Big Meat is suing the USDA because it doesn't like rules that require country-of-origin labels and prohibit the mixing of meats from different countries.
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The Warka’s water harvesting technique and construction system are inspired by several sources. Many plants and animals have developed unique micro- and nano-scale structural features on their surfaces that enable them to collect water from the air and survive in hostile environments. By studying the Namib beetle’s shell, lotus flower leaves, spider web threads and the integrated fog collection system in cactus, we are identifying specific materials and coatings that can enhance dew condensation and water flow and storage capabilities of the mesh. The termite hives have influenced the design of Warka’s outer shell, its airflow, shape and geometry. We also looked at local cultures and vernacular architecture, incorporating traditional Ethiopian basket-weaving techniques in Warka’s design.
Besides aesthetics and shade, trees also stabilize soil and reduce erosion, store water, provide wildlife habitat, and moderate air and soil temperatures...
After Hurricane Sandy felled thousands of trees in October and took down power lines throughout the mid Atlantic, I started thinking about how the sudden loss of those beautiful old growth trees would change the properties they stood on.
Besides the obvious functions of aesthetics and shade, trees also stabilize soil and reduce erosion, increase soil fertility, enhance the land’s ability to store water, provide wildlife habitat, moderate air and soil temperatures, and help to reduce salinization. Trees are therefore essential in protecting our homes and communities. This may seem counterintuitive in the wake of so many large trees being snapped like twigs during Hurricane Sandy, but bare with me.
“We can thank trees for our life. They evolved an imponderable 370 million years ago and helped create the very air that we breathe by “inhaling” carbon dioxide, acting as carbon sinks, and “exhaling” oxygen…With the exception of a very few reptiles, trees are the only living organisms with a lifespan greater than that of humans. They are unique inter-generational gifts to pass on to our descendants. Indeed, the oldest living tree has spanned more than 150 human generations.” - United Nations Plant For The Planet The Billion Tree Campaign.
Trees protect your home by slowing wind speed.
Windbreaksare one of the most essential functions of trees and are key in minimizing damage to our homes from storms.The function of windbreaks is to slow wind speed. Trees, even one or two, are very effective as windbreaks, but your choice of species and planting location must be considered carefully. A mix of deciduous trees (those that lose their foliage in winter) and evergreens offer the best protection. If only large evergreens are used, they may allow so little wind to pass through that they take on the qualities of a fence – hurricane strength winds have difficulty passing through, and the force uproots the tree. In my neighborhood, Hurricane Sandy took down the biggest trees, and almost all were pines.
Trees should be planted on the leeward side of your home, which is the side which receives the prevailing winds. This will vary depending upon where you live. At my home in northeast Pennsylvania, most of our storms blow from the South or West, as they usually travel up along the coast of the mid Atlantic or roar in from the midwest.
When choosing trees to serve as windbreaks, look for species that mature at a few feet over the peak of your house – the mature height of every tree is shown on the plant tag at your local garden center. Plan your windbreak so the trees are a sufficient distance from buildings to allow the trees to grow without restriction. I can’t tell you how often I see a beautiful tree like a white pine (popular as Christmas trees) planted only ten feet from someone’s front door. It looks beautiful when the tree is a sapling, but becomes a huge problem in twenty years as it begins to reach maturity, shading out everything around it, blocking the view, and branches and roots butt up against walls and foundation.
On small properties, Arborvitae may be a better choice for wind protection. Some members of this family of shrubs can grow as tall as trees, from 8-60 feet, but don’t have as wide a profile. Arborvitae provide excellent wind protection, as their foliage runs all the way to ground level, but allows wind to pass through, and they don’t have large limbs which break off and create hazards in storms. Arborvitae also make excellent natural fences.
Always choose species of trees or Arborvitae that are native to your area, as they’re adapted to your local climate and will thrive with little maintenance.
One large tree can lift up to 100 gallons of water out of the ground and discharge it into the air in a day – North Carolina State University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Trees offer protection against soil erosion and intercept storm water runoff.
Much of the rain that hits a tree collects in the leaf canopy and bark, where it evaporates back into the air, leaving the rest to drip to the soil below. Tree roots extending 2-3 times beyond the dripline (the area beyond which no water will drip from foliage) absorb much of this water. In fact, the crown of a large tree can intercept so much rainfall that in one year more than 1500 gallons will evaporate back into the atmosphere instead of hitting the ground.
If that tree is removed either intentionally or by a storm, the rainwater is free to run across your property, taking with it topsoil and other beneficial organic matter, eventually dumping it all into your local storm sewer. A properly maintained lawn provides protection from erosion, but little when compared to a tree.
