The free grocery store fighting food waste and hunger

September 13, 2017 by  
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The Free Store, a non-profit organization and grocery store based in Wellington, New Zealand, is serving food for free and aiding in the fight against food waste . Originally started as a two-week-long art project by artist Kim Paton in 2010, the store has now grown into a more permanent institution, stocking its shelves with surplus food from bakeries and supermarkets. In redistributing free food that would otherwise have gone to waste, the Free Store has proven to be a valuable community space. “There are no conditions on who can come to The Free Store,” said co-founder and director Benjamin Johnson. “There are no criteria. Anybody can come for whatever reason and take whatever they want.” Food waste is a major social problem in New Zealand , as it is in much of the industrialized world. Kiwis, or residents of New Zealand, dispose of approximately $625 million worth of food (120,000 tons) each year. Globally, it is estimated that total food waste weighs up to 1.3 billion tons. Meanwhile, people still go hungry. “We saw the potential in an untapped food supply. You had food that was perfectly good to eat, and then you had people that were hungry . We could facilitate a connection between the two,” said Johnson. Related: Britain’s first zero-waste store is packaging-free and only sells ethical goods The Free Store is made possible through support from volunteers , donors, and around 65 suppliers, located around Wellington city center eager to put their surplus food to good use. According to Johnson, the Free Store distributes between 800 to 1,500 food items each weeknight between 6 PM and 7 PM, averaging about 250,000 food items; that amounts to $1 million worth of food saved per year. Since its establishment, the Free Store has spread to four locations throughout New Zealand, adapting their model and funding structure to fit each area. “All you need is a space to operate from, surplus food, people who need the food and will come and take it, volunteers, and a committed group of people who can actually do it,” said Johnson. “There has to be local ownership. In every area where there’s a Free Store, there needs to be a deeply rooted community of people.” + The Free Store Via EcoWatch Images via The Free Store

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The free grocery store fighting food waste and hunger

New NASA discovery hints at water elsewhere in the solar system

September 13, 2017 by  
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The presence of water on Earth used to help set our planet apart from others, but not anymore. NASA researchers recently uncovered evidence of water on Vesta, the second biggest body in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars . Essam Heggy of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told Inverse, “The more we search, the more we find ice and water in the solar system, and the more we realize water is not unique to our planet.” Recent discoveries – like that of water on Mars or hints of water on TRAPPIST-1 planets – have us questioning what we thought we knew about H2O in the solar system. It’s likely found on the dwarf planet Ceres and the moons Europa and Enceladus, too. Researchers used information from NASA’s Dawn mission , which explored Vesta between 2011 and 2012, to uncover the best evidence for water on the large asteroid we’ve found yet. Related: Scientists just discovered snow on Mars Led by Elizabeth Palmer of Western Michigan University , three researchers scrutinized the Dawn data. The probe discovered regions that were unusually smooth; the researchers think the surface variations weren’t only the result of cratering processes, like on the Moon, connecting them with high hydrogen concentrations, strongly suggesting Vesta is home to ground ice. Heggy, who was part of the research, said Vesta was once thought to be a dry body. These findings suggest we were probably wrong about that. The presence of ice in an asteroid belt opens up intriguing possibilities, since asteroids can easily be knocked out of their orbits to other areas of the solar system. Heggy said comets transport water molecules throughout solar systems. Could asteroids play a role in transporting water too? Even if that’s true, Heggy said it’s too early to guess how they might have impacted Earth’s water supply during its primordial days. The journal Nature Communications published the research online yesterday. Via Inverse Images via NASA/JPL-Caltech ( 1 , 2 )

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New NASA discovery hints at water elsewhere in the solar system

