Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

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Revolutions often succeed because a number of important variables come together at the same time. For the organic food movement their revolution really took off as the internet went vertical. The relationship of good, down to earth farming practices with top-end communication technologies has become a marriage made in heaven.

Of course quite a number of organic farm produce businesses have been around way before the internet was born. A good example of this is Graig Farm Organics based in Wales, UK who have been doing this for 19 years. I have to say their website needs an overhaul but, the their food choices are inspiring and some options are possibly the answer to current food supply crisis’s; e.g. farmed organic cod.

Their is nothing better than fresh, organic food. It was only sixty years ago that most food in Europe was still organic. They didn’t even use the word organic as there was no need to differentiate. The Second World War changed all that when the US came into Europe on invitation, to sort out the food crisis after WWII. The Americans suggested to the Dutch to go big. Big fields, big farm machinery and of course fertilizers and pesticides came with the package.

Well, the Americans have also given us the internet and now the natural food has been coming back! We even have a chain of organic supermarket here in London called Fresh & Wild, acquired by US conglomerate Whole Foods Market in January 2004. They subsequently opened a large-format Whole Foods Market store in the Kensington, London area.

Yes organic food is more expensive but fresh produce is often worth the price difference and sometimes the price difference is very small. I wouldn’t touch the processed ready meals as, like their cousins they’re packed full of salt and sugars! Small organic food outlets, direct from the farm via box schemes or, supermarkets like Sainsbury’s and Waitrose’s are all good.

We do need to watch the food miles though, if possible. 🙂

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Not all environment solutions involve modern technology or new ideas. Grass roofs on houses in Norway are one such case. Translated literally, torvtak is “turf roof.” For hundreds of years turf roofs have been popular in Norway.

No two turf roofs are the same. Some are bright green and almost velvety. Others are golden and look like they’re growing wheat or oats. A number of turf roofs have flowers mixed in with the grass, and a few have small trees.

The advantages of turf roofs are many. They are very heavy, so they help to stabilize the house; they provide good insulation; and they are long-lasting. Special skills and materials are required to prepare the roof for the turf topping.

Turf roofs in Norway are a tradition and you will see them everywhere. This is not some new architectural trend in London or New York!

Here is a link to some photos of the more recent, trendy green roofs.

Meanwhile, in the UK the government would like to see more people go for grass roofs and suggest such a move could cut their tax bill. More here.

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WRAP works in partnership to encourage and enable businesses and consumers to be more efficient in their use of materials and recycle more things more often. This helps to minimise landfill, reduce carbon emissions and improve our environment.

Check out the links below;

Working with Consumers

Recycling in the Garden

Working with Schools


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Low artificial input desert greening, with rainwater harvesting and mulching produces magic results that even the locals can’t at first believe. There are solutions to desert greening without using huge amounts of artificial fertilisers, plastic poly tunnels and wasting precious water.

Watch this if you’re interested in how we can feed the starving, particularly in desert regions like the middle east and the Sahara.

Thanks to Willem for this.

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North Harringay Primary School's roof garden

Something closer to home and my heart is my kids school. It’s an amazingly diverse community where over 60 languages are spoken. Recently the school won a Greenest School Award within our London borough. We went to a special ceremony to receive the award.

The important thing here is that no one person drives the energy, ideas, focus and commitment that has produced so many environment projects within the school. Many people are involved and once one person starts up an idea another joins in and so on. The commitment to the school and it’s environment is almost a natural and spontaneous thing.

What makes this easier is the staff and parent’s commitment to the children. If people could only focus on the importance of our ‘future generations’ in other areas of our communities then I think more and more environment related projects, especially at community level, would roll off the production line.

So, what has the school achieved? Well now, hold onto your seats!;

* Solar panels installation
* Roof garden
* Recycling paper & cardboard
* Recycling shoes & clothes
* Recycling printer & photocopier cartridges
* Walk to School Week
* New cycle shelter parking
* Early Years fruit garden
* Composting
* Small wind turbine
* Energy saving fluorescents

Let us know if we have missed anything! You can understand we are very proud of our achievements but, the greatest thing of all is it comes naturally and we enjoy doing it. 🙂

North Harringay Primary School's solar panels arranged by the Site manager :)

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Photo: Emma Lynch, for the BBC.

Known as “gardens of the poor,” they originated in Europe about 150 years ago at the height of the industrial revolution when cities, municipalities, and monasteries provided plots for the urban poor to grow food for their families. These gardens proliferated by the thousands in Germany and other European cities during the second half of the 19th century.

Now they are spreading throughout the world with over half of the world population living in cities since the year 2000. The rapid urbanization of formerly sleepy rural centers has caused urban poverty, alienation, and other problems, bringing about natural, manmade, and technological risks which threaten the livelihood, health and lives of people.

In the Philippines city of Cagayan de Oro a ten year project called the Periurban Vegetable Project has been bearing fruit … and vegetables for urban poor. Run by Xavier University College of Agriculture (XUCA), based in Cagayan de Oro and funded with EU money, the project aimed to open its sixth garden project by the end of the year.

Meanwhile in Caracas, Venezuela they have been busy emmulating the organic gardening revolution of Cuba by opening up the The Organoponico Bolivar I garden, which occupies 1.2 acres in the centre of Caracas and is the first of its kind in the capital.

You can see photos of their hard work here.

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