Depending on size and species, a single tree may store 100 gallons or more of water until it reaches its saturation point after one to two inches of rainfall. When multiplied by the number of trees in a community, this interception and redistribution of rainwater can be significant. The slowed water percolates through the soil, finding its way into local aquifers and feeding streams and rivers. Trees also protect your soil from wind erosion – the drying of the soil caused by wind.
“Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and save 20-50 percent in energy used for heating.” – USDA Forest Service
Trees moderate surrounding air and soil temperature.
What’s better than cooling off on a hot summer day under the dense shade of a beautiful, old Maple tree?That cooling effect also extends to the soil around the tree, keeping insects, worms and bio-organisms happy near the surface, instead of driving them deep below to stay cool. These creatures are brilliant at breaking down organic matter like fallen tree leaves into elements necessary for plant growth, benefiting the lawn and flowers within the shade of the tree.
For the most effective temperature moderation of your home, plant deciduous trees on the south side of your property. The mature tree will cast a cooling shadow on your house on summer afternoons and the absence of foliage in winter allows the sun to warm the house. Once again, be aware of the mature size of the tree when determining planting distance from walls.
Trees clean air and provide oxygen
Trees act as a giant carbon dioxide (CO2) sponge. They require CO2 to perform photosynthesis, and then give us the byproduct of this process, oxygen. This improves the air quality around your home and in your community and is especially important in cities. “A big tree does 60 to 70 times the pollution removal of a small tree,” says David Nowak, a project leader with the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Syracuse, N.Y. It’s estimated that one mature tree, depending on its type, can annually release enough oxygen for a family of four.
Additional benefits of planting trees
Trees planted along your property line can provide privacy and look a whole lot friendlier than a fenceThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that trees can reduce bothersome noise by up to 50% and mask unwanted noises with pleasant, natural soundsTrees nurture birds, beneficial insects and other wildlife, providing resting spots during migration, nesting opportunties, and protection from weather extremesTrees increase the value of your home, as a well landscaped property is more attractive to buyers than a clear cut property
These suggestions for planting trees will offer protection from typical storms. However, with hurricane force winds like those from Sandy, anything can happen, and the best planning may be rendered moot. In my area, Hurricane Sandy’s winds came from the North, an odd direction for us in the fall, but this was no normal storm. The largest trees took the brunt of the 75 mph winds, which is why the power outages were so extreme.
With climate change upon us, it’s predicted that storms such as Sandy will become more frequent. The more natural protection you can provide for your home, the safer you’ll be.
Via Giri Kumar, Grace Nakate
Fortunately for those of us who are suckers for novelty, every year fruits and vegetables seem to come in more bewitching colors, shapes and flavors. In recent years, we've been transfixed by Glass Gem Corn and the vibrant orange Turkish eggplant.
Via Kim Frye Housh
Solar power keeps on getting smarter and smarter.
Via Kim Frye Housh
The Drinkable Book™ is both a water filter and an instruction manual for how and why to clean drinking water. This filter is patent pending technology (US Serial No 62/153,395), and works to produce clean drinking water by pouring dirty water through a thick, sturdy sheet of paper embedded with silver nanoparticles (a.k.a. pAge drinking paper), which are lethal for microbes. This paper was created and shown to be highly antibacterial during Theresa’s Ph.D. at McGill University. Additionally, these filters meet US EPA guidelines for bacteria removal to produce safe drinking water. The filters can last a couple of weeks, even up to a month, so the entire books could provide the tools to filter clean water for about a year. While at University of Virginia for her postdoc, Theresa and a team of students tested these filter papers with water sources in South Africa at the University of Venda.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not high on most physicians' worry lists. If we think at all about biotechnology, most of us probably focus on direct threats to human health, such as prospects for converting pathogens to biologic weapons or the implications of new technologies for editing the human germline. But while those debates simmer, the application of biotechnology to agriculture has been rapid and aggressive. The vast majority of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States
After the release of Laudato Si: On Care of Our Common Home earlier this summer, Pope Francis has said on occasion that this is a social encyclical, not an ecological one. I believe it can also be read as a political-economic encyclical: Francis takes a clear-eyed look at the modern world and shines a light on where we have gone off track.
In his Encyclical Letter addressed “to all people of good faith,” Pope Francis writes about how we have hurt and mistreated our common home over the last 200 years – which is to say our modern industrial era. This has caused “sister earth, along with all the abandoned of our world, to cry out, pleading that we take another course.” (§53)
Instead of asking, “can we have our own energy system?” communities will be asking, “why can’t we have it?”