Japan’s new mushroom solar farms produce sustainable energy and food

September 6, 2017 by  
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Japan’s agricultural sector could find a much-needed boost with an innovative approach to growing that combines solar power generation and mushroom cultivation. Sustainergy , a Tokyo -based renewable-energy startup, in collaboration with Hitachi Capital and Daiwa House Industry , is determined to generate a total 4,000 kilowatts of solar power on two underutilized farm sites in Japan. Not only would the 2,000 kw output at each site stand as the largest of any similar facility in the country, the solar sites will serve another agricultural purpose: the cultivation of cloud-ear mushrooms, which require little sunlight, underneath the solar panels. In previous years, a reduced feed-in tariff kept potential entrepreneurs from seeking to convert land for solar purposes. However, in 2013, regulations were relaxed to ease the transition, though the government continued to insist that this land still be used for agriculture in some form. As Japan’s workforce ages and its young people primarily move into urban areas for job opportunities, much of the country’s farmland is unused, with some estimates claiming that about 10 percent of agricultural land is abandoned. If all of Japan’s abandoned agricultural spaces were converted to include solar power generation, the Ministry of Environment estimates that these projects could generate 70,000 megawatts, which would be enough energy to power 20 million households. Related: These amazing zero-waste buildings were grown from mushrooms 1.2 billion yen ($11 million) will be invested in the initial mushroom-solar sites in Miyagi Prefecture in northeast Japan. If this project proves successful, the collaborating companies plan to open up the concept to farmers and utilities across Japan, with Hitachi Capital providing panels and equipment to farmers for free, to start. This would allow farmers to become self-sufficient in their energy needs and earn a supplemental income. Additionally, mushroom cultivation would prove to be a big boost for local food; most cloud ear mushrooms consumed in Japan are currently imported from China . The solar-mushroom farms are expected to yield 40 tons of edible mushrooms while the power generated could be sold annually for 140 million yen ($1.27 million). Via Nikkei Images via Nikkei, Depositphotos , Wikimedia ,  iamme ubeyou/Flickr , and Alpha/Flickr

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Lilium’s all-electric flying taxi could travel from Manhattan to JFK in 5 minutes

September 6, 2017 by  
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A startup from Germany has secured $90 million to build the all-electric flying taxi of the future. Albeit still under development, Lilium’s five-seater commercial jet could be ready for take off as soon as 2019, and, according to a company statement, it could get users from Manhattan to JFK airport in just five minutes. The Verge reports that the $90 million will be used to build the company’s five-seat commercial Lilium Jet, as well as grow its team by at least 70 people. The envisioned Lilium Jet would be able to stay in the air for approximately one hour on a single charge and travel at speeds exceeding 180 mph. At that pace, the jet could travel from London to Paris in an hour. Integrated technology would allow passengers to order an air-taxi to a nearby landing pad. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Lilium Jet's all-electric flying car Watch this all-electric ‘flying car’ take its first test flight. Posted by The Verge on Thursday, April 20, 2017 Lilium has now raised more than $100 million. Investors in the latest funding round include Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström’s Atomico, Tencent, Twitter co-founder Ev Williams’ Obvious Ventures, and a private banking group. CEO and co-founder of Lilium , Daniel Wiegland said, “This is the next stage in our rapid evolution from an idea to the production of a commercially successful aircraft that will revolutionize the way we travel in and around the world’s cities.” Related: Lilium is the world’s first personal aircraft designed for vertical takeoff and landing In a study conducted by Swiss bank UBS , more than half of the 8,000 people surveyed were unwilling to travel in a pilotless vehicle — despite the mode of technology being less expensive than conventional forms.  Perhaps as self-driving cars become more mainstream and fatalities reduce as a result, the concept of traveling in a driver-less flying taxi will become easier to accept. In the meantime, this vessel will be crewed. We can’t wait to see what happens net. + Lilium Via The Verge Images via Lilium

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Lilium’s all-electric flying taxi could travel from Manhattan to JFK in 5 minutes

