Archive for the Category ◊ Food Security ◊

Author:
• Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

fertilizing bacteriaThis technology echoes with Aquaponics which also uses bacteria in symbiotic relationships to harvest nitrogen fertilizers to make super happy plants.

Source: University of Nottingham

A major new technology has been developed by The University of Nottingham, which enables all of the world’s crops to take nitrogen from the air rather than expensive and environmentally damaging fertilisers.

Nitrogen fixation, the process by which nitrogen is converted to ammonia, is vital for plants to survive and grow. However, only a very small number of plants, most notably legumes (such as peas, beans and lentils) have the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere with the help of nitrogen fixing bacteria. The vast majority of plants have to obtain nitrogen from the soil, and for most crops currently being grown across the world, this also means a reliance on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser.

Professor Edward Cocking, Director of The University of Nottingham’s Centre for Crop Nitrogen Fixation, has developed a unique method of putting nitrogen-fixing bacteria into the cells of plant roots. His major breakthrough came when he found a specific strain of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in sugar-cane which he discovered could intracellularly colonise all major crop plants. This ground-breaking development potentially provides every cell in the plant with the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen. The implications for agriculture are enormous as this new technology can provide much of the plant’s nitrogen needs.

N-Fix is neither genetic modification nor bio-engineering. It is a naturally occurring nitrogen fixing bacteria which takes up and uses nitrogen from the air. Applied to the cells of plants (intra-cellular) via the seed, it provides every cell in the plant with the ability to fix nitrogen. Plant seeds are coated with these bacteria in order to create a symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship and naturally produce nitrogen.

Category: Food Security | Tags: , ,  | One Comment
Author:
• Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Sustainable restaurants MontrealThe list of sustainable restaurants includes the following establishments:

Source: The Canadian Press

The new-cuisine restaurant Lola Rosa offers half-portions to suit smaller appetites and reduce waste. The Asian dining spot ChuChai serves an entirely vegan menu. And the Beaver Club, a French eatery in the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, has a vegetable garden and beehives on the hotel’s roof.

They’re among 19 “sustainable restaurants” highlighted by Tourism Montreal as part of its effort to make the city “a greener destination.”

The city’s official tourism bureau partnered with Viatao, a publisher of sustainable tourism guides, to develop the list of eateries. Criteria that were considered included waste and energy management, working conditions and the use of local producers.

Invitations to participate were sent to Tourism Montreal’s 200 member restaurants. Thirty-one agreed to be audited, and 19 made the final cut.

Charles Lapointe, CEO of Tourism Montreal, said it makes sense to showcase the city’s eco-friendly and socially responsible dining establishments.

“Sustainable gastronomy is a boon to the local economy and our environment and it satisfies a demand on the part of tourists,” Lapointe said.

Category: Food Security | Tags:  | One Comment
Author:
• Wednesday, June 05th, 2013

Score one for the good guys :)

Source: Equiterre

Quebec adopted a food sovereignty policy this May. This is good news for all Quebecers. Here are some of the highlights that got us really excited here at Equiterre:

  • government agencies encouraged to buy local (to this end, a local food procurement strategy is slated to come out by year’s end)
  • a mention of the need to reduce pesticide use
  • the intention to increase the protection of farmland in or around our cities 
  • recognition of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet reduction targets

Lots to be happy about!

Equiterre, which has helped such institutions as day cares, schools and hospitals access more local food for ten years, has also offered its full cooperation to the government as it applies this policy.

Some recommendations?

  • We’d like to see more about the need to support and develop the organic food sector.
  • We’d also like to see some clearly defined local food procurement targets.

Stay tuned for future developments.

Author:
• Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA’s, are a great way to support local farmers, eat local and organic produce, and make our region more sustainable.

Source: Equiterre

The family farmers in our community supported agriculture (CSA) network are taking orders for the summer season of deliveries. 

From June to October, nearly 100 farms will deliver weekly summer baskets of fresh, locally grown, organic produce to more than 500 drop-off points across the province.

Features:

  • 6 to 12 varieties of vegetables in each basket
  • possibility of continuing in the winter (winter basket)
  • option of ordering organic meat

To make it even more convenient for you this year, we are offering more drop-off points at Metro grocery stores, as well as in some Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT) train stations. 

Sign up now! (In French only, our apologies).

Author:
• Sunday, March 24th, 2013

ValhallaThis local inspiration combines some excellent ideas. Hopefully, there is synergy in the combination and their vision can be achieved.

However, the Valhalla “movement” appears high on marketing, youth, style and organic weed. When I contacted them to offer my services to help teach them Aquaponics  (something people in the U.S. are paying me to do), I received a polite, “Thanks, but no thanks. We got that covered.”

So much for the “come join the movement” hype.

Every generation believes that it holds the answers to our societal ills and that they are uniquely modern and equipped with new technology to solve our pressing environmental and social problems. This is one of the benefits of youth.

Ideas spring with great life force when we are young. But ideas are a dime a dozen, we eventually learn. And execution is what separates the dreamers from the real sustainable builders of the future who are able to create replicable  models to be used by others.

