June 8, 2011
We’ve burned the soil. We’ve cut down the trees. We’ve poisoned the water. We’ve killed the animals.
Then we freak out when something takes hold in our destroyed world – with a vengance. What is native in a destroyed world? what is native to a rooftop?
The living world works on a principle of succession. Something takes hold that is situation appropriate, and later on that gives way to something else that will give way to something else. That’s the way the world works.
Maybe buckthorn is a response to excess CO2, lack of oaks and our general disregard for life? While I think about that, I’m going to cut it down and plant more oaks. Buckthorn contains chemicals that are being investigated in the fight against cancers, has wood that is beautiful, and it burns well. It’s an opportunity that is growing in response to a situation.
This week in Chicago, we have bands of young people in groups of 10-20 attacking people for money and goods. What if they were busy making furniture, working for biochemists, or creating fuel pellets?
Maybe they could fish for asian carp on their days off???
The world is thinking a little differently today. Interesting article below.
May 30, 2011
I met some new friends this week. Florian and Pauline from Nantes, France visited Chicago as a part of their documentary project. This project is focused on green initiatives in the United States that are volunteer based. Needless to say, activity at Northside Prep High School attracted them to the work of UHC. The documentary will probably be available by next year.
May 28, 2011
This Thursday, Molly Meyer helped the emerging field of rooftop agriculture by providing testimony in support of the Commercial Rooftop Food Production ordinance in Chicago. Molly was also instrumental in the creation of the ordinance while working with Alderman Reilly.
Chicago urban rooftop farming is not a meager endeavor. A study by Holly Nelson in 2010 concluded that even a 50% utilization of the spaces adjoining the red line train tracks would result in 65 acres of potential farm space that would require more than 1200 urban farmers.
May 8, 2011
A previously unused, poorly vegetated space at Northside Prep High School is rapidly changing into an urban forest. In accordance with the site master plan 2010, this space has been allocated for food, fuel, fiber and habitat. An amazing array of our feathered friends have already arrived to check out the real estate and set up some comfy places for egg laying.
December 27, 2010
On some of my darkest days there is a light…
Here is a lecture by Dr. Todd at the Gund Institute on some of his work. It’s interesting that in one hour he didn’t even touch on many of his life accomplishments. He was an instructor at an integrated aquaculture course (a subject that he pioneered) (some call it aquaponics now) but his work profoundly changed my life in 1987 with a book about the New Alchemists. I always was working with fish and aquatic plants but never thought it meant anything to anybody. Dr. Todd always has a way of figuring out how to do great work and turn it into something that is culturally relevant and economically appealing.
He had this lecture he gave to us at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (aforementioned aquaculture course) that began with a slide of an individual wheat plant. He wasn’t talking about wheat plants but he was talking about the marvels of the living world. He left that slide up there for quite some time – very atypical but very strong. The photo of algae is my wheat.
December 8, 2010
Q: What’s a quick rule-of-thumb for laying out a school site:
How much area should be allotted per student for food production (kinds served 1-2 meals during school day)? – Haiti
A: Is this invoice-able??
There is no “rule of thumb” because there is no “food”
This isn’t some kind of ”architecture” stuff ya know – this is reality – this is food baby…
(mike is SUCH a bitch)
I assume you mean veggies – the general standard in th U.S. would be 100ft2/human – this is supposed to provide all the veggies (VEGGIES not grain or noisy chickens)
Obviously if you are talking about token amounts of veggies that are ronald reagan compliant portions, you could scale back to about 32 ft2/human . The key here is not to use traditional methods for production – you need to harvest fast and often. Plant super thick and use your plants that you are thinning out as a harvestable veggie biomass product. This method is being used at Northside in the Malcolm Wells Memorial Food Garden, and students are beginning to run away from the daily required harvest – it’s alot of work. But productive..
The method that you would require to use in Haiti is actually the same method used throughout the carribean and … Northside Prep. You need to build up on the land – create the conocos that the Taino would use – up to about 5 feet high and 10 feet wide. You could definitely use the keyhole principle in this case but none the less you need to be above grade. The beautiful part is you don’t need soil for 90% of the volume – you can use ag waste or palm wood chips for a base. You just need a sandy soil cap to grow veggies.
And fly Repkin to Haiti so he could grow food and get rid of waterborne illness problems….
December 2, 2010
NEWS FROM NASA
A new bacterium discovered in Mono Lake has been found to utilize arsenic instead of phosphate in many parts of it’s body and energy sources. This is really important in our understanding of what the limits of life are in terms of not only what can live in hazardous environments but what actually requires hazardous material to EXIST. wow.