Montreal supermarket is Canada’s first to grow produce on its own rooftop garden

July 21, 2017 by  
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When the Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent began pushing for green roofs , a supermarket wondered if it could do regulations one better. Fast-forward a few years and IGA Extra Famille Duchemin now claims to be the first grocery store in Canada to sell produce grown on its own roof. High above its LEED Gold-certified retail space, IGA’s 25,000-foot garden features more than 30 different varieties of certified-organic produce, including tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, kale, eggplant, and basil. Speaking to the Ottawa Citizen , co-owner Richard Duchemin said he decided to perceive Saint-Laurent’s requirement not as a burden but an opportunity. Related: New York City unveils massive green-roofed film and fashion hub in Brooklyn Not only does a green roof help regulate the temperature of the building below it, saving energy, but it also feeds into consumer demand for food with a smaller carbon footprint. “People are very interested in buying local,” he said. “There’s nothing more local than this.” The garden, which is irrigated using water reclaimed from the store’s dehumidification system, has also become a mini-Eden for birds, bees, and other embattled urban fauna. Duchemin compares IGA’s produce-laden roof to those “little boxes where [supermarkets] grow herbs,” but on a grander scale. “We pushed it further because we know we’re able to sell what we produce here,” he added. Related: Green roofs cool co-working shipping container office in Brazil If proven successful, GA Extra Famille Duchemin could even kick-start a trend across Canada. Pierre St-Laurent, executive vice-president for Quebec at Sobeys , which owns the IGA chain, is said to be following the store’s progress with great interest. Photos via Facebook Via Ottawa Citizen

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Gorgeous modern home makes stunning use of recycled and salvaged materials

July 21, 2017 by  
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Architecture studio tenfiftyfive paired modern luxury with sustainable and nature-centric design in their design of this gorgeous house extension in Melbourne. Named the Park House, this Instagram-worthy dwelling is built around two mature gumtrees and clad in timber to blend into the surroundings. More than just a pretty picture, this stylish abode also boasts energy-efficient principles as well as a natural-materials palette largely foraged from recycled and salvaged items. Completed as an extension to an old heritage house, the Park House sports a sleek modern facade with simple, clean lines and a strong attention to detail. The boxy, top-heavy structure features a cantilevered first floor punctuated by protruding black steel windows that contrast beautifully with the timber facade. Full-height glazing wraps around the ground floor to let in an abundance of natural light and blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living. Fencing along the lot provides privacy. Related: Breezy addition keeps cool in Melbourne’s summers with smart passive design A large open-plan living room with a kitchen and dining area dominates the ground floor, while bedrooms are placed in the more closed-off upper floor. The use of timber is continued inside the home, where it can be seen in an exposed recycled wood ceiling in the living space as well as in the furnishings, stairway, and feature wall support built from old Oregon rafter. Some of the red brick used on the kitchen wall was recycled from garden paving and is complemented by a Statuario marble countertop. A green wall above the windows in the dining area adds a splash of nature indoors. Concrete floors with in-built hydronic heating provide thermal comfort as well as a noise barrier between floors. + tenfiftyfive Via Architecture and Design Images via tenfiftyfive

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Solar-powered aquaponic greenhouses grow up to 880 lbs of produce each year

