Categories Farming

Vertical Farming: Can it Help Us Survive Climate Change?

One of the facts of climate change that many don’t consider is the potential disruption of our food supply. I guess this is forgivable since most folks are ignorant of where food comes from and how much effort was put into getting it from seed to your plate. Still, this small blip on the radar right now, due to the ease of obtaining a can of peaches in winter, is getting closer and we’ll be dealing with it in our lifetimes. Obviously the best solution would be to eliminate the problem with zero carbon emissions and a stable global population. Since these aren’t going to seem like attractive options until the disaster is upon us, and it’s way too late, people are working on ways to mitigate some of the worst effects and increase our security.

If you are poor in America or anywhere else, you’ve thought about food security. The sterling effort underway is to increase the amount of food growing in U.S. cities through urban agriculture, which at once addresses the problems of malnutrition, climate change, failing local economies, and loss of community. Some models of sustainable cities seek to retrofit every residential block with an area that would recycle gray water, run-off, and organic waste, while turning these “waste” products into the resident’s next meal.

Most of the hands-on work is being done by poor people in the inner cities who have taken the initiative to transform vacant lots into income and food generators. And there’s a lot going on. Urban agriculture has taken hold in the rust belt cities, places of concentrated poverty. Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, and others are producing more of their food every season and with minimal help from city officials.

But this could still end badly. Climate change is going to do some rather unpredictable things to global weather patterns and local miniclimates. The successful urban farms of Detroit this year could next year be facing unforeseen drought, flooding, and frosts. Considering a systems analysis of climate change dynamics, where the more an ice sheet melts then the faster it melts versus the old ideas of a steady and predictably slow climate change based solely on greenhouse gas composition, we’ll be dealing with problems a lot earlier …

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Categories Farming

Is Fish Farming a Long-Term Solution?

When it comes to farming fish most people think this is the way of the future. That fish farming will help solve the problem of over fishing. Since over fishing in the ocean began, various fish stocks have collapse. This has left whole fishing towns with nothing. However, in some cases farming fish can have just as severe effects.

One of the most popular fish stocks to farm is the Atlantic salmon. Atlantic salmon is higher on the food chain compared to other fishing stocks like Tilapia. Atlantic salmons diet mainly consists of other fish. Tilapia and catfish, on the other hand, are mostly vegetarians. We get the fish to feed these farms full of salmon from the ocean. Fish like anchovies and sardines are caught by the millions and made into fishmeal. So the oceans are still being over fished. The fishmeal is then sent to various fisheries to support the growing number of fish farms in America. When it comes to feeding the salmon it takes approximately three pounds of wild fish to produce one pound of salmon, as stated by edf.org.

There is also the problem of pollution for most of these fish farms. These fish farms consist of many fish jam packed into a small area. As the fish grow there feces builds up quickly, and there is nowhere to put such a quantity of excrement. In the wild, the current will break down the poop quickly, and no build up will occur. Another problem for fish farms is the mercury content of this fish is more concentrated. This is mainly due to them only being fed fish. Wild salmon populations do eat fish; they also maintain a diet of many other organisms.

Where fish farming is making strides is in the catfish and Tilapia market. However, they still have problems with pollution it is not as severe. Monsterfishkeepers.com states that it only takes 1.2 pounds of food to produce 1 pound of Tilapia. Tilapia is lower on the food chain, so they do not need fishmeal as much as salmon do. However, more fishmeal is starting to be added to the diets of Tilapia to gain weight faster. The same thing is currently occurring with catfish.

Wild Alaskan Salmon …

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Categories Farming

Is Ranching and Animal Farming Morally Right?

Very many years ago, when the world was green and the environment was pollution free, livestock and poultry were fed foods that were unadulterated or polluted by pesticides or hormones. Advancement in science and technology and the material needs of the human being has pushed him to devise new methods to increase his production, be it food grains or livestock. So eating meat today is totally different to eating it long ago, as today’s meat is adulterated and contaminated meat, which is very harmful to us.

The farming techniques in vogue today increase production but the environmental damage they cause has to be borne by the future generations of our planet. In the United States, which is a huge consumer of animal food, raising livestock is a huge burden on the environment as the food and water to raise animals requires more than half the available resources in the United States.

This livestock farming industry also contributes to pollution in a big way by polluting our rivers and lakes but also cause soil erosion, which can turn disastrous in the future.

Almost ninety percent of the entire farmable land of the country is used for livestock farming. That is almost half of the land mass of the United States.

Other factors that cause heavy environmental degradation is methane emission, the chief contributor to methane emission is cattle.

Livestock farming or raising animals for food has caused irreparable damage to the country’s water resources as the huge volumes of animal excrement end up in our rivers or lakes.

The available raw materials and fossil fuels in the United States is consumed by this animal farming industry and this industry alone consumes a whopping 33 percent of available fossil fuel resources.

Forests are destroyed to make space for animal farming. The moral aspect of this involves cruel treatment of the animals themselves, add to this the overhead costs involved in animal farming then eating animal meat is like an inhuman way of killing our economy and our planet itself. So make a pledge today to say no to animal meat in your food and turn to alternative healthier way of living like vegetarian diets. Make the decision that will change the planet for good and make a …

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Categories Farming

Pot Farming is Legal in America

Pot farming is now legal in America, well, on Facebook at least. Another variation on the classic farming application takes a decidedly bloodshot approach to planting and harvesting on Facebook. In Pot Farm, you become a hippie who decides to plant and grow marijuana themed plants out in the woods. There are many different plants so far (hemp, time warp, blueberry, etc…) with more surely to come since the game is still in beta whatever, as it is so perfectly put by the makers. You can also construct buildings, machines, and protections, just like any decent farming game.

