Farm Can Grow Vegetables In Freezing Temperatures

As a trend, home gardening is explosive. TerraFarms are a space-efficient choice that use no pesticides and 97% less water. The Ogarden system is completely hassle-free and can grow up to 100 herbs and vegetables a month. However, home gardening isn’t practical everywhere — especially in colder countries. Engineers at the German Aerospace Center are now helping snowed-in communities garden, with an Antarctic farm that can grow veggies below zero.

Called the Eden-ISS, the farm exists inside a climate-controlled shipping container. The greenhouse relies on  a technique called vertical farming, in which food grows on trays or hanging modules under LEDs instead of natural sunlight.

The farm is only 135 square feet and can grow vegetables in huge amounts. Amazing, considering the only means of transportation for produce deliveries is by ship or plane. Researchers plan to grow some 30 to 50 different plant species. In short, the new technology is beating the odds.

Over the past 100 years, Arctic temperatures have increased at nearly twice the global average, making it possible to grow crops in once-desolate places like Yellowknife in Canada and Greenland.

On a more impressive note, temperatures in the area can plunge as low as -100 degrees Fahrenheit. I didn’t even know it was humanly possible to exist under such conditions. Lesson learned: never underestimate the power of innovation.

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Permaculture Farm Is Feeding Families In Australia

At present, some 795 million people don’t get the proper nourishment they need. While the number is staggering, only a few farms and soup kitchens are taking action. This Australian family is playing its part, feeding dozens of families with produce from its 1-acre permaculture farm.

At Limestone Permaculture Farm, they grow organic produce, raise sheep goats and chickens, keep bees, and even build with recycled materials. Much of the farm is powered by energy from wood, water, and the sun.

In essence, permaculture pays homage to natural ecosystems and how they function. Instead of growing a single crop in large-scale, permaculture integrates symbiosis so different plants may flourish. Owners of Limestone, Nici and Brett Cooper, believe that permaculture is the future of food.

“We feel there has been an awakening across our beautiful country, self-reliance is on the rise again; urban and rural homesteading has people taking their food and energy supply back into their own hands.”

To encourage the unique farming technique, the Coopers offer workshops, internships, and permaculture design programs to tourists. As it seems, permaculture is opening doors for rural communities and, in turn, also helping out the needy.

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Amsterdam Supermarket Boasts Plastic-Free Options

Despite a growing abundance of zero-waste shopping options, other alternatives have yet to hit mainstream stores. In a supermarket first, Amsterdam’s Ekoplaza is making over 700 plastic-free products available to the public.

“We know that our customers are sick to death of products laden in layer after layer of thick plastic packaging,” Ekoplaza chief executive Erik Does said.

“Plastic-free aisles are a really innovative way of testing the compostable biomaterials that offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic packaging.”

With limited choices for items in non-plastic wrapping, bringing them to the masses makes a big statement. As an added bonus, manufacturing biodegradable containers won’t cost anything upwards from regular plastic materials. Ekoplaza will carry eco-friendly rice, sauces, snacks, and more packed in metal, glass, and cardboard.

“There is absolutely no logic in wrapping something as fleeting as food in something as indestructible as plastic,” [A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian] Sutherland said. “Plastic food and drink packaging remains useful for a matter of days yet remains a destructive presence on the Earth for centuries afterwards.”

As the greatest contributor to plastic waste in department stores, grocery aisles have long deserved eco-alternatives. Hopefully, they’re here to stay.

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Arctic Apples That Don’t Brown Can Cut Waste

Thinkers and innovators from around the world are making incessant attempts to counter food waste. Supermarkets in Norway are selling “expired” food still fit for the kitchen. Kitchen company Smarter is installing refrigerator cameras to help households monitor their food. But some groups believe food itself is where the core problem lies. Scientists have developed a genetically modified apple that doesn’t go brown, thus cutting waste and costs.

The Arctic apple… [is] the result of some very clever genetic engineering that, according to the company, “silences” the enzyme that causes regular old nature-made apples to brown.

Okanagan Specialty Foods will be selling the apples in supermarkets pre-sliced, to really drive the point. (It’s an A+ for clever marketing!) The “hacked” apples don’t necessarily have added health benefits, but their prolonged freshness will reduce waste.

“Arctic apples are one of the most studied foods of all time. They have been rigorously reviewed by… teams at the USDA, FDA, CFIA and Health Canada, based on more than ten years of data and studies, and these experts all agree that Arctic apples are as safe and healthy as other apples.” [claims the site.]

