A historic farm is thoughtfully repurposed into an organic winery

July 23, 2020 by  
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On a mixed farm dating back to the 13th century in East Sussex, Rye-based RX Architects has repurposed a series of old farm buildings into the new home of Tillingham Winery, a natural and biodynamic wine producer committed to regenerative farming and ecological diversity. Set on approximately 70 acres of farmland, the organic winery has not only carved out spaces for wine production and tasting, but for visitor accommodations as well as teaching and artisan workshop spaces. Elements of the original architecture — the property’s various farm buildings include a traditional oast dating back to the 19th century — have been preserved and celebrated in the renovation. Located off of a winding lane in Peasmarsh, Tillingham Winery enjoys stunning panoramic views across the Tillingham Valley toward the Cinque Port town of Rye. To celebrate the views and the rich heritage of the site, the architects restored and re-clad the existing farm buildings with a mix of metal, concrete and timber with simple, robust detailing. The original galvanized metal and timber door was also restored; the massive sliding doors and large expanses of glazing frame views through the building to the courtyard and the landscape beyond. The mixed vine varieties are planted on the predominately south-facing land, while sheep grazing, agroforestry and camping are located across the other parts of the estate. Related: Silver Oak becomes world’s most sustainable winery In another nod to the site history, the architects sunk two large wine-making qvevri — large earthenware vessels used for fermenting, storing and aging wine — underground beside the open-sided oast in an area once used to lay the long strands of hops for drying. In doing so, the architects have not only created the first-ever qvevri cellar in the United Kingdom but have also highlighted the oast’s former agricultural purpose. The oast has also been repurposed into an 11-room boutique hotel for Tillingham. Guests have access to an onsite restaurant, a wine bar and bottle shop and an outdoor kitchen (formerly a dutch barn) for al fresco dining. + RX Architects Photography by Richard Chivers via RX Architects

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A historic farm is thoughtfully repurposed into an organic winery

Students propose a biomimetic solution to reduce post-harvest food waste in Nigeria

November 26, 2019 by  
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As one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest producers of tomatoes, Nigeria grows up to 1.5 million tons of the fruit annually, yet nearly half of that harvest fails to make it to the market. In a bid to provide a solution to post-harvest food waste, a team of Pratt Institute students designed a storage facility for tomato farmers in Nigeria that takes inspiration from the respiratory system of a cricket and the ribs of a cactus. The proposal — titled Tomato’s Home — was recently named a finalist in the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge and has advanced to the Biomimicry Launchpad, an accelerator program that helps early-stage entrepreneurs bring nature-inspired solutions to market. Unlike consumer-driven food waste that plagues the developed world, much of the food waste in developing countries such as Nigeria occurs during the post-processing stage. The students’ proposal focuses on the small farms around Kano in northern Nigeria, where the majority of the country’s tomatoes are grown. Related: 6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimcry The students’ solution begins with a storage basket made from natural materials. Inspired by the way peas are protected and arranged in their shell, the students suggest weaving together loofa — the dried, fibrous part of the luffa fruit naturalized in the area — into a basket base for storing the individual tomatoes and to prevent bruising. The soft bed of loofa would be protected and given structure by a layer of woven teak on the outside. To store the tomato baskets, the students have also proposed a modular building constructed from natural materials, including clay bricks and thatch. Designed with an emphasis on natural ventilation and insulation, the buildings take direct inspiration from elements in nature, such as stack flow ventilation that the students say mimic the respiratory system of crickets. Light colors on the facade help reflect heat much like the white shells of certain desert snails, while the thatched roof — inspired by the thatched nests of grass-cutting ants — provide insulating benefits without compromising ventilation. + Pratt Institute Images via Pratt Institute

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Students propose a biomimetic solution to reduce post-harvest food waste in Nigeria

Earth911 Inspiration: Mokokoma Mokhonoana on Farming Just To Eat

August 16, 2019 by  
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Earth911 inspirations. Post them, share your desire to help people … The post Earth911 Inspiration: Mokokoma Mokhonoana on Farming Just To Eat appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Fueled by chocolate: Ghana’s newest biofuel

