Neighborhood Green Space: Guide to Urban Farms

How Cities Transform Dead Space into Urban Farms

Our conception of agriculture has changed radically in the past 50 or 60 years, and that shift has caused global upheaval in the industry. In America, as well as other countries, industrialization and urbanization have resulted in a diminishing percentage of the population being directly involved in food-growing. Concerns about the economic, social and environmental costs of big industrial agriculture have many people looking to smaller-scale, localized farming. In a sense, we’re seeing a turn back to the old model.

A case in point is urban farming. In some of the world’s biggest and liveliest cities, the concept is being touted as a hot, new sustainable trend, and a means of growing food for the planet’s largest and most densely packed populations, on a local level. As with so many cultural movements, however, there’s a great deal of precedent to refer to: City vegetable plots and livestock pastures used to be commonplace.

The initial decline in urban farming was due in part to exploding human populations, intensifying development pressure and transformations in the food-growing industry. For generations of American children, the idea of a “farm” became inextricably linked with a rural landscape.

This conception is beginning to reverse, courtesy of increasing concerns over the economic and environmental costs of industrial food production and long-distance food transport, as well as the poor dietary choices of a rising proportion of the world’s population. Today’s urban agriculture takes a cue from the past, while drawing on the special advantages of modern urban technology.

Technological Innovation and Sustainability

Many urban farms emphasize organic and sustainable methods, partly because these ventures are coming of age in an era where more and more people are skeptical of big agribusinesses, and partly because of the special demands of raising animals and produce amid the dense population of the city. The desire for self-sufficiency, and the realities of limited space, have encouraged creativity and technological innovation.

The ECF (Efficient City Farming) Container Farm is a groundbreaking system founded on “aquaponics,” an integration of aquaculture and hydroponics. The container farm treats fish waste and uses it to supply nutrients to vegetables grown in the same facility. With plans to make these container farms available to any operation that wants one, ECF is also installing “the world’s largest rooftop aquaponic fish and vegetable farm” atop its Berlin headquarters in an old brewery malt house.

Aquaponics is also involved in another large-scale urban-agriculture initiative: Chicago’s The Plant. This off-the-grid venture, occupying a meat-packing building in the Back of the Yards section of the city, will strive to provide locally grown food, as well as a home for sustainable vendors. Food waste generated by The Plant and other nearby businesses will power an anaerobic digester, producing heat and electricity for the operations. The benefits of this system extend beyond food availability and energy efficiency.

“Such systems can also serve to create jobs in the inner city areas, as well to provide avenues for community engagement,” writer Akhila Vijayaraghavan notes on Triple Pundit.

Farms in the City

Urban farming initiatives are often centered on vast tracts of unused or under-used city infrastructure, such as abandoned factories and warehouses, parking lots and rooftops. Once thought of as wastelands, these forgotten corners of the city now yield healthful food for residents.

A recent overview of big-city farming on Cool Hunting suggests the ambition of these rejuvenations. For example, Lufa Farms is a Montreal-based operation that grows organic vegetables and fruits atop an office building. In Milwaukee, a one-time crane factory is now the four-acre farm of Sweet Water Organics, which sources everything from fish to vegetables for restaurants in the city. Bees raised on Brooklyn rooftops provide pollination services for the city’s vegetation, cultivated and otherwise, along with delicious honey.

Neighborhood Green Space

Urban farms don’t just provide healthy and delicious produce to city-dwellers; they also fundamentally alter the cityscape itself. Neighborhoods previously dominated by somber or decrepit industrial buildings and parking lots suddenly have a working green space that provides beauty and sustenance for the community.


About the Author:

Feel free to join Aleksandr Biyevetskiy on Google Plus, so you can follow all of his latest posts and updates, too!

LED Lights: 3 Creative Ideas

Are you interested in making some green home improvements in your living space? One simple but significant change you can make right away is to switch from traditional incandescent light bulbs to energy efficient LED lights. Long gone are the days when LEDs, or “light-emitting diodes” used to be tiny bright colored lights that could only be used in a very limited number of applications. LED light technology has made a huge leap forward, and now you can enjoy an energy efficient light bulb that gives off the kind of bright light we are used to in our homes.

Today, LEDs are available in many shapes and sizes, a wide range of colors and neutrals that will meet a variety of lighting needs and aesthetic tastes. While LED’s are a little more expensive than incandescent lights, they offer a number of great perks that you would not be able to get with any other light bulb. Also, if you are into DIY projects and interior design, there are a number of creative and fun ways you can light up your home with LEDs.

How do LED lights work?

