Is vertical farming the future for agriculture or a distraction from other climate problems?

August 10, 2018 by  
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Vertical farming promises a more equitable, resilient food system. But is it just a trend that perpetuates our current problems?

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Is vertical farming the future for agriculture or a distraction from other climate problems?

Holds water: Harvesting rain could help Caribbean countries after hurricanes

August 10, 2018 by  
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A new model of this ancient technology could improve communities’ access to fresh water both after storms and day-to-day.

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Holds water: Harvesting rain could help Caribbean countries after hurricanes

Champagne could lose its classic taste due to climate change

August 9, 2018 by  
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Planning to pull out a bottle of chilled champagne in celebration of your latest accomplishment? Not so fast. The seasonal shifts in temperature that have become more and more extreme over the years are affecting grape production in regions around the world, and that includes the famous Champagne region in France. Champagne grapes depend on a cool climate and chalky soil in order to produce the crisp, fruity taste they are known for. But climate change is making these factors less dependable, and champagne producers in France are worried about the future. Related: The growing wine industry is threatening California’s Napa Valley In an interview with Bloomberg, Antoine Malassagne, co-owner of champagne maker A.R. Lenoble, explained the difficulties now involved in champagne production. “Harvest is two weeks earlier than it was 20 years ago,” he said. “It used to be mid-to-late September. Now harvest often starts in August, as it will this year. But maturity during hot days and nights results in lower and lower acidity in the grapes, which means less freshness in the wines.” The lower acidity is also problematic for producers, given that acidity is what allows champagne to age, creating the wine’s unique taste. A.R. Lenoble has been combating the gustatory alterations to its products by mixing in reserve wines from older vintages. Louis Roederer, another champagne compnay, has begun experimenting with DNA analysis of yeast and biodynamic viticulture to try and head off the impacts of climate change. Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, the company’s chef de cave, has spearheaded these efforts in search of a way “to maintain what has made Champagne’s reputation.” Despite the potential challenges facing champagne producers, Lecaillon is optimistic. “We invented bubbles to make up for unripe grapes. As farmers, our job, our life, our passion has been to adapt to climate change for hundreds of years. If the future heats up too much,” he said, “we’ll just have to make Burgundy.” Via Bloomberg Image by  Anthony Delanoix  on  Unsplash

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Champagne could lose its classic taste due to climate change

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?

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