I’m really excited to see this film and debute it in my community. It has a great cast of main characters:
Jamie Lee Curtis | Bill Logan | Andy Lipkis | Vandana Shiva | Wangari Maathai | Wes Jackson | Sebastiao Salgado | Lelia Deluiz Wanick Salgado | Paul Stamets | Miguel Altieri| Pierre Rabhi | David Orr | Majora Carter | James Jiler | Fritjof Capra | Peter Girguis |Alice Waters | Gary Vaynerchuk | Janine Benyus | John Todd
but it also stars my most favorite environmental super-celebrity DIRT!
Here is some completely heretical news in for the world of eco-capitalist dreamers; no silly white multi-million dollar media men will ever solve the worlds ecological or social problems. Yeah I know what your thinking blasphemous right? Specifically, I am referring to the uber opportunistic and freshly greenwashed faces of Al gore, Warren Buffet, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Richard Rainwater, and now John Hantz. Hantz, a big time financial investor and longtime Detroit resident is proposing to put 30 million down of his own money to build a high tech farming operation that will be coupled with “green” estates. In Fortune Magazine’s limited interview Hantz said that Detroit is suffering from a lack of scarcity and that the only way to save housing prices is by taking as much property off the market as possible, hence the massive farm and real estate combo. But, couple this seemingly benign idea with a one track profit motive and instead of community revitalization one gets rampant community gentrification that pushes out the very people (the poorer residents of Detroit) that one is purporting to be “helping”. The team Hantz has assembled thus far is glaringly white in a city that is over 80% black which is highly suspicious to say the least not to mention naming the entire operation Hantz Farm doesn’t inspire thoughts of “community”. Rather than going to the folks who have already spent immense amounts of effort to bring local organic food to their communities and bring jobs in their neighborhoods, and then offer to assist financially in their efforts, thus far Hantz is developing a hierarchal strategy that may put those very folks out of business. Hantz’s preliminary proposals have garnered lots of unwarranted media attention even though very few details have emerged about how this farming project will be managed and who exactly will manage it.
The Hantz Farm site is just a collection of stock photos that to me seem as hollow as their message. Okay perhaps I’m being too cynical but right now important questions remain around what exact types of technology the farm will employ (already energy expensive technologies like hydroponics and large scale harvesters have been mentioned) , if there is even a viable market in the region, and most importantly, who will this for profit enterprize benefit the most. ”I’m concerned about the corporate takeover of the urban agriculture movement in Detroit,” says Malik Yakini, a charter school principal and founder of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, which operates D-Town Farm on Detroit’s west side. (from CNN)
Organic farming is enjoying a nice trendy resurgence as a solution to urban, rural, and ecological ills. Unfortunately, farming no mattter how popular can only do so much. It is well known that various economic events some deliberate and some unexpected have cost the United States and urban manufacturing centers like Detroit obscene amounts of jobs. What is not well known, is that neither local organic farming, or any green high tech green wizardry, is likely to bring these jobs back in the near future. But, never fear, there are three simple solutions to this whole mess we’re all in along with Detroit.
Detroit honestly doesn’t need anymore scarcity (though real estate barons may see it differently) it desperately needs abundance, and permaculture is a complete system that designs for abundance. If the polluted landscape of Detroit is going to be regenerated then organic farming is just not enough.
The entire history of Detroit is one of total abandonment by the world of capital and a complete lack of responsibility or loyalty to the local community. Cooperatives by their very nature encourage horizontal investment, diversity, democracy, and local responsibility.
THREE: Community Land Trusts
Community Land Trusts are set up in such a way as to encourage low income buyers into positions of ownership and avoid volatility in housing prices. There are few communities in the the US that have suffered worse volatility in housing prices than Detroit. What Hantz is proposing is just green veiled gentrification while the real solution for the people of Detroit lies in Community Land Trusts. Burlington VT has many successful examples of how and why CLT’s can close the gaps of classism.
Note, I did not mention 30 million dollars from some rich white guy! Now if that 30 million was invested in those 3 things I would surely change my tune, but if it’s invested in anything else, I really wouldn’t get my hopes up. Currently, Detroit will likely be the venue for the 2010 US social forum and I plan on being there purposing real solutions based on living permaculture and cooperative principals not on selfish, dead, capitalist oriented ones.
