Posts Tagged ‘food security’

Celebrate Local Food: Terra Madre Day 2013

Posted in Events, Movements, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on October 29th, 2013

ING_cover_picture

Now in its fifth year, Terra Madre DaySlow Food’s annual worldwide celebration of local food held on December 10 – will take place in communities across the globe. We invite everybody, whether you are a member or not, to join this international day of celebration. For one day, whoever and wherever you are, you can put local food in the spotlight through a myriad of different activities: From community picnics and food festivals, to film evenings, rallies and farmers’ markets, or even a simple dinner with friends.

The theme of Terra Madre Day 2013 is saving endangered foods. All around the world traditional foods are disappearing, including fruit and vegetable varieties, animal breeds and cheeses, as a result of an increasingly industrialized food system and fast modern life. Slow Food is working to list and protect these at-risk products on the Ark of Taste online catalog.

This Terra Madre Day we want to use December 10 to raise awareness of these products, along with the knowledge, techniques, cultures and landscapes behind their production, and let everyone know that they are at risk of disappearing.

You are free to celebrate Terra Madre Day in any way you want, but if you wish to embrace the theme, you can do this in a number of ways – either by celebrating an existing Ark product; or hunting down local endangered foods, adding them to the Ark of Taste and putting them at the centre of your celebrations. Once your have your product, you could ask a local chef to cook it, put it on the menu at local restaurants, present it to the community or hold an amateur cooking competition using it as an ingredient, or anything you wish.

If you are nominating a new product for the Ark, remember to nominate it using the online form. Actions speak louder than words!There is no better way to highlight the foods in your area that risk disappearing than dedicating a day to them along with all the other products being celebrated around world on the same day.

Together we’ll paint a picture of the incredible food biodiversity that surrounds us and by creating a symbolic map of these foods, we’ll send an even stronger message about its fragility. So get involved this December 10!

Find an event near you or create one of your own, as simple or complex, big or small as you wish. Get inspiration from past editions and download graphics on the Terra Madre Day website. And don’t forget to register your event – you will join the world map and be published alongside all the other initiatives happening at the same moment in a truly global celebration.

www.slowfood.com/terramadreday

Find the event on Facebook or follow #TMD2013 on Twitter


Adapting Agriculture to the Realities of Climate Change

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on June 20th, 2013

Fig. 1. Impact and capacity approaches to adaptation planning_from Addressing uncertainty in adaptation planning for agriculture

Fig. 1. Impact and capacity approaches to adaptation planning (from Addressing uncertainty in adaptation planning for agriculture)

 

From the article No excuses, no regrets: we can adapt agriculture to climate change now by Vanessa Meadu:

Imagine you’re working for your country’s government and you’ve been given the formidable task of developing a strategy to help the agriculture sector adapt to climate change. Working out how climate models will play out on the ground for farmers, and conceiving options for farmers to adapt is sophisticated stuff, and the challenge is only compounded when the best information remains somewhat uncertain.

You might easily be discouraged, when faced with data and projections that are not sufficiently specific, only applicable for certain crops, or simply missing altogether. Often this uncertainty becomes a political weapon, wielded as an excuse for inaction. But a new analysis published in the journal PNAS debunks such excuses by showing how scientists and governments can cut through uncertainty and make the most of existing knowledge, however conflicting or weak. In fact some countries have done exactly that, and “embraced “no-regrets” adaptation: actions that will benefit farmers and society regardless of specifically how and when climate change plays out on the ground.

The paper Addressing uncertainty in adaptation planning for agriculture is co-authored by researchers from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Livestock Research Institute, and leading universities (Oxford, Leeds, Reading). The researchers point to examples around the world where governments have taken crucial first steps to safeguard food and farming, even when information was weak.

>> Read the full article by Vanessa Meadu for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).


(Em)Powering Communities: SolarKiosk

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on February 15th, 2013

 Source: TransitionsFF

CIMG0790
Photo from SolarKiosk.

From ‘SolarKiosk: mobile modular power for really remote areas” on Good.is

For those who’ve grown up constantly plugged into the power grid, it’s almost impossible to think of life without an endless supply of outlets, power cords, and technology. But for an estimated 1.5 billion people around the world, power—from cutting and burning firewood to lighting kerosene lamps, paraffin, and candles—doesn’t come easy. According to the United Nations Foundation, almost 3 billion people rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, about 1.5 billion have no access to electricity, and 1 billion more have access only to unreliable electricity networks. Smoke from polluting and inefficient cooking, lighting, and heating devices kills nearly two million people a year and causes a range of chronic illnesses and other health impacts.

