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The Barley Mow
Reaping what we sow
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Ghost Factories: Smelting and Lead Contamination - USATODAY.com

Ghost Factories: Smelting and Lead Contamination - USATODAY.com | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
USA TODAY's investigation of more than 400 old lead smelting sites finds hundreds of locations nationwide where lead contamination may remain in soil and children may be at risk.

 

In hundreds of neighborhoods across the United States, children are living and playing near sites where factories once spewed lead and other toxic metal particles into the air. The factories, which melted lead in a process called smelting, closed long ago but poisonous lead particles can still be found in the soil nearby. Families interviewed were unaware of the dangers posed by their yards – and the government has done little to warn them, a USA TODAY investigation has found.

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Vietnam Dispatch: Adapting to Climate Change, One Melon at a Time

Vietnam Dispatch: Adapting to Climate Change, One Melon at a Time | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
In Vietnam, farmers change seed varieties to produce more resilient melons.

 

The project is more about adopting better agricultural methods, something that's needed with or without climate change. But the effect Oxfam is hoping to get from the project is making farmers more resiliant to whatever nature might bring them.

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Why businesses should turn their food waste into compost

Why businesses should turn their food waste into compost | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Companies large and small can do more to ensure that leftovers from cafeterias and catered events don't end up as landfill...

 

In the United States, food scraps were the second largest contributor to municipal waste in 2010. Even after recycling, food waste was the largest contributor to landfills with almost 34m tonnes discarded that year. Food waste is a huge emitter of methane, with 120m tonnes of emissions coming from landfill sites in the US in 2009.

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Farming 101: Growing Pains

Farming 101: Growing Pains | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Farming, I'm learning, is one part obstacle course, one part adventurous labor camp, and two parts planning, guesswork, and abrupt problem-solving.

 

First of all, let me just say that farming hurts. I was sore everywhere for most of the last two weeks. My inner thighs and hamstrings took a particular beating, the former from a mere half-hour of squatting to harvest winter kale, and the latter from the everyday up and down of pruning, weeding and various chores. ...

 

Besides incorporating morning yoga to alleviate soreness, the answer seems to just toughen up and get over it. This is a good reminder that bodies are made to get hurt and then heal, to bleed (a little) and sweat (more than a little). I've had to inhabit my body in a new way, more practically and fearlessly, no longer a carefully-tended ornament of advertising.

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Is sustainable agriculture possible in the Sahel? | ReliefWeb

Is sustainable agriculture possible in the Sahel? | ReliefWeb | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

With drought conditions chronic in the Sahel, many farmers give up trying to grow crops and head to towns and cities to find work. In Chad many go to the south or to Lake Chad where irrigation from the fast-shrinking lake is used to farm. But some agro-ecologists say governments, donors and farmers should not abandon agriculture in the Sahel, and despite being “very difficult”, with the right approaches, there is “huge potential” in natural regeneration, traditional irrigation methods, and simple alternatives such as crop diversification. ...

Ultimately, this project has worked only because land was made available to the very poorest groups, who ordinarily would not have had access to it, said Remy Courcier, Emergency coordinator at the FAO in the capital, N’djamena. “Land ownership and land rights are central to improving prospects in the Sahel.”

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Edible landscaping: Eat your beautiful yard

Edible landscaping: Eat your beautiful yard | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
This yummy alternative can be just as beautiful as traditional landscaping, replacing everything from ground cover to trees with food-producing plants like mint, strawberries and asparagus.

 

Why surround your home with landscaping that is merely ornamental when it could feed you, too? Edible landscaping can be just as beautiful as traditional landscaping, replacing everything from groundcover to trees with food-producing plants like mint, strawberries, asparagus and sunflowers.


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Book Review: Sustainability in a Crowded World

Book Review: Sustainability in a Crowded World | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
The Third Industrial Revolution by J. Rifkin, The False Promise of Green Energy by A. P. Morriss, W. T. Bogart, R. E. Meiners and A. Dorchak., Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind by B. Fagan.

 

On October 31, 2011, major news outlets around the world proclaimed that the earth’s population had officially hit 7 billion. Since then, that number has been growing by three to four per second, with most projections suggesting that by 2050, more than 9 billion people will call this planet home. ... At a time of strain on our already damaged and depleted world, this expected increase will further compromise the supply of food, water and energy. Will we therefore begrudge the newcomers the opportunity of life? What can we learn from the dilemma we collectively face?

 

Three newly released books describe the challenges that lie ahead, each addressing relevant issues from a different perspective.

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Wild flower re-planting to boost bee numbers - Telegraph

Wild flower re-planting to boost bee numbers  - Telegraph | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"The UK has lost more than 3 million hectares of wildflower rich habitat since the Second World War, meaning insects have nowhere to feed. Motorways and housing estates contain few flowers and even gardens and wheat fields are no good because there are not enough nectar-rich native flowers.
The loss is driving a decline in pollinator insects such as hoverflies, bees and butterflies. The insects not only go hungry but are unable to move around the country so breeding pools become smaller and the resilience of the species suffers.
As concern grows for the decline in bees and other insects the Co-operative supermarket is recreating areas of wild flowers and nectar rich plants like lesser knapweed, field scabious and birdsfoot trefoil.
The strips of wildflowers could be planted anywhere, from car parks to playing fields, creating a network of "bee roads" across the country."

