Urban Farming: 10 Crops You Can Grow at Home

September 26, 2017 by  
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If you think you can’t grow your own food because … The post Urban Farming: 10 Crops You Can Grow at Home appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Urban Farming: 10 Crops You Can Grow at Home

New Orleans golf course transformed into citys biggest urban farm with an Eco-Campus

September 18, 2017 by  
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A former golf course in New Orleans’ City Park has been transformed into the city’s biggest urban farm— Grow Dat Youth Farm . The seven-acre sustainable farming nonprofit features a low-energy Eco-Campus built with seven recycled shipping containers and designed by Tulane University architecture students. The urban farming and leadership program teaches local youth how to sustainably grow fruits and veggies that are then sold to CSAs, local restaurants, and markets, as well as donated to neighborhoods lacking access to healthy, fresh food. Founded in 2012, Grow Dat Youth Farm wants to do much more than grow delicious chemical-free food. The nonprofit farm’s central mission is to bring local youth and adults from different backgrounds together in a safe collaborative environment where they can learn how to grow their own food and develop personal, social, and environmental change. Most of the educational workshops take place within the Eco-Campus, a simple low-energy structure with an open-air classroom, two climate-controlled offices, kitchen, bathroom with composting toilets , and storage. A bioswale under the front timber walkway prevents flooding and manages water sustainably. The City Park birding corridor runs along the side of farm and provides a more wild contrast to the farmed environment. Grow Dat Youth Farm has a long-term lease for seven acres of land in New Orlean’s City Park and is currently growing on two acres with plans for expansion. Formerly a golf course that had been uninhabited before Katrina, the site comprised very sandy or mostly clay soils—poor conditions for farming. The team remediated the soil with lots of organic matter—mainly a mixture of coffee grounds, processed dried sugar cane, and chicken manure—and use crop rotations to add minerals back into the earth. Today, the diversified farm grows over 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables, from avocados and satsuma to beets and kale. “Food justice is a big part of who we are,” said Michael Kantor, Interim Director at Grow Dat Youth Farm, who stressed the program’s primary purpose to develop youth leadership skills. “Black farmers in particular have historically been marginalized so we create opportunities here to give young people of different races the chance to take control of food production, either here or in their neighborhoods, and increase access to fresh healthy produce—something many New Orleans neighborhoods do not have.” Grow Dat Youth Farm partners with nine local schools to recruit around 60 high school students annually. Starting January, these youth Crew Members participate in a paid, five-month leadership program held after school and on Saturday that prioritizes diversity and inclusion. The program time is evenly split between lessons on sustainable food , cooking, and farming, and team-building and leadership exercises. Graduates of the program are invited to enroll in the next tiered leadership position as Assistant Crew Leaders; a fellowship program brings in extra help around the year. Related: Inspiring urban farm teaches kids how to grow their own organic food “Our farm is pretty active from September to June,” said Michael. “That’s when we’re harvesting crops for the CSA , our main distribution channel that starts in October, or for the Crescent City Farmers Market or farm stand. We’ve also sold to restaurants and have been in Whole Foods too. We donate 30% of our food to households without access through our Shared Harvest program.” Grow Dat Youth Farm has donated over 26,000 pounds of food. In addition to funding from grants, donors, and market sales, Grow Dat Youth Farm raises funds through their seasonal farm dinners , where they invite celebrated local chefs to cook up locally focused, family-style meals on the farm. This year’s first farm dinner, on September 28, features chefs from Cochon and Peche, while the October 8th dinner features a chef from Shaya. Tickets are still available for these farm dinners. Learn more information about Grow Dat Youth Farm by following the link below. + Grow Dat Youth Farm Images © Lucy Wang

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Amsterdam is transforming a prison into a green energy-generating neighborhood

