HOK designs aquaponics facility to alleviate Kansas Citys food desert

June 18, 2018 by  
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Nonprofit Nile Valley Aquaponics is raising fish in a Kansas City food desert—and they’re creating jobs, providing healthy food and promoting sustainable urban farming in the process. To help the nonprofit lead the community to greener and healthier living, American architecture and engineering firm HOK designed the Nile Valley Aquaponics Facility, which could double the annual harvest to 50,000 pounds of fish and 70,000 pounds of vegetables. The building would be constructed using sustainable building methods and feature resource-saving systems such as rainwater cisterns and a wind turbine. Designed to cover a 0.7-acre lot, the Nile Valley Aquaponics Facility aims to expand the nonprofit’s food production capacity and introduce additional eco-friendly farming features. Aquaponics is a closed-loop system for raising mercury-free fish in tandem with vegetables. The urban farming effort not only gives the community greater access to fresh produce and fish, but also provides low-income youth with economic and educational opportunities through jobs, lessons, field trips and mentoring. The new facility would include two new greenhouses that could increase the output of fish from 25,000 to 50,000 pounds and the production of vegetables from 35,000 to 75,000 pounds. A third greenhouse would be used for education. “Designed as a modern kit of parts, the new greenhouses will be constructed with economical, sustainable and easily procurable materials to promote the use of this model in other cities,” says HOK. Related: New Orleans golf course transformed into city’s biggest urban farm with an Eco-Campus The grounds would also include a community event space, marketplace for selling food and packaged goods, a chicken coop and run, beehives, rainwater collection cisterns, solar panels, a wind turbine and community-raised garden beds. The facility is designed to use zero pesticides and 90 percent less water than traditional farming. Nile Valley Aquaponics’ new brand identity, designed by Barkley, is woven into the facility through high-impact graphics that showcase the nonprofit’s mission. The projected fundraising goal for the Nile Valley Aquaponics Facility is $1 million. + HOK Images by HOK

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HOK designs aquaponics facility to alleviate Kansas Citys food desert

New ‘agrihood’ coming to the Island of Hawaii

June 13, 2018 by  
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In a first for the Big Island of Hawaii, a new sustainable “ agrihood ” known as Kuwili Lani, Hawaiian for “to embrace the heavens,” has received final subdivision approval and properties in this new neighborhood are now available to the public. An agrihood is an organized sustainable community that, rather than being built around a pool or a golf course, is centered on spaces designed for community food production. Backed by Big Island Sustainable Homes, LLP, the Kuwili Lani project is the result of over ten years of research and organizing which are now bearing fruit. Now that the infrastructure in the gated community is complete, lots are available for purchase from mid-$200k to mid-$300k. Located on the Hamakua Coast in Laupahoehoe, Kuwili Lani is designed with sustainability in mind across the board. From the community’s independence from the energy grid, made possible by on-site wind and solar power generation, to each of the eleven one-acre lots being zoned for agricultural use, Kuwili Lani intends to offer its residents a unique, sustainable lifestyle only 25 miles from the nearby city of Hilo. The community’s careful use of natural resources is also reflected in its sustainable rain harvesting for outdoor, agricultural use; the potable county water supply will be piped into the community. Related: Hawaii just set the most ambitious climate goal of any US state: carbon neutral by 2045 Although there may be communal food production plots, individual plot owners are encouraged to grow their own food on their own lots. Neighbors may coordinate to determine what the community needs and then delegate, so that Kuwili Lani may be able to provide its own fruit, vegetables, and even seafood right on site. Overall, the new sustainable community is aimed at those who want to be good stewards of the Earth while also taking charge of their own lives. “Kuwili Lani is based on the principle of being independent and in charge of one’s own destiny,” Michael Whelan, managing partner for Big Island Sustainable Homes, LLP, said in a statement. “We wanted to create a path for people to follow who are aware of the way their lifestyle impacts our environment.” Via Kuwili Lani Images via Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers

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New ‘agrihood’ coming to the Island of Hawaii

