Bill & Melinda Gates
How will technology dramatically change the lives of the poor by 2030?
"We bet that life for the poor will improve more dramatically in the next 15 years than ever before."
Four areas believed to undergo the most change:
-Online education will drastically improve world education bringing high quality learning to those who live in poorer areas.
-Research and development of new vaccines and getting them out to children. Invested most money here.
-Rotavirus vaccine for diarrhea.
-Research and development of better seeds. Better education of farmers to grow more than one crop per season.
-Credit for farmers to purchase fertilizer.
-Increase African farming productivity so they are able to feed themselves. Africa will have a sovereign choice on whether or not to use GMOs. (GMOs seeds are stronger and more tolerant to harsh weather.) Their productivity can help feed the world as well.
-"As people eat more meat, there is an inefficiency that you have to grow more grain to make the equivalent number of calories in meat."
-The impact of a more productive seed is much more influential that paying money for food to be delivered as a hand out to the poor.
Vegetarians have it right - we'll run out of food by 2050 if we don't cut down on meat.
By Helena Horton.
The Nature Climate Change commission has warned that if we don't change the way we eat and farm, we will run out of food by 2050 and raise the temperature of the planet by 2 degrees Celcius.
Over 35% of of the Earth's permanent ice-free land is used for food production, which has been the greatest driver of deforestation and associated biodiversity loss.
We then need more space to rear the livestock- and not all of the crop is reabsorbed into the food web. We only get a mere 2.6% return on the crops we feed to the critters, through meat and dairy. We would get far more biomass efficiency if we just ate the crops.
The inefficiency is shown by the fact that the productivity of our cropland should be 8.3 pentagrams of carbon a year. However, we only deliver 0.7 pentagrams worth of carbon in our food. This is partly because we are using the land inefficiently by using it to rear and feed livestock.
Cropland, not including livestock feed will need a 60% increase by 2050 according to the report. However, including livestock feed this increases to 100%. This means that the amount of deforestation which takes place will double.
Because forests are the 'lungs of the Earth', this is going to drastically affect Global Warming. The amount of greenhouse gases we emit will increase by 77% by 2050 if this deforestation takes place. If we change our diets, we can reduce this to 45%.
The commission recommended that everyone in the world eats just 2 portions of meat a week maximum, to reduce this strain on our crops. We currently eat 5 portions a week on average in the UK, with some people managing 10.
Perhaps the solution isn't more urban farms but a change in our diet. How will this affect the culture of the world? How can you convince people tho eat less meat? To give up something they like; a luxury? How can I make the alternatives more appealing?
How the U.S. manages to waste $165 billion in food each year.
Brad Pulmer. 22 Aug 2012.
Each year, about 40 percent of all food in the United States goes uneaten. It's just tossed out or left to rot. And that's a fairly large waste of resources. All that freshwater and land, all that fertilizer and energy — for nothing. By one recent estimate, Americans are squandering the equivalent of $165 billion each year by rubbishing so much food.
How does the food actually get wasted? For that, here's a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council that tries to track food waste up and down the system, from "farm to fork." My colleague Dina El Boghdady has already highlighted some of the report's conclusions — including the fact that Europe does a better job of curtailing waste than the United States. But it's worth looking at where food actually gets wasted each step of the way. So let's follow the steps:
1) Farming: Roughly 7 percent of the produce that's grown in the United States simply gets stranded on fields each year. Some growers plant more crops than there's demand for, to hedge against disease and weather. Some produce goes unpicked because it doesn't meet standards for shape and color. At times, perfectly fine crops go unharvested after food-safety scares, such as the FDA's salmonella warning in 2008. Fluctuating immigration laws in states like Georgia can also create shortages of farmworkers, which can leave food unpicked.
2) Post-harvest and packing: After crops have been gathered from the fields, farmers tend to cull produce to make sure it meets minimum standards for size, color, and weight. "One large cucumber farmer," the NRDC report notes, "estimated that fewer than half the vegetables he grows actually leave his farm and that 75 percent of the cucumbers culled before sale are edible." If there's a culprit here, it's our high aesthetic standards for food.
3) Processing and distribution: Plenty of food gets trimmed in the manufacturing stage, though much of it is inedible anyway. Technical malfunctions in processing and refrigeration are one big factor. Food can sometimes sit too long at improper temperatures and spoil. Another issue is that stores often reject shipments — and it's often difficult for distributors to find a new taker. After all, it's not as if food banks can always find a home for a truckload of rejected beets.
4) Retail and grocery stores: Grocery stores are another huge source of rubbished food — with the USDA estimating that supermarkets toss out $15 billion worth of unsold fruits and vegetables alone each year. Stores would rather overstock their shelves and throw out the remainder than look empty. Supermarkets will also winnow out produce that's in subpar condition, since few shoppers want to buy an apple that's all bruised up.
There's also the issue of "sell by" expiration dates. The report cites one industry estimate that each store throws out, on average, $2,300 worth of food each day because the products have neared their expiration date. Yet most of this food is still edible. In many states, it's still perfectly legal to sell food past its expiration date. Many stores would just prefer not to — it looks bad. "Most stores, in fact, pull items 2 to 3 days before the sell-by date," the NRDC report observes.
5) Food service and restaurants: In restaurants, a good chunk of food is lost in the kitchen. And, on average, diners leave about 17 percent of their food uneaten. The report notes that portion sizes are a big reason for this, as portions have ballooned in the past 30 years. Restaurants also try to keep more food than they need on hand to make sure that everything on the menu is available. What's more, chain restaurants have inflexible rules that require perfectly good food to be tossed. McDonald's, for instance, requires fries to be thrown out after seven minutes. About one-tenth of fast food gets junked this way.
6) Households: This appears to be the big one. According to various estimates, American families throw out between 14 and 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy. This can cost the average family between $1,365 to $2,275 annually. A big factor here, the NRDC report notes, is that food has become so cheap and readily available. The report also notes there's a great deal of confusion around expiration labels, which tend to be confusing and often prompt people to throw out food prematurely. (The British government has recently moved to revise these standards to make them less perplexing.)
7) Disposal: Not all discarded food is equal. The report estimates that only 3 percent of thrown-out food in the United States is composted. Most end up in landfills, where they decompose and release methane, a powerful heat-trapping greenhouse gas. In fact, about 23 percent of U.S. methane emissions comes from landfill food. Composting or even technologies to capture methane could reduce that.
The NRDC report argues that it is feasible to limit this food waste, if people were inclined (although it's not clear how big a reduction is possible). Granted, some waste is inevitable. If shoppers don't want to buy dented avocados or funny-looking carrots, there's not much a grocery store can do.
Still, the report notes that Americans today waste 50 percent more food than they did in the 1970s, which suggests that there's a fair bit of room to improve. What's more, Britain has managed to reduce the amount of household food tossed out by 18 percent over the past five years through a combination of public-awareness campaigns and resolutions by leading retailers to eliminate their downstream waste.
British-produced food would run out today - farmers warn.
The Telegraph. 14 Aug 2013.
Falling self-sufficiency means Britain produces less than two-thirds (62%) of the food the country consumes, down from 75% in 1991, the National Farmers' Union said.
