Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Seasonal Calendars: learning from Indigenous ecological knowledge

Posted in Models, Research by Jessica Bird on November 14th, 2012


Seasonal calendar from the Ngan’gi language group in the Northern Territory (TRaCK)

From the SBS Podcast Indigenous weather knowledge bridges gap by Naomi Selvaratnam

Indigenous communities across northern Australia have helped to develop seasonal calendars using their environmental knowledge. The calendars detail the changes in plant and animal life across the year, and can include as many as 13 seasons.

Darwin-based CSIRO researcher, Emma Woodward says the project highlights the importance of incorporating Indigenous knowledge into scientific research projects. She told Naomi Selvaratnam the value of indigenous knowledge is frequently underestimated by scientists.

The following comes from the CSIRO about the most recently released seasons calendar from the Gooniyandi language group in the Fitzroy Valley in the Kimberly.

The Mingayooroo – Manyi Waranggiri Yarrangi, Gooniyandi Seasons calendar was developed by key knowledge-holders of the Gooniyandi language group from the Fitzroy Valley in the Kimberley and CSIRO, as part of a Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge project on Indigenous socio-economic values and rivers flows in northern Australia.

The seasonal cycle recorded on the calendar follows 4 main seasons: Barranga (‘very hot weather time’); Yidirla (‘wet season time when the river runs’); Ngamari (‘female cold weather time’) and Girlinggoowa (‘male cold weather time’). Gooniyandi people closely follow meteorological events, including wind speed and direction, clouds and rain types, as each event is linked to different behaviours of animals. Gooniyandi people can therefore look to the weather to tell them when it is the best time for hunting and collecting different plants and animals.

The Gooniyandi Seasons calendar represents a wealth of Indigenous ecological knowledge. The development of the calendar was driven by a community desire to document seasonal-specific knowledge of the Margaret and Fitzroy Rivers in the Kimberley, including the environmental indicators that act as cues for bush tucker collection. The calendar also addresses community concern about the loss of traditional knowledge, as older people from the language group pass away and younger people are not being exposed to Indigenous ecological knowledge.

>>> You can listen to the podcast on SBS World News Radio and download the Gooniyandi seasons calendar from CSIRO.
>>> You can also access seasonal calendars for other Indigenous groups from TRaCK (Tropical Rivers and Coast Knowledge) research hub.


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.


Food Economies without Fossil Fuels: Animation

Posted in Tools, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on September 17th, 2012

Source: Sustainable Food Trust


Screen grab from the animation by Marija Jacimovic & Benoit Detalle

>> Driving food economies without fossil fuels

A short animation by Marija Jacimovic based upon Michael Pollan’s talk “Food Rules” given at the RSA. Not only are we going to have to learn to drive an industrial economy without fossil fuels, we’re going to have to learn to create a lot of food without using them. Here are some of Michael’s snippets of sense on the matter.

>>Watch the animation on the Sustainable Food Trust website.


Urban Food Week: London

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on September 13th, 2012

Source: SustainWeb


Urban Food Week is a celebration of the fantastic food being produced by community projects in London.

The week is a collaboration between restaurant network Ethical Eats; Capital Growth – the campaign to create 2012 new food-growing spaces by 2012; and Capital Bee, which promotes community beekeeping in London, and is to highlight the importance of buying and eating local food, urban growing and planting forage for bees.

During the week, restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs across the city will be showcasing dishes and drinks made with ultra-local fruit, veg and herbs from urban farms, and from London honey cultivated in community beehives.

Diners who submit a picture of their Urban Food Week dish or drink will be entered into a draw to win a one-day urban foraging course.

Urban Food Week
10-16 September

Go to the Ethical Eats site to find out more.


Sustainable Horticulture and Food Production: Postgraduate Study

Posted in Models, Research, seeking by Kate Archdeacon on August 23rd, 2012

Source: Food Climate Research Network (FCRN)

Applications open for 2012/13

Schumacher College is the first in the world to offer a postgraduate programme in Sustainable Horticulture and Food Production.

The programme has been developed in association with the Centre for Alternative Technology and Plymouth University.  From 2012/13 we are offering a Postgraduate Diploma and a Postgraduate Certificate (subject to final University approval) alongside a part-time and full-time MSc.