Vegan diets deliver more environmental benefits than sustainable dairy or meat

June 1, 2018 by  
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Want to lower your environmental impact? Go vegan . That’s one idea researchers uncovered in what The Guardian described as the most comprehensive analysis thus far of farming’s impact on Earth. University of Oxford scientist Joseph Poore, who led the study, told The Guardian, “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases , but global acidification, eutrophication, land use, and water use. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car .” “Animal product-free diets…deliver greater environmental benefits than purchasing sustainable meat or dairy ,” according to Oxford’s statement on the study published today in the journal Science . Scientist Thomas Nemecek of Swiss agricultural research group Agroscope joined Poore to create a database of close to 40,000 farms in 119 countries to assess environmental impacts of 40 major foods representing 90 percent of what we eat. Related: Here’s what could happen if America went 100% vegan They discovered that meat and dairy generate 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and use up 83 percent of farmland — but offer just 37 percent of protein and 18 percent of calories, The Guardian reported. Without dairy and meat consumption, global farmland use could be slashed by over 75 percent. The scientists also uncovered variability in producing the same food: for example, high-impact beef producers raising beef cattle on deforested land use 50 times more land and create 12 times more greenhouse gases than low-impact beef producers raising cows on natural pastures. But there’s still a sharp comparison between beef and plant protein like peas: even low-impact beef generates six times more greenhouse gases and uses 36 times more land. You might think grass-fed beef has a low environmental impact, but the researchers discovered the product’s impact was still higher than that of plant-based foods. Poore told The Guardian, “Converting grass into [meat] is like converting coal to energy. It comes with an immense cost in emissions.” Many food experts praised the study. The University of Edinburgh’s Peter Alexander told the Guardian he was impressed but said, “There may be environmental benefits, e.g. for biodiversity, from sustainably managed grazing and increasing animal product consumption may improve nutrition for some of the poorest globally. My personal opinion is we should interpret these results not as the need to become vegan overnight, but rather to moderate our [meat] consumption.” + University of Oxford + Science Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos

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Vegan diets deliver more environmental benefits than sustainable dairy or meat

The business case for empowering women through climate-resilient supply chains

May 24, 2018 by  
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Women are disproportionately affected by climate change’s impacts, in addition to multiple institutional barriers. Here’s what you can do about it.

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The business case for empowering women through climate-resilient supply chains

California’s Healthy Soil Initiative wants to use dirt to fight climate change

May 15, 2018 by  
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California is turning to dirt to help in the fight against climate change . The state’s  Healthy Soils Initiative draws on farming and land management techniques to build organic soil matter. The goal is to slash  greenhouse gas emissions and sequester more carbon . Multiple state departments and agencies, led by the state’s  Department of Food and Agriculture , are utilizing money from California’s  cap-and-trade program to target soil in the battle against climate change. According to the initiative’s website , around 75 percent “of the carbon pool on land” is found in soils, and about one quarter of the world’s  biodiversity  resides in soil. The initiative’s website quoted Governor Jerry Brown as saying, “As the leading agricultural state in the nation, it is important for California’s soils to be sustainable and resilient to climate change.” Related: Less fertilizer, greater crop yields, and more money: China’s agricultural breakthrough How will the state boost soil health ? A 2016 action plan  pointed to agricultural practices like “planting cover crops, reducing tillage, retaining crop residue, managing grazing and adding compost .” Grist used farmer Doug Lo, who cultivates almond orchards, as an example. California is giving Lo $50,000 to try different techniques, such as putting composted manure around the trees and planting clover between the trunks as ground cover. In theory, the farming practices could help the soil absorb 1,088 tons of carbon out of the atmosphere yearly. “We’re trying to sequester some carbon,” Lo told Grist. “It should also help with the water-holding capacity of the soil, and the flowers in the cover crop should feed bees after the almond bloom is over.” + California Healthy Soils Initiative Via Grist Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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California’s Healthy Soil Initiative wants to use dirt to fight climate change

Why data is an essential nutrient for AeroFarms crops

May 10, 2018 by  
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Now on its ninth facility, the world’s biggest vertical farming operation is a big proponent of automation.