April 26, 2019 by  
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Researchers in Ghana are testing a system that will turn cocoa into biofuel  — but don’t worry — it uses the green waste produced during harvest, so you can still eat all of the chocolate! The project is funded by the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom and will be tested in Ghana, one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa. Chocolate is a multi-billion-dollar international industry, with the bulk of cocoa coming from Africa. “Every ton of cocoa beans harvested generates 10 tons of cocoa pod husks,” says Jo Darkwa , professor of energy storage technologies at Nottingham and one of the project team leads. Husks are typically discarded during harvest after the beans are extracted. Usually, the husks are left to decompose on the cocoa plantation while the beans head to fermentation and drying facilities before they are turned into chocolate. Now, researchers have developed a system that will use the husks as feedstock to generate biofuel. The husks are processed into pellets, or bricks, that can burn in generators and produce “green” electricity. Related: Cargill announces plan to reduce deforestation from cocoa “Feasibility studies indicate that cocoa pod husks could be converted into valuable biofuels and become an important energy supply for rural areas that only have 15 percent coverage at present,” explained Professor Darkwa. The many benefits of cocoa fuel This initiative is not only an innovate green technology, it also has other secondary benefits: Increase access to electricity If successful, the project could contribute to the Ghanaian government’s pledge to ensure 100 percent of Ghanaians have access to electricity by 2030. Reduce deforestation and improve climate and human health Currently, 80 percent of households in Ghana use wood as their main source of fuel for cooking and heating water. This practice not only leads to widespread deforestation in order to harvest wood, but indoor air pollution from wooden stoves is one of the top four leading risk factors for death worldwide. Create jobs If successful, the biofuel system would need workers to collect, transport , treat and process cocoa pod husks, which would create additional jobs and provide income for rural communities. Cocoa as chocolate, cocoa as compost Since it is the beans that are used to make chocolate, the husks are simply bio-waste, and therefore the biofuel system would not take away from farmers ’ profits in any way— in fact it would augment the profitability of the entire cocoa pod. However, cocoa pod waste is an important source of nutrients for cocoa trees. During harvest, ripe cocoa pods are collected and piled throughout the plantation. When the farmers are ready to extract the beans, the pods are cracked open and usually left in a heap to decompose. When husks biodegrade, they are an incredibly rich source of nutrients that help trees grow, improve soil quality and reduce plant disease. Studies show that the decaying pods host beneficial fungi and microbiotics, so will farmers and their crops be losing out on natural fertilizer if they ship their husks off to biofuel systems? Farmers with the capacity to do so might collect and bring the husks to an on-site composting location, but most small farmers do not have the capacity to process or evenly distribute the nutrients from the pile of decomposing husks and rely on nature to take its course. Farmers who do maximize the use of the compost may prefer to continue to do so, however those without that ability now have the option to profit from electricity generation instead. Testing the system in Ghana and the world “Undoubtedly, provision of sustainable energy services through cocoa pod husks would go a long way towards improving the quality of lives and thus alleviate poverty in rural communities as well as fight against climate change,” Professor Darkwa told Climate News Network . The project team is expected to test a prototype of their system at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in July 2019. The plan is to design, build and operate a small-scale bio-power electricity generation unit that burns husks in a gasification system. Each system includes a gasifier, small generator, solar drier and pelletizer and costs approximately US $50,000. If the prototype is successful, the system could be replicated in other countries following additional feasibility studies. Via Climate News Network Images via Flickr ,  dghchocolatier

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Costco to be the first major retailer to cut Roundup from the shelves