March 17, 2017 by  
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Fresh produce – ideally grown locally right in your backyard – is essential to a healthy diet, but with scores of people either lacking the space, time, or knowledge to cultivate their own food , for many that ideal simply isn’t attainable. Enter French company Myfood . They aim to bring food production back home, and they’re doing it with smart solar aquaponic greenhouses . These groundbreaking greenhouses, which are small enough to fit in a yard or even a city balcony, can produce 660 to 880 pounds of vegetables every year. Myfood is pursuing the vision that everyone should be able to grow their own produce locally. To that end, they’ve come up with small family greenhouses powered by the sun that can function off-grid . Their Family22 greenhouse is 22 square meters, or around 237 square feet, and comes complete with solar panels and a rainwater collection system. Their model City offers a smaller option for those residing in busy metropolises – it’s just 38 square feet. Both models can be installed above ground, making them suitable for backyards or rooftops. Related: The Sunbubble greenhouse is a mini Eden for your backyard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fi728-dgViU Inside the greenhouse, fish swimming around the base of vertical towers fertilize the vegetables growing – no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides needed. Inspired by permaculture , the team also developed raised beds that can surround the greenhouse for added food production. Ultimately, after several months, the beds become self-fertile. The greenhouses are intended for everyone from seasoned gardeners to people with zero gardening experience. Often one barrier that stands in the way of home food production is a lack of knowledge, so Myfood makes it easy for anyone to get started growing their own food through their smart structures designed to control the climate to guarantee success, according to Myfood. The team’s app enables families to remotely monitor the greenhouse. Myfood co-founder Mickaël Gandecki said, “The production of fresh and natural food, close to the consumer, offers a response to the environmental impact and lack of transparency of intensive, industrial agriculture .” Myfood recently unveiled what they described as the first European line of smart aquaponic greenhouses at the Paris International Agricultural Show 2017 during February 25 through March 5. In France and Benelux, a City model costs around $4,820 and the Family22 around $8,577. Those figures include installation, delivery, and tax. Outside the European Union costs are slightly different; not including installation, delivery or tax, the City is around $3,569 and the Family22 is around $6,432. You can find out more on their website here . + Myfood Images courtesy of Myfood

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Solar-powered aquaponic greenhouses grow up to 880 lbs of produce each year

South Pacific islands introduce ban on western junk food

February 3, 2017 by  
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South Pacific islands are banning western junk food in favor of a more nutritious diet. As the islands can grow organic, local food themselves, leaders in Torba, a Vanuatu province, said they want to ban imported foreign food. Their goal is to be the first organic province in Vanuatu by 2020. Torba is Vanuatu’s most isolated province, according to community leader Father Luc Dini. Around 10,000 people reside in the province; most are subsistence farmers. But Dini said the remote islands are experiencing an intrusion of foreign junk food, the most popular of which have been sweets, biscuits, tinned fish, and rice. In contrast, the islands can yield pineapple, yams, paw paw, shellfish, crabs, and other fish for what Dini sees as a healthier diet. He told The Guardian, “It is easy to boil noodles or rice, but they have almost no nutritional value and there is no need to eat imported food when we have so much local food grown organically on our islands.” Related: Michael Moss Investigates How Junk Food is Engineered to Be Addictive Dini also leads the local tourism council, and starting this week, with the support of other local chiefs, he has ordered tourism bungalows to serve only local, organic food. He aims to introduce legislation in the next two years to wholly ban imports of foreign food. Vanuatu’s central government, in Port Vila, has been supportive, according to Dini. “In other provinces that have adopted western diets you see pretty young girls but when they smile they have rotten teeth, because the sugar has broken down their teeth. We don’t want that to happen here and we don’t want to develop the illnesses that come with a western junk food diet,” he told The Guardian. “If you really want to live on a paradise of your own, then you should make do with what you have and try and live with nature .” Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons and Harsha K R on Flickr

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South Pacific islands introduce ban on western junk food