In an effort to tackle health and development-related obstacles in developing countries, a company based in Germany and Ethiopia is bringing clean energy to “off-grid areas” around the world. Housed in a metal hut topped with a solar panel-filled roof, the designers have named their creation a “SolarKiosk,” a small-scale power source for communities without electricity. Each SolarKiosk is expected to provide enough power for villagers to charge their mobile phones and car batteries, run a computer, or power up a solar fridge. Goods sold from the Kiosk include solar lanterns, mobile phones, and cards to top-up cellular devices. Considering that the Kiosk’s fridge may be the community’s only one, it could be used to house everything from medication to chilled drinks. The kiosk could also provide television, music, and internet depending on the locale. The creators project that a larger-size SolarKiosk could even produce enough energy to run a telecom tower reliably, while also providing security and maintenance. It will even be possible to connect multiple kiosks to create a local grid.

The world’s first SolarKiosk set up shop on July 15 [2012] near Lake Langana in Ethiopia. Designed by Graft Architects, the project not only provides clean energy solutions to “off-grid” countries, but once installed, becomes a power-generating shop and business hub, providing jobs to community members and education on how solar products work. It also becomes a glowing, solar-powered light source at night. Each kiosk comes in a lightweight, DIY kit, making it is easy to transport and build a kiosk in off-road, rural areas—the package could even be carried to its target location on the back of a donkey. With the exception of pre-manufactured electrical components, the kiosk’s parts can be constructed from a range of local materials including bamboo, wood, adobe, stone, metal, or even recycled goods. Post-assembly, the entire structure is firmly anchored in the ground. […]

NB. The second SolarKiosk was installed in Teppi, Ethiopia, in November last year. – [JB]

>>> You can read the full article on Good.is.
>>> You can learn more about SolarKiosk on their website.


Trellises protecting tropical fruit from cyclones

Posted in Movements by Jessica Bird on January 9th, 2013

Source: ABC Rural

tropical fruit tree trellise
Photo by Marty McCarthy

From “Cyclone-proofing Queensland orchards” by Marty McCarthy

Tropical fruit growers near Tully in north Queensland were dealt a hard blow when Cyclone Yasi ripped apart orchards in the area in February 2011. Many farmers not only lost their fruit for the season, but also the trees on which they grow. But two years on from Yasi locals are now using trellises to make sure their trees stay in the ground next time a cyclone hits.

Peter Salleras owns a plantation in the rainforest north of Tully at Feluga, where he grows an array of tropical fruits using trellises. “It’s an insurance policy we have that we can plant a tree and be pretty confident even if a category five hits we’ll still have our trees there,” he said. “With some species we didn’t lose a single tree whereas in [Cyclone] Larry we lost about 80 to 90 per cent. Supporting the trees in a big wind is a bonus for us but it’s not just about cyclone insurance – it’s the ease of harvest, ease of netting, ease of pruning and ability to control pests better.”

Ten minutes up the road from Peter’s farm is Feluga State School, where students are now using trellises to grow tropical fruits as part of an outdoor classroom. Trina McKiernan works with the students in caring for the trees. “Each family here has their own tree that they’ve adopted,’ she said. “A lot of these kids don’t get the interaction with food… it’s really important [for them] to know that things don’t just come out of a box.” And this understanding is already starting to show in the attitudes of students like school captain Madison Styve, who’s using the trellis to grow a rollinia tree. “I still have quite a lot to do with it,” she said. “I still have to do some trimming and hopefully it will get some fruit on it. It’s not just about putting it in the ground and waiting for it to grow by itself. You’ve got to water it you’ve got to feed it with fertiliser and you’ve got to make sure the conditions are right,”

The work students like Madison are doing with trellises is critical to the region because although trellising is common practice in Australia’s southern states, the structures are rarely used to help grow tropical fruits. Kath Gregory is a local lettuce grower and volunteers at the Feluga State School helping the children care for their trees. “It [trellising] has been tried in southern climates, but not for growing tropical trees,” she said. “I think the most important thing [about trellising] is you can grow a huge amount of stuff in a very small place and the fruit trees are all going to survive a cyclone. In the previous two cyclones a lot of us lost most of our fruit trees with not a lot remaining. But with this system the trees remain alive and you can still pick the fruit. It’s just magic.”