If all the food produced in the UK in a year were stored and eaten from January 1, the ''cupboard'' would be bare by August 14, the NFU has calculated.
''Right across the board farmers have a fantastic natural capacity to produce more British food, given the right market signals and the confidence to invest. We have the right technologies to produce more from less, with precision farming helping to target fertiliser and crop protection products within centimetres.
''Laser technology can even pinpoint an individual weed, improving accuracy and efficiency. Crops grown under cover help to lengthen the season for our British fruits.
The UK imports £37.6 billion in food and drink and while it is a trading nation, in times of economic uncertainty a strong food-producing industry is essential, Mr Kendall said.
He also urged the public to put pressure on their local supermarkets, restaurants and MPs to back British farming. The NFU is launching a charter which people can sign to support the UK's farming industry.
This terrifying chart shows we’re not growing enough food to feed the world
The global population is expected to swell from 7 billion today to 9.6 billion by 2050. The rising middle class in China and India is eating more meat than ever. And this is all happening at a time when we're setting aside a greater slice of farmland for biofuels and trying not to cut down any more forests (which exacerbates climate change).
In theory, there's a simple solution here: The world's farmers will just need to get better at squeezing more productivity out of existing farmland. Crop yields have been steadily improving since the advent of synthetic fertilizer and modern agricultural techniques. So those yields will just need to keep improving in the years to come.
But there's a big problem: This isn't happening. Or at least, it's not happening fast enough. A recent peer-reviewed study in the journal PLOS ONE found that crop yields haven't been rising at a sufficient pace to meet projected demand by 2050. The solid lines show what would happen if this growth continued. And it's not enough. The dashed lines above show how productivity would need to grow even more rapidly for the world to satisfy expected demand and double global food production by 2050 in a sustainable manner, without razing more forests for farmland.
"In many parts of the world, we haven't seen enough investment in agriculture because of economics or policies or institutions," he said. But in some parts of the world, there's a more worrisome prospect — farmers are doing everything they can to squeeze more productivity out of their farmland, but they're starting to hit a biological "wall," a limit on how much yields can keep rising.
And this is all a worry even before we start talking about global warming, which creates its own set of issues. Scientists like David Lobell have found evidence that extreme heat waves could hurt crop yields in the decades ahead, outweighing the benefits of warmer temperatures. And if climate change brings more frequent droughts — as some researchers expect — that would make a further dent.
In a 2009 essay (pdf) for Scientific American, Foley argued that the world should focus on five big things: 1)Stop razing forests and savannahs for farmland — by, for instance, shifting away from crop-based biofuels. 2) Focus on boosting yields where it's technologically doable, especially in Africa. 3) Figure out how to use water and fertilizer more efficiently everywhere. 4) Pare back the amount of meat in our diets. 5) Cut down on the enormous amount of food waste worldwide.
Building a sustainable food source: How will we feed 9billion people on the planet in 2050?
Wednesday 3 Apr 2013 6:00 am
If you have any lingering illusions that your weekly grocery shop is going to miraculously decrease in cost, forget about them. Rising food prices are a reality we will all have to deal with in future.
‘The era of cheap food is over,’ said sustainable food expert Paul McMahon, author of Feeding Frenzy: The New Politics of Food, which was published last month.
He explained: ‘There are solid reasons to believe food is going to stay more expensive in the next decades because of this extra demand coming out of Asia, because of biofuels, because of some of the ecological constraints in parts of the world and because of volatility in weather. We’re going to see higher food prices than before.’
Should we talk about the weather first? Towards the end of last year, the United Nations warned that 2013 could see a worldwide food crisis comparable to the situation in 2008, when prices rocketed and there were riots across Africa and Asia. The UN fears that severe weather in a key producing nation could see more people go hungry – last year’s drought in the US crushed the corn crop.
Almost one billion people on the planet are undernourished, the same planet which wastes anything between one third and a half of all the food it produces.
Despite this wastage, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization is keen to stress that we need to increase food production by 70 per cent in the next three decades or so to cope with the estimated 9bn people expected to make up the world’s population by 2050.
Food experts are adamant that the planet isn’t running out of food, but that issues with overproduction and distribution are preventing it from getting to everyone.
Mr McMahon said billions of people should not go hungry.
‘We can feed more than 9bn people today with the food we produce – probably 10bn,’ he told Metro.
‘The reason is the way in which it’s shared and distributed and accessed. Large amounts of food are fed to animals which they cut of the food system and large amounts go to biofuels but also about a third of all the food we use is wasted.’
This waste occurs at the consumer end of the food chain in rich countries where we leave our products to rot in our kitchens. But in developing countries, Mr McMahon said a lack of refrigeration and storage means food is wasted in between the farmer and the consumer.
‘Fundamentally, people go hungry not because there isn’t enough food but because they can’t afford to buy food,’ he said.
‘To address that problem, we need to help those poorer communities earn higher incomes and really go through a process of economic development so they can afford to purchase food.’
He said times had changed from the 1980s, when there were regular media reports about ‘butter mountains’ and ‘wine lakes’ across Europe.
Food resources have become more scarce and production is being battered by consumption, driving prices up. Yet every cloud has a silver lining.
‘Because maybe food has been too cheap, we have taken it for granted and we haven’t shown sufficient care for it,’ he explained.
‘As food gets more expensive, one of the positive benefits of that is we’re probably going to waste less because we will think more carefully about what we buy and what we consume and make sure that less ends up in the bin and more ends up on the plate.’
Mr McMahon said there are a number of ‘myths’ and ‘half-truths’ about food.
‘A lot of people blame consumers in the rich world for causing hunger in the poor world, so we’re told if we only didn’t eat so much meat that would solve world hunger and if we didn’t have biofuels that would solve world hunger.
‘The real problem is not overconsumption in rich countries – it’s underproduction in poor countries. It’s helping poor small farmers in developing countries grow more that’s the most important step that we can take.’
He warned: ‘I think we’re on a bit of a knife-edge at the moment. Stocks are very low at the moment for all the main food commodities. We’re only another US drought, South American drought or big episode in one of the main producers away from another big spike in food prices.
‘Things are a little bit too tight for comfort at the moment and there isn’t a whole lot of slack in the system.’
He believes a return to the crisis situation of 2008 can be averted by a number of measures, including more ecological farming methods and helping farmers in poor countries grow more food.
‘The advice which a lot of those countries were given – particularly African countries – for 20 or 30 years was, “Don’t worry about growing your own food because you can always rely on markets to provide. You can rely on cheap American exports or European exports”. That’s been shown not to be a very good strategy for food security or for economic development.
‘We need to all play a role in investing in the infrastructure and research and access to markets and trading to help small farmers in Africa in particular to grow more for their domestic markets.
‘And then if that continues on, eventually it can become a bread basket for the rest of the world too because there are big reserves of land and water in those regions. There’s a huge opportunity for those countries to increase their agricultural productivity.’
However, he warned of the negative impact of so-called ‘land grabs’ in Africa, where a number of private investors are looking to find new sources of farmland.
‘The most striking phenomenon to come out of the world food crisis of 2008 is this wave of foreign acquisition of farmland in developing countries, in particular in Africa,’ he said.