Beekeeper built dream hexagonal house without ‘hateful’ right angles

February 3, 2017 by  
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Apiarists tend to be very serious about their beehives , but one New Zealand beekeeper took his passion one step further. Roy Brewster (1905- 1978) dedicated his entire life to honeybee hive design, even going so far as building a home in what he considered the perfect (and godly) shape: a hexagon. Images via Collection of Puke Ariki Simply put, Brewster was not a man of conformity. In fact, when he began to build his house in 1954 in Westown, New Plymouth, he decided to do everything possible to avoid any and all right angles, which, according to him, “represented nonsense, confusion, and hate.” Related: These Earthen “Beehive” Houses Have Been Keeping Syrians Naturally Cool for Centuries Images via Collection of Puke Ariki Brewster was a man of deep faith and he took the hexagon design quite seriously, believing that right angles were incongruent with harmonious living, “If man chooses square world he readily makes himself a slave to machines and money,” he wrote. “For what shall it profit man if he gain the whole world and yet lose his own soul.” Other writings reveal that he believed that the “honeycomb was a message from God that showed humans the best way to live, while parallel lines built a world of lies and evil.” Image by Barney Brewster (1975) via Collection of Puke Ariki The efficient honeycomb design not only served as inspiration for the Norian House (“NoRIght ANgles”) but became something of a life-long obsession for Brewster. The structure and nearly everything else inside and outside the home was hexagonal, from its windows and shelves to accessories like a hexagonal quilt. Even a picture frame holding a reproduction of the Mona Lisa was hexagonal and nailed to the hexagonal wall panels. Image via Collection of Puke Ariki Of course, it was impossible to construct the home out of hexagons alone. The roof and ceiling featured triangular and diamond forms, and some of the furnishings were round. When the hateful 90? angle was necessary, Brewster made it work in his own special way. The perpendicular crossing formed by where the wall meets the floor was deemed a “radial line to a round earth.” The home became quite a hit, becoming one of New Plymouth’s main tourist attractions. It was so popular that on June 6, 1966 (6/6/66), Brewster, inspired by “a message from God,” sold the home to the local Tainui Home Trust Board for £6,666.66, a number that best represented the six-sided form. Unfortunately, after the death of his wife some eight years later, the Beehive House was dismantled by Brewster himself. However, his legacy remained thanks to the city’s Puke Ariki Library , which is currently running an exhibition, A Different Angle , with some of the home’s fixtures and furnishings. Along with various items saved from the home, the exhibition includes several hexagon-heavy architectural plans as well as personal notes that reveal Brewster’s deep religious beliefs. + Puke Ariki Library Via Hyperallergic Images via Barney Brewster and Collection of Puke Ariki

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Beekeeper built dream hexagonal house without ‘hateful’ right angles

America’s first urban ‘agrihood’ feeds 2,000 households for free

December 7, 2016 by  
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When you think of Detroit , ‘ sustainable ‘ and ‘ agriculture ‘ may not be the first two words that come to mind. But a new urban agrihood debuted by The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) might change your mind. The three-acre development boasts a two-acre garden , a fruit orchard with 200 trees, and a sensory garden for kids. If you need a refresher on the definition of agrihood, MUFI describes it as an alternative neighborhood growth model. An agrihood centers around urban agriculture, and MUFI offers fresh, local produce to around 2,000 households for free. Related: Amazing farm-to-table, eco friendly housing development in California is a locavore’s paradise In a statement, MUFI co-founder and president Tyson Gersh said, “Over the last four years, we’ve grown from an urban garden that provides fresh produce for our residents to a diverse, agricultural campus that has helped sustain the neighborhood, attracted new residents and area investment.” Through urban agriculture , MUFI aims to solve problems Detroit residents face such as nutritional illiteracy and food insecurity. Now in the works at the agrihood is a 3,200 square foot Community Resource Center . Once a vacant building, the center will become a colorful headquarters and education center. As MUFI is a non-profit operated by volunteers, they’ll receive a little help to restore the building from chemistry company BASF and global community Sustainable Brands . Near the center, a health food cafe will sprout on empty land. MUFI describes the agrihood as America’s first sustainable urban agrihood. There are other agrihoods around the United States, such as this one Inhabitat covered earlier in 2016 in Davis, California. But the California agrihood is expensive; many people couldn’t afford to live there. The Michigan agrihood is far more accessible. MUFI isn’t stopping with the community center. They’re also working on a shipping container home, and plan to restore another vacant home to house interns. A fire-damaged house near the agrihood will be deconstructed, but the basement will be turned into a water harvesting cistern to irrigate the farm. + The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative Images via The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative ( 1 , 2 )

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