>>> You can find the original article on ABC Rural.


Seed Matters: Sowing more good

Posted in Movements by Jessica Bird on December 12th, 2012


Screenshot from the Seed Matters website.

An initiative of the Cliff Bar Family Foundation, Seed Matters is dedicated to protecting and ameliorating organic seed, thus increasing the abundance of healthy, nutritious crops that benefit both people and the planet. Their goals are to ‘conserve crop genetic diversity, promote farmers’ roles and rights as seed innovators and stewards, and reinvigorate public seed research and education.’ The Seed Matters website tells the story of seed, about the programs aimed at achieving their goals, and how you can get involved. Oh, and the website is really quite beautiful. – [JB]

From ‘Why Seed Matters: We reap what we sow‘ on the Seed Matters site:

We probably don’t think about it when we sit down to eat our cereal in the morning or tuck the kids into cotton sheets at night, but it all starts with seed.  Seed matters. And the seed we sow affects the quality, nutrition, cost and environmental impact of all the food we eat and every fiber we wear.

It’s time we sow more good. The last several decades of industrial agriculture have developed seed that is suited to intensive chemical agriculture. While this has sometimes resulted in higher yields, it has come with very real costs. Unintended consequences include air and water pollution, increased pesticide use, greater dependence on fossil fuels, degraded soil health, and the loss of biological and genetic diversity. These are facts.

The success of diverse, regional, and resilient food systems requires a different approach to seed – an organic approach.

And yet, today’s farmers don’t have access to sufficient seed developed for organic systems. Worldwide, 95% of organic farmers rely on seed bred for conventional, high-input chemical agriculture. There’s an alternative. Organic plant breeding can increase yields, improve nutrition, and reduce usage of pesticides, fertilizer, and energy. We invite you to join us – engage and grow the work of improving organic seed systems.

>> Find out more from Seed Matters


Vertical Farm: Singapore

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on November 9th, 2012


Image: Sky Greens

City Farmer, Treehugger and Core 77 have all published articles in the last week or so about Sky Greens – a vertical farm in Singapore which is causing excitement because it’s a real project instead of a design proposal.  The farm produces a range of green vegetables for a local supermarket, and it is hoped that this, and efforts like it, will increase Singapore’s vegetable production to provide 10% of the country’s consumption.

>> Read more about the project on Core 77 (it has the most pictures).


Intelligent Farming Can Reduce the Need for Pesticides and Fertilisers: Research

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on October 29th, 2012

“Figure 3. Multiple indicators of cropping system performance” from Increasing Cropping System Diversity Balances Productivity, Profitability and Environmental Health

From “A Simple Fix for Farming” by Mark Bittman:

It’s becoming clear that we can grow all the food we need, and profitably, with far fewer chemicals. And I’m not talking about imposing some utopian vision of small organic farms on the world. Conventional agriculture can shed much of its chemical use — if it wants to.

This was hammered home once again in what may be the most important agricultural study this year, although it has been largely ignored by the media, two of the leading science journals and even one of the study’s sponsors, the often hapless Department of Agriculture.

The study was done on land owned by Iowa State University called the Marsden Farm. On 22 acres of it, beginning in 2003, researchers set up three plots: one replicated the typical Midwestern cycle of planting corn one year and then soybeans the next, along with its routine mix of chemicals. On another, they planted a three-year cycle that included oats; the third plot added a four-year cycle and alfalfa. The longer rotations also integrated the raising of livestock, whose manure was used as fertilizer.

The results were stunning: The longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy, reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent, reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater 200-fold and didn’t reduce profits by a single cent.

In short, there was only upside — and no downside at all — associated with the longer rotations. There was an increase in labor costs, but remember that profits were stable. So this is a matter of paying people for their knowledge and smart work instead of paying chemical companies for poisons. And it’s a high-stakes game; according to the Environmental Protection Agency, about five billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the United States.