‘It is something very new. These people are not just investing in plantation agriculture cash crops like bananas or coffee or cocoa which can only be grown in those countries, they’re often buying farmland to buy staple crops, so it’s wheat, it’s rice, it’s maize, it’s the basics.
‘We haven’t seen anything like that for at least 100 years. Some people would say there are some neo-colonial characteristics about this.’
Last year, the head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said Africa had become a ‘wild west’ for land grabs and that some kind of regulation was needed.
For now, prices increases look set to continue.
‘There are some fundamental supply-and-demand reasons why prices are high,’ said Mr McMahon. ‘If you look at total world production of the basic grains – wheat, rice and maize – for seven out of the eight years between 2000 and 2008, world production was lower than world consumption. We are, in effect, living off our reserves.
‘It’s inevitable you’re going to have high prices in that situation when you have tight supplies. The high price is there for a reason – it’s not the problem in itself – it’s a symptom of those underlying problems.’
-This article raises an interesting point about increasing food production and productivity in poorer countries but I still think that overconsumption and the mentality towards food in richer countries needs to be addressed. I think to truly 'solve' the problem, both sides need to change.
Low Cost Housing
S House, Vietnam, Vo Trong Nghia Architects
This recently completed house in a remote Ecuadorian rainforest was designed by architect Enrique Mora Alvarado to be built by its residents. The family used eight laurel tree trunks and over 900 bamboo stalks to build the three-bedroom house over concrete foundations. It cost just $15,000 (£9,500).
"Building with local resources in a bamboo producing area is a huge opportunity for the community because it awakens interest in harnessing local resources with local labour, causing a low impact on the environment and improving the quality of life of the inhabitants of the region," Mora Alvarado told Dezeen.
I've taken from these various articles, (about architecture firms/non profit organizations assisting people with the funding and design to build homes using local materials), the idea that it is very important to empower the people and involve in the change you are trying to create. If urban farming is the way to go, then the community in which the urban farm is to be built needs to be involved.
Low Cost Housing
Post Tsunami Housing, Sri Lanka, Shigeru Ban
Each house has two bedrooms, a hall and a sheltered courtyard, which residents can use as a dining room, social space or simply as a place to repair fishing nets.
Adaptable wooden screens divide the rooms, to suit a Muslim lifestyle. "This is the first time I've worked for the Muslim societies," said Ban, "so before I built the houses I had a community meeting to find out what has to be carefully done depending on the generation, for example, we had to separate the man's space and woman's space."
Ban also designed furniture for the residence, using wood from the rubber trees that are common to the region.This project provides 100 houses in a Muslim fishing village, in the region of Tissamaharama, on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka, following the destruction caused by the 2004 tsunami. Shigeru Ban's aim was to adapt the houses to their climate, to use local labour and materials to bring profit to the region, and to respond to the villagers' own requirements through direct consultation.
Another example in which the architect connects with the people, understands their needs, uses the local resources and provides for them in the most effective and cost-efficient way possible.
Moses Bridge, The Netherlands, Ro Koster and Ad Kil
They built the bridge through the moat and from a distance it cannot be seen as it looks as though the water continues flowing down the moat when looking at eye level. It isn’t until you get right up to the bridge that you can actually see just how unique it is as it sits on and in the water, with the level of the water in the moat rising right up to the top of the sides of the sunken bridge.
However the water never overflows onto the bridge, making it inaccessible. This is down to the fact that there are two dams at each end of the moat and these manage to keep the level of the water at the correct level. If it rains there is a pump at the bridges bottom which gets rid of the excess water.
The bridges sides have been made from accoya, which is a hardwood, typically used in decking on bridges. This wood has been given an non-toxic modification process and it is this that stops it from becoming a victim to fungal decay.
I found this piece interesting because of the way it intruded but did it's best to not disrupt.
This project also made me wonder if perhaps farming could occur on London's canals and rivers as they are already a water-source in themselves.
A study of cassava.
-Resists most pests
-Grows well in poor soil
-Can be stored in the ground up to two years without rotting (acts as insurance against famine)
-Contains cyanide (toxin) that is removed by cooking, soaking and other methods
-Different varieties ranging from bitter to sweet, leaves are edible as well
-A staple for many African countries
Written by Bill Gates.
Focus on Beyond Meat and Hampton Creek Foods.
By 2050, the world’s population will grow to more than 9 billion and our appetite for meat will grow along with it. The demand for meat will have doubled between 2000 and 2050. This is happening in large part because economies are growing and people can afford more meat. That’s all good news.
But raising meat takes a great deal of land and water and has a substantial environmental impact. Put simply, there’s no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people. Yet we can’t ask everyone to become vegetarians.
The chicken taco I ate was made using Beyond Meat’s chicken alternative. I wasn’t the only one fooled by how real it tasted. New York Times food writer Mark Bittman couldn’t tell the difference between Beyond Meat and real chicken either.
I am really interested in these new companies because they provide an alternative answer to the problem of our over-consumption of meat. If their research and development of the perfect meat substitute is...well, perfected, this coupled with an increase in seed productivity can change the face of livestock farming which in turn will decrease the pressure it puts on the environment and the climate.
-Objective is to produce mass-market solutions that perfectly replace animal protein with plant protein.
-Organization is dedicated to improving human health, positively impacting climate change, conserving natural resources and respecting animal welfare.
-Very interesting alternative in my opinion. If their 'meat' is more nutritious, tastes great and is better for the earth, I don't see why we shouldn't adopt it into our regular diets.
Written by Bill Gates.
Cornell University, Dr. Ed Buckler, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Suppose you want a variety of corn with a natural resistance to a certain pest. You start by planting as much corn as you can. You wait 8 to 12 weeks for it to grow, and then you take pollen from some of the plants that aren’t infested and use it to pollinate others. If the offspring of those plants is pest-resistant, you’re in luck—your plant won the genetic lottery. If not, you have to start over. Because you’re limited by the growing season, the process can take seven to ten years.
Genetics research will cut that time in half.
Getting there takes three steps. One is to understand the crop’s genetic makeup. Ed took me on a short tour of a lab where machines called sequencers wereanalyzing DNA from thousands of plants. They were mapping the genes that give each plant its physical traits: its height, color, etc.
The second step is to go into the field and record those physical traits for each individual plant whose genes you’re studying. Cornell researchers are growing hundreds of acres of corn and other crops not far from campus, and they make regular treks out there to collect data. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time for a field trip on this visit.
Finally, you build a computer model that puts the two together—the genetic maps of individual plants, along with the data about their physical traits. Once you have that model, you no longer need to cross two plants and just hope for the best. You can ask the computer, “Out of all the plants I have in my field, which two should I breed in order to produce one that is pest-resistant?” Think of it as a highly sophisticated Match.com for plants.
-Villa Bio, Enric Ruiz-Geli. Barcelona, Spain, 2005. (page 49)
Research rooftop garden on this structure: http://www.ruiz-geli.com/projects/built/villa-bio
-New Trade Fair Milan, Massimiliano Fuksas and Doriana O. Mandrelli. Milan, Italy, 2005. (page 183)
Very interesting form, reminds me of Einstein fabric. Research theory behind the form, why they chose it, etc.