Organizations doing the real work in Detroit:
Evolve Detroit http://detroitevolution.com/
Detroit Agriculture Network http://www.detroitagriculture.org/
Detroit Summer http://www.detroitsummer.org/
Midwest Permaculture http://www.midwestpermaculture.com/
I love this video…
Makes me think of how eager people (especially like me) get once they learn the implications of permaculture design, enjoy!
Good day to you from Gaiapunk,
It is official Punk Rock Permaculture e-zine and Permaculture.tv are teaming up for a new permaculture media worker co-op that you can be a part of. This media co-op will cover:
- Permaculture Development, Techniques, People around the planet.
- The merging of the open source technology, cooperative, transition towns, permaculture movements and more!
- Radical permaculture and farmer movements in the 2/3rds (developing) world.
- Ecocity ideas that will make a real difference in the next decade.
If your interested in these topics or others and would like to learn more please contact email@example.com with the subject line “media co-op”.
Now please enjoy this awesome TED talk by Carolyn Steel on how local food is intrinsic to the design, function, and success of cities past, present, and future.
Hey Gaia Punk here,
So I was just recently accepted for a 3 month Advance Permaculture Design internship with Ethan Roland of Appleseed Permaculture in the Hudson Valley area of New York. I am very excited for this opportunity to deepen my skills and I’m dedicated to the helping make permaculture design accessible to even more people than ever before. Ethan is such an awesome force in the world of permaculture and vital mentor to so many wonderful folks that I decided I would take a moment to highlight some of his work.
Ethan is a full time Permaculture designer and teacher and expert in the areas of large scale perennial polyculture systems and ecological community design. See slideshow:
Ethan studied at Haverford College and later obtained a M.S. in Collaborative eco-social design from Gaia University a innovative and global growing university through which he now occasionally teaches courses. Ethan is the principal of Appleseed Permaculuture which collaborates with permaculture and ecological designers from all over the world. Ethan currently sits on the board of Permaculture Across Boarders which assists permaculture projects in the developing or 2/3 rds world. His work has brought him all over world (Thailand, Azerbaijan, Kazakastan, the Virgin Islands,) with direct learning experience and mentoring from folks like Geoff Lawton and Dave Jacke. Ethan is directly involved with the Carbon Farming and Financial Permaculture movements. He supports and promotes sustainable community based cooperative enterprises like the innovative cocao CSA Booyacacao. Ethan contributes contents and expertise for Earth Activist Mentor a amazing site and service for up and coming designer like myself, folks looking for detailed in depth resources, or distance mentoring for permaculture diplomas. Well, I hope to do a video interview shortly with Ethan and Nicolas Roberts from Permaculture.tv but until then enjoy this inspiring lecture Ethan presented to a group of UMASS architecture students and Greg Landua presentation of Booyacocao “Theobroma” production.
What do punk, permaculture, and anarchy have to do with the 21st Century?
A Peace of the Anarchy produced by lovearchy.org is a quick summary of 20th century radical activism in the USA featuring prominent antiwar hero Kathy Kelly and permaculture eco activist Star Hawk. Has notable focus on the pacifist christian anarchist Ammon Hennacy. Folks from the War Resisters League, the IWW, Earth First! and the Catholic Worker, along with Mr. Hennacy exemplify the marginalized prophetic witness for peace and justice in the USA as they attempt to appeal to the dominant culture. These people speak on the benefits of anarchy and peace, following the radical (rooted/basically grounded) ideology and optimism that goodness will overcome evil, love is superior to hate and truth trumps falsehood.”
On the liberation of spores:
For more stuff by the Spore Liberation Front check out this amazing zine.
The real news was buried in the press release, though. Toward the bottom of a listing of verbal “commitments” from NGOs and foundations, we findthis:
Growing Power commits to strengthen food security for school children and their care givers in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Growing Power will build a new model of local food systems to ensure adequate nutrition in the short-term and build a long-term foundation for competitive African human capital in the global market place.
So Growing Power will be bringing its community-based, low-input style of agriculture to Africa—under the aegis of a group most known for its top-down, Big Solution way of development work.
I got Erika Allen, daughter of Growing Power founder Will and leader of the group’s Chicago operations, on the phone Monday to talk about the announcement.