September 13, 2017 by  
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A brighter, solar-powered future is coming to Bijlmerbajes, a former prison complex in Amsterdam . The Dutch government tapped OMA to design a masterplan of the 7.5-hectare site, as well as a significant portion of the 135,000-square-meter mixed-use development. Designed in collaboration with FABRICations architects and LOLA Landscape , the new masterplan will transform the prison complex’s iconic six towers into Bajes Kwartier, an energy-neutral development powered by renewable energy and built largely from recycled materials. Built in the 1970s near the Amsterdam Amstel railways station, the Bijlmerbajes prison complex is a well-known urban landmark that permanently closed in June 2016. The former prison’s six linked towers and administrative building are located in the geographic center of Amsterdam’s new urban development, making it ripe for rebirth as a vibrant civic and cultural space. The new 7.5-hectare Bajes Kwartier development will conceptually preserve Bijlmerbajes’ “island character” and reuse building materials. Prefab elements from the existing walls will be recycled as cladding for the new residential buildings, while prison bars will be recycled into balustrades, and cell doors reused as edge panels for pedestrian bridges. Bajes Kwartier will become a mostly car-free environment and focus on elevating the pedestrian and cyclist experience. The masterplan includes approximately 1,350 residential units that include rentals and luxury condominiums, with 30 percent set aside for affordable housing. All but one of the prison towers will be demolished and the remaining building will be transformed into a “green tower” with a vertical park and urban farming . The centrally located administrative building will be turned into an arts and design center. The mixed-use development will also comprise a restaurant, health center, school, parks, water features, and underground parking lot. Related: OMA gets green light for their first major public building in the UK All the new buildings will be energy-neutral thanks to superior insulation and energy saving design, as well as hookups to solar power, wind power, and biomass power . Nearly 100 percent of the existing building material will be reused or recycled. The project is scheduled to begin in early 2018. + OMA Via ArchDaily

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South Korea is building a $10 billion agriculture city in Egypt

August 18, 2017 by  
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Within six months, 311,400 acres of land in Egypt will be transformed into an agriculture city. The $10 billion deal was signed on Tuesday by Egypt and the Korea-Arab Society (KAS). The project will feature 50,000 smart greenhouses in addition to a number of seawater desalination and solar power plants. Arab Finance reports that the protocol was signed by the General Authority for Reconstruction Projects and Agricultural Development, an affiliate to the Egyptian Agriculture Ministry, and the Korea-Arab Society, which is represented by the Korean Arab Company for Economic and Cultural Consultancy. At a press conference, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said that the city will be located in the southeast part of the Qattara Depression, which is northwest of Egypt . The entire project will be overseen by Korean experts and it will be built within six months, Ismail added. The latest technologies will be incorporated to ensure that the development is as eco-friendly and efficient as possible. Related: South Korea’s President adopts rescue puppy, saving it from the dog meat trade In addition to constructing smart greenhouses, seawater desalination plants, and solar power plants, the city will grow food and cultivate stevia — a plant which serves as a healthy alternative sweetener. Though little else is presently known about the integrated agriculture city, the project signifies the growing relationship between Egypt and South Korea. Via Arab Finance Images via Pixabay

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Rooftop farms in Gaza provide lifeline to the community

August 17, 2017 by  
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Meeting even basic needs in Gaza can be a challenge for the nearly 2 million people that live in the territory’s 141 square miles. Under  Israeli blockade, which prevents vital supplies from reaching Gaza and inhibits international trade, the Palestinians living there rely on resilience and innovation to survive with the resources they have. Squeezed out of arable land, many Gaza residents are farming upwards, on the rooftops of the dense urban Mediterranean territory. Rooftop farming is fairly new in Gaza. Starting in 2010, an urban farming project by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization equipped over 200 female-headed households with fish tanks, equipment, and supplies to build and maintain an aquaponics growing system, in which fish provide both edible protein and fertilizer for vegetables with roots growing into water, without soil. This initial design was adapted by others to suit their available resources and needs. The current model, designed and built by Palestinians, involves recycled plastic and wood being used to create garden beds, which are then planted with seeds from local farmers. Related: Gaza man’s DIY solar desalination machine can produce 2.6 gallons of fresh water every day The growing rooftop farming scene in Gaza is helping to met the needs of a population increasingly threatened by food insecurity. However, a garden is often more than simply the food that it produces. “There are many useful benefits with this project,” said Dr. Ahmad Saleh, an agricultural consultant, former professor, and community organizer who is helping to promote urban farming in Gaza. “Rooftop agriculture enables and empowers people. It allows them to find effective ways to confront environmental problems and helps create a healthier population.” Muhyeddin al-Kahlout, a former school director, sees his gardens as a social gathering spot. “We are experiencing severe power shortages and there is already a scarcity of recreational places,” he said. “Many of my friends liked the idea. Now they are starting to think about doing the same on their rooftops.” Via Sondos Walid / Electronic Intifada Images via  Mohamed Hajjar  and  David Berkowitz/Flickr