-The Glass Bubble, Monika Gora. Malmö, Sweden, 2006. (page 353)
Research the rooftop greenhouse structure. Why it was built, how it works.
Towards Zero Energy Architecture, New solar design. By Mary Guzowski.
Laurence King Publishing Ltd. 2010.
-Fostering an ecological vision (page 10)
-"Solar power: All energy is solar energy, stored in different forms. Every two minutes the sun gives the earth more energy than is used annually world-wide. It is the only renewable resource with the capacity to provide all the energy we need on a global level." Bruce Mau.
Solar energy has the potential to power the entire Earth, if only we can harness it sustainably.
-"Nature as the omni-informed and omni-concerned, omni-considerate cosmic designer discovered and heeded the fact that human organisms and their absolutely essential ecological support complex could not operate safely at a distance of any less than ninety-two million miles away from the nearest atomic-energy plant - the sun - and all the latter's lethal radiation involvements. Humans will have to learn how to keep all humans and their ecological support system operating successfully on our vastly adequate daily income of solar atomic energy." Buckminster Fuller.
-"The greatest impediment to an ecological design revolution is not, however, technological or scientific, but rather human… A real design revolution will have to transform human intentions and the larger political, economic, and institutional structure that permitted ecological degradation in the first place…"
"The ultimate object of ecological design is not the things we make but rather the human mind and specifically its capacity for wonder and appreciation… If it is not to become simply a more efficient way to do the same old things, ecological design must become a kind of public pedagogy built into the structure of daily life…" Our structures must become classrooms, expanding our awareness of nature and our ecological competence.
David Orr, Professor of Environmental Studies at Oberlin Collage, U.S.A.
-Living home, Ray Kappe Architects/Planners and LivingHomes. California, USA. (page 15)
-The performance targets include: zero waste, zero energy, zero water, zero carbon, zero emissions, and zero ignorance.
-The design is made for the location (climate).
-A 2.4-kilowatt photovoltaic array is installed to provide 60-70 percent of the home's energy and includes battery storage. A solar hot-water collector is also installed to power floor heating system.
-The building includes a green roof and small vegetable garden that is irrigated from rainwater collected on the rooftop, combined with storm water diverted from site drains and swales, stored in a cistern.
-The building reduces energy loads by harvesting passive heating, daylighting and natural ventilation.
-A whole house fan located at the top of the stair tower leading to the roof helps to draw hot air out of the building.
-Passive and active solar systems work together to meet winter heating loads.
-An active solar radiant floor heating system supplements the passive heating. A gas fired boiler is used as a back-up system, while an evacuated tube solar collector heats domestic hot water and the radiant floor.
-Most daytime lighting is natural.
-A monitoring system continuously evaluates the energy and water consumption of the systems.
-Research needed: full year wind studies, sunpath case studies, climate data, ventilation study of the structure. Determine the solar budget of the site as this evergy budget determines what is available, what you can glean from the sun. Design should respond to the environment, at best maximizing the use of the naturally provided energy.
-Kingspan Lighhouse, Alan Shingler and Martin Rose, Sheppard Robson. Hertfordshire, UK. (page 31)
-Solar hot-water heating, a 4.7 kW grid-tied photovoltaic array, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, a biomass boiler and efficient electric lighting meets demands throughout the year for hot water, electricity, space heating, and lighting. Water-use reductions are achieved with low volume and efficient appliances and fixtures, including a graywater system that captures water from the bath for toilet flushing. The energy cost of the house would be around 31 pounds per year for wood pellets assuming wood pellets cost 1.8p/kWh.
-Expressing an ecological aesthetic (page 162)
-Aesthetic experiences can have a profound impact on our understanding of nature and our place within the larger ecological web. Aesthetically pleasing architecture also has the power to enhance our relationship with the environment and build ecological awareness.
-It is through our senses of vision, touch, smell, hearing, taste and kinesthetic movement that we intimately engage with architecture and the broader world.
What they do:
Slow Food works around the world to protect food biodiversity, build links between producers and consumers, and raise awareness of some of the most pressing topics affecting our food system.
These initiatives range from community activities organized by local convivia, to larger projects, campaigns and events coordinated by Slow Food's national offices and international headquarters.
- Saving endangered foods and defending gastronomic traditions through our biodiversity projects
- Teaching the pleasure of food and how to make good, clean and fair choices through food and taste education
- Celebrations of the gastronomic traditions of Europe and Asia, artisanal cheese and fish, and meetings of our worldwide networks in our international events
- From animal welfare to land grabbing, addressing hot topics that we care about
- Connecting people passionate about changing the food system through our international network
They focus more on education, connections and protection of what already exists then on the actual act of farming. I think both are important but for the sake of the project, I intend to propose some more literal and structural for London.
Rethinking the Open Office Space.
-the idea of being open, modular, and adaptable can be transferred to use of space (land) in urban farming
Food, Drink and Identity. Cooking, eating and drinking in Europe since the middle ages.
Edited by Peter Scholliers.
-Meals, food narratives, and sentiments of belonging in past and present. A starter: some meditations on gastronomy (page 3)
-We tend to identify other countries with food. There seems to be a direct and comprehensive assimilation between food and (national) identity.
-Diet and identity are not 'given or just 'out there' ready to grab, but that both are interpreted, adapted or rejected according to one's needs, means and intentions.
-Can food operate as the sole factor of identification of a group or an entire nation of does it have its place within a broader set of values (linked to religion, age, occupation, etc.)?
-Social psychologists view identity as a person's own definition in terms of group membership, which entails intergroup behaviour, or the identification of a person with the norms, ideals and manners of a group.
-Social theorists claim that 'identity' is crucial as it allows one to situate oneself and the Other, to give a sense to existence, and to order the world; it forges norms and values.
-'Food anthropology' devoted itself to the study of food in relation to one's own group, to other groups and to the sacred and the gods.
-Food sciences in the 1970s dealt with famine and poverty, food production and consumption, health implications, social distinction, and descriptive studies of feast meals.
-The notion of identity was taken up, to which food was directly and intimately linked. This is supported by the claim that sentiments of belonging via food do not only include the act of classification and consumption, but also the preparation, the organization, the taboos, the company, the location, the pleasure, the time, the language, the symbols, the representation, the form, the meaning and the art of eating and drinking.
-Claude Fischler: Eating is of course a biological act, he argues, but it is much more than that. Food crosses the border between the 'outside' and the 'inside', and this 'principle of incorporation' touches upon the very nature of a person. This is why eating and drinking matter greatly to all people, and why, as reported in some cases of groups of migrants, people retain some food habits when language or other cultural expressions tend to be forgotten. This 'incorporation' is the basis of collective identity.
-Fischler: the present-day alterations in the word of food (technologically as well as culturally) are causing a crisis of the identification with food ("What are we actually eating?") and, hence, a crisis of identity of the eater ("Who are we, then?").
-Alan Warde: "there are limits to the capacity of food to express personal identity". To counter, perhaps the bond between use value and identity value are stronger than he believes.