I hope their enthusiasm and idealism can carry the day, but history tells a different story about communes, outside of the Kibutz model in Israel which was born out war and the need to defend land.

The 1960′s communes taught us that the real world of life is socially complex and needs more than just the fantasy of new technology creating a better life without conflict or injustice. Further, it has to be rooted in the here and and now rather than built on the hopes of a new tomorrow.

Our lives will be transformed, I firmly believe, on the existing infrastructure and built environment of today. The world does not need to be re-built, but rather retro-fitted to our new ideas and values that reflect cooperation and sustainability.

To create a new way of living and a new world does not call for breaking away from the existing world. Quite the opposite, it requires a deepening involvement with the world as it is, no matter how flawed. Because if they succeed, they have transformed the lives of only the people who manage to move and live there. What about the millions of other people who are stuck in the old cities, stuck in the old buildings, stuck in the old jobs? What is to come of them?

Please comment if you disagree.

Source: The Valhalla Movement

Author:
• Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Montreal could use an urban farm school that combines all these skills like permaculture, beekeeping, Aquaponics, composting and seed saving all into one curriculum.

Source: Occupy Monsanto

Growing Our Local Food Infrastructure: Urban Farm School Opens in Asheville NC (via http://www.occupymonsanto360.org)

By Brett Gustafson Though it sometimes seems like our evil frankenfood corporate overlords, such as Monsanto and Dow, have completely hi-jacked our food system, many people around the nation are actually creating more sustainable and viable alternatives. A few good folks in Asheville, NC are bringing…

Author:
• Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

I have seen these vertical towers in action and they are a great invention because they save space and allow city dwellers to grow a good amount of food from any south facing window in homes and apartments.

Source: KickStarter

We want to change the way produce is grown & distributed, FOREVER

To accomplish this goal, we have to make the production of greens and vegetables easy to do and accessible to everyone.   So, we designed a special production system based on our patented vertical towers that allows us to grow more produce using less space, and then transport the unharvested towers to market.  It allows us to sell “You-Pick” vegetables at the supermarket, letting the customers pick exactly how much they want. 

Author:
• Monday, November 12th, 2012

Bio mimickry increases farm production and profitsThis article proves scientifically that by using human skill to mimic nature and create closed loop ecosystems on farms, food production increases, environmental damage decreases, and profits increase. End of story.

Source: NY Times

[It] 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...

…Adam Davis, an author of the study who works for the U.S.D.A., summarize[d] the findings, he said, “These were simple changes patterned after those used by North American farmers for generations. What we found was that if you don’t hold the natural forces back they are going to work for you.”

Author:
• Monday, October 15th, 2012

fungi in the forestSource: St. Jim the Composter

Stop to smell the flowers and you might learn something.   Farmers and other ecosystem managers are considering a whole lot of factors few of us city slickers know about.    They have better sense than to try to kill off every living thing that’s not salable.   Country people are more mature about the facts of life and death.    They’re familiar with the smell of manure, and not unduly afraid of it.   They know that what feeds the life in the soil – the dead bodies and manure of plants and animals – feeds us people.

Nature – the community of life that provides us with the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe, and consumes our waste products for us – has an incredible ability to heal the destructive impacts of industrialization.     The first entrants into an area damaged by radiation are microbes and fungi; this is why composting is a pollution-cleaning technology.   The web of life slowly re-establishes itself, and (though the genetic damage will take many generations to restore the site) life will re-establish itself.     But don’t kid yourself – the myth of clean, safe nuclear power, unquestioning belief in which was nurtured by the military-industrial establishment to continue the nuclear industry and manufacture bombs after World War II, is genetically destabilizing the planet.

The Bahai faith believes that humanity as a whole is on a path of maturation, like growing from childhood to adulthood.    And our current stage is adolescence.    We’re running around inventing and manufacturing enormous numbers of new things, not thinking of the consequences.     Should we make it through to maturity as a species, it will be because our lover side has won over our warrior side.   The Catholic philosopher Father Thomas Berry said, “The Universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.”  Though this mystical attitude – that, as American Indians believe, even plants and rocks are alive – seems illogical, the most advanced modern science is confirming that there is no real separation between anything.    When you hurt another creature you’re hurting yourself.    The most productive gardens and farms are those in which ALL species are welcome.     The way to win a war is to make friends with the other side, not defeat them.

Author:
• Tuesday, September 04th, 2012

Organic farming guideSource: Equiterre

Family farmer Jean-Martin Fortier, whose Eastern Townships microfarm, Les jardins de la Grelinette à St-Armand, owned with partner Maude-Hélène, has been hailed, at home and abroad, as a model of its form, has written a guide, based on his decade of experience, for aspiring organic farmers, both amateur and professional alike. The book, Le jardinier-maraîcher, Manuel d’agriculture biologique sur petite surface, an Ecosociété publication, hit bookstore shelves on August 28.

This how-to guide, which features a foreword by Equiterre cofounder Laure Waridel, is destined to become a reference in organic agriculture. It looks at the technical aspects of small scale farming, with a focus on community supported agriculture, but also shows how this type of agriculture imbues the lives of those who choose it with special meaning.

Now available in all good bookshops. (In French only.)