March 22, 2019 by  
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Moms Across America, a grassroots community of concerned citizens, began a campaign to eliminate the sale of the weed killer Roundup from three major retailers after the recent court decision to uphold the Johnson V. Monsanto lawsuit that concluded that exposure to Roundup contributes to non-Hodgkins lymphoma. After gathering 150,000 signatures on the petition to remove the products, they sent a letter to Home Depot, Lowe’s and Costco. In a big win for the organization and the public as a whole, Costco responded that they will be the first U.S. retailer to pull the products from their shelves. Costco, long known for their support of organic farming and organic food offering in their stores, not only felt that pulling Roundup was the right thing to do, but they took the supplemental step of finding effective organic options to stock instead. That means that in addition to canceling all orders for Roundup, they are watching for any glyphosate-based herbicides to ensure they stay off the shelves. Related: Researchers find weedkiller ingredient Glyphosate in name brand beer and wine Thousands of lawsuits are pending against Monsanto, the company that produces Roundup, after long-fought court battles continue to throw guilty verdicts in their direction. Science, doctors and exposed consumers have all fought to bring the dangers of glyphosate to the surface after repeated reports of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma surfaced and were connected to the chemical . In a previous lawsuit, Monsanto won the battle to avoid putting a warning label on the product even though the judge acknowledged it contains carcinogens and the decision goes against the original California Prop 65 designation that it should be classified as containing a known cancer-causing chemical. With this victory behind them, Moms Across America continues to push the other major retailers including Home Depot and Lowe’s Improvement Center to join in banning sales of the product. In addition, the activist group strives to continue educating the public about the dangers of glyphosate. After all, we are the ones who purchase and use it. With that decision comes the realization that once the chemical is applied, it contaminates the air and water for every plant, human and animal on the planet. If you’d like to join the campaign, you can add your signature to the petition here. Via Return to Now Images via Shutterstock, Mike Mozart

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‘Funnel-shaped’ cabin in an Ecuadorian forest is made of locally sourced wood

March 22, 2019 by  
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When it comes to creating living spaces that meld into their environment, savvy architects are showing us that sometimes less is definitely more. Quito-based architect Emilio Lopez has just unveiled a beautiful cabin made with  locally sourced wood and bamboo. At approximately 1,200 square feet, Cabana Don Juan is formed like a boxy funnel, with both sides featuring large glazed walls that provide stunning views of the coast on one side and a lush forest on the other. Located in the country’s Manabí Province, the beautiful two-story cabin is tucked into a native deciduous forest. Built on top of a hill along the coast line, the home rests in a setting that is picture-perfect, with views of the ocean on one side and the forest on the other. Related: Sculptural wood cabin is an alpine retreat with magnificent views To make the most of its natural environment, Lopez designed the cabin in a unique funnel shape with two extended sides that feature ultra-high, all-glass facades. The shell of the home is made out of concrete and covered with locally-sourced Amarillo and Asta wood. The interior was clad in eco-friendly bamboo , which provides a warm and cozy atmosphere. The living space is approximately 1,200 square feet, spanning two levels that connect through double-height ceilings. The ground floor houses the living, dining and kitchen area, while the two loft-like bedrooms are on the second floor, facing the ocean. The open-plan layout with large windows not only embeds the cabin and its inhabitants into the surroundings but also provides natural light and ventilation throughout the year. + Emilio Lopez Via Dwell Photography by Jag Studio via Emilio Lopez

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‘Funnel-shaped’ cabin in an Ecuadorian forest is made of locally sourced wood

Scientists believe lab-grown meat may be more harmful to the environment than farms

February 21, 2019 by  
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Scientists and environmentalists are always looking for ways to make meat consumption more environmentally friendly, but lab-grown meat may not be the solution. Scientists now say that synthetic meat might be more damaging to the environment than traditional cattle farms. Research has shown that cattle farms have played a role in global warming. In fact, scientists estimate that 25 percent of all greenhouse gases can be attributed to agriculture, with beef production leading the way in methane and nitrous oxide production. These alarming statistics have prompted scientists to look for viable alternatives in the meat market. Lab-grown meat has been a promising solution to the problem, though scientists warn that growing meat in a laboratory setting may be more harmful to the environment under certain circumstances. Related: Aleph Farms has created the first lab-grown steak The biggest difference between cattle beef and lab-grown beef is the type of emission that is produced. Cattle farms tend to produce a lot of methane, which contributes greatly to global warming. Manufacturing meat in a lab, meanwhile, releases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is also bad for the environment. The catch is that methane breaks up in around 12 years while carbon dioxide can remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years. “Per tonne emitted, methane has a much larger warming impact than carbon dioxide. However, it only remains in the atmosphere for about 12 years, whereas carbon dioxide persists and accumulates for millennia,” Raymond Pierrehumbert, a professor at Oxford Martin School, explained. That said, growing meat in a lab can be better for the environment if the manufacturing process uses sustainable energy. This would help curb the overall carbon use without releasing the amount of methane of traditional cattle farms. While this would lessen greenhouse gas emissions, there are other factors to consider with lab-grown meat, including water pollution. Until more research is done on the long-term effects of lab-grown meat, scientists are ultimately unable to determine which method is better for the environment. Via BBC Image via Shutterstock