She told me that in the current phase, Growing Power is hoping to raise $2 million to get its Africa initiative started. (The Clinton Global Initiative doesn’t so much fund specific projects as match funders with projects.)
Allen described the proposed initiative as a “cultural exchange”—Growing Power reps would be learning about how food production currently works in South Africa and Zimbabwe; looking closely at local assets, resources, gaps, and needs. And food-system actors from those places would visit Growing Power sites in the United States—not just at the flagship enterprises in Milwaukee and Chicago, but also at partner projects in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Mississippi.
From there, Growing Power and its partners in southern Africa would work on “modifying our production systems to local resources there.”
She stressed that what works in Milwaukee won’t necessarily fly in Zimbabwe. Here in the United States, Growing Power essentially siphons off some of the enormous food waste generated by a modern U.S. city and transforms it into fertile soil, which is then used to grow food. But African cities generate less compostable waste.
“The challenge will be to find the systems that work in areas with less excess,” Allen told me. She cited Growing Power’s aquaculture setup, where waste from tilapia tanks is used to fertilize watercress, one example of a low-input system that could work in Africa.
“Overall, it’s about helping people use their resources to build soil and grow food,” she said.
In a single sentence, Allen had articulated a vision completely counter to the top-down model of development that has dominated U.S. policy since at least the Cold War—the agricultural model most famously promoted by the recently deceased Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug. In this model, imported agrichemicals and seed varieties provide the path to food security in the global south. And trade is venerated with an almost religious zeal—nations should only produce food insofar as they have a “comparative advantage” in a particular crop. “High-value” crops like fresh produce should be exported to the industrialized north, where consumers can pay top dollar for them; “low-value” staple crops should be imported when expedient.
Make no mistake—even though more than a billion people globally lack sufficient access to food and farmers in the global south operate in a state of permanent crisis, that model still dominates today. The“Millennium Villages” concept for Africa championed by Harvard’s Jeffrey Sachs hinges on “new advances in science and technology.” To help boost food security, these showcase villages receive subsidies for imported fertilizers and seeds.
And the Gates Foundation, which has been organizing a massive attempt to transform food production in Africa, has made a game attempt to be open to new models of ag development. But as Annie Stattuck, Raj Patel, and Eric Holt-Gimenez show in an excellent recent article in The Nation, the overall thrust has been in the direction of high-tech “solutions” to the continent’s food problems.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has recently taken a deep bow to the conventional ag-development gods, by putting agrichemical-industry stalwarts in charge of both agriculture negotiations at global trade talks and USDA-funded research. Analyzing the latter appointment, that of the Monsanto-affiliated Roger Beachy to lead the USDA’s new National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Science blog recently wrote that:
Beachy’s interests in biotechnology and the developing world closely match those of his new boss, USDA’s Under Secretary for Research Rajiv Shah. They also fit with President Barack Obama’s desire to increase agricultural assistance to developing countries.
The Growing Power initiative points to a new direction. In place of costly and often ecologically and socially ruinous high-tech methods, the Allens present a vision of appropriate technology: techniques that communities can own and manage themselves, without the perpetual need to commit precious resources to toxic agrichemicals and patent-protected seeds.
As debate rages about how to “feed the world” amid population growth, climate change, and fossil-fuel depletion, projects like this one are critical. I’ll be watching it closely.
It seems as though Pittsburgh is either the De facto capital of the rust belt or a city in the midst of a revolutionary transformation. In recent years Pittsburgh has become a epicenter for green building, bike paths, solar composites, and one of the professed launching pads of the new “green economy”. This is fascinating because Pittsburgh could also be considered one of the many coal capitals of the world, and anyone who has studied the issue knows that there is absolutely no way to make coal “clean” as long as your using mining techniques such as “mountaintop removal”. There is nothing like synthetic stench of two faced liberalism to hide the odious fact that the root of some very serious issues like housing, poverty, gentrification, and classism are not being addressed. The city of Pittsburgh’s role during the current wholly undemocratic G20 summit is to act as a PR spin machine to distract the public from the main show of global power grabs behind the scenes and behind closed doors.