The Tesla Energy system launched last week is comprehensive, with global ramifications. The Powerwall system offering 10 kWh is targeted at domestic users. It is complemented by a commercial system termed the Powerpack offering 100 kWh storage, and a stack of 100 such units to form a 10 megawatt-hour storage unit that can be used at the scale of small electricity grids.
Whole communities could build microgrid power-supply systems around such a 10 MWh energy-storage system, fed by renewable-energy generation (wind power or rooftop solar power), at costs that just became supercompetitive.
At his launch last week, Musk maintained that the entire electric-power grid of the US could be replicated with just 160 million of these utility-scale energy-storage units. And two billion of the utility-scale units could provide storage of 20 trillion kWh — electric power for the world.
by Sanne Kure-Jensen
John Kenny of Big Train Farm in Cranston, RI uses a four-step process to prepare his fields for planting. After a cash crop is finished, his 100 Black Australorp chickens clean up any crop residue. John said his chickens love green tomatoes.
John spreads compost and then runs a chisel plow across the field to deeply loosen and aerate soils without inversion – thus maintaining soil structure. He amends soils as needed to balance available nutrients using rates indicated by soil tests. John then adds micronutrients like Diatomaceous Earth (DE) for silica and micronized azomite.
John plants buckwheat for fast, midsummer cover before a late summer planting of cabbages, radishes and beets. Fall-planted rye or oats, vetch and clover over-winter cover and are cleared by chickens in the spring, preparing fields for late springing plantings of summer crops (nightshades, cucurbits, etc).
A way to increase soil organic matter and reduce weed pressure is with mulch. Organic practices include covering soil to prevent or minimize compaction from tractor tires, foot traffic or heavy rains. Each fall, John invites local landscapers to drop off leaves from their fall clean up. As the leaf piles grow, John’s cost for purchased straw drops. Each spring, John spreads the leaves across the farm and orders just enough baled straw for the remaining rows.
Since adding chickens to his rotations, John has seen his fruit set begin 1-2 weeks earlier. Input costs have dropped, offsetting the cost of the chicken tractor, netting charger and chicks. John now spreads just 2 yards of purchased compost per 6 foot by 150 foot bed without application of NPK fertilizers. Every two weeks, John’s 100 chickens put down 350 pounds of manure or approximately 3 pounds Nitrogen, 4.5 pounds Phosphorous and 1.5 pounds of Potassium. John calculates that his chickens put down $60 worth of manure every two weeks.
The income from 6-7 dozen eggs collected daily more than offsets the cost of supplemental poultry feed and mineral supplements. John feeds Poulin Layer Pellets and Crystal Creek Poultry Pro. Pastured chickens graze on cover crops, crop residues and insects as well as crop seconds or outer leaves. John said his chickens really love oats, Bok Choi and any type of squash. John calculates the income and feed cost for his chickens. He typically sells ¾ of the eggs collected over two weeks to bring in $315. John’s grain costs are $140 every two weeks. His net income (without overhead) is $235 every two weeks ($60 fertilizer savings + $315 egg income – $140 chicken feed).
John offers his chickens about 4,500 square feet for 2-3 weeks at a time. John knows it is time to move the chickens when they get loud or agitated. The next morning, John and an assistant can move the fence setup and chicken tractor in about an hour. Once on new ground, the chickens forage quietly.
When snow covers the ground, the farm’s chickens spend the winter in a portable hoop house. To protect the poly sides, John installs chicken wire inside the perimeter. A vent fan keeps the air fresh in the hoop house through the winter. The sides can be rolled up on warm days.
A cover crop will not have time to sprout in the cold in the chicken’s final area each fall. To prevent the manure’s nutrients from volatilizing and to cover the soil, John spread compost and leaves over the last outside area. John found the leaves to be too messy and mucky. Inside the hoop house, he uses pine shavings, which absorb the wet manure. In spring, bedding will be spread or removed from the area where the greenhouse overwintered.
John Kenny led a workshop at Big Train Farm for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Rhode Island (NOFA/RI) called “Raise Better Vegetables with Chickens in Crop Rotations” as part of their free, Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) workshop series.
Via Monica S Mcfeeters, Kim Frye Housh
AnBeen to AJAW Chocolate yet? You can make your own chocolate there. Here's a great video where you can learn about the chocolate tree, and the delicious treat. Another great video from the 501 Boyz. Keep them coming.
"Adrian is a local tour guide and choclate maker. In this video you will see the process of making the Ajaw Chocolate located in the heart of San Ignacio for a taste of Belize."
Via Best of Cayo