Archive for ◊ October, 2009 ◊

• Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Back yard chicken coops are illegal in Montreal and all boroughs, but here is an example of bringing sustainable thinking to an old structure:

Source: Transition Times

Chicken Coop

Chicken Coop

The black chicken coop on display inside the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art is sleek, like a chicken-house-of-the-future. The air slats that ring the wooden coop are perfectly parallel, and the square nest boxes that line the back are uniform.

Even the tiny ladder that allows the chickens to climb up to the ledge where they’d sleep looks like it was made with precision — which it was.

But the idea behind University of Colorado senior Jeff Troutman’s coop is decidedly down-to-earth. The architecture student set out to build a chicken-house that could be manufactured easily and inexpensively — and sold at an affordable price to Boulder’s burgeoning set of urban hen-keepers.

“I would love to see it become a functional coop in people’s backyards,” he said.

Keeping a flock of chickens next to the lawnmower shed is a practice that’s taking off across the country and across Colorado, as more and more cities make allowances for backyard birds. Boulder allows them, as do Superior and Longmont.

For proponents like Troutman, who, as a renter, has never had a flock of his own, backyard chicken-keeping is partly about knowing where your food comes from — and where your waste goes.

“That’s the idea behind this — to create a cycle, instead of this throw-out culture,” he said…

“It’s part of our local culture,” Pyatt said of Boulder. “People want to have backyard hens or gardens, but they don’t know how.”

• Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Instead of the old debate over land use: development vs. farms; housing vs. green space, Agriburbia is a clever compromise.

Source: Denver Post

AgriBurbia - Denver CO

AgriBurbia - Denver CO

Six years ago, Matthew “Quint” Redmond suggested to Milliken planners that a corn farm north of Denver could increase its agricultural value and still anchor nearly a thousand homes.

“I got laughed out of the room,” Redmond said.

Today, Milliken’s 618-acre Platte River Village is ready for construction, with 944 planned homes surrounded by 108 acres of backyard farms and 152 acres of drip- irrigated community farms. The plan is for the farms to feed local residents and supply restaurants while paying for community upkeep. And Redmond, a 47-year-old planner-farmer, has 13 other Front Range projects mulling his “agriburbia” concept.

Redmond, co-founder of the Golden-based design firm TSR Group, travels the country preaching his urban farming and development idea. He envisions a future where the nation’s 31 million acres of lawn are converted to food production. He sees golf-course greens redefined with herbs; sand traps as “kale traps.” He sees retirement homes engulfed by farms and office buildings where workers escape cubicles on farming breaks.

Redmond, along with his born-on- a-farm biologist turned planner wife, Jennifer, sees an urban landscape like none before.

“This is where we are all going to go. We need this,” said Redmond. “Everyone thinks they are so smart by crafting a 2030 plan for the future. I say we need a $180-a-barrel plan, on how our communities can be self-sufficient when oil becomes too expensive to ship food across the country.”

Self-sufficient. Sustainable. Locally produced. Agriburbia incorporates all three concepts.

Is there a better use of the land than growing your own food right where you are going to be eating it?” said Janie Lichtfuss, mayor of Milliken, which is positioned to become the first agriburbia community.

Perhaps, one day, Montreal might realize a version of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City, a city of tall buildings surrounded by open space and farms.


• Monday, October 26th, 2009

One of my favorite writers, Howard Kunsler, today redefined the word “Hope” and takes it back from the U.S. President:

Perhaps it’s time to redefine “hope” in the greater social sense of the word. To me, hope is not synonymous with “wishes fulfilled.” In fact, hope should not be about wishing at all. Hope should be based on confidence that the individual or group is reliably competent enough to meet the challenges that circumstances present. Hope is justified when people demonstrate to themselves that they can behave ably and bravely. Hope is not really possible in the face of patent untruthfulness. It is derived from a clear-eyed and courageous view of what is really going on. I don’t think that defines any of the behavior in the United States these days. We’ve become a self-jiving nation intent on playing shell games, running Ponzi schemes, and working Polish blanket tricks on ourselves.

This is what sustainability is to me: seeing and then meeting the challenges that we face now and shortly in the future.

Whether that be ensuring clean water to drink, finding less expensive and less polluting  fuels for transportation or the greater challenges of feeding ourselves healthy, nutritious food in an era of climate change, the challenge is the same: to provide for ourselves while not destroying the planet’s assets that our children and grandchildren will also need to survive and grow as human beings.

• Thursday, October 15th, 2009

This may be an idea whose time will shortly come if food prices ever rocket higher due to transportation costs. Any city in the world could grow fresh, local, organic fruits and veggies using this system:

VertiCrop – The Solution

In a rapidly urbanizing world where the majority of people now live in cities, localization requires that food and fuel be produced in an urban context. At present, there are no examples of a locally sustained urban community anywhere in the world. Urban sustainability is yet to be realized primarily because urban agriculture presents a number of technological challenges. The main challenge is a lack of growing space.

Vertical Warehouse Gardening

Vertical Warehouse Gardening

Vertical growing is a new idea currently emerging in the sustainability discourse which offers great promise for increasing urban production. Vertical growing systems have been proposed as possible solutions for increasing urban food supplies while decreasing the ecological impact of farming. The primary advantage of vertical growing is the high density production it allows using a much reduced physical footprint and fewer resources relative to conventional agriculture. Vertical growing, hydroponics and greenhouse production have now been combined into an integrated commercial production system, a system that has major potential for the realization of environmentally sustainable urban food and fuel production.

Valcent Products, Inc.