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Scientists believe lab-grown meat may be more harmful to the environment than farms

Aleph Farms has created the first lab-grown steak

December 25, 2018 by  
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The demand for meat alternatives continues to grow as millions switch to vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian diets for health, ethical and environmental reasons, and food companies around the world are starting to focus their efforts on plant-based and lab-grown products that can take the place of animal-sourced meats. Aleph Farms recently reached an important milestone in cellular meat production by serving up the first lab-grown steak, made from isolated cow cells and grown into a 3D structure. According to the company, the steak has the same texture as conventional meat, and it also has the same smell. But, they still need to refine the taste and thickness. The current prototype is 5 mm thick, and a small strip costs $50, but Aleph Farms co-founder and CEO Didier Toubia says that is a huge step in the right direction because five years ago, the first lab-grown beef burger cost $283.500. “The cost would come down as the production process was moved from the lab to a scalable commercial facility,” said Toubia. The steak probably won’t be commercially available for another three or four years. But, when it does hit the market, Toubia believes that it will catch on like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger and help bridge the gap between people who do not want to completely give up meat and the need to reduce global meat consumption. Related: 3D-printed vegan steak could aid world hunger relief efforts The industry that is making alternatives to animal-sourced meats is booming, growing at a rate of 20 percent a year. The demand is so high that companies can’t keep up, and the gigantic U.S. meat industry is starting to take notice. Meat companies learned a lesson from the plant-based milk revolution, and they are focusing their efforts on shaping the regulatory environment for their new competitors. Joshua Tetrick, co-founder of the food company Just, says that cell-based meat will upend the market because the process will be able to feed people around the world. “Probably the biggest obstacle outside of the scientific ones is getting folks used to the idea that we don’t need to slaughter animals en masse and deal with our waste to enjoy a nice Turkey dinner for Thanksgiving,” Tetrick says. Via NPR , Treehugger Image via Shutterstock

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Aleph Farms has created the first lab-grown steak