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Dan Kittredge: Farming for Nutrient Quality | Organic Connections

Dan Kittredge: Farming for Nutrient Quality | Organic Connections | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Dan Kittredge, head of the Bionutrient Food Association, is leading a new movement to teach farmers and gardeners a methodology of growing with nutrient quality as the main objective.

 

"What if the criteria for success in agriculture were the nutrient content of produce, rather than quantity of yield per acre? Farmers growing high-nutrient crops could command a higher price by delivering greater value, and consumers would reap the healthful benefits. This might seem like a dream—but for Dan Kittredge it’s a vision and a passion he works at daily.

Remarkably, his seven-year journey to realize this vision all began with one simple, pragmatic decision: he just wanted to be a better farmer."

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What’s On My Food? :: Pesticides On Food

What’s On My Food? :: Pesticides On Food | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"Pesticides
…on our food, even after washing;
…in our bodies, for years;
…& in our environment, traveling many miles on wind, water and dust.

What’s On My Food? is a searchable database designed to make the public problem of pesticide exposure visible and more understandable.

How does this tool work? We link pesticide food residue data with the toxicology for each chemical, making this information easily searchable for the first time."

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Foods that Contain the Highest Amount of Pesticides | Wake Up World

Foods that Contain the Highest Amount of Pesticides | Wake Up World | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"Much of the produce that is sold today in supermarkets is supplied from farmers who practice conventional farming methods. In other words, the produce has been grown using chemical fertilizers as well as pesticides and herbicides.

Many scientific studies suggest that the effects of synthetic pesticides can be detrimental to our health; one study suggests that the consumption of pesticides may lead to ADHD in children; in some other cases, exposure can lead to many forms of cancers, infertility problems and birth defects. Along with the many other poor ‘food like’ products we are eating, there is an array of foreign substances that are entering our bodies."

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What doesn't kill you makes you stronger? Not for bees and pesticides!

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger? Not for bees and pesticides! | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"Some common pesticides used worldwide and approved on the basis of their safety and low toxicity are actually destroying colonies of bumbles and honey bees.
Insects which - whether you like them or not - play a critical role in the reproduction of many edible plants: not many apples will ripen without the help of bees, for example.

 

These pesticides were approved based on tests showing that low doses would not kill the bees in the short-term. No long-term effects have been taken into account for the approval. But as two studies published in last week issue of Science magazine showed long-term effects of low-dose pesticides are complex and imply a substantial risk for bumbles and honey bees and should be taken into account."

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Herbicide Applications Undermining Protection of Biodiversity

Herbicide Applications Undermining Protection of Biodiversity | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"The study, funded by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and published in the journal Environmental Pollution, is one of the first to document the effects of herbicides on butterflies. Several studies have shown herbicides can adversely affect animal life, even though they are designed to kill plants. Since each herbicide in the Behr’s metalmark research has a different mode of action, Dr. Stark speculates that their toxic effects may be due to inert ingredients contained but not identified in the formulations, or indirect effects on food plant quality. Of the three herbicides studied, refuge managers now use only triclopyr, mainly on woody plants and trees in areas far away from prime butterfly habitat."

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Portuguese People Are Returning To Farming In Droves

Portuguese People Are Returning To Farming In Droves | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"Disillusioned by the unfulfilled promise of the cities and feeling stifled by tough austerity measures aimed at coping with an economic downturn, some Portuguese are opting out and returning to the land. ...

 

In February it (the government) launched an initiative to map the country's unused land and terrain that does not have a known owner, with the aim of making it available to be rented to those who want to work it.

 

Portugal is the world's largest cork producer and the seventh largest wine exporter. Farming, including forestry and production of everything from olives to oranges, strawberries and cherries, account for 10 percent of gross domestic product ..."

 

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Banned pesticides found in teas produced by popular Chinese tea brands

Banned pesticides found in teas produced by popular Chinese tea brands | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
A Greenpeace investigation has found pesticides banned for use on tea in the products marketed by some of China's top tea companies.

 

In December 2011 and January 2012, Greenpeace bought 18 tea products from nine tea companies in China. The tea products, including green tea, oolong tea and jasmine tea, were purchased from stores located in Beijing, Chengdu and Haikou. The prices were between RMB120 (about 19 US Dollars) and RMB2000 (about 318 US Dollars) per kilogram.

 

"Seven of those firms are among China's Top 10 tea sellers, and they are all selling tea tainted with banned pesticides.

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The Next Generation of Farmers: How Youth are Learning Urban Farming Methods

The Next Generation of Farmers: How Youth are Learning Urban Farming Methods | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

One of the most unsustainable aspects of our culture is how we grow our food. The dominance of large factory farms and mass production has resulted in significant environmental tolls, including soil erosion, extensive use of pesticides, and damage to water systems. And, even with our large agriculture sector, 13.5 million people live in food deserts--areas without access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

 

Instead of relying on big grocery stores or farms to deliver fresh foods, the stories below highlight local community programs that not only look to take control over their food systems but also engage youth to develop their skills and sense of ownership.

