oldest mall, Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv , received a burst of life with the Green in the City rooftop farm. There’s no dirt necessary for the hydroponic systems able to churn out 10,000 heads of greens a month, inside two greenhouses boasting around 8,073 square feet of space. All of the produce is sold, largely to local homes and restaurants through online orders delivered by bicycle. The Green in the City garden was launched by hydroponics company LivinGreen and the sustainability department of Dizengoff Center to raise awareness of the food crisis and offer affordable local produce. World’s largest rooftop farm in Chicago can grow 10 million crops annually Chicago , Illinois is home to the world’s biggest rooftop garden after Brooklyn-based agriculture company Gotham Greens expanded out of New York to start the 75,000-square-foot garden on top of a Method Products manufacturing plant. William McDonough + Partners and Heitman Architects designed the project, which grows 10 million pesticide-free herbs and greens every year, all year round, inside a greenhouse facility powered by renewable energy . Massive Shanghai urban farm to feed nearly 24 million people Shanghai , China is home to over 24 million people, and a 100-hectare urban farm planned for the city could feed nearly all of them. Architecture firm Sasaki is behind the Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District, which is designed to weave vertical farms among towers. Hydroponic and aquaponic methods, floating greenhouses, and algae farms are all part of the design. Images via The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative Facebook , Mohamed Hajjar , Esther Boston , © Lucy Wang , Gotham Greens, and ArchDaily

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6 urban farms feeding the world

This farm in New York only grows food for donation (10 tons and counting)

July 17, 2017 by  
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Artist Dan Colen needed an escape from New York City. So he purchased Sky High Farm in New York’s Hudson Valley region in 2011, and worked with Berman Horn Studio to create a gorgeous haven with structures reminiscent of old farm buildings. Not only is the farm architecturally beautiful, it’s on a mission to do good. The 40-acre farm donates all of its organic produce – and eggs and meat from grass-fed animals – to food pantries and banks throughout the state. Sky High Farm is home to a striking Black Barn , designed by Berman Horn Studio. The L-shaped building has black wood siding – the color comes from Benjamin Moore’s Black – and a corrugated metal roof. Livestock reside in the barn, which also serves as a harvest processing center. Interns also dwell inside. Related: Beautiful modern barn produces food sustainably in Utah Berman Horn Studio said in their design statement that changes in materials in the interior speak of the changing functions of the space, while the black exterior lends a cohesiveness to the entire structure. Heavy timber construction is found in the livestock wing; light-filled interiors for the interns. The processing center has industrial finishes. Architect Maria Berman told Gardenista Colen “very much appreciates the integrity of vernacular working farm buildings, and wanted to create a building that felt like it could have been on this very old farm for many years.” The farm’s mission is food security ; the produce and meat products from the farm go to soup kitchens and food pantries or banks in New York City and other areas of the state to feed the hungry. Out of the 40 acres, 25 are used for animal pasture, and two are dedicated to vegetable production. The farm is currently in its fifth season and estimates they’ve been able to donate over 36,000 healthy, organic meals – emphasizing quality of food as much as quantity. On their website they put the donation of produce and meat in tons, saying they’ve donated more than 10 tons. + Sky High Farm + Berman Horn Studio Via Gardenista Images via Sky High Farm

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This farm in New York only grows food for donation (10 tons and counting)