Sustainable Horticulture

As global population hits 7 billion in 2011, we urgently need to consider how our food systems will cope in the coming years. Can they produce enough? And are they resilient to an unpredictable climate and reduction in fossil fuels and other high-energy inputs on which they’re currently dependent?

This programme brings together the thinking, research and practice at the cutting-edge of a global food revolution. Drawing from many different projects and schools of thought around the world, and looking at the roles of large scale food production, biotechnology, ‘human scale’ horticulture and botanical diversity, our starting point is natural systems.

How can we work with nature and biological cycles to improve our horticultural production? And how do we do it without increasing environmental degradation, climate change or consumption of finite resources, the pressing questions of our time.

Who is this course for?

This course is for growers, entrepreneurs and leaders who want to progress food systems that are ecologically, socially and financially sustainable.  You will have the opportunity to further develop your technical, strategic, and critical skills and the space to regenerate and hone your passion and creativity for a better world.

We are delighted to receive your applications whether you are coming from an undergraduate degree, taking time-out to study mid-career or wanting an opportunity to retrain in a subject area that is of huge importance to our future resilience and well-being.

We are looking for enthusiastic agents of change who are ready to co-create a new sustainable food system in practice. We are looking for those prepared to take a risk and stand on the cutting-edge of new thinking in this area.

Schumacher College welcomes students from all over the world in its diverse mix of cultural experience and age group which allows for rich peer to peer learning.

Course programme overview

The course format has been designed to allow students to combine postgraduate study at Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate level with work and other commitments.

There are six taught modules between September and April, followed by an 18 week dissertation period. Postgraduate Diploma students to not write up a dissertation, but must complete all six Core Modules including Research Methods. Postgraduate Certificate students take Core Modules 1, 4 and 6 only.

Each module is worth 20 credits and, with the exception of Module 2, are composed of one week reading preparation, two weeks residential at Schumacher College, followed by three weeks for assignments with on-line support. The dates of residency at Schumacher College (or CAT, for Module 2) are shown below.

  • Module 1: 3 – 14 September Plant Science and Botanical Diversity
  • Module 2: 22 – 26 October Food Systems and the Post-Carbon World (CAT)
  • Module 3: 26 November – 7 December Research Methods
  • Module 4: 7 – 18 January Living Systems
  • Module 5: 25 February – 8 March The New Food Economy
  • Module 6: 15 – 26 April Ecological Design and Practice in Horticulture
>>Go to the Schumacher College website to find out more about the course.


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.


Goat Races & Urban farming in London

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on July 27th, 2012

Source: polis blog via Sustainable Cities Collective


Photo by Manic Street Preacher via flickr CC

From “The Changing Face of Urban Farming in London” by Idroma Montgomery:

Recently I’ve noticed that London embraces urban farming in a way I haven’t seen in other cities. Last month, I attended the Oxford-Cambridge Goat Race at Spitalfields City Farm in East London, a popular annual event that raises money for the farm. It is housed on a side street off the trendy and boisterous Brick Lane, and like many other city farms in London, offers a study in how to effectively utilize small amounts of urban space.

Spitalfields City Farm resides alongside a small park and a residential area, including council flats and primary schools. The sound of the Overground is ever present as trains rush past, visible behind the small playground and vegetable patches. The farm contains a small menagerie of rare breeds, a weekend community market, a greenhouse and small plots for non-professional gardening. It is a farm that is connected to its community and surroundings. Throughout the week, people can easily buy a range of eggs, plants and compost, as well as other locally made goods. Most of the other urban farms in the area follow a similar template, acting as hubs of community activity and knowledge exchange across central and greater London.

The presence of Spitalfields and other farms not only demonstrates ways in which Londoners are attempting to remain connected to how food is sourced and produced (as evidenced by the rise of boutique markets such as Borough and Brixton), but also serves as a means to maintain a multicultural identity and re-establish communal urbanism in a city that increasingly isolates its citizens. Most farms were built in the 1970s and 1980s by local community groups to provide community space and help people provide for themselves and take responsibility for their area. Built amongst rubble on unused land, these farms were the physical manifestations of people attempting to resist the destruction of their neighborhoods — a symbol of activism. Communities were able to reclaim neglected spaces and create stable alternative environments that subverted expected ideas of what these neighborhoods needed and wanted. Most continue to be run by community committees and volunteers and require donations and council funding in order to survive. Their continued existence underscores the fact that they remain significant to their areas.