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Sustainable Food: 10 Reasons to Care

Sustainable Food: 10 Reasons to Care | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Learn why sustainable food is an issue that affects almost every realm of our lives, and why we should all seek to learn more and embrace a better system.

 

On the whole, there are an overwhelming number of people living on this Earth right now who are profoundly disconnected. They live indoors, they work indoors, their lives are screens, highways and food prepared by a corporation. I think the more people who do something even as simple as growing a tomato plant, the better the world could be. It may start as a tomato, but if the spark of connection grows, one plant could be the gateway to something bigger.

 

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Farmers try to cope with drought

Farmers try to cope with drought | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Parts of England are still gripped by drought, with farmers attempting to prevent losses and reduce water consumption...

 

Farmers across the country are taking measures to reduce their water consumption and avoid compulsory bans on water use, following one of the driest two-year periods on record.

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Unique greenhouse could spur outback growth - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Unique greenhouse could spur outback growth - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
International scientists working in the outback have devised a crop production system not reliant on diminishing fresh water supplies.

 

The team is now using the sun's warmth to remove the salt from seawater to produce heating, cooling and power for growers to deliver fruit and vegetables.

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Vast Urban Farm Grows Fish, Food In Old Chicago Meat Plant

Vast Urban Farm Grows Fish, Food In Old Chicago Meat Plant | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
On the third floor of an old meat-packing plant is a humid hothouse filled with rows of greens and sprouts, even exotic white strawberries. Nearby, in large barrels swim dozens of tilapia, fish native to tropical regions.

 

"The Plant" is a leading example for urban vertical farming using old warehouses, where plants and fish are raised symbiotically, with a closed-loop system that uses all waste toward the production of food. Using "aquaponics", the water containing fish excrement is used to feed and fertilize the plants, which then filters the water back to the fish through a series of pipes.


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Travelwise: What Copenhagen can teach the world

Travelwise: What Copenhagen can teach the world | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"Copenhagen frequently tops rankings of the world’s happiest, most liveable and best-designed cities.


This is likely because the city strives for sustainability in nearly every aspect of policy and culture. While Denmark’s capital may not be perfect, its successes in a few key areas provide teaching points for metropolises around the world."

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Spreading Fungal Diseases Threaten Food Security, Biodiversity

Spreading Fungal Diseases Threaten Food Security, Biodiversity | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"The spread of existing and emerging fungal diseases in plants and animals poses a threat to global food security and biodiversity, according to a new study whose authors suggest halting fungal rot in the most important crops could feed an extra 600 million people a year."

 

"Most of the calories people around the world consume come from just five food crops: rice, wheat, maize, potatoes and soybeans. Fungal diseases like rice blast, stem rust in wheat, corn smut in maize, late blight in potatoes, and soybean rust, are right now destroying 125 million tonnes of these crops.

 

The authors say the damage inflicted on rice, wheat and maize alone, costs global agriculture $60 billion a year, with catastrophic consequences in the developing world, where 1.4 billion people, existing on less than $1.25 a day, rely on these cheap foods."

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Researchers recreate bee collapse with pesticide-laced corn syrup

Researchers recreate bee collapse with pesticide-laced corn syrup | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Scientists with the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have re-created the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder in several honeybee hives simply by giving them small doses of a popular pesticide, imidacloprid.

 

"There is no question that neonicotinoids put a huge stress on the survival of honey bees in the environment," lead author Chensheng (Alex) Lu, an associate professor at the HSPH, told mongabay.com. "The evidence is clear that imidacloprid is likely the culprit for Colony Collapse Disorder via a very unique mechanism that has not been reported until our study,"

That mechanism? High-fructose corn syrup. Many bee-keepers have turned to high-fructose corn syrup to feed their bees, which the researchers say did not imperil bees until U.S. corn began to be sprayed with imidacloprid in 2004-2005. A year later was the first outbreak of Colony Collapse Disorder.

It doesn't take much to eventually kill the bees accord to Lu, who said an incredibly small amount (20 parts per billion) of imidacloprid was enough to lead to Colony Collapse Disorder within 6 months."

 

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Banned Pesticides Found in Popular Chinese Tea Brands

Banned Pesticides Found in Popular Chinese Tea Brands | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"A Greenpeace investigation has found pesticides banned for use on tea in the products marketed by some of China’s top tea companies. Some of the firms, which include China Tea, Tenfu Tea and China Tea King, export tea products to Japan, the U.S. and Europe. ... The testing ... found that all 18 tea samples contained at least three pesticides, with 17 pesticides found in the worst sample. A total of 14 samples were found to have pesticides that may affect fertility, harm an unborn child or cause heritable genetic damage."

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The Folly of Big Agriculture: Why Nature Always Wins by Verlyn Klinkenborg: Yale Environment 360

Large-scale industrial agriculture depends on engineering the land to ensure the absence of natural diversity. But as the recent emergence of herbicide-tolerant weeds on U.S. farms has shown, nature ultimately finds a way to subvert uniformity and assert itself.


Via Bioversity Library
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