Old bus is converted into a mobile greenhouse to teach students about sustainable eating habits

October 15, 2019 by  
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Sometimes, a little hands-on education goes a very long way when it comes to instilling sustainable and healthy eating habits in children. Parents in New Jersey are rejoicing thanks to a refurbished bus that is on a mission to educate young students on a variety of food education issues, from better eating habits to urban gardening. Designed by Tessellate Studio , the Mobile Food Lab is a 300-square-foot bus that has been customized with a built-in greenhouse, classroom science lab and art exhibit space. Working in collaboration with Reed Foundation , Tessellate Studio designed the bus to offer customized space for sustainable food education for the New Jersey area. Inside the Mobile Food Lab, students will find a hydroponic garden that grows sustainable veggies, fruit and herbs as well as space to conduct food experiments. There’s even an art studio. Related: Toronto’s converted veggie bus brings produce to food desert areas To make space for the educational activities, which welcome up to 30 students at a time, the converted bus is divided into three zones. The central area is “the social zone,” which is comprised of skylights and 4,000 feet of rope that is hung from the ceiling to create a nest-like sanctuary. This space was designed to facilitate conversation and brainstorming. The next area is for cooking and consists of a lush, hydroponic garden. In this space, students can learn the ins and outs of urban gardening , while also using the adjacent food preparation area that includes a stove top, sink and cutting service. Moving farther along the bus, students will find a fun food science area. This space comes complete with digital microscopes, LCD monitor, test tubes of herbs and spices and a “taste” chart, with which students can learn the science of taste. At the end of the mobile lab, there is an arts area tucked into a small nook. This section was customized to store two foldable carts that can be wheeled off the bus to create additional space for arts and crafts activities. According to the studio, the bus was strategically designed to “help children develop a healthy connection to food by harnessing their innate curiosity through a multi-sensory experience of smell, sight, touch and taste. The MFL uses food as the medium to teach a curriculum of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM).” Launched in September 2018, the Mobile Food Lab has set up its sustainable food education bus in a number of areas throughout New Jersey, including schools, parks and various public events. In fact, the project has been so successful since its inception that the lab has earned a runner-up award in the Social Impact category of the Core77 Design Awards . + Tessellate Studio + The Mobile Lab Via Core77 Images via Mobile Food Lab

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Old bus is converted into a mobile greenhouse to teach students about sustainable eating habits

Paris allows anyone to plant an urban garden

October 10, 2016 by  
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Paris just passed a new law that allows anyone to plant an urban garden within the city’s limits. Upon receiving a permit, gardeners can grow plants on walls, in boxes, on rooftops, under trees, or on fences. They can cultivate greenery in front of their homes or offices. They can grow flowers, vegetables, and fruit. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo’s goal is to create 100 hectares of living walls and green roofs by the year 2020, with one third of that greenery dedicated to agriculture . Locals are encouraged to be ” gardeners of the Parisian public space ” under the new law. Gardeners must use sustainable methods, avoiding pesticides and promoting biodiversity in the city. They are asked to sign a “Charter of revegetation” and grow “local honey plants,” and they will need to maintain their urban gardens and ensure the greenery enhances the city’s aesthetic. The City of Paris will issue the three-year permits, with the option to renew them. Related: Plant-covered Mobile Green Living Room travels through Europe The city asked residents to get creative with where they grow plants, and it will contribute a “planting kit” with seeds and topsoil. They say they’ve offered a few suggestions, but mainly hope people will use their imagination for where they might be able to green the city. Paris city officials hope the law will improve the quality of life for city dwellers and boost the beauty of the city. Assistant to the Mayor of Paris Penelope Komitès also said cultivating the gardens could help locals strengthen relationships with their neighbors and “create social links.” Via La Relève et La Peste Images via snoeziesterre on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Paris allows anyone to plant an urban garden

Australian desert farm grows 17,000 metric tons of vegetables with just seawater and sun