One strong pro with Pot Farm is the fact that your plants do not wither (as of this writing), but you do have to beware of the evil Ranger Dick who wants to come and confiscate all your plants. This is one of the little twists that was thrown in the mix to help set Pot Farm apart from other farming games and apps on Facebook. Each plant has a certain protection rating, which is usually a negative one. The lower your total protection rating, the more likely it is that Ranger Dick will come and ruin your buzz, man. Some of the buildings you are able to construct will improve your protection rating, as well as certain decorations and vehicles.

The game play is very basic, especially for those of us who are already addicted to Farmville or any of the other farming games on Facebook. You have to dig holes, plants your marijuana seeds, wait for them to grow, and then harvest them. While Pot Farm is as addictive as the rest of the Facebook farming applications and games, those of us that do enjoy to imbibe in the ‘green machine’ will obviously get a much greater kick out of the game.

Another cool feature of Pot Farm is simply the humor. Unlike other farming games, where a load page is just a load page, Pot Farm throws in some little jokes that make me giggle like a schoolgirl every time I read them (like “Are you sure Dave’s not home?” as just one example). Again, these little jokes and simple humor will be gotten more by the stoners of Facebook, but they are …

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Categories Farming

Women in Horticulture Conference Fosters Success: Garden Expert Melinda Myers on Professional Women Cultivating Skills

In 2007, Melinda Myers brought together professional women who work in the field of horticulture for a day of networking, called The Power of Possibility Thinking. Three years later the organizers have regrouped and are preparing for the 2010 gathering. Recently, We talked with Melinda Myers about the conference, its purpose and plans for the future.

Networking in the Horticultural Industry

“I never found a fit anywhere at school but now I have my own business,” said Melinda Myers, referring to the creation of a horticulture conference just for women. The plan was to have a creative environment where women with similar workplace challenges in the horticultural industry could share experiences.

It is a male-dominated environment, even in the 21st century. When first developing the conference, “We wanted women to feel safe to express themselves,” stressed Myers, while reminding us that the horticulture industry is a close-knit community where what people say can easily get repeated. “We did not exclude men but they were not asked either, “ said Myers.

Feedback from attendees after the first conferences gave organizers ideas on how to make it better and yielded some positive results, too. Input from industry businesses and professional organizations have invited sponsorship of the Women in Horticulture by male-owned companies.

2010 Horticultural Conference for Women

In preparing for the 2010 Women in Horticulture conference, Myers and her organizers took suggestions from previous events to streamline the up coming program. Myers admitted she has a tendency to pack in too much into too little time and that speakers spoke too long leaving less time for networking.

 

Myers said, “We want to find a time that fits with the horticultural industry’s slow season, sometime after the maintenance season and before the holiday décor rush starts. We will be offering a discount rate for students and scholarships, as well.”

“We will share safety tips on how to plant by adapting equipment originally designed for a 6’ tall man, for instance. The conference shows women in their finest sense, lending a hand by sharing tricks of the horticultural trade and leaving energized. It will be another amazing day of women sharing,” stated Myers.

Horticultural Instructors Mentor Students

Roxanne Rusch, instructor at Fox Valley Technical College in the Horticulture …

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Categories Farming

Visit Woodland Zoo in Farmington, PA

Woodland Zoo is a beautiful Zoo located in the heart of the Laurel Highlands in Pennsylvania. They have many activities and programs that kids and adults of all ages will enjoy. The zoo is located on 120 acres, and is home to many animals. Come see the Bison, Tigers, Cows, and the White Buffalo, to name a few! Woodland Zoo also offers many activities:

You can take a Guided Tour through the zoo. School groups, church groups, or just any group are invited to have a great time! Tours can be tailored to fit your certain parties’ needs!

Try being a Zookeeper for a Day. You’ll enjoy a behind-the-scenes experience if you’re willing to participate in some work, such as feeding, grooming, and general care of the animals. The price for this event is just $30 per person, and runs from 9am until 3pm.

Or ,Spend a night at the Zoo! This wonderful new program will give both kids and adults the chance to experience a whole night of learning about the animals in the zoo. Your night will include a nighttime walk through the Zoo, a pizza party, a sleepover in the park, and a continental breakfast. The cost is only $35 per person and runs from 7pm to 9am.

Having a birthday? Try one of Woodland Zoo’s Birthday Packages. You can either do one that is planned on your own, or planned by the Zoo itself. Check the website for details, prices, and more.

Woodland Zoo does not receive any state or federal funding. So all admission fees and adoption fees will provide upkeep, feeding and veterinary care for the many animals in the park. Woodland Zoo has an Adopt an Animal program, which is a $25.00 per year donation designed to keep the animals healthy and happy.

The Herald-Standard newspaper joined up with the Woodland Zoo to host many events at the 1500 seat Herald-Standard Pavilion. Festivals, music, and plays are available for the public’s enjoyment at the Pavilion. Animal acts are also enjoyed here. Dates and events are to be announced shortly, check the website for updates.

The Woodland Zoo is located just 2 miles east of Chalk Hill, on US Route 40 in Farmington, PA. Many other attractions are …

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Categories Farming

U-Pick Farming: A Guide to Great Family Fun This Summer

Summer is one of the best seasons of the year to eat healthy and enjoy nature. Did you know many farmers around the nation allow for the public to come and help harvest?

Ever heard of helping farmers harvest their crops? No, this is not like the summer jobs that adolescents sign up for to earn a little extra cash. Rather, throughout the summer, many farmers have an option called “u-pick”. Basically, this means that anyone from the public can come on the grounds for a minimal price and pick fruits and vegetables to take home.