LEDs have revolutionized energy-efficient lighting by transforming the way light is produced. An LED is a “solid-state lighting” technology. This means that instead of emitting light from a vacuum (as in an incandescent bulb) or a gas (as in a CFL bulb), an LED emits light from a piece of solid matter – a semiconductor. An LED produces light when electrons move around within its semiconductor structure. As the electrons stream across the semiconductor, they create electromagnetic radiation, which in part takes the form of visible light that we see. The light that is created by an LED can be of any color and can even be ultraviolet or infrared.

Advantages of LED lights

Energy Efficient

What makes LED’s a green lighting choice is their superb energy efficiency. LED light bulbs use only 2-17 watts of electricity (1/3rd to 1/30th of Incandescent or CFL). This significant reduction is possible because unlike incandescent bulbs that convert most electricity to heat, LED lights convert most of the energy into light.

Cool

While common incandescent bulbs get hot and contribute to heat build-up in a room, LEDs do not cause heat build-up. Consider this staggering difference: LEDs produce 3.4 btu’s/hour, compared to 85 for incandescent bulbs! As a result, by preventing heat build up LEDs help reduce air conditioning cost for your home.

Durable and Long-lasting

Because LEDs do not have a filament, they will not get damaged under circumstances when a regular incandescent bulb would be broken. Being solid enables LED bulbs to hold up well to jarring and bumping. Moreover, LED lights last up to 10 times as long as compact fluorescents, and far longer than typical incandescents, saving you the hassle of frequent replacements.

Cost-Effective

Although LEDs are initially expensive, you will recoup this cost over time in energy savings and long service life. In fact, LED bulbs were first used in commercial applications to reduce the expensive maintenance and replacement costs. With technological advancement, the cost went down, making LEDs available for consumers. The good news is that as technology continues to improve, the price for LED lights will continue to decrease, and soon, it will not be a significant determent to purchase.

Free of Mercury

There is no mercury used in the manufacturing of LEDs, making it a much safer choice than CFL lights, which do contain this toxic health hazardous element.

3 Easy and Creative Home Improvement Ideas with LEDs

LED Shower Lights

Add some fun to your mornings and brighten up your morning with an LED shower light! It installs to a standard shower pipe in mere minutes. When you turn the shower on, the water powers a turbine and the LED shower light lights up. Blue tells you the water is cold. When the water warms up to 89° F (32° C) the light changes to red.

Under Cabinet LED Light

Add a touch of sophistication and extra light to your kitchen by installing LED lights under the cabinet space. Also, if you already have fluorescent lighting under your cabinets, which tends to give off an unpleasant light, you can replace it yourself with LEDs. You can also go all out and install a micro-controller and add a fade-up effect when the lights switch on, as well as have a half-bright mode for those special occasions where dimmer lighting is appropriate.

LED lights for an outdoor space

If you are looking to add a touch of special ambiance to your outdoor parties, you can use LEDs to make neat looking lanterns. All you need is a small led light and battery that you can insert into jars. You can either hang them up, or put them on the table or on the ground. Moreover, if you have a pool, you can put tiny waterproof floating LEDs to light up the water and wow your guests.

The importance of Steeplejacks for Lightning Surge Protection

As individuals and companies, we all have a responsibility to try and protect our properties from natural phenomena, such as lightning, flooding, and gale force winds. Sometimes, the sheer ferocity and relentless force of Mother Nature can wreak havoc not only on your property, but it can also have an effect on people’s lives.

The main objective should be for every home owner to place more of an importance and emphasis over protecting the bricks, mortar and life built within not just the physical building (house), but their home.

There are many solutions in the public domain for individuals to choose from, and for different purposes. Whether it is anything from damp proofing basements to insulating lofts, there are both maintenance issues to overcome, as well as fresh solutions to install or add to properties.

The role of Steeplejacks

This job cannot be underestimated. Only just over half a century ago, steeplejacks were climbing dizzy heights to take care of maintenance for church spires or high rise buildings with very little security equipment. The construction industry has come a long way since then, with not only the safety aspect improving, but also the training and accreditations associated with this particular trade.

Why Lightning Protection?

With weather conditions often being both unpredictable and damaging, it is imperative that home owners and businesses take note, and follow up by protecting their prized possessions and property. With over three billion strikes of lightning hitting the earth each year, and with seemingly more temperamental conditions in countries such as England, many companies (especially) in Midlands’ areas such as Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and Leicester have already taken a note by installing surge protection. Not many companies predict to be unlucky enough to be hit by an electrical storm, however even without a direct hit; companies are often being too complacent by not fully protecting intellectual electronic data, even data not backed-up on the server.

The same risk of the weather striking the heart of your business could also be associated with an individual holding their finger above the delete button on a keyboard, ready to wipe essential and irreplaceable company data. It is a high time for businesses to take a note and consider lightning protection, especially in the wake of the recent wave of storms hitting the UK, as highlighted within the Wednesday 18 July, 2012 edition of “The Telegraph” – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/9364049/Hail-lightning-and-flash-floods-cause-weather-chaos.html.