-gastronomy : the practise or art of choosing, cooking or eating good food
-Specific foods that have been used as a means of identification: bread, alcohol (wine, beer, champagne specifically), sugar, potatoes, the burger and fries/chips, milk, the soft drink (Coca-Cola specifically).
-Confrontations about the identification of oneself/one's group through food is tightly linked to economic, social and ideological factors.
Is eating a ritual?
Can the way we make our food and a shift in our connection and understanding to how it is made change our relationships with the people we eat with? Will we appreciate food more if we labour for it?
What are the norms that determine eating partners? Why is it strange to share a meal with a stranger you meet at a restaurant? Why do we eat alone? Why are people opposed to sharing a table with people they don't know?
Food can tell a lot about identity in terms of class and hierarchy of a group of people but if London was able to become relatively self-reliant in terms of food, with people growing their own, this could lead to a breakdown of the class barrier bringing people back to the roots and the land.
People over history can be identified through food. The poor through their lack of, the rich through the over abundance of, and different cultures and groups of people through certain dishes. If one can identified using food, then food much therefore be a part of our identities. So the question is, how does growing our own food change these identities?
Taste Matters, why we like the foods we do. By John Prescott.
Reaktion Books Ltd. 2012.
-Taste Sensations (page 19)
-Odours are the mixture of compounds that reach the olfactory receptors that lie at the top and back of the nose . It is these receptors that signal what we are eating. Odour is what we assume taste to be.
-Traditionally, taste identifies sweetness, saltiness, sourness and bitterness. We taste with the whole of our tongue.
-Evaluative conditioning: a change in liking due to an association with a positive or negative stimulus.
-Eating for pleasure. (page 83)
-In affluent societies we eat because of cues that tell us that sufficient time has passed since our last meal, or we eat to experience the sensory pleasure of foods, or because we are bored.
It is not possible to remove people from their food and to convince them to eat something else. You cannot convince someone to become a vegetarian if back in his/her home country, meat was the main ingredient. The sentimental value of food is too great to overcome.
Food holds memories.
The Food Consumer. Edited by Christopher Ritson, Leslie Gofton, John McKenzie.
John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 1986.
-A change in the preparation of food (reduction of processed food) can change the nutritional intake we gain.
-People tend to eat cheap food. People eat what they can afford. Will people be willing to spend less and put in more time for their food?
-People eat what they are accustomed to, whether it be because of family, cultural tradition (ethnicity), habit, personal preference due to taste and/or religious influences.
-Industrialization directly influenced and ultimately changed food intake of Britain. If a shift in society has changed the way we eat once, it can be done again.
Concepts in practise; energy. Building for the third millennium.
By Peter F. Smith, Adrian C. Pitts.
B.T. Batsford Ltd. 1997.
-Introduction: A global concern (page 8)
-Of the 6 billion tonnes of carbon currently emitted world-wide due to human activity, about 4.5 billion tonnes is attributable to the industrialized countries. Approximately half of this is due to buildings in one form or another. Architects and engineers have it in their power to reduce building-related carbon emissions by at least 60% (1.35 billion tonnes of carbon). Where policymakers have failed, architects and engineers can succeed.
- The 'dash-for-gas' policy: shift in the 1990s by electricity generators in the UK towards generation of electricity using natural gas has achieved significant reductions in supply-side carbon emissions. This source is not sustainable long-term.
-Prospects for the future of energy-efficient design (page 112)
-The increased intensity of convective currents will increase the frequency and intensity of storms, especially within the zone in which sea temperatures rise above 26 degrees Celsius. Designers should be considering how well their designs and their structures are able to resist natural disasters (specifically cyclones).
-Sustainability: Attainable or impossible? (page 113)
- Extraction of the raw materials (can use recycled materials)
- The manufacturing process (generate energy from renewable sources)
- Transport involved in the manufacturing process
- Transport to site (use local materials)
-Weak sustainability: aggregate of capital stock passing to the next generation remains constant. The depletion of natural capital can be compensated for by increased man-made assets (buildings, roads, machinery).
-Natural capital: soil, biodiversity, hydrological and carbon cycles and the ozone layer.
-Strong sustainability: assumes ecological assets cannot be replaced by man-made artefacts.
-Annex: Global warming: The evidence and likely consequences (page 116)
-Vast amounts of CO2 trapped in tundra ice are being released as melting occurs. (permafrost)
-As oceans warms, CO2 is also released.
-Too much damage has been done to reverse all of the damage of climate change. The choice remains in how much damage people are prepared to tolerate.
-Thermal expansion: change in ocean currents and surface air pressure.
-Vertical land movement: changes in the relative levels of land and sea equally as severe as the warming.
-With each degree increase of temperature, global mean precipitation will increase by 2-3%.
-Climate change = decline soil humidity in continental land areas.
-Millions of hectres of agricultural land in the US have been abandoned because ground water reserves are exhausted.
-In places with marginal food production, small changes in temperature and rainfall have catastrophic effects.
-By 2060, it is expected that up to 350 million people will be affected by famine due to climate change.
-Rise temperature = rise in evaporation of necessary water for farming.
-Increase of 4 degrees Celsius = 10% decline in production of wheat, maize, soya beans, rice in developing countries.
-Crops must also be pest and pathogen resistant (thunder flies in UK, aphids).
-Rise in sea levels = loss of food-producing land and displacement of whole populations.
The Revolutionary Urbanism of Street Farm. Eco-anarchism, architecture and alternative technology in the 1970s.
By Stephen E. Hunt.
Tangent Books, 2014.
-Street Farm is a London-based collective of anarchist architects (early 1979s).
-Focused on the radical transformation of urban living which they called revolutionary urbanism. Took inspiration from Situationism and social ecology.
-Offered powerful vision of green cities in the control of ordinary people.
-Playfully presented glimpses of a utopian transformation of urban life and ecology. The city became a liberated, re-enchanted habitats of organic growth replacing concrete environments in their visualizations.
-Wanted to reconnect humanity with the non-human and natural environment.
-Directly influenced guerrilla gardening in the nineties.
-Herald Leah from The Observer: The Eco-House they built was a step forward towards smashing the 'wasteland urban culture' that he feels official architecture has been largely responsible for creating.
-Simon Rycroft: Identifies the recognition of nature as physical process and the desire to live in 'ecosystemic harmony' as one of the counterculture's most prominent themes and something that could be strived for as a part of the renaissance of the human spirit in urban environments as much in the countryside.
-Look up Street Farm's roadshow. "It's a great time to be alive boys and girls and if you don't think it's so fucking great to be alive, you better leave now because this show will really bring you down."
-Einsteinian cosmology of matter and energy in flux to which humanity us intricately bound added to an evolutionary understanding of nature that suggested that humans were symbolically entwined with natural processes. It was a revolution in the understanding of the very matter of nature. To make something invisible visible.
-In this context, perhaps it's to make the food production industry visible.
-The combination of hydroponic growing and adjacent allotment plots enabled them to produce a significant proportion of their vegetables for consumption. Collected rainwater, nutrients from biogas digester and compost from kitchen waste were fed back into the food production cycle.
-If large amounts of money are required to construct something sustainable, it is likely that the money is generated by environmentally destructive economic activity.
