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

Cedar Rapids turns tragedy into triumph with new LEED Platinum public library

December 7, 2016 by  
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Tragedy struck Cedar Rapids, Iowa in June 2008, when a devastating flood swept the city and destroyed hundreds of homes, businesses, and several prominent public structures, including the public library. In the wake of the unprecedented natural disaster, the community and local studio OPN Architects joined together to rebuild the library. The new Cedar Rapids Public Library was reborn as a vibrant, multipurpose center that’s earned numerous architecture awards and LEED Platinum certification. Completed in 2003, the new Cedar Rapids Public Library is located a couple blocks from the original site and overlooks Greene Square Park. OPN’s meetings with the community guided the 95,000-square-foot library design, which, according to the architects, was “driven by the desire to embrace openness, transparency and foster public engagement with and within the space.” The building features large expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass to engage the streetscape and to overlook views of the park and cityscape. Large windows and a two-story central atrium allow natural light to penetrate deep into the building and reduce dependence on artificial lighting. The library spaces are organized around the central atrium in a hub-and-spoke system in which the cafe and coffee shop are located in the Service Core Zone, while the children’s, young adult, and adult fiction areas branch out from the hub. Clear sight lines and open vertical circulation help users navigate their way to their destinations. The second floor includes adult non-fiction collections, a conference space, offices, and a 200-seat auditorium facing the park that spans both the second and third floors. A breakout lobby for the auditorium sits on the third floor, which provides access to the 24,000-square-foot green roof . Related: Boxy new library by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects designed to regenerate Halifax The Cedar Rapids Public Library achieved LEED Platinum certification thanks to its lowered energy footprint, which exceeds the Iowa Energy Code by 55% and uses energy at a rate of 37 ktbu per square foot—a significant savings compared to the pre-flood library’s rate of 100 kbtu per square foot. The exterior glazing that covers over a third of the building envelope is insulating with low-E coating. The building also includes a pump & re-inject geothermal HVAC system, daylight sensors, LEDs, and thermally broken aluminum framing. The accessible green roof harvests rainwater for irrigation, and combined with pervious paving, helps retain 90% of normal annual rainfall and 100% of all rainfall up to one inch in a 24-hour period on site. + OPN Architects Via ArchDaily Images via OPN Architects , by Main Street Studio – Wayne Johnson

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Cedar Rapids turns tragedy into triumph with new LEED Platinum public library

Farm 360 in Indianapolis grows veggies with 100% renewable energy and 90% less water

October 26, 2016 by  
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Farm 360’s hydroponic growing system relies on an array of thousands of energy-efficient LED lights which bathe rows upon rows of vegetables with pink light. Nutrient rich water is pumped below the plants through large, plastic drums and is then channeled to each individual through small tubes. “We’re going to keep redesigning to become as efficient as possible,” said farm manager Jim Bloom. “We’re even looking into solar power. We really want to be as self-sufficient as we can.” There are currently five separate growing areas within the warehouse that are used to produce basil, mint, kale, lettuce, spinach, chard, and arugula. “In total, the farm grows around 35 different types of greens,” Bloom said. “And we can turn a head of lettuce in about 30 days.” Related: Freight Farms are super efficient hydroponic farms built inside shipping containers Sustainable Local Foods Indiana in partnership with the Englewood Community Development Corp.  selected the warehouse site with the goal of injecting  energy and resources into an area that has been federally designated as a “Promise Zone,” highlighted by the Obama Administration as high priority for redevelopment. “We like to repurpose what we consider to be underutilized buildings in communities where it can add real value,” said Bloom. In 2015, the neighborhood had a 47 percent poverty rate and about 24 percent unemployment rate. Since opening, Farm 360 has created living-wage twelve jobs within the community and will be staffed with thirty employees by the end of 2016. “We want people to be able to walk or ride their bike to work,” Bloom said. “The goal is to have 70 to 75 percent of our employees live right here on the east side. These are the people who want to revitalize the area.” + Farm 360 Via No Mean City Images via Esther Boston

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Farm 360 in Indianapolis grows veggies with 100% renewable energy and 90% less water