You could win this beautiful organic farm with your best 200-word essay

February 9, 2017 by  
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Have you always dreamed of running a little organic farm , but could never afford land prices? Norma Burns, owner of Bluebird Hill Farm in North Carolina , is planning to give her 12.88 acre farm away for next to nothing. Aspiring homesteaders need only submit a $300 entry fee, fill out a brief entry form with their resumes, and pen a 200-word essay titled “Why We Want to Own and Operate Bluebird Hill Farm.” Burns, an architect and farmer, wants to help out a couple embarking on the farming lifestyle by giving away the land she’s owned for nearly 20 years. She said , “I’m looking for a like-minded couple who have experience and training in organic farming and are willing and able to put in the long days and hard work that farming requires. The only thing they don’t have is an actual farm. I want to make it possible for these new farmers to get started.” She’ll be moving on to urban life in Raleigh, but wants to leave her farm to a couple who will cultivate and love it. Related: How to get off the grid and live rent-free So she started the Bluebird Hill Farm Essay Contest . The winners will receive the title to the farm, which is certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture and worth around $450,000. Those interested can check out pictures of the farm house here . The two-bedroom home features a dining room with antique furniture, kitchen with tons of storage, light-filled day room, what Burns calls an evening room, laundry closet, and front porch. The barn is around 200-years-old , according to Burns, and also houses a garden room and shop. There’s a chicken coop, distiller, greenhouse, and farm cat on the property too. If you have questions, Burns requests you reach out to her through the farm’s Facebook page . Entries must be submitted by mail to Essay Contest, P.O. Box 851, Siler City, NC, 27344, USA. The contest ends June 1, 2017, and winners will be announced around June 30, 2017. + Bluebird Hill Farm Essay Contest + Bluebird Hill Farm Facebook Via The Charlotte Observer Images via Bluebird Hill Farm Facebook

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You could win this beautiful organic farm with your best 200-word essay

Solar-powered Farm From a Box is a compact farm kit that feeds 150 people

December 28, 2016 by  
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Two acres of land is enough to farm a sustainable food supply for as many as 150 people, and now a San Francisco startup is making it even easier to get that farm growing. Farm From a Box is a shipping container kit that holds all the essentials for setting up a two-acre farm (except the land, of course). Founders Brandi DeCarli and Scott Thompson got the idea after working on a youth center in Kenya where shipping containers were being used to substitute where infrastructure lacked. That project didn’t address food insecurity , though, which led DeCarli and Thompson to found their own venture specifically for that purpose. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlcijvWRJGU Farm From a Box is a kit designed to make it easier for all types of organizations to start growing sustainable food . Nonprofit humanitarian agencies, schools, community groups, and even individuals can buy a $50,000 kit, which comes with a complete water system including a solar-powered pump and drip irrigation system. Together, those features help conserve water by using it more efficiently, delivering water directly to the roots of growing plants. All of the kit’s components are solar-powered, so the kit also includes 3 kW of solar energy capacity which is enough to power the water pump as well as WiFi connectivity that makes it possible to monitor the farm conditions remotely. Because the built-in solar power technology generates more than enough energy to power the farm’s equipment, the farm is suitable to run completely off the grid. Related: Top 10 cities in the US for urban farming All the prospective farmer needs to have is viable land, of course, and seeds. Luckily, the Farm From a Box team realizes that farming is largely about skill and science, so the kit also includes three stages of training materials on sustainable farming, farm technology and maintenance, as well as the business of farming. In a recent interview with Smithsonian Magazine, DiCarli explained that the farm kit was designed to “act as a template” and that it’s possible to “plug in” components that specifically fit the farm’s local climate and the farmers’ needs. Those options include internal cold storage, to help preserve crops between harvest and consumption or sale, and a water purification system, if needed. So far, Farm From a Box has deployed one prototype at Shone Farm in Sonoma County, California. A project of Santa Rosa Junior College, the farm is part of a larger outdoor laboratory in which students learn how to cultivate crops in drought conditions, and then the harvest is used to supply the farm’s own community-supported agriculture (CSA) program as well as the college’s culinary arts program. DiCarli said the Shone Farm prototype turned out to be “more efficient than we had even planned,” with “really high” production and energy output. Farm From a Box has a number of other potential sites lined up already, in Ethiopia, Nepal, Bhutan, and Afghanistan, as well as additional test farms in California and a veteran-partnered site in Virginia. Via Smithsonian Magazine Images via Farm From a Box

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Solar-powered Farm From a Box is a compact farm kit that feeds 150 people

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