This 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.
[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.”
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.
On October 15th, the Coop Maison Verte is offering a workshop that will show you how to make your own household cleaning products. This workshop serves to emphasis Quebec’s official waste reduction week and provides another way for you to save money and reduce your consumption.
Sunday, October 21 from 10:00am to 2:00pm (Coop la Maison verte): Used bicycle collection and bicycle mechanics workshop
Cyclo Nord-Sud is collecting used bikes to donate to disadvantaged communities in developing countries in order to promote development and combat poverty. Donate your surplus bicycles (20 inches and higher, in a repairable state) to the 4th annual bike collection happening at the Coop La Maison Verte and give your old bike a second life! A donation of $15 per bike is required in order to allow Cyclo Nord-Sud to cover a part of the associated recuperation costs (transport, storage, etc.). In exchange, you’ll receive a tax receipt for the value of your bike and your $15 donation. In light of Quebec’s official waste reduction week, a bike mechanics workshop will be offered simultaneously (free, bring your own bike).
Computationis inviting the general public to drop off their unwanted computer equipment for reuse or recycling — free of charge. For larger quantities, organizations and pick-up service or data destruction requirements (such as shredding), please contact Computation.Computation is a computer equipment refurbishing, recycling, and IT service provider serving Canada coast-to-coast from facilities in Montreal and Toronto since 2001.
Drop-off is available at:
7080 Alexandra St., Suite 101, from 10:00am until 6:00pm
Monday through Friday, and Saturday 11:00am until 5:00pm.
Returns for beer and soft drink cans will rise to 10 cents per returned item from five cents by the end of 2012 under a new five-year plan to deal with Quebec’s recyclable waste.
Pierre Arcand, Quebec’s minister for the environment, sustainable development and parks, added Sunday the province’s 30-year-old law on handling recyclable waste will be updated.
Every year, Quebecers buy 390 million cans and pay nearly $21 million in deposits on beer and other drink cans. The cans can take 200 to 500 years to decompose.
The government intends to spend $4 million this year to improve the treatment and composting of organic waste and similar dollar amounts in each of the other years of its five-year plan to deal with organic waste, a statement from Arcand and officials with Recyc-Québec, a government agency, explained…
…The new plan includes a public awareness campaign about disposable packaging and the promotion of a new recycling certification program manufacturers can use to label products made with recyclable materials. The plan calls for businesses, government agencies and municipalities to change their buying policies and include the purchase of recycled materials.
Aquaponics is a revolutionary system for growing plants by fertilizing them with the waste water from fish in a sustainable closed system. A combination of aquaculture and hydroponics, aquaponic gardening is an amazingly productive way to grow organic vegetables, greens, herbs, and fruits, while providing the added benefits of fresh fish as a safe, healthy source of protein. On a larger scale, it is a key solution to mitigating food insecurity, climate change, groundwater pollution, and the impacts of overfishing on our oceans.
Aquaponic Gardening is the definitive do-it-yourself home manual, focused on giving you all the tools you need to create your own aquaponic system and enjoy healthy, safe, fresh, and delicious food all year round. Starting with an overview of the theory, benefits, and potential of aquaponics, the book goes on to explain:
System location considerations and hardware components
The living elements–fish, plants, bacteria, and worms
Putting it all together–starting and maintaining a healthy system
Check out this matchbox advent calendar. Amazing huh? Alas, at the time I was planning this all out I was stuck at home with no way of obtaining the requisite number of matchboxes. I then tried making my own origami matchbox/slide box, but they wouldn’t have been nearly as stable as the version that used authentic matchboxes. And then there was the issue of the time it would take to fold my own… it would have taken me weeks.
Other ideas I was kicking around:
Ones with with felt pockets like the one shown here.
And then there’s this one … slightly different and v.v.cute.
There’s the cookie sheet advent calendar (cute, I guess, but I can’t get past the cookie sheet thing…) Oh, and speaking of magnets, there’s this one, that can be affixed to a magnet board. Gorgeous huh?
Anyway, there are a lot of great ideas out there. (If you start googling you will be sucked into a vortex you might not be able to get out of, so consider yourself warned.) But I was considering an idea posted on the now-defunct Kiddley. What could be simpler than paper envelopes? This was something I could manage.
In the name of corporate profits, jobs and economic growth, products like light bulbs, automobiles, clothing and computers are designed to break. This is known as planned obsolescence.
The documentary below, The Lightbulb Conspiracy, is an interesting story about the real conspiracy between light bulb manufacturers in the 1930′s to limit the life span of bulbs to 1,000 hours. During the Depression, one Congressman even tried to make planned obsolescence the law of the United States. Well meaning, but insane.
For us to live sustainably, the things we make or buy for ourselves need to maximize their useful lifespan. This holiday season, buying quality second hand gifts at sites like eBay.ca is a good way to keep useful items out of landfill and in the hands of someone who will love them.
The pressing reality of living on an island is that land is a finite resource and eventually we run out of space to put our garbage. Transforming some of our garbage to fuel and soil is one step toward sustainability.
Quebecers have a growing garbage problem. Landfill sites are filling up, and the rotting garbage in them can leach contaminants into groundwater and produce a gas composed of methane and carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
Quebecers produce about 810 kg of garbage per person every year, but the province wants to get that down to 700 kg by 2015. One of the biggest components of our garbage is organic materials. An estimated 44 per cent of the garbage we produce every year could be composted. As part of the garbage diet it has planned for Quebecers, the province has banned organic waste – including food waste – from landfills by 2020…
…Green waste can also be transformed into natural gas through a process called biomethanation, but no food waste is now being transformed into biofuels in Quebec, according to Récyc-Québec…
..After two years of scouting for locations, the city has chosen four sites it thinks are suitable for building compost-treatment centres. Under the city’s plan, biogas plants would be built in Montreal East and LaSalle, and composting centres in St. Michel and Dorval. They would handle organic waste from across the island, reducing the number of trucks carrying garbage off the island to landfills.
The plan is for compost collection to be in place for all buildings on the island with eight units or less by 2014, city officials said. Yard and food waste would be collected in the same bin on the western half of the island; on the eastern end there would be separate collections of food and yard waste.
Come celebrate the environment during the 4th annual Éco-fête NDG
Saturday September 10th, come join us for the 4th annual Éco-fête, a great annual event in the neighbourhood. In addition to Éco-quartier, there will be plenty of other environmental organizations presenting kiosks and conducting workshops aimed for children as well as adults.
The eco-fete will include…
Composting / vermicomposting workshop
Green cleaning solutions workshop
Recycled toy exhibit
Eco story reading
Corn husk dolls
Join us between 1pm and 4pm at Paul-Doyon Park (Monkland and Girouard). Pass by and share your love of the environment with us!