Farmscape helps communities embrace urban farming

October 25, 2018 by  
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The majority of the world’s population lives in cities, and thanks to the rising monetary and environmental costs of transporting food to these areas, interest in urban farming has dramatically increased over the past decade. In cities like Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles , it is relatively easy to find food growing in windowsills, on rooftops, in community gardens and even on corporate campuses. Since 2008, Farmscape has helped people, communities and companies across the country embrace sustainable farming practices and local food. Farmscape is the largest urban farming venture in the U.S., and it helps individuals, communities and businesses with their food producing needs by designing, installing and managing raised vegetable beds and gardens in places like residential backyards, building rooftops, multi-acre agrihoods  and commercial properties. Using an organic soil blend and drip irrigation systems, Farmscape has led the urban farm movement by installing more than 700 gardens in California and designing and consulting projects internationally. Related: The LEED Gold-seeking Edible Academy teaches urban farming in NYC Farmscape is a licensed landscape contractor, and according to the company, its setups are 25 percent more cost-effective to run than traditional setups. Another bonus to using Farmscape is that its landscaping can add up to a 28 percent return on investment on property values. Studies also show that homes with lush outdoor areas sell 15 percent faster when they are listed on the real estate market. Corporations like Oracle, North Face, Levi’s Stadium and AT&T Park have famously used Farmscape. Those larger spaces make more produce and fruit easily available to employees, customers and residents. Three small cafes inside of AT&T Park (where the San Francisco Giants play) use the produce grown in a Farmscape garden, which allows the businesses to provide vegan and gluten-free options to people who don’t enjoy “baseball food.” The hydroponic towers near the bullpen sprout berries and greens that different ballpark eateries use for smoothies and salads. The rooftop garden at Levi’s Stadium (where the San Francisco 49ers play) supplies fresh produce to the stadium’s food service vendors. But the Farmscape urban farming venture isn’t just for large corporate clients. It is also perfect for homes, apartment complexes and neighborhoods. Because you don’t have to plant or maintain the farm yourself, you are guaranteed to get a fresh, successful harvest of things like cilantro, arugula, lettuce, parsley and kale each season. Related: 6 urban farms feeding the world Farmscape’s hands-on, local farmers maintain the space each week as part of their contract, but you can also spend some stress-free time outdoors by joining them to do some digging and weeding. People who live in cities are often busy feeding their technology obsession with handheld devices, but Farmscape gives them the opportunity to step outside and work with their neighbors and co-workers to harvest healthy food . However, you don’t have to have any farming or gardening knowledge to find success with Farmscape. Their team takes care of everything from planning to planting to harvest. The setups also include seasonal flowers, herbs and ornamental plants mixed in with the vegetables to give their beds a manicured and attractive look year-round. According to Lara Hermanson, the gardener/farmer who co-founded Farmscape, people love that the gardens look good and also provide fresh, organic food. Being able to harvest your own produce to create a delicious meal — and not having to get your hands dirty (unless you want to, of course) — is an attractive idea for home chefs. Plus, there are mental, emotional and physical benefits to gardening for those who do choose to get involved. Even if it is just a few minutes each day, getting outside can be good for you, and using the food from your garden will lead to a healthier, more plant-based diet. The idea of being able to come home from work and step outside to your garden to pick the ingredients for your salad or picking some fresh fruit for a sweet dessert is an exciting one. Farmscape gives you the option of being surrounded by nature, even if you live in a crowded urban environment. If a Farmscape garden is something that you would like to add to your neighborhood, Hermanson says that is easy to initiate through city councils and homeowners associations. While Farmscape only builds and maintains gardens in California, the team is happy to help design and consult projects around the world. People love the idea of having gardens as landscaping in their neighborhoods, and the benefits of having plenty of healthy food readily available are nearly impossible to turn down. To start Farmscape-ing, visit the website at FarmscapeGardens.com . + Farmscape Images via Farmscape

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Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool

October 25, 2018 by  
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Located mere steps away from idyllic white sand beaches on one side and a coconut grove on the other, this beach house designed by Studio Saxe is giving us major home envy. Situated on Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline, the spacious 3,250-square-foot Villa Akoya’s beautiful aesthetic hides several passive strategies designed to reduce the home’s energy use and impact on the environment. The breathtaking location serves as the principal inspiration for the design. Built using traditional cinder block construction, the one-story home was was raised off the ground to create a continuous sight line with the ocean views. This feature also helped reduce the footprint on the landscape . Related: Triangular beachfront home is a dreamy retreat buried in the earth The beach house’s dimensions are divided into four separate horizontal roof planes that slant slightly upward, covering each of the three bedrooms plus the main living area. This strategy creates distinct volumes within the structure. Additionally, the flat wooden roofs extend out over the exterior walls to create large overhang extensions that shade the interior while creating several indoor-outdoor living spaces around the exterior. The interior layout includes several spaces that are open to the exterior, creating a seamless connection between the indoors and outdoors. All of the bedrooms have their own outdoor spaces, and an all-glass wall in the living room slides completely open, leading to a wooden deck and a swimming pool . Concealed within the design are several passive features to create an energy-efficient beach house. The “elevated” roof lines create a natural system of air ventilation, cooling the home in the hot summer months. The abundance of windows and glass doors brighten the interior during the day, further reducing the need for electricity. The home also operates on solar-generated hot water and has a gray water system. + Studio Saxe Via Archdaily Photography by Andres Garcia Lachner via Studio Saxe

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