Cucamelons are the most adorable fruit you never knew existed

August 24, 2016 by  
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®Flickr/ David Edwards The cucamelon,  Melothria scabra , is similar to a cucumber with a crisp bite and an aromatic, citrusy flavor. Its petite striped appearance lends it a number of alternative nicknames, from ” Sandia de Raton” (” Mouse Melon”) to “Mexican Sour Gherkin.” Image via Underwood Gardens Can’t find cucamelons at your farmer’s market? While August is probably too late in the summer to start growing your own (unless you live in Hawaii or the very warmest parts of the Southern US), you can bookmark these green cuties in your favorite seed catalog and look forward to starting the seedlings early next spring . Cucamelons are reputedly easy to grow and even if your garden consists of containers on a balcony, you can still grow them up a trellis or inside a tomato cage. RELATED: 30 easy and delicious popsicle recipes While you might be tempted to Instagram them instead of cooking, you can slice up tiny cucamelons to make a refreshing, colorful radish salad. If you don’t want to slice up the adorable baby watermelons, you can also serve them whole as a garnish on a summer cocktail – try spearing a cucamelon on a swizzle stick and serving it with a refreshing mint julep. Image via Snaplant Cucamelon-Radish Salad Step One: Gather your ingredients You’ll need about 14-16 cucamelons, 5 radishes, rice vinegar, fresh dill, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. Step Two: Slice and mix Slice the cucamelons lengthwise and add them to a salad bowl. Slice the radishes into thin rounds and mix in. Drizzle the salad with about 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar. Toss with a generous pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Garnish with fresh dill fronds and serve. Serves 4. RELATED: 6 super easy gardening projects to do this weekend Can’t find any cucamelons to cook with? Try one of these refreshing summer recipes made with watermelon or cucumber instead, and bring along to your next BBQ or picnic. Image via Pixabay Frozen Watermelon Smoothie Step One: Gather your ingredients You’ll need one small seedless watermelon, or about 4 cups of diced watermelon with seeds removed, 2 bananas, 1/2 cup coconut water, and 1 one-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger root. Step Two: Freeze Pop cubed watermelon in the freezer for a couple hours, or until completely frozen. You can prepare extra frozen watermelon in plastic bags or food storage containers so its ready to use later. Step Three: Blend Fire up your blender and drop in the coconut water and peeled ginger. Blend until the ginger is well chopped. Add the 2 bananas and blend. Finally, add the frozen watermelon and blend until creamy and smooth. Serve in a glass with a straw and enjoy! Serves 4. Image via Wikimedia Yogurt-Cucumber Dip Step One: Gather your ingredients You’ll need: 2 cups of Greek yogurt, 2 large cucumbers (or 4 small Persian cucumbers), 1 small clove garlic, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, juice of 1/2 lemon, and 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped dill. Step Two: Grate and dice If you’re using regular large grocery-store cucumbers, you’ll need to peel the thick, bitter skin off first. If you’re using thin-skinned Persian cucumbers, you can simply wash them and chop off the ends. Using a box grater, grate all of your cucumber into a bowl. Squeeze the grated cucumbers gently and drain off any excess water and juice. Finely dice the small clove of garlic. Step Three: Mix dip In a bowl, mix the two cups of Greek yogurt with the grated cucumber, diced garlic, juice of 1/2 lemon, and chopped dill. Add a generous pinch of sea salt and some ground black pepper and taste, adding more if desired. Let the dip sit in a covered dish in the refrigerator for an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Serve with crackers, pita chips, or freshly warmed baguette or pita bread.

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Cucamelons are the most adorable fruit you never knew existed

How Opera used 1,000 old floppy disks and other e-waste in their new Poland headquarters

August 24, 2016 by  
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Opera’s new headquarters are located in two prestigious townhouses in the heart of Wroclaw. The buildings-one built in the 19th century and the other dating back to 1913-are part of the city’s rich architectural heritage. The architects combined this historic narrative with the atmosphere of modern-day Wroclaw to create a design that references several city landmarks, but feels contemporary. Related: mode:lina architekci design a playful new restaurant for LIDL Poland The construction of Market Hall, Central Railway Station hall and Szczytnicki’s Park are referenced in the kitchenette , while the design of the meeting rooms is associated with IT and computers. The latter space features an integrated circuit, fans and decor made out of nearly 1,000 old floppy disks and over 200 keyboards. + mode:lina architekci Photos by Marcin Ratajczak , Maciej D?browski

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How Opera used 1,000 old floppy disks and other e-waste in their new Poland headquarters

Apollo 70 Airstream trailer renovated as an amazing "green" cocktail bar on wheels

July 29, 2016 by  
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The team renovated their flagship Land Yacht Airstream travel trailer and turned it into a bar on wheels that offers cocktails and local craft beers, but can also transform into a food truck serving everything from “the finest Belgium chocolates and pastries to current Americana gourmet street food”. Related: 1963 Airstream Trailer Transformed into Beautiful Modern Studio The company places great value on protecting the environment. The bar serves out its menus with sustainable, recyclable and minimal packaging and focuses on locally-sourced produce . Compact and mobile, the Airstream mixes all the important ingredients for a fun night out. + Apollo 70 Via Fubiz

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Apollo 70 Airstream trailer renovated as an amazing "green" cocktail bar on wheels

Dutch researchers grow carbon-hungry plants to suck up pollution

July 29, 2016 by  
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Air pollution is a problem most cities face, and plants can be incredibly helpful. But what if there was a super plant even better at sucking up pollution? While some types of ivy and grass already reduce particle pollution and nitrogen dioxide by around 60 and 40 percent respectively, one type of honeysuckle plant may be able to reduce pollution even more. Researchers from the AMS Institute , MyEarth , and Wageningen UR are looking at the Green Junkie, a plant that reportedly craves carbon dioxide . The Green Junkie has lots of “hairs,” which take in pollutants. Dutch company MyEarth draws on an organic fertilizer made with Amsterdam plant waste to turn a gene in the Green Junkie on to increase its number of plant hairs. AMS Institute funded the plant, and together the two groups are collaborating with Wageningen UR. They’re starting to test the Green Junkie on Amsterdam city streets. Related: INFOGRAPHIC: These pollution-busting houseplants will have you breathing easier Amsterdam has already taken steps to combat vehicle pollution . By 2025, their bus fleet will run on wind and solar energy . Selling gas-guzzling cars won’t be allowed in about ten years. But AMS Institute’s Emily Parry notes tackling air pollution by targeting vehicles is a long-term process. The plants may be able to help clean city air far sooner. Now tests will show how the plants perform in actual city conditions. Parry told Co.Exist, “Plants are living organisms, and weather is so changeable, that’s something very difficult to simulate in the lab. Out in the open, you might have kids kicking their ball against the plant, or maybe people will start picking flowers. It’s really exciting to see what will happen.” The Green Junkie may be able to take in more pollutants than other plants, but will it really make a difference overall in cities? That’s what Wageningen UR scientists will scrutinize closely as they continue to study the plant. Via Fast Company’s Co.Exist Images via AMS Institute and Wageningen UR

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Dutch researchers grow carbon-hungry plants to suck up pollution

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