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6 Surprising uses for garlic you probably didnt know about

August 17, 2017 by  
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It’s garlic harvesting season, and those glorious, aromatic bulbs are now adorning farmer’s market stalls just about everywhere. Garlic isn’t just good for flavoring bread and warding off vampires: it has many great uses for your health, as well as around your home and garden. Read on to find out some of its more surprising uses, and develop an even greater love for this fine and fragrant bulb. 1. Ear Infection Remedy The ancient Egyptians used garlic for its many medicinal purposes, as did the Romans and Greeks, and it’s safe to assume that it was used for thousands of years before anyone decided to commit such knowledge to papyrus. Olive oil’s polyphenols are anti-inflammatory, while the allicin in garlic is anti-microbial, as well as anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, so they work well together to treat bacterial as well as viral infections… much like the type that likes to nestle inside damp ear canals. What you’ll need and how to prepare it: The ratio of garlic to olive oil is 1:2, being 1 clove of garlic, minced (organic is preferable), to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. The allicin in garlic stabilizes best in a liquid, but loses its potency quickly: be sure to use this pretty much immediately after being made. Step 1: Heat the oil in a small saucepan on medium-low heat, and once warmed, turn the heat down to the lowest setting and add the minced garlic. Keep this on low heat for 20-30 minutes to draw the garlic’s healing properties into the oil without cooking it. Step 2: Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit. You should be able to dip a fingertip into it without flinching. Step 3: Strain through cheesecloth or muslin, then use an eyedropper to administer 2-3 drops in the affected ear. Stop up the ear with a cotton ball and ask the sufferer to remain lying down for a few minutes to allow the oil to seep down through the eustachian tube.* Note: Garlic olive oil is also an effective treatment for ear mites in pet cats and dogs. Dip a cotton swab into the oil and apply to the affected ear, wait about 10 minutes, then use a clean swab to clean it away. The mites and eggs will be sloshed out, and remaining oil will help to treat the inflammation caused by their bites. Related: Researchers discover how nature makes powerful antibiotics that defy resistance 2. Topical Treatment for Cold Sores and Acne Those anti-just-about-everything properties mentioned above also work wonders for skin issues like acne breakouts and cold sores. You can just take a raw garlic clove, slice it, and rub the cut side on the affected area a couple of times a day to speed its healing. Another approach is to crush a couple of cloves through a press, and mix the garlic juice with an equal amount of apple cider vinegar. Apply with a cotton ball and allow to dry on the skin. 3. Disinfecting Spray Cleaner Ideal for cleaning countertops in your kitchen or bathroom: fill a spray bottle with plain white vinegar, and add 5 or 6 finely chopped garlic cloves. Let this steep for about an hour, then spray any surfaces you’d like disinfected. Feel free to add a few drops of grapefruit, orange, or lemon essential oil to both boost the cleansing properties and improve the scent overall. 4. Cough Syrup Garlic-infused honey is a startlingly effective cough syrup, especially for those dry, hacking coughs that can keep you up all night. Keeping in mind how quickly allicin’s potency dissipates, make this about 10 minutes before you’re ready to take it as a remedy. What you’ll need and how to make it: 3 or 4 garlic cloves, crushed 1 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional) 1/2 cup honey (raw is preferable) 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice Mix everything together and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain, and take a spoonful of it immediately. Related: DIY throat drops and cough syrup 5. Organic Pesticide for House and Garden Plants This wonderful allium’s anti-fungal and pesticidal properties means that it can work wonders as a wide-spectrum treatment for all kinds of plant-related issues. What you’ll need and how to make it: 1 large garlic bulb: remove the skins from all its cloves 2 liters of water 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap Step 1: Crush the garlic cloves well with a garlic press, and mix with the water. Let this steep for 8 to 12 hours. Step 2: Strain well, and then add the castile soap, like Dr. Bronner’s unscented. Step 3: Pour into a spray bottle, and spray your affected plants. This should help to eliminate aphids, borers, caterpillars, white flies, and slugs, and deter them from returning. Repeat every couple of weeks as needed. 6. Glass Repair This only works if you have a tiny, thin crack in glass. Have you ever noticed how sticky garlic is? Well, it’s a natural adhesive! If you drop your iPad and it develops a thin crack, slice a piece of raw garlic and rub it into the break. It’s sticky enough that it’ll keep the broken sides together, at least until you can get the glass replaced properly. *As with any other home remedy, this is not guaranteed to cure advanced infections, and can possibly cause more damage if the eardrum is ruptured. If the infection seems serious, or if the sufferer is in a significant amount of pain, consult a healthcare professional. Images via Unsplash and Wikimedia Creative Commons