-The whole point about revolutionary technology was that it should be available to ordinary people, not just the rich.
-Street Farm wanted to bring about release from the controlling, self-serving and alienating influence of political and economic elites, in order to reconnect more widely with international networks based upon mutual aid to meet social needs.
-The environmental crisis is a crisis of society not a crisis of technology.
-The expanding dependent populations of the rich nations continue to be fed by high intensity farming, but it is an illusion - the "soil-bank" is depleted year by year.
-In order for the 99% to take back wealth and power from the 1% using a Street Farm strategy, it would be necessary to immediately begin to take control over the production of the absolute material basics of food, energy and shelter, working collectively and democratically through our communities and networks.
Short clip: Overconsumption.
A segment from a longer non-verbal documentary: Samsara.
-Filmed over a period of five years, across 25 countries.
-Focuses on overconsumption, highlights just how unsustainable our eating habits have become. Modern food production also involves animal cruelty on a scale never seen before in the history of mankind.
-Most all conventional meat and poultry (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, etc.) is raised in so-called confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Large-scale factory farming is the cheapest way to raise meat, for the largest profits. But the ultimate price is high, as there's a complete disregard for human health, the environment, and ethical treatment of animals.
-These huge industrial "warehouses" raise sick animals (due to the overcrowded, unhygienic conditions) that are routinely injected with antibiotics and artificial hormones.
-They are also fed pesticide-laden grains and other byproducts for their feed. All of the additives to the animals (the antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides) get transferred to you when you eat that meat.
-Externalized costs of large-scale factory farming (which are largely unaccounted for in agricultural productivity measurements or farm budgets) include:
- Loss of water quality through nitrogen and phosphorus contamination in rivers, streams, and ground water (which contributes to "dramatic shifts in aquatic ecosystems and hypoxic zones")
- Agricultural pesticide contamination to streams, ground water, and wells, and safety concerns to agricultural workers who use them
- A decline in nutrient density of 43 garden crops (primarily vegetables), which suggests possible tradeoffs between yield and nutrient content
- Large emission of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide
- Negative impact on soil quality through such factors as erosion, compaction, pesticide application, and excessive fertilization.
-Organic, grass-fed and finished meat that is humanely raised and butchered is really about the only type of meat that is healthy to eat.
-By purchasing your meat from smaller farms that raise their animals in a humane fashion, according to organic principles, you're promoting the proliferation of such farms, which in the end will benefit everyone, including all the animals. The organic industry also tends to favor far more humane butchering practices, which is another important part of "ethical meat."
Harvard economist claims urban farms do more harm than good.
Daniel Blaustein-Rejto. 24 June 2011.
We’ve covered a wide variety of urban agriculture projects in the past and our view of them has generally been positive, but perhaps urban farms deserve a second look. Edward L. Glaeser, PhD, a professor of economics at Harvard University recently put forth his radical view that urban farms reduce metropolitan density levels, and thus do more harm to the environment than good.
Glaeser’s main point is that allocating metropolitan land to agriculture results in lower urban density levels and longer commutes. If America replaced just 7.9 percent of its whopping 1 billion acres of crop and pastureland with urban farms, then metropolitan area densities would be cut in half.
As he rightly points out, lower density living is associated with higher energy use and thus more carbon dioxide emissions. His source, the National Highway Travel Survey, affirms that when urban density drops 50%, households buy over 100 gallons of gas more per year.
The increased gas consumption from moving this relatively small amount of agricultural farmland into cities would generate an extra 1.77 tons of carbon dioxide per household per year.
Perhaps this is balanced by a reduction in food miles? Not so. A 2008 study at Carnegie Mellon concluded that food delivery is responsible for only .4 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per houshold per year. While this is a sizable amount, it is clearly offset by the emissions Glaeser says result from creating urban agricultural spaces.
In sum, his argument is that “Shipping food is just far less energy intensive than moving people.” But isn’t the real debate whether we even have to move city people out in order to move farms in?
It's all about the soil.
Peter Segger: compost expert and owner of Blaencamel Farm.
-The Philosophy of Freedom, by Rudolf Steiner.
-Small Is Beautiful: a study of economics as if people actually mattered, by E. F. Schumacher.
-Land and Environment: the survival of the English countryside, by Victor Bonham-Carter.
-Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed, by Jared Diamond.
-Soil is a membrane layered over the world.
-Britain predicted to lose 5 tonnes of top soil per hectre per year.
-50% of the excess carbon dioxide in our atmosphere results from the oxidization of carbon from our soils because of the misuse of our soils.
-Soil houses 25% of our planet's species.
-Soil is the second largest carbon store after the oceans. There is twice as much carbon in our soils are there is in all of our forests, and three times as much as in our atmosphere.
-2000 tonnes every hectre (25cm deep).
-In one teaspoon of soil, there is over 1 billion types of bacteria. Massively complex system that can be used.
-All organic life has a carbon to nitrogen ratio, 30 carbons to 1 nitrogen (human and flagellate), 5 carbon to 1 nitrogen (bacteria), etc.
-In the soil food chain, a flagellate eats 6 bacteria to obtain the 30 carbons it needs. Now it has 5 extra nitrogen's which is expels. These nitrogen's combine it's protein with the carbohydrates in the soil and sugars and the tips of roots of plants to create humus.
-Humus: the organic component of soil, formed by the decomposition of leaves and other plant material by soil microorganisms.
-Vandana Shiva: "Humus is the new green revolution base, it is the brown gold to replace the black gold of oil."
-Compost is made to stimulate the soil food web. For example, a cabbage needs approx. 12 species of bacteria to decompose it. Put cabbage in the compost and you feed and nurture bacteria which feeds the flagellate and so on in the soil food web.
-Benefits from good soil:
- If we were to increase every soil in the world by 1% so that carbon can be put through photosynthesis from plants and stored back into the soil, this would solve that one part of climate change.
- 98% of all agriculture is reliant on oils and that's not sustainable. Whereas agriculture that relies on soil and composting methods is sustainable in the long term.
- Without good soil, we will have a lot of water problems. Soils are necessary for retaining water during rainfall to prevent run-off and flooding.
- Soil is the food chain at the base of life. It is a necessity.
-Segger operates a zero input farm in Wales. Compost being the sole generator of their production. Has a very detailed carbon audit system allowing them to be carbon neutral bordering on carbon negative. Fed by clover. To generate electricity, the farm uses solar panels and a wood gasification boiler.
-Thermophilic compost system: practise of breaking down biological waste with thermophilic (heat-loving) bacteria. Requires compost heats to be 1m3 or larger. Suitable for grass cuttings, wood chips, sawdust, etc. Advantage is that high temperatures kill diseases.
Compost at 50 degree Celsius for 24 hours is safe to grow food.
-Food scarp composting is more suitable for vermicomposting (uses worms).
-Healthy soil = healthy plants. Perhaps healthy plants = healthy humans.
-Look up: Soil Association, and soil scientist Rattan Lal.
-If every human being put 1 tonne of soil on their land per hectare per year, it will do a lot to mitigate climate change.
Which composting method is best for you?