October 10, 2016 by  
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This incredible farm makes tomato plants bloom in the desert using nothing more than sunlight and seawater . Needing no soil, fossil fuels, groundwater, or pesticides, Sundrop Farms grows crops in a hydroponic greenhouse lined with water-drenched cardboard. The 20-hectare farm officially opened on October 6th near Port Augusta, and their desert-grown tomatoes are already for sale in Australian grocery stores Sundrop Farms works agricultural magic. Conventional farming won’t work in the desert region, but that doesn’t matter for this desert farm. It obtains water from the Spencer Gulf, and desalinizes the water using renewable energy. 23,000 mirrors reflect light to a receiver tower to generate solar power . When the sun is shining, the system can provide 39 megawatts of clean energy – that’s enough to keep the desalination plant working and power the greenhouse, which is heated during the winter. Related: Sahara Desert Project to grow 10 hectares of food in Tunisian desert The facility can grow 17,000 metric tons of produce each year. 18,000 tomato plants grow in the greenhouse, and Sundrop Farms aims to grow other crops like fruit and peppers. Plants are grown in coconut husks, and the farm employs ” predatory insects ” to control pests that could harm plants. The farming system cost $200 million to build – but Sundrop Farms CEO Philipp Saumweber says the hefty price tag will pay off over time because the farm won’t need to purchase any fossil fuels. The farm can hook up to the grid if there are winter solar power shortages, however its ultimate goal is to progress to the point where it’s completely self-sufficient. According to Sundrop Farms , “we are breaking farming’s dependence on finite resources.” This year they broke ground on a farm in Tennessee, and they recently finished their first European farm in Portugal. + Sundrop Farms Via New Scientist Images via Sundrop Farms Facebook

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Australian desert farm grows 17,000 metric tons of vegetables with just seawater and sun