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Why data is an essential nutrient for AeroFarms crops

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

Simple genetic modification causes crops to need 25% less water

March 9, 2018 by  
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Scientists have discovered that a simple genetic modification may result in crops needing up to 25 percent less water than unaltered plants to produce the same yield. An international team led by scientists at the University of Illinois identified a specific protein called Photosystem II Subunit S (PsbS), which can be altered to encourage a plant to partially close its stomata, the small pores that facilitate gas exchange between plants and their environment. The scientists hypothesized that the closing of stomata would allow plants to retain more water without sacrificing its need for carbon dioxide, the atmospheric concentration of which has increased by 25 percent in less than a century. Stephen Long, study co-author and director of Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE), the international research project behind the study, said in a statement: “Evolution has not kept pace with this rapid change, so scientists have given it a helping hand”. As the world adapts to climate change , less water-intensive crops could be a game changer. “This is a major breakthrough,” explained Long. “Crop yields have steadily improved over the past 60 years, but the amount of water required to produce one ton of grain remains unchanged—which led most to assume that this factor could not change. Proving that our theory works in practice should open the door to much more research and development to achieve this all-important goal for the future.” Related: How fungi made Earth’s atmosphere livable – new study Approximately 90 percent of the world’s freshwater supply is used for agricultural purposes. As populations grow and resources become strained, more efficient plants could be a simple yet effective tool to sustain healthy communities. The research team published their positive results on the modification of a tobacco plant; their next step is to do the same for food crops. “Making crop plants more water-use efficient is arguably the greatest challenge for current and future plant scientists,” said study co-author Johannes Kromdijk in a statement . “Our results show that increased PsbS expression allows crop plants to be more conservative with water use, which we think will help to better distribute available water resources over the duration of the growing season and keep the crop more productive during dry spells .” Via New Atlas Images via University of Illinois

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Simple genetic modification causes crops to need 25% less water

"Most technologically-sophisticated commercial indoor farm" to grow 30X more produce

March 1, 2018 by  
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As our technology is advancing, so are our farms. Indoor farming company Bowery is constructing what they describe as the “most technologically-sophisticated commercial indoor farm in the world.” It’s their second, but this one (also in Kearny, New Jersey ) will far outpace the first, churning out 30 times more produce and growing more than 100 kinds of herbs and leafy greens. Bowery is drawing on technology to get the job done: that is, to grow what they describe as post- organic produce. They control the entire growing process indoors without pesticides , utilizing their fully-integrated technology system BoweryOS to generate ideal conditions, and said in information sent to Inhabitat this new farm will be “the most automated and precisely-controlled farm yet.” On their website , they describe their method as precision farming, saying they meticulously monitor growing, gathering a huge amount of data so they can give plants exactly what they require in terms of light, nutrients, and purified water. Sophisticated analytics let them harvest crops right when flavor is at its best. Related: Local Roots shipping container farms achieve cost parity with traditional farming Bowery’s produce is cultivated with 95 less water than traditional agriculture , and their crop cycles are twice as fast, according to the company. Their goal is to grow food close to the people who will be eating it — so they can deliver to stores or restaurants within one day after the produce is picked. That’s in contrast to produce grown in a traditional manner, which they say can take weeks to hit stores. They also say they can offer their greens at competitive prices since they own the process from seed to store. After opening in the late spring or early summer of this year, they’ll sell greens cultivated in their second farm to stores like Foragers and Whole Foods, with goals to expand. Currently they send produce to those two companies as well as restaurants in New York City. Bowery’s certainly not the only company pursuing indoor farming relying on technology; Inhabitat has covered others like Farm One and Local Roots . But as 70 percent more food will be necessary, according to Bowery, to feed the nine to 10 billion people who could reside on our planet by 2050, it will be intriguing to see what they can bring to the table with this second farm. + Bowery Images courtesy of Bowery

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