The Ethics of Food. Edited by Gregory E. Pence.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 2002.
-Organic or genetically modified food, which is better? Gregory E. Pence.
-There is a difference between compost and fertilizer. Compost feeds the soil while fertilizer feeds the plants. Generically, fertilizer contains non-natural chemicals that may disrupt the ecosystem of the soil by preventing the growth of microbes.
-Not all genetically modified foods are 'bad'. The feeding of harmful chemicals to plants and animals which people in turn ingest is unhealthy but the changing of a gene in a plant or animal to create better resilience, (within reason), isn't necessarily unhealthy.
-Not all organic foods are 'good'. Strict lessons on organic farming are needed to prevent outbreaks that can make organic food unsafe (ex. E. coli).
-The intensive labour required for organic farming must be fairly paid for, though I don't foresee this as an impending problem in the way I intend to implement this type of farming.
-The benefits of organic food. Tanya Maxted-Frost.
-The use of artificial chemicals to treat our food, (especially fruits), end up in our systems.
-Many pesticides used are known carcinogens which are linked to other degenerative disease such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
-As well, there is use of antibiotics, colourants, growth hormones, engine oil, preservatives, hydrogenated fats, modified starches, artificial flavourings, sweeteners, etc. in the livestock and farming industry.
-A removable feast. C. Ford Runge, Benjamin Senauger.
-Focuses a lot on the World Trade Organization's meeting in Seattle (1999?).
-The argument: to improve developing nation's food security, access to cheaper food from comparatively advantaged exporting countries is necessary. It is arguably more efficient and cheaper than self-sufficiency.
-Requires richer countries to lower tariffs on all goods from developing countries so that they can earn the money they need to purchase the food they need.
-Will wealthier countries, like England, growing more food help or harm? If England can improve its own self-sufficiency so that the large industrial crops can be exported to those who need it more, would this be of benefit to the world?
Eating: what we eat and why it matters. By Peter Singer and Jim Mason.
Arrow Books, 2006.
-The international federation of organic agriculture movements' definition of organic: organic agriculture is an agricultural system that promotes environmentally, socially, and economically sound production of food, fiber, timber, etc. In this system soil fertility is seen as the key to successful production. The aim is to optimize quality in agriculture by working with natural properties of plants, animals and the landscape.
-Benefits of organic food:
2. More environmentally friendly.
3. Maintains the quality of the soil.
4. Fosters biodiversity.
5. Reduces pollution from nitrogen run-off.
6. Avoids the heavy pesticide and herbicide use typical of conventional farming.
7. Uses less energy for a given yield than conventional farming.
8. Stores more carbon in the soil, thus off-setting carbon emissions.
-What should we eat?
-Principles we should consider when considering what we eat:
1. Transparency: we have a right to know how our food is produced.
With local farming, we would be the ones who produce the food and even if we are not, the locality allows us to take a look, to go and understand and see the process for ourselves.
2. Fairness: producing food should not impose costs on others.
The cost of the food produced should reflect the full costs of its production. Locality will reduce the cost of transportation.
3. Humanity: inflicting significant suffering on animals for minor reasons is wrong.
The use of local land and the production of fewer animals allows for these animals to have the space they require to live healthy lives.
4. Social responsibility: workers should have decent wages and working conditions.
With local farming, the workers will be paid fairly without discrimination, according to UK's laws on salaries, minimum wage, etc.
5. Needs: preserving life and health justifies more than other desires.
Nourishing ourselves based on a genuine need for good, healthy food instead of choosing a particular food based on other desires.
-It is necessary to teach people how to humanely raise and kill an animal. Unless we go by eating after it has died a natural death.
C.J. Lim. Smartcities + Eco Warriors.
How food shapes our cities.
-80% of global trade in food is controlled by just 5% multinational corporations.
-City dwellers are embracing a more Western diet.
-10,000 years ago, agriculture and urbanism were invented in the 'fertile crescent'. They were invented together because they are bound to each other.
-In the past, the spiritual life and the harvest dominated the city and city life.
-In the ancient world, the major and most efficient form of transportation for food was by boat. (Rome)
-Cities are shaped by food.
-Streets of London are named after what used to 'happen' there. Ex. Bread was sold on Bread Street. Fish sold on Fish Street. Friday Street had Friday fish markets.
-Once the roots of certain types of food are established in certain parts of the city, they rarely move.
-Invention of rail lead to cognitive dissonance between people and their food.
-Rail changed the way cities grow. No longer shaped by food.
-Our relationship with food becomes less physical. We don't smell the food, really cook the food, we don't know where is comes from, etc. Instead we read the label, add water and buy from supermarkets.
-We don't value or trust food anymore. We don't understand food anymore. This relationship distances us from nature.
-The word utopia can either mean 'good place' or 'no place' in the Greek language.
-"We are what we eat but the world is also what we eat."
-Food is a very powerful tool that can be used to shape the world better.
The Plant. Chicago, U.S.A.
30 March 2012.
-Completely integrated system in which there is no waste in the production.
-125 green jobs provided by The Plant in a distressed area.
Urban Farming in Numbers; a study.
Project by MVRDV, The Why Factory, Stroom Den Haag.
Animation by Wieland Gouwens.
-One person in the developed world consumes about 3kg of food per day, 1000kg per year.
-One person in the developing world consumes about 2kg of food per day, 670kg per year.
-The main determent of consumption, especially of meat, is wealth.
-It takes about 1288m2 to grow the average amount of food consumed per person per year. 789m2 is for human consumption, 499.1m2 is for animal consumption.
Is it possible to attain self-sufficiency with urban agriculture?
-For example, The Hague, The Netherlands, requires 10.9 times the land area of the city to grow food for all of its inhabitants.
-If the urban farming was concentrated into towers which used hydroponics, the towers would have to be almost 2km high.
-Hydroponics farming is very expensive.
-Growing food traditionally but still vertically, it would require towers 35km high.
-Based on this study, it is seen that to strive for complete self-sufficiency is not sensible.
Greening the desert. Applying natural farming techniques in Africa.
An interview with Masanobu Fukuoka.
By Robert and Diane Gilman.
His farming method involves no tillage, no fertilizer, no pesticides, no weeding, no pruning, and remarkably little labor! He accomplishes all this (and high yields) by careful timing of his seeding and careful combinations of plants (polyculture). In short, he has brought the practical art of working with nature to a high level of refinement.
Robert: What have you learned in your 50 years of work about what people could do with their agriculture?
Masanobu: Several years ago, I travelled around Europe. It seemed to me that Europe was very nice and beautiful, with lots of nature preserved. But three feet under the surface I felt desert slowly coming in. I kept wondering why. I realized it was the mistake they made in agriculture. The beginning of the mistake is from growing meat for the king and wine for the church. Only the 20% of the soil in the valleys remains healthy, and 80% of the land is depleted. Because the land is depleted, they need chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Cultivation is also related to civilization, and that is the beginning of the mistake. True natural farming uses no cultivation, no plow. Soil’s biggest enemies are cultivation and plowing. If people don’t have those tools, it will be a better life for everything. Since my farm uses no cultivation, no fertilizer, no chemicals, there are many insects and animals living there within the farm. They use pesticide to kill a certain kind of pest, and that destroys the balance of nature.
