Did you know there are 10 million acres of front and back yards in America—enough to produce 43.5 million tons of food—but only 35 percent of U.S. households grew food in 2012? Growing where you are gives people the power to eat healthier and revitalize their communities, but many gardeners lack the land they need, and those with the land don’t always know what to do with it.
The urban farming movement is going strong, with organizers worldwide working to bring food production into urban areas. Urban food production improves city dwellers’ access to fresh food, promotes food justice, and reduces transportation costs. Check out three up-and-coming urban farming projects tailor-made to suit the needs of their communities.
While rushing to board your next flight, you might not expect farmers’ markets and urban farms among the airport’s fast food joints, mani-pedi stations, and newsstands. At four U.S. airports, however, travelers are encountering exactly that. Check out how the local food movement has arrived at airline terminals in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
If you’ve ever sipped a cup of shade-grown coffee, you’ve savored the fruits of agroforestry, the subject of a new USDA report about an age-old practice now used by growers in developing nations to boost production and profits while conserving resources and promoting biodiversity. Using shade trees, an agroforestry practice called “forest farming,” reduces stress on coffee crops, retains moisture, and shelters pest-eating, pollinating critters, all of which means a better product and healthier operation.
Here’s a head-scratching statistic: In 2010, crop growers in the United States lost $20 billion a year due to insect damage despite spending $4.5 billion on pesticide applications. It turns out that agricultural pest management is a surprisingly inefficient system that involves sticky traps, updating spreadsheets, and a lot of legwork.
An Indiana-based startup, has come up with a way to save growers legwork, hassle, and money—and reduce the amount of pesticides sprayed on crops—by automating the insect-tracking process. We spoke with Kim Nicholson, Spensa Technologies’ vice president of business development, to learn more about the product and the company.
Northeast-based cleantech startups have a little more time to enter the fellowship program Sustainable America is producing with Greentown Labs. The competition is open to start-ups engaged in sustainable solutions focused on transportation or agriculture.
As great as it is to eat local, in most of the U.S. there are certain months of the year when it is difficult, if not impossible, to eat local food fresh from the field. Thankfully, a new crop of food hub entrepreneurs are thinking beyond the growing season by freezing fresh summer produce to sell locally in the winter.
A project called Just One Tree has a singular but ambitious goal: to make sure San Francisco can grow all the lemons it consumes. To do this, the community will need to produce 461 tons of lemons annually—that’s a lot of lemons! But Dr. Isabel Wade, founder and executive director of Just One Tree, thinks it’s possible. She’s put together a program to encourage residents to plant new lemon trees and register existing ones to meet the goal.
Practiced for centuries in Eastern Europe and Germany, hugelkultur is the process of making raised garden beds filled with rotten wood. The result is a low-maintenance garden that doesn’t require irrigation or fertilization. Hugelkulture beds have naturally good drainage and produce incredibly rich, fertile soil that retains moisture. It’s also a great way to upcycle woody debris. Hugelkultur is often utilized in permaculture systems and even works in the desert!
Insects contain more protein per pound than any meat and are easy to raise with little polluting side effects. Will we all eat insects in the future?