Many London farms are located near deprived or marginalized areas. The Spitalfields farm —located in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets — has targeted events at local residents to help them learn how to grow fruits and vegetables (including Asian vegetables, in a nod to the large local Asian population) and cook using seasonal produce. Through these activities, marginalized and under-represented families are able to contribute to farm activities, learn about food production and care, and reconnect the relationship between the food that they eat and the animals that are cared for in the farm. It also allows them to think critically about the sustainability of food production, how and what they eat, and how such food practices affect their families and communities. These connections change the spatiality of neighbourhoods and how they are navigated, creating spaces of interaction and production between residents and the land, as well as among residents.

[…]

Read the full article by Idroma Montgomery.


Farmhack: Open-source agricultural technology

Posted in Models by Jessica Bird on July 4th, 2012

Source: Shareable

From “FarmHack: Collaboratively Retooling Agriculture” by Benjamin Brownell:

FarmHack is a network for sharing open source know-how amongst the distributed fringe of DIY agricultural tech aficionados and innovators. In the same vein as Appropedia or Open Source Ecology, a collaborative digital knowledge-base facilitates the harvest of crowd wisdom to address challenges and inefficiencies in modern ecological (and economical) farm operation. It is a project of Young Farmers Coalition and somewhat angled to the exuberant and tech-savvy eco-preneurial demographic, but inclusive and supportive of all open earthy inhabitants.

A primary focus of the organization is toward intensive development meet-ups, teach-ins, and hackathons, in person, on the farm. Just after landing at my new rural summer farm home and hack-factory in Vermont, I learned of one such get-together nearby on Lake Champlain. It appealed as a chance to meet peers, learn about the local Intervale organic agricultural enterprise collective, and practice some “agile” collaborative protocols in fresh context.

[…]

We were first treated to a tour of the Intervale Center, and the predominantly “hacked” implements and equipment of its Farmers’ Cooperative, such as automated greenhouses, root vegetable washer (designed in conjunction with University of Vermont engineering students), salad greens dryer (Amana brand washing machine uncased and set to spin), four-barrelled flame-throwing weed exterminator, and electric tractor-to-be. Use of these is on a per-hour honor system basis, with a proportional pooled fund (plus lots of good-natured volunteer effort) to cover maintenance, repairs, and new purchase. It’s effective, productive, and proliferating (link is an “idea worth sharing” pdf pamphlet on farm equipment co-ops from University of Sasketchewan Center for the Study of Cooperatives).

Rural areas–so many in stark economic decline today–are in fact a wealth of raw materials, practical skill, and entrained devotion towards creative repurposing and sustainable initiative. Some of the best comfort and satisfaction about life on and with a piece of land, is that there is always plenty to “do;” to explore, to evaluate and improve upon, to hack away at in a mechanical or strategic manner–with room for creativity and eclectic flair–leading directly to concrete (frequently delicious and/or nutritious) result.

[…]

Commercial crop production and domestic animal management is intensely context-sensitive and dynamic vocation. It’s frequently demeaning and discouraging. It’s relatively crap pay. And, it is occasionally a paramount satisfaction returned for gritty labors in the public interest that are literally life-giving. Sustainable food systems are the long-range engine and “money supply” of our civil society. Open sourcing the know-how and effective story lines of successful ventures within this realm will invite citizens back into the processes and rewards of collaborative solving for abundance, ecology, community, and culture.

Read the full article by Benjamin Brownell on Shareable.


Urban Agriculture: Designing for growing food

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on June 12th, 2012


Photo © Eagle Street Farm

From “Urban Agriculture Part II: Designing Out the Distance” by Vanessa Quirk on ArchDaily:

All over the world, citizens are taking the Food Revolution into their own hands, becoming urban bee-keepers, guerilla planters, rooftop gardeners, foodie activists. While community engagement and political lobbying are vital to these grassroots movements, so too could be design. By designing our cities – our public and civic spaces, our hospitals and schools – with food in mind, we can facilitate this Revolution by making food a visible part of urban life, thus allowing us to take that crucial first step: eliminating the physical/conceptual distance between us and our food.

What does it look like to design with food in mind?

[…]

Read the full article by Vanessa Quirk to get the bigger picture and follow the embedded links to a wide range of urban agriculture projects.