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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Mexico Creates World’s Largest Marine Reserve

To prevent passersby having to rescue beached whales, activists are looking for ways to better protect marine life. Some are turning to lab-grown meat to combat overfishing, while others are dealing with poachers up front. Determined to keep their own Revillagigedo Islands afloat, Mexico is placing 57,000 square miles under protection.

“It’s an important place biologically for megafauna, kind of superhighway, if you will, for sharks, manta rays, whales and turtles,” [said] Matt Rand, director of the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project… “It’s a pretty biologically spectacular location.”

Altogether, the islands are home to 366 species of fish, as well as a vast number of plants and birds. Though fishing villages have expressed concern, conservationists have assured that the reserve will help catch populations to quickly rise.

“We have a long way to go,” [Rand] says. “But there’s been incredible growth in the concept of large-scale marine protected areas. It’s almost becoming a race. Hopefully it’s starting to snowball.”

To conserve ecosystems, at least 30% of the ocean must remain untouched. I’d say 57,000 square miles is a pretty good start.

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Earthworms Born In Artificial Soil Used On Mars

As we should know by now, anything is possible on Mars. After all, we just recently discovered it snows there. In an unusual turn of events, researchers saw the birth of two earthworms living in sterile soil, made to simulate conditions on Mars.

“[Worms] grab organic matter from the top of the soil—eat it, chew it—and when they poo it out, bacteria can break it down further. Otherwise [without worms] you deplete the nutrients in the soil,” [Dutch biologist] Wamelink explains.

Trent Smith, who works on replicating Mars conditions, claims that the simulated soil is relatively accurate. However, the substance still lacks perchlorates, which is probably why the wigglers managed to reproduce.

To both Wamelink and Smith, figuring out a natural process to remove perchlorate from Martian soil remains the largest hurdle in the way of growing a sustainable agricultural system on the planet.

With much to remedy, NASA’s Veggie program has its hands full. But the space magicians never fail to surprise and hope, after worms, to bring in bumblebees.

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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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MIT Creates Glow-In-The-Dark Plants

New Zealand’s 1 billion tree-planting goal is proof that society is recognizing nature’s benefits. Anyway, city trees do cut down community expenses by up to $500 million. Besides producing oxygen, plants reduce air pollution and carbon emissions — and can now light up in the dark.

A team of MIT engineers have created living bioluminescent lamps out of watercress plants with the goal of one day replacing conventional electrical lighting with the glowing greenery.

The enzyme responsible for the Green Lantern glow is luciferase, active primarily in fireflies. For now, the plants glow dimly for around 4 hours at a time. With the project continuing to progress, scientists are hoping to at least pull leafy desk lamps from the experiment.

“The vision is to make a plant that will function as a desk lamp — a lamp that you don’t have to plug in. The light is ultimately powered by the energy metabolism of the plant itself,” says Michael Strano, a Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT.

If MIT is drafting a customer waitlist, I’m definitely first in line. My electricity bill could use one less zero!

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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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This Vegetable Leather Is Made From Wine Waste

Toast ale craft beer and human waste charcoal are proof that you can make anything out of anything. Lately, innovators have pushed the boundaries even further, creating vegetable leather out of wine byproducts.

The production process begins with pressing the grapes and separating the grape marc… The grape marc is dried to avoid degradation and to enable its preservation up to three years from the date of desiccation… Next, physical and mechanical patented treatments are carried out, thus obtaining a mixture that is then coated and transformed into sheets of the material.

Sustainable leather-maker Vegea projects that the 7 billion kilograms of grape marc produced each year can account for 2.6 billion square meters of leather.

“We believe that the exploitation of winemaking by-products is crucial for environmental sustainability. In Vegea’s production process, these organic by-products are transformed into a high value added biomaterial,”

Plant-based leather is not only environmentally risk-free — it’s a blessing for vegans and sigh of relief for thousands of cows who don’t have to bite the dust.

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Going Vegetarian: What You Need To Know

I am everyone’s go-to person when they decide to stop eating meat. I became vegetarian some four years ago in my early twenties, to which people respond, then it must be easy. If I, a bacon lover for the first two decades of my life, can eliminate meat from my diet, then anyone can. This is partially true — while anyone can transition into vegetarianism, it isn’t easy.

For starters, have good reasons for wanting to go green. Becoming vegetarian can’t just be about “trying something new” or responding irrationally to the Earthlings documentary. Do you want to cut fat or increase your nutrient intake? Is helping the environment on your radar? List everything down and consider your motives carefully. Vegetarianism isn’t only diet-related — it’s a drastic change in lifestyle.

Do research, and I mean a lot of it. Find out what foods can replace the protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins you get from meat. Weigh the financial aspect of having to purchase different ingredients. Understand how the shift will affect you physically and even mentally. And on that note, consult a doctor. If you are anemic or suffer from low levels of blood sugar, perhaps going vegetarian isn’t the most practical choice for you.

Once you are comfortable with your decision and accept the fact that you bidding trips to Burger King adieu, figure out how you want to transition. If you are not a fan of the cold turkey method, consider taking it slow. Gradually wean yourself off meat. Quick jumps could shock your body.

With every diet comes a brand-new pantry. For a segue this major, find good recipes in advance. While the cookbook route is a great path to take, online sources are just as useful. Bookmark easy-to-cook meals that you can familiarize yourself with. Of course, do a lot of planning. While vegetarians aren’t aliens, not every restaurant will have a good variety of meat-free courses. Having a vast selection at home is the safest way to go.

If you can’t seem to let go of the wonderful taste of meat, buy substitutes. Trust me, there are alternatives to almost anything, but they don’t always come cheap. Scour your local supermarket — you’re likely to find a hidden gem. While substitutes may taste exactly like meat, they may not always provide the same amount of nutrients, so stock up on healthy replacements. 

Being mostly herbivorous doesn’t always equate to being healthy. While there are junk foods made with vegetarian ingredients, they can also be detrimental to your body. If you are a heavy snacker, limit your junk food intake. Vegetables might get boring but there are many different ways to spice things up with different preparations.

Most of all, remember to exercise and find time to relax. If your diet is making you feel deprived and triggering mood swings, you’ll hardly last a week. Get good energy circulating by going on an occasional jog and engaging in your favorite activities. And if it makes you feel any better, know that a lot of cows and pigs are grateful.

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