Seed-Saving 101: How to harvest and store herb, tomato, and berry seeds

September 21, 2016 by  
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Another great aspect of harvest season is that it’s the time of year when most plants go to seed , thus ensuring a strong new crop for the following spring. Those of you with food gardens have probably noticed the metamorphosis that your plants are going through right now, but unless you have experience with harvesting and keeping seeds, you probably don’t quite know how to go about doing so. Good news, then! This is the first in a 2-part piece on how to harvest those little nuggets of potential so you can sow them once springtime rolls around once again. With so much dirt coming out about Monsanto ’s unethical practices and the prevalence of GMO plants , it’s become far more important to save organic and heirloom seeds to preserve diversity and health in our food plants. If you’ve planted organic herbs/veggies in your own garden , it’s great to harvest seeds for the next planting season. But if you’re uncertain whether they’re organic or not, you might want to hold off on doing so—there’s a good chance that any non-organic seeds you harvest won’t be viable, and may have genetic modifications we don’t want to propagate. We’ll be focusing primarily on small seeds for the intro here: namely herbs, tomatoes, and berries. Related: 7 Easily Propagated Fruits to Transform Your Backyard into a Food Forest Garden Herbs If you’ve ever planted herbs from seed (either culinary or medicinal), you’ll remember how teensy those they are: basil seeds are around 0.5mm each, for example, and most other herb seeds are comparable size to that. If you try to pluck the pips from your culinary or medicinal plants while they’re out in the garden, you’re likely to lose half of them to the soil below. The best way to collect these seeds is in a simple brown paper bag . If you’ve decided to harvest your own seeds, be sure to let a portion of your plant stock go to seed , instead of plucking all the flowers from them; those buds will dry up, and the pips will form inside them as they do. Let these dry out as much as possible on the plant itself out in the sunshine, but keep an eye on weather forecast and feel free to harvest them  early in case of major storms brewing. When the seed heads are dry enough to be plucked, place a small paper lunch bag over the plant and secure it several inches down the stalk with a twist-tie. Cut the plant with a knife or scissors a few inches below that, tie a string around the twist, and hang the bag upside-down in a cool, dry place for about a week; this will give the plant even more time to dry out, and the seed casings tend to pop open as they dry and shrink. After a week (or two) has passed, take the bag down and shake it fairly vigorously—this will help to free the seeds from their casings, and they’ll collect at the bottom of the paper sack. Tomato Seeds Most people who are new to home/urban gardening start out with a couple of tomato plants —whether little cherry tomatoes in pots on a balcony, or several varieties scattered through their garden space. Saving tomato seeds is a slightly more involved process, as they require a bit of fermentation  to break down the delicate membrane around each seed so they’re open, fertile, and ready to plant in the spring. Related: DIY – How to Save Heirloom Tomato Seeds for Annual Growing Scrape out the seeds of a ripe tomato, and set them aside in a dish. Try to harvest only one variety of tomato at a time so you don’t accidentally mix your batches. Put the collected seeds into a very fine sieve, and run them under running water, rubbing them very gently to get as much of the pulp off as possible. Once cleaned off, put the seeds in a clean jar, add about a cup of room temperature water, and seal with the jar’s lid . Keep the jar in a cool, dark cupboard for a few days, and just give it a bit of a swirl a couple of times a day. In a little less than a week, you should see frothy bubbles forming in the jar, and most of the seeds settled at the bottom of it: these are the viable ones, so discard any of the floaters, and tip the bottom-dwelling seeds back into that sieve, give them a good rinse, and then spread them out on paper towel or a very fine mesh screen ( like an old window screen ) to dry for a couple of days. Berries The method of saving berry seeds is very similar to that of tomatoes, only without the fermentation process. For species like currants, raspberries and blackberries, just mash the overripe fruit around in a metal sieve to loosen it all up, rinse under running water, and allow to dry on paper, paper towel, or a mesh screen. To save the tiny seeds of certain berries (mulberries, blueberries), it’s actually better to freeze or dehydrate some berries whole and then plant them in the spring: as the fruits decompose, they’ll nourish the seeds held within them. Storing seeds If you’ve decided to go ahead and dry some seeds, you’ll need to store them safely until the next planting season. The two greatest enemies of safe seed-saving are high temperatures and high moisture, so if you store your seeds in a place that tends to get damp, or where the temperature and humidity fluctuate dramatically, it’s more than likely that the seeds will lose their ability to germinate. Ideally, you’ll want to keep your seeds in paper envelopes that have their variety and date harvested written on them, and store those inside closed glass jars. Keep these in a dry place that stays at a pretty even temperature, and you should have viable seeds aplenty next season. Note: If you can get your friends and neighbors to save seeds from their gardens, you can organize a seed-trading party in the spring. This will give you all a chance to get your plants cross-pollinated with other strains, and you’ll be able to try out different varieties to see what grows best in the space that you have . You’ll also be able to see which varieties you like the most! Stay-tuned for Seed-Saving part 2, in which we’ll focus on saving larger seeds: gourds, melons, beans, and grains.

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Seed-Saving 101: How to harvest and store herb, tomato, and berry seeds

A Starter Guide To Urban Gardening

March 18, 2015 by  
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For all those city dwellers who have been dreaming about luscious summer gardens to come during the long winter, it’s time to start your own urban  garden ! For those with budding green thumbs, urban gardening can be an intimidating prospect. To clarify the sometimes-mysterious process, we’ve put together a very brief how-to guide on starting a flourishing container garden replete with herbs , veggies, and flowers so that you can get a jump start on spring gardening. Read the rest of A Starter Guide To Urban Gardening Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable agriculture” , container gardening , green thumb , herb garden , home vegetable garden , plant , sustainable gardening , urban garden

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A Starter Guide To Urban Gardening

PHOTOS: Walk Atop the Treetops at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay

January 30, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of PHOTOS: Walk Atop the Treetops at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable architecture” , climate controlled greenhouse , cloud forest , eco design , eco greenhouse , flower dome , gardens , gardens by the bay , gardens by the bay singapore , grant associates , green architecture , Green Building , green design , green mark , green park , greenhouse , Landscape Architecture , marina sands , marina south , rainwater collection , Singapore , singapore architecture , solar powered trees , super trees , super trees singapore , supertrees , Sustainable Building , sustainable design , sustainable gardening , sustainable greenhouse , urban green space , urban park , vertical gardens , Wilkinson Eyre , wilkinsoneyre        

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The Biomimicry Manual: What Can Crows Teach Us About The Sharing Economy?