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Inspiring urban farm teaches kids how to grow their own organic food

August 14, 2017 by  
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A tree may grow in Brooklyn, but an amazing urban farm flourishes on Governors Island . An inspiring GrowNYC initiative is teaching inner city kids how to plant, water, harvest, and cook pesticide-free fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Located on Governors Island just a quick ferry ride from lower Manhattan, the Teaching Garden is a 21,000-square-foot urban farm that offers free educational field trips to NYC students—many of whom have never seen how food is grown. Now in its fourth season, the half-acre Governors Island Teaching Garden comprises raised planters, a fruit orchard, an outdoor kitchen with a large solar oven , high-tunnel greenhouse, and even an aquaponics system housed inside a converted shipping container . The Teaching Garden currently has 69 individual planting beds built from recycled plastic lumber with over 40 plant varieties during the summer season. Although the urban farm isn’t certified organic, all the fruits, herbs, and vegetables are grown with all-natural and pesticide-free practices. Earth Matter NY supplies the compost. “There are students here every day of the week so we want to encourage students to be able to eat straight from the plant so we don’t want to put anything harmful in the plants,” said GrowNYC to Inhabitat during a farm tour. “But we do have natural pest management such as introducing ladybugs to eat the unwanted insects.” Related: Project Farmhouse community space with wall of edible plants coming to Union Square The majority of students who visit are from immigrant families, such as the group of fourth graders from PS 503 present on the day we visited. The educational journey begins with an introduction about the fruits and vegetables the participants harvest as well as a lesson on their nutritional value. The group is then led to the different planting beds and orchard to pick ingredients, followed by a trip to the outdoor kitchen for a lesson on cooking what they harvested for a true farm-to-fork experience. The students also plant seeds for future harvests and learn about sustainable initiatives ranging from renewable energy to recycling and composting. “We feel that young people in the city don’t have the same opportunities to experience the natural world,” said GrowNYC. “So we want to provide that for them and hope that when they leave they feel a connection and feel more comfortable with eating healthy fruits and vegetables, or even in cooking. Almost all the food we grow here the students eat. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t have to bring more food onto the island so we made an expansion to grow more food to reach self-sufficiency . Now we only bring on olive oil and spices. Expansion also lets us to bring more students out here and slightly larger classes. It also shows students what a small scale farm would look like.” In addition to expansion, the Teaching Garden is in the process of building a solar-powered aquaponics system designed by Harbor School students and housed inside a shipping container. The nitrate-rich water taken from the tilapia holding tanks will be pumped up to the roof where it’ll be used to irrigate vegetables. Other sustainably minded projects are being built with the help of corporate volunteers. CSR programs help subsidize most of the costs of the Teaching Garden to keep the educational program free for students. In addition to school visits, the urban farm is open to the public on weekends during Governors Island’s open season that runs until mid-autumn. + Governors Island Teaching Garden Images © Lucy Wang

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Sustainable solar housing with urban farming to take root in Eindhoven

July 14, 2017 by  
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A sustainable green design is taking root in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. The city just selected MVRDV and SDK Vastgoed (VolkerWessels) as the winners for the redevelopment competition of the inner city area around Deken van Someren Street. The project, called Nieuw Bergen, comprises high-quality and sustainable residences topped with green roofs and powered by solar. Billed as a contemporary and hyper-modern development, Nieuw Bergen will add 29,000 square meters of new development to Eindhoven city center. The project’s seven buildings will comprise 240 new homes, 1,700 square meters of commercial space, 270 square meters of urban farming, and underground parking. The sharply angled and turf-covered roofs give the buildings their jagged and eye-catching silhouettes that are both modern in appearance and reference traditional pitched roofs. The 45-degree pitches optimize indoor access to natural light . “Natural light plays a central role in Nieuw Bergen, as volumes follow a strict height limit and a design guideline that allows for the maximum amount of natural sunlight, views, intimacy and reduced visibility from street levels,” says Jacob van Rijs, co-founder of MVRDV. “ Pocket parks also ensure a pleasant distribution of greenery throughout the neighborhood and create an intimate atmosphere for all.” Related: The Sax: MVRDV unveils plans for a ‘vertical city’ in Rotterdam Each of Nieuw Bergen’s structures is different but collectively form a family of buildings that complement the existing urban fabric. Gardens and greenhouses with lamella roof structures top several buildings. A natural materials palette consisting of stone, wood, and concrete softens the green-roofed development. + MVRDV