[…]

Read the full article by Mark Bittman on the NY Times Opinionator blog, or check out the research paper, published on plos one:

“Results of our study indicate that more diverse cropping systems can use small amounts of synthetic agrichemical inputs as powerful tools with which to tune, rather than drive, agroecosystem performance, while meeting or exceeding the performance of less diverse systems.”  Davis AS, Hill JD, Chase CA, Johanns AM, Liebman M (2012) Increasing Cropping System Diversity Balances Productivity, Profitability and Environmental Health. PLoS ONE 7(10): e47149. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047149


Agroecology versus Industrial Agriculture: Infographic

Posted in Models, Tools by Jessica Bird on September 27th, 2012

Source: Nourishing The Planet

Infographic by The Christensen Fund

From the Infographic ‘Soil to Sky: of agroecology versus industrial agriculture’ by The Christensen Fund

In order to feed our world without destroying it, an holistic type of agriculture is needed, and we have a choice. Here we compare the current high-input industrial system with a renewed vision for agriculture: the agroecolocial system. […]

Agroecological strategies can better feed the world, fight climate change and poverty, and protect soil and water while maintaining healthy, liveable communities and local economies. Industrial agriculture contributes to climate change, malnutrition and ecosystem degradation around the planet. It has not delivered on its promise to feed the world.

Go to the post on Nourishing the Planet for a higher resolution version.


Fruit trees for Unley Park in Council trial

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on August 29th, 2012

Source: Eastern Courier Messenger


Photo by Luke Hemer, AdelaideNow

From “Fruit trees planted in Unley park as part of Unley Council trial” by Emily Griffiths

Dozens of fruit and nut trees have been planted in an Unley reserve in a trial to encourage people to grow produce in their backyards. More than 60 trees, including pears, walnuts and peaches, were planted recently by Unley Council in Morrie Harrell Reserve in Ramage St.

Unley Community Sustainability Advisory Group member Peter Croft, who recommended the trial, said the orchard would provide food for residents and help build a sense of community. “Imagine going to a park for a barbecue and being able to get a lemon straight off a tree to season your meat,” Mr Croft, of Parkside, said. “The idea is to encourage people to grow more in their backyards. This is one of a series (and) hopefully there will be lots more orchards planted.” Under the trial, residents with dead or dying street trees can also apply to the council to have them replaced with fruit trees.

Unley general manager Steven Faulkner welcomed the project. “For a relatively small establishment cost, and given food security and the rising costs of fresh produce are topical, this is considered an innovative trial,” Mr Faulkner told the Eastern Courier Messenger in an emailed statement. Plans for another 20 orchard sites are being investigated by the council. The trial is part of the council’s Food Security Strategy, which was endorsed last year.

Read the original article by Emily Griffiths

Public fruit trees seems to be a hot topic around the world at the moment, see the post on Guerilla Grafters in San Francisco -JB


Guerrilla Grafters: Turning street trees into fruit trees

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on August 2nd, 2012

Source: The Atlantic Cities

 

From “Should Public Trees Bear Fruit?” by Amy Biegelsen:

There’s a block in San Francisco that will soon be blossoming with cherries, plums and pears, but Tara Hui will not say where. That’s because she’s worried that backlash from city officials or unsympathetic citizens will halt the progress she and her fellow Guerrilla Grafters have made splicing fruit-bearing branches on to city trees.

Grafting trees is as simple as cutting a branch from one kind of tree and sticking it into a notch in another, securing it with sturdy tape and hoping that the new branch thrives. It’s as old as the Bible and widely used today in industrial agriculture.

Hui hopes the method will help bring food to under-served parts of the city like her neighborhood, Visitacion Valley, which she says is basically a food desert.

“There’s a lot of discussion about what kind of policy we need to get businesses to come to this neighborhood to sell fresh produce or even organic,” she says. Over the years she’s advocated for bringing fruit trees into the city’s urban forestry mix. “If all goes well it might even spawn some kind of cottage industry like canning or jamming,” she says.

But first things first.

Her campaign with city agencies hadn’t drawn any takers, “so finally out of frustration I thought why not just do it, and do it responsibly, and that could be a case to convince them,” she says. About a year ago, the Guerrilla Grafters were born as a horizontally organized band of fellow agro-activists who wanted to help sew{sic} an urban orchard.

Hui sees maintaining data as a key element of the project. “It’s difficult to counter an argument without any data to disprove it,” she says. The grafters are working on a mapping application with data on tree type and location in hopes that the citizen science will bolster their project and any future negotiating they may need to do.

[…]

Hui points out that the group is careful to only splice into locations where a volunteer has offered to monitor and maintain the tree, “so it really comes to us rather than us going out looking for it,” she says. Volunteers are watching in neighborhoods from the Sunnydale housing projects to the tony Hayes Valley, vigilant against a pest infestation that could spoil the pilot program.

Read the full article by Amy Biegelsen or visit the Guerrilla Grafters site.