Robert: How have you applied your method to the deserts?
Masanobu: Chemical agriculture can’t change the desert. Even if they have a tractor and a big irrigation system, they are not able to do it. I came to the realization that to make the desert green requires natural farming. The method is very simple. You just need to sow seeds in the desert. Here is a picture of experimentation in Ethiopia. This area was beautiful 90 years ago, and now it looks like the desert in Colorado. I gave seeds for 100 varieties of plants to people in Ethiopia and Somalia. Children planted seeds, and watered them for three days. Because of high temperature and not having water, the root goes down quickly. Now the large Daikon radishes are growing there. People think there isn’t any water in the desert, but even in Somalia and Ethiopia, they have a big river. It is not that they do not have water; the water just stays underneath the earth. They find the water under 6 to 12 feet.
Diane: Do you just use water to germinate the seeds, and then the plants are on their own?
Masanobu: They still need water, like after ten days and after a month, but you should not water too much, so that the root grows deep.
The project started with the help of UNESCO with a large amount of money, but there are only a couple of people doing the experiment right now. I think it is better to send seeds to people in Somalia and Ethiopia, rather than sending milk and flour, but there isn’t any way to send them. People in Ethiopia and Somalia can sow seeds, even children can do that. But the African governments, the United States, Italy, France, they don’t send seeds, they only send immediate food and clothing. The African government is discouraging home gardens and small farming. During the last 100 years, garden seed has become scarce.
Diane: Why do these governments do this?
Masanobu: The African governments and the United States government want people to grow coffee, tea, cotton, peanuts, sugar – only five or six varieties to export and make money. Vegetables are just food, they don’t bring in any money. They say they will provide corn and grain, so people don’t have to grow their own vegetables.
Robert: Do we, in the United States, have the type of seeds that would grow well in these parts of Africa?
Masanobu: As a matter of fact, I saw quite a few plants including vegetables, ornamentals, and grains here in this town (Port Townsend) this morning that would grow in the desert. Something like Daikon radish even grows better over there than in my fields, and also things like amaranth and succulents grow very well.
Robert: So if people in the United States and Japan and Europe wanted to help the people in Africa and reduce the desert, would you suggest that they send seeds?
Masanobu: When I was in Somalia, I thought, if there are ten farmers, one truck, and seeds, then it would be so easy to help the people there. They don’t have any greens for half of the year, they don’t have any vitamins, and so of course they get sick. They have even forgotten how to eat vegetables. They just eat the leaves and not the edible root portion.
The United States has the power to destroy the world but also to help the world. I wonder if people in this country realize that the United States is helping the people in Somalia but also killing them. Making them grow coffee, sugar and giving them food. The Japanese government is the same way. The people in Ethiopia cook rice, barley and vegetables. They are happy being small farmers. The United States government is telling them to work, work, like slaves on a big farm, growing coffee. The United States is telling them that they can make money and be happy that way.
A Japanese college professor that went to Somalia and Ethiopia said this is the hell of the world. I said, "No, this is the entrance to heaven." Those people have no money, no food, but they are very happy. The reason they are very happy is that they don’t have schools or teachers. They are happy carrying water, happy cutting the wood. It is not a hard thing for them to do; they truly enjoy doing that. Between noon and three it is very hot, but other than that, there is a breeze, and there are not flies or mosquitoes.
One thing the people of the United States can do instead of going to outer space is to sow seeds from the space shuttle into the deserts. There are many seed companies related to multi-national corporations. They could sow seeds from airplanes.
Diane: If seeds were thrown out like that, would the rains be enough to germinate them?
Masanobu: No, that is not enough, so I would sow coated seeds so they wouldn’t dry out or get eaten by animals. There are probably different ways to coat the seeds. You can use soil, but you have to make that stick, or you can use calcium.
My farm has everything: fruit trees, vegetables, acacia. Like my fields, you need to mix everything and sow at the same time. I took about 100 varieties of grafted trees there, two of each, and almost all of them, about 80%, are growing there now. The reason I am saying to use an airplane is because, if you are just testing you use only a small area. But we need to make a large area green quickly. It needs to be done at once! You have to mix vegetables and trees; that’s the fastest way for success.
Another reason I am saying you have to use airplanes is that you have to grow them fast, because if there is 3% less green area around the world, the whole earth is going to die. Because of lack of oxygen, people won’t feel happy. You feel happy in the spring because of the oxygen from the plants. We breathe out carbon dioxide and breathe in oxygen, and the plants do the opposite. Human beings and plants not only have a relationship in eating, but also share air. Therefore, the lack of oxygen in Somalia is not only a problem there, it is also a problem here. Because of the rapid depletion of the land in those parts of Africa, everyone will feel this happening. It is happening very quickly. There is no time to wait. We have to do something now.
People in Ethiopia are happy with wind and light, fire and water. Why do people need more? Our task is to practice farming the way God does. That could be the way to start saving this world.
One Straw Revolution. 1975.
Grow biointensive: sustainable mini-farming.
A farming method.
Most life in nature occurs at the interface of soil, water, air and sun. GROW BIOINTENSIVE soil preparation practices create growing beds with more surface area to maximize the effect of nature’s life processes.
These have guided us to the eight essential aspects that are the foundation of GROW BIOINTENSIVE:
- Double-Dug, Raised Beds: with soil loosened to a depth of 24 inches, aerate the soil, facilitate root growth, and improve water retention.
- Composting: health and vigor of the soil are maintained through the use of compost.
- Intensive Planting: close plant spacing is used to protect soil microorganisms, reduce water loss, and maximize yields.
- Companion Planting: facilitates the optimal use of nutrients, light and water, encourages beneficial insects and creates a vibrant mini-ecosystem within the garden.
- Carbon Farming, Calorie Farming: focus on the production of calories for the farmer and carbon for the soil ensures that both the farmer and the soil will be adequately fed and that the farm will be sustainable.
- The Use of Open-Pollinated Seeds: helps to preserve genetic diversity and enables gardeners to develop their own acclimatized cultivars.
- A Whole-System Farming Method: All of the components of this system must be used together for optimum effect and to avoid depleting the soil.
GROW BIOINTENSIVE mini-farming techniques make it possible to grow food using:
- 67% to 88% less water
- 50% to 100% less fertilizer
- 99% less energy than commercial agriculture, while using a fraction of the
These techniques can also:
- Produce 2 to 6 times more food
- Build the soil up to 60 times faster than in nature, if properly used
- Reduce by half or more the amount of land needed
Keeping chickens - what you need to know.
-Birds must be registered with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).
-Three hens will probably provide eggs all year round, though you need to provide them with artificial light in the wintertime.
-Some breeds lay up to one egg per day.
-Eggs can be sold at markets (if you have fewer than 50 hens), at your farm's 'doorstep', or door-to-door in the community.
-You may need to register with DARD's Egg Marketing Inspectorate.
-Education on growing fruits and vegetables, caring for bees, saving water in the garden, pest control, encouraging wildlife in the garden, soils and fertilizers and invasive plant species can also be found on this site.