While the media is very focused on equating anarchists with terrorists, they’re also wholly ignoring the police harassment and abuse that has already taken place even before the summit. The Seeds of Peace collective has been repeatedly attacked by the police solely because of the fact by that by bringing a bus to act as kitchen and medical support for the g20 resistance they’ve been made an obvious target. Yesterday, the Landslide Community Farm and the Cyberpunk Apocalypse Writers Guild house were raided for no plausible reasons by swarms of cops trespassing without warrants or accurate justification. The Landslide Community Farm and the Cyberpunk Apocalypse house are centers of different type transformation happening in Pittsburgh, that of radical culture.
These centers are the works of truly earnest folks, that divide up what free time they can muster into making art, hosting cultural gatherings, giving out free food, planting permaculture food forests, building bike co-ops, fighting all forms of oppression, and re-envisioning all that has been abandoned in the shadows of steel that is the forlorn rusty spine of Pittsburgh. Some of them are even proud to be called anarchists. These groups and many, many, others like them are true community builders something the G20 aristocrats will most likely never understand. Perhaps the new face of Pittsburgh is not the gilded ”green” skyline for the rich but the rainbow of diversity in an urban farm for everyone.
For more info about the Landslide Community Farm visit: www.punkrockpermaculture.com
For real time updates on the G20 resistance visit: pittsburgh G-finity
Hey Gaia Punk here,
I have two amazing events to report back from this weekend. First off, I have to say that I was very excited to witness what amounted to probably the biggest amassing of bike punks in US history friday night in Seattle WA during the Dead Baby Downhill after-party compounded by the fact that Seattle was also hosting the North American Bike Polo Championship that same weekend (congrats to Seattle for winning another tourney! Good luck at the worlds in Philly)! After the Dead baby after party a couple of friends and I drove to the foothills of Jacksonville, OR for the first annual Strait from the Teat Fest (aka Goat Fest) at the Boone’s Farm. This festival was a punk and dance festival hosted by an organic permaculture farm and goat dairy. There were lots of wonderful bands including, the Hail Seizures, Razzamatazz, RVIVR, Mutoid Men, and many more who played on a wooden stage in the midst of a beautiful oak grove under a massive moon. The hosts were extremely gracious and I think everyone had an amazing time. Below is a interview I did with Mookie about the Boone’s Farm and history of Strait From the Teat Fest.
Gaia Punk: What is the history of the Boone’s Farm and how many folks are involved?
Mookie: I had been doing sustainable agriculture for a few years when I came to this area 8 years ago with the intention of starting a agricultural education center that would promote the next generation of farmers and radicals. This was the goal around which the Boone’s Farm was founded. Right now we have 8 people living here, 3 full timers working with the organic goat dairy, 2 working with the veggie farm, and 3 half time interns who help all around and also work on political campaigns. Besides our growing commercial operation we have a revolutionary program called Turning Tables in which we grow and 1 acre of veggies that we give away at no cost to families in need to help ensure that everyone in our community has access to wholesome organic produce.
Gaia Punk: That fits perfectly with the permaculture ethic of “fair share” or returning the surplus to your community and to the earth.
Mookie: Yes, exactly.
Gaia Punk: How did Strait From the Teat (aka goat fest) evolve and where do you see it going?
Mookie: A lot of us here at the farm have punk and or DIY influences. Farming of course can be very DIY. Eventually folks learned of our farm as a inviting punk friendly space and it became a way point for various band and musicians on tour. It was from these relationships and friendships that the idea for Strait from the Teat as a yearly festival arose. This festival is a place for people to speak out against the oppressive systems that we don’t want, but most importantly a space for folks to see and realize community in action. During the festival a natural skill share organically emerged and in the future we hope to bring even more educational aspects for the benefit of everyone attending. It seems obvious to me that there can be no resistance without food and no celebration without music.
Gaia Punk: What permaculture techniques and or principals do you employ at the Boone’s Farm?
Mookie: Well water management is critical and recently we just finished a key line dam that after this years rainy season will provide ample amounts of water for the farm during the summer. We also employ many permaculture practices in our produce production. Two principals that really stick out for me on the farm are planned redundancy and on site resourcing. Something that we don’t do is employ hierarchies such as the teacher/student dichotomy because as far as I’m concerned we are all learning and sharing from one another.
Gaia Punk: Do you think permaculture is being popularized by it’s interactions with various sub cultures, and if so will it have lasting effects?