January 30, 2014 by  
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Mother Nature doesn’t give her information for free. Her minions cloud their enemies’ judgement with devilish deception, and make plain the truth for their friends. Birds flock and fish school, predators are confused, and the little guy is a little safer. Hiding in plain sight is one strategy—using camouflage, or by imitating other species. Locusts swarm in prime-numbered years, staying under the radar of hungry birds and insects who converge alongside them. Meanwhile, gazelles “stott” flamboyantly, heels in the air: cheetah, I see you . Everyone saves their energy for another day. Delightful collaborations emerge where we least expect them, but it’s a simple matter of finding our mutual interest. Transparency and trust are much harder to come by. Welcome to the sharing economy , where online platforms help people share access to goods and services. Maybe it’s cars , or rooms, or power tools. Ride-sharing companies Lyft, and room-sharing app Airbnb , even Craigslist. The sharing economy offers tremendous opportunities, but you have to elicit trust to get it. And that means giving a measure of transparency into who you are. You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable, be willing to reveal something of yourself to strangers. If we can take that plunge, we can learn to “surf for free” on an unprecedented scale, just like the rest of nature. Read the rest of The Biomimicry Manual: What Can Crows Teach Us About The Sharing Economy? Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: African Grey Parrot , Airbnb , biomimicry , bonobo , chimpanzee , crows , edward snowden , hive mind , left , mimic octopus , ride-sharing , sharing economy , The Trusted Advisor , transparency , vaccinations , whooping cough , wikileaks        

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The Biomimicry Manual: What Can Crows Teach Us About The Sharing Economy?

Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay Feature the World’s Largest Climate-Controlled Greenhouses

January 17, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay Feature the World’s Largest Climate-Controlled Greenhouses Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable architecture” , climate controlled greenhouse , cloud forest , conservatory , cooled conservatory , eco design , eco greenhouse , flower dome , gardens by the bay , green architecture , Green Building , green design , greenhouse , Landscape Architecture , marina south , Singapore , Sustainable Building , sustainable design , sustainable gardening , sustainable greenhouse , Wilkinson Eyre , wilkinsoneyre

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Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay Feature the World’s Largest Climate-Controlled Greenhouses

Seed-Saving 101: Storing Herb, Tomato, and Berry Seeds

August 30, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Seed-Saving 101: Storing Herb, Tomato, and Berry Seeds Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: good seeds , heirloom seeds , organic gardening , organic seeds , planting your own seed , preserving seeds , saving seed , saving seeds , seed collecting , seed-saving , seeds , sustainable gardening

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Seed-Saving 101: Storing Herb, Tomato, and Berry Seeds

Why Global Warming Is Not the Biggest Reason Forest Fires Are So Rampant Now

August 30, 2012 by  
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Global warming has wreaked havoc over the central US this summer, with crops withering, record high temps becoming the norm, and huge fires in Colorado. But the massive fires that have erupted throughout the west this year are not only the result of change in the global climate, but a century of humans  misunderstanding of the forest eco-system , leading to a tinderbox unrecognizable from its natural state for a least a millennium. So, where did Smoky the Bear go wrong? Read the rest of Why Global Warming Is Not the Biggest Reason Forest Fires Are So Rampant Now Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Climate Change fire , Colorado fire , fire surpression , Firewise , historic forest fires , Pine forest health , Smokey the Bear , Western forest health

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Why Global Warming Is Not the Biggest Reason Forest Fires Are So Rampant Now

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