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BIG hides an invisible museum beneath Denmarks sand dunes

July 14, 2017 by  
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Don’t be fooled by these gentle sand dunes—hidden in the landscape is an “invisible museum.” Bjarke Ingels Group designed TIRPITZ, a recently opened museum embedded into Denmark’s protected Blåvand shorelines, also a historic war site. The TIRPITZ museum offers a unique experience within a building that skillfully camouflages into the dunes, providing a sharp contrast to its neighbor, a monolithic German WWII bunker . Developed by Varde Museums , TIRPITZ is a cultural complex comprising four exhibitions inside a renovated and expanded wartime bunker. The 2,800-square-meter “invisible museum” is mostly buried underground and looks nearly imperceptible from above until visitors draw close to the heavy bunker and see the walls cut into the dunes from all sides. An outdoor courtyard provides access to the four underground galleries—illuminated with a surprising abundance of natural light let in by 6-meter-tall glass panels—that connect to the historic bunker. “The architecture of the TIRPITZ is the antithesis to the WWII bunker,” said Bjarke Ingels , Founding Partner at BIG. “The heavy hermetic object is countered by the inviting lightness and openness of the new museum. The galleries are integrated into the dunes like an open oasis in the sand – a sharp contrast to the Nazi fortress’ concrete monolith. The surrounding heath-lined pathways cut into the dunes from all sides descending to meet in a central clearing, bringing daylight and air into the heart of the complex. The bunker remains the only landmark of a not so distant dark heritage that upon close inspection marks the entrance to a new cultural meeting place.” Related: Century-old WWI bunker is reborn as a contemporary alpine shelter Dutch agency Tinker Imagineers designed the exhibitions to showcase permanent and temporary themed experiences that adhere to a storyline, from the Hitler-related ‘Army of Concrete’ to the exhibition of amber in ‘Gold of the West Coast.’ The building is built mainly of concrete, steel, glass, and wood—all materials found in the existing structures and natural landscape. The groundbreaking museum is expected to attract around 100,000 visitors annually. + BIG Images by Mike Bink Photography, Laurian Ghinitoiu,  John Seymour, Rasmus Hjortshoj, Colin John Seymour, Rasmus Bendix

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40-foot shipping container farm can grow 5 acres of food with 97% less water

July 11, 2017 by  
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Communities that have to ship in fresh food from far away could start getting local produce right from their parking lots or warehouses thanks to Local Roots ‘ shipping container farms . The 40-foot containers house hydroponic farms that only draw on five to 20 gallons of water each day to grow produce like lettuce, strawberries, or kale. Popping up all around the United States, these scalable farms “grow far more produce than any other indoor farming solution on the market” according to co-founder Dan Kuenzi. Local Roots is even talking with SpaceX about using their farms in space . Local Roots’ 40-foot shipping container farms, called TerraFarms, grow produce twice as fast as a traditional farm , all while using 97 percent less water and zero pesticides or herbicides. They can grow as much food as could be grown on three to five acres. They’re able to do this thanks to LED lights tuned to specific wavelengths and intensities, and sensor systems monitoring water, nutrient, and atmospheric conditions. Related: Pop-up shipping container farm puts a full acre of lettuce in your backyard The process from setup to first harvest takes only around four weeks. TerraFarms can be stacked and connected to the local grid. CEO Eric Ellestad said in a video 30 million Americans live in food deserts , and their farms could be placed right in communities that most need the food. Los Angeles is already home to a farm with several shipping containers, and a similar one will be coming to Maryland this year. It could offer local food like strawberries in January. And Local Roots’ technology could one day allow astronauts to consume fresh produce in space. Their growing systems could offer a food source on long-term, deep space missions. Ellestad told The Washington Post, “The opportunities are global and intergalactic at the same time.” + Local Roots Via The Washington Post Images via Local Roots Facebook

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40-foot shipping container farm can grow 5 acres of food with 97% less water

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