While I was hoping Arctic apples would up my resistance to the common cold, I can’t say I’m disappointed. I never liked slicing them anyway.

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Grow The Home Garden Of Your Dreams

With systems such as Ogarden, growing your own produce is now just as user-friendly as an iPhone. However, for a DIY enthusiast slash gardening newbie, starting up a backyard veggie empire is a bit more challenging. Gadgets aside, sowing your own pantry is not for couch potatoes — but it is highly doable! Here’s the low-down on how to get started on a home garden.

First things first, decide what you’re going to plant. Base your produce plan on your regular diet. If you aren’t big on fries or mash, it may not be practical to grow potatoes. (Then again, who isn’t a fan of fries?) Having a massive variety of sprouts in your backyard may look attractive, but may produce unnecessary waste. Keep in mind what grows easiest — usually, those are baby greens.

While some may have the luxury of a yard, apartment tenants aren’t quite as lucky. But, as any minimalist would say, there are always ways. If you live in a confined space, start a container garden. Herbs, as well as crops like cherry tomatoes, grow seamlessly in pots. Of course, you also want to purchase the right materials. One pot doesn’t fit all.

On that note, pick out the right pots for specific foods. Herb pots are often a foot in diameter, while other crops demand a flux of dimensions. Choose your soil thoughtfully. Figure out what will nurture your home garden best — you’ll only have to switch out your potting soil once a year. Still, don’t be afraid to experiment with soils that are denser, more nutritious, absorbent, and what have you.

Know how much sun and water your pots need. Growing a plant (and much less, a crop) isn’t all about maximizing sunlight. Seventh-grade biology may have us believing that growing greens is all about sun. Well, it is (somewhat), but in regulation. No one wants to nibble on dried out lettuce! You don’t want to drown your seedlings either.

Grown sprouts are quite the sight, and achieving a healthy product kind of makes you feel like a proud parent. While the thought of snapping off a pristine strawberry may be a little sickening, it’s best to harvest your fruits and veggies regularly. This promotes new growth. After all, why grow anything delicious if its destiny isn’t to end up in your stomach?

Once you’ve gotten into the swing of things, hype your garden up a bit. Experiment with unique varieties. Try growing something you wouldn’t normally find in a makeshift garden, like kale. If anything, you’ll have new ingredients for daring salads and shakes. Master growing vertical. This may take a lot of time and patience, but you’ll learn how to make the most of certain crops. If you’re a go-getter, you can even get creative with your aesthetics.

A home garden may seem unnecessary, especially when you live across a fresh market. But learning the ropes isn’t such a bad thing. Anyway, with climate change on the rise, you never know when it might come in handy!

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U.K. Passes Ban On Pesticides For Bees

As a vital part of the food chain, bees deserve more attention than they are currently receiving. Though devices such as the BuzzBox are making beekeeping more efficient, they aren’t addressing the steep decline in bee populations. Stepping up to the plate, the U.K. is finally supporting a total ban on bee-harming pesticides.

“The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100 billion food industry, is greater than previously understood.

“I believe this justifies further restrictions on their use. We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.” [said environment secretary Michael Gove.]

The monetary value of pollinating insects in the U.K. has shot up to nearly £680 million per annum. At that price point, it’s difficult to believe that bees are simply an expendable asset in nature. In the long run, pesticides aren’t only a threat to wildlife, but to crop consumers altogether.

“We need to encourage farmers to move away from reliance on pesticides as the solution to the many problems that industrial monoculture cropping create.”

Looks like permaculture farming may be the way to go.

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Virtual Planting Helps Farmers Boost Crops

Home gardening systems have been allowing households access to produce without having to make trips to the local market. While they are convenient, they also cost a pretty penny. Because of this, we still rely on large-scale farmers to provide us with some healthy-looking pantries. For ultimate efficiency, farmers are practicing virtual planting to help boost crops.

Digital plants… are part of a new movement in agricultural science called “in silico,” where researchers design highly accurate, computer-simulated crops to help speed up selective breeding, in which plants are chosen and replanted to amplify their desirable traits.

With a constantly skyrocketing population, it seems manual farming techniques are just not going to cut it anymore. Determining the factors that yield the quickest-growing, most drought-resistant, pest-dominating plants? Sitting in front of a computer screen has never made more sense.

 The technique begins with scientists collecting data about plant behavior under microscopes and in the field. Next they build statistical models… then create simulations based on those equations, which allows them to see the traits they measured play out on a screen.

Already, the technique has seen success with Brazilian sugarcane fields. In constantly improving the technology, what is normally achieved in a day could soon be achieved in a minute.

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