Mookie: I feel permaculture is just the labeling of a ethic that could easily be describe as sanity. I feel permaculture as an idea will eventually be absorbed into the mainstream and hopefully become accepted and commonplace. I feel it is the destiny of the term permaculture itself to disappear. I think it is very important that permaculture can’t remain as something to be bought or sold but must become knowledge that is freely shared. This is what we’re working for at the Boone’s Farm
Gaia Punk: I agree completely. Thanks so much Mookie I’ve had a incredible time listening to all the great bands at Strait from the Teat and learned a whole lot too. I hope you know you got lots of allies out there.
Mookie: Oh, I know it. Thanks to you too, have fun and keep up the great work.
I’m reposting this post because I just learned that they may be facing eviction
There is a genuine non violent revolution going on around the globe. One that crosses boundaries of race, creed, color, religion and subculture. A revolution that heals the heart even as it dismantles the heartless systems of oppression. It is of course the permaculture revolution; a revolution that is interconnected and diverse.
Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on
the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food
and shelter.” – Bill Mollison
I want to take sometime and give you a picture of some of these true revolutionaries….
The Swomp in Amsterdam is a collective squat that is guided by permaculture and its principals. Besides providing for themselves with their garden production the Swomp does community outreach and education. They are under constant threat of eviction and they may need some media attention soon. Please take the time to read their declaration and the inspiring sustainable ethics by which the community abides. Here is just a sampling of what they’ve accomplished:
- successfully squatted a unused urban lot and turned it into a permaculture demonstration site.
- built a strawbale home from mostly recycle materials
- organized with numerous other collectives on a wide range of important global issues
- provided free education to the community
- demonstrated that one can live in harmony with one’s conscience and with the earth
Please visit their awesome blog and if you are aware of other radical communities in the permaculture vein we would love to feature them here.
p.s. We are always looking for more contributors so if you would like to write for PRP e-zine please contact thejulianeffect(at)gmail with the subject “gaia punks.”
The history of the Landslide Community Farm is analogous to one of natures little accidents, a mutation if you will, that with in a certain given context becomes crucial if not startlingly beautiful.
Landslide has grown from a couple of fixed up “farm houses” to a non profit in control of multiple city plots used for urban farming. Landsliders are using permaculture techniques, inclusive outreach, and smart campaigning to get strong rapport with city (even enough to fight off a unjust eviction attempt). These permie punxs along with their equally amazing neighbors are making their urban environments more livable, more ecologically sound, and if dare say, all around more krunk. Landsliders are truly stout folks with aspirations that include more than just themselves, but instead a desire to elevate the relationships around them, including the earth, and the greater Pittsburgh community as a whole. Many Landsliders volunteer with collectives like Food NOT Bombs and most likely a dozen other awesome radical or progressive projects too numerous to mention here.
It is my view that permaculture is really 10 % physically oriented and 90 % percent community oriented because ultimately it is the community that will implement the work that is most needed. The first rule for building community is just being inclusive by making what your doing accessible, affordable, and autonomously oriented. Even when all the steel money is long gone it is the history of our relationship with the earth and others that will remain. Landsliders are leaving a history in Pittsburgh that anyone would be proud of.
go Gaia punks go!
Amazing Urban Permaculture Workshop in Brooklyn, NY
I just got back from a little eastcoast permaculture tour visiting folks in
Toronto, Montreal, New York, and Burlington VT. All I can say is that things are poppin’ right now in the world of permaculture.
So I don’t normally post too many course announcements here solely
because there are just so many, but this one is unique. It is a urban permaculture workshop with exceptionally experienced instructor Larry Santoyo of Earthflow Designs. Larry along with my awesome permaculture
design course instructor Scott Pittman work together with the US Permaculture Institute doing projects all around the US and the world at large. Here are the details about the workshops:
A campaign has just been launched to plant food forest all across the U.S. and the world as well:
A food forest is a multilayer poly-culture garden that mimics the natural structure of a forest and improves ecological integrity on many levels. A food Forest may have 9 various layers starting with:
Mycylieal (fungi) and bacterial
Ground Covers (for holding moisture, the soil, and soil fertility)
Herbaceous (vegetables and herb)
Small shrubs (berries)
Large shrubs (small fruits and nuts)
Small trees (large fruits and nuts)
Big trees (hardwoods)
Vines, climbers, and lots of flowers
Eric holzer of Permaculture Earth Artisans of Sebastopol, CA one of the US leaders of this campaign has this to say,
“My vision is to educate communities as to the whole system benefits of food forests from, climate change to relocalization of food sources and creating oases of human settlement in our communities. To do this we will help students and interns design and install these systems.”
For more good resources on food forest design see the links and resources below:
A little Providence….
Cob Building with Sun Ray Kelly!
Just 4 days before I left for Costa Rica I casually picked up a book at my favorite local bookstore (Last Word Books) and as is my habit started flipping through it. This book was entitled
It featured some of the most amazing natural building I had ever seen. The work of Sun Ray apprentice of fammed cob master Ianto Evans was esspecially amazing and I wished that I would have the opportunity to learn from such a inspiring artisan, architect, and craftsman, but then Icyni saddly thought fat chance of that happening. Little did I know that my wish would be granted half way through my permaculture design course at True Nature Community when one evening I was walking up to the balcone and there, as if by divine providence, was a smiling and radiant Sun Ray. Later our class was able to pitch in on amazing spiral temple/house cob dome project in the La Florida area. Here are some pics and a short video (forgive the feet filming)….
The worlds toughest plant….
Okay if you didn’t already know I love bamboo and bamboo buildings so I thought I would share two of my very best links I’ve found thus far:
The liberation mutation…
Thanks to 100 Sommerville for inspiring this post:
I want to share with you all a very interesting project born from the grasslands of Kansas but sweeping the globe.
is exporting sustainable, appropriate, and farm based technology in order to create a replicable model for community sufficient ecovillages all around the globe. Please help them spread the word, gather knowledge and resources, and network, by checking out there blog, wiki, and the Factor E Farm itself.
Hey permie punx here is a wonderful manual that I came across in my studies so I thought I would share it with everyone! Enjoy!
Lets get our
In partnership with Blooming in Space a new radical permaculture communities and resource blog punk rock permaculture e-zine wll feature profiles of radical autonomus communites from all over the world.
Escanda is a radical autonomous community in the beautiful foothills of Spain. The community is involve with many local and international education projects on a variety of subjects including radical organizing and campaigning, permaculture, and renewable energy. They are very open to visiters who love to work and skill share with in a wonderful ecological community setting.
What would the permaculture approach to vertical farming look like?
Most permaculturalist agree that we must grow more food with in our cities, but does that mean inside the buildings of the city itself? Vertical farming has been making some big headlines lately and so I’ve decided to approach some of the latest ideas and innovations and examine them through the lens of permaculture principals. This idea has been around for a while (think terraces in Asia) and has some very strong merits. Bill Mollison remarked that “95 of the cost of food in a city like New York comes from it’s transportation, storage, and packaging.” Growing in a high density fashion has the potential to save ample land and resources if done correctly. But, as a permaculturalist I have some serious reservations about vertical farms. Most of the skyscraper type designs would grow food hydroponically This requires considerable energy and maintenance the trade off being a year long growing season; that is if your not dealing with constant “technical difficulties”. Dickson Despommier the leading proponent of the vertical farming idea had this say, “You can control nothing outdoors, and you can control everything indoors. That means no floods, wildfires, hailstorms, tornadoes, or droughts. Plant diseases and pests are more easily controlled, too, meaning less need for herbicides and pesticides.”
“And indoor agriculture is more efficient. One indoor acre of strawberries can produce as much as 30 outdoor acres can. In general, indoor acreage is four to six times more productive, in part because of the year-round growing season. Outdoors, you might get one crop [per year]; indoors, you might get four or five crops per year,”
Now, I might disagree about his use of the word “efficient” because it may not account for the imbued impute energy of a large hydroponic system not to mention large steel and concrete building. His emphasis on control is also a little unsettling too, simply because it was a disproportionate emphasis on control, instead of more flexible whole systems design based on relationships, that got us into the current food crisis mess in the first place. Now I wouldn’t throw out the idea of vertical farming entirely I just think there may be a better use of our energy and resources. Skyscrapers alone use ample amounts of energy in their construction let alone ones potentially holding complex hydroponics systems. Some of these designs incorporate aspects of passive and active solar, wind, housing, rainwater harvesting, methane digestion for energy, composting, aquaculture, and other generally cool features you would expect from the sustainably minded. But, here is what my friend Richard Register author of Ecocities: rebuilding cities in balance with nature had to say about it, “the notion of filling a building [with plants] and artificially supplying the light for the plants … from any kind of energy system is one of the weirdest ideas I’ve ever heard of. It’s not serious agriculture. It’s just not…. It’s an intellectual plaything.”
“A better answer is to develop, over time, more compact, energy-efficient cities along the European model, he says. That would free up land near urban areas for conventional agriculture with “100-percent-free solar energy” falling on it. Urban community gardens and high-intensity conventional commercial gardens could also supply part of the need.”
I echo Richards sentiments; it seems to me that before we consider growning food in farmscrapers in the future we should reclaim what is already available to us now. New York City alone has 1700 unused and vacant lots! If space is the issue well I’d rather get rid of some streets. Mo Town in Detroit is starting to turn into one large urban farm and should’t we encourage ideas from the bottom up, as in from the community, versus developers first. This doesn’t mean I think vertical farming is a absolute dead end. Like I said I still think that it is an idea with good merits but it needs to be more scalable and less impute intensive. If vertical farming becomes a euphemism for taking the industrialized petrol based monoculture outside and then reconfiguring that inside (which is what some designs looked like) then I say no way! Recently, one design called Sky Vegetables caught my eye. This design was developed by 22 year old Keith Agoada, a University of Wisconsin business student, and took home a 10000$ first place prize in a competition for creative start ups. Sky Vegetables is basically a big box remix with vegetables being grown on the grocery store roof (in greenhouses), complete with rainwater harvesting, solar panels, compost, oh and large unsightly asphalt parking lot too of course. I believe if you were to add affordable housing and office space to a idea like this, scale it down a bit, build most of the building with Glubam or with recycled wood, and of course take out the parking lot, well then I might sign on to vertical farming. Until then, when I hear the word vertical farming used I’m going to think of a forest garden.
Take care and fair share!
P.S. Check out my next post on this subject when I examine arcologies and the way in which they aproach vertical farming. Oh, and sorry about the typos I have to stop typing so late.
It’s time to get retro….
retrofit that is
Hey everyone I really wanted to share this great video about my good friend Jan Spencer’s suburban permaculture retrofit house in Eugene, OR. Jan is a extremely knowledgeable permaculturalist, a awesome mural painter, and all around upbeat and very friendly guy. We first met two years ago during his west coast permaculture bike tour and we had a great time together coming back with some friends from the Ecocity World Summit in San Francisco. He showed us around his place which was such a cool retrofit I thought I would share it with you here.
clearly it’s true.
—Don’t let the cute smile fool ya
BE WARNED!— because
I know that if you’re like me then the very, very, last thing you want to read about in these times is anything with the taglines: fiance, corruption, negligence, scheming, losses, or economic gloom and collapse. No these things are not very fun or funny (okay sometimes they’re funny.) But, thinking about alternatives is essential. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research on permaculture economics, finance, and theory. I’ve found lots of good work out there in the noosphere. Today though I was laughing a bit at the antics of Carlo Ponzi of the imfamous Ponzi Scheme fame the predecessor of the Madoff Scheme that the already broken banking and fiance industry is currently freaking out about. It is a wonderful aspect of life that criminals can teach you almost as much wisdom as saints, and if you know how to learn your lessons from their mistakes they might even teach you more.
It seems some people have a hard time learning lessoons. So what if the whole of global economy we’re to come unraveled in on ultra Ponzi Scheme? Unfortunately, as many of you know, it very well could; that is if people we’re to simply stop buying government backed bonds in the current precarity. Well, “precarious times call for precarious minds”, or as I like to call them the “carefully minded”.
. I just started tearing intoToolbox for Sustainable City Living by Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew cofounders of the Rhizome Collective in Austin TX who are definitely of the carefully minded sort. Along with great knowledge and methods the awesome illustrations in this book are done by my good friend Juan Martinez, also from Austin TX, a member mutant bike collective, and the amazingly prolific Beehive Design Collective based in Maine.
Lets just say I love this BOOK!!! This is one of my most favorite Permaculture books to date!! Go get it because it’s only ten bucks online! We need more books like this and more folks doing applied urban permaculture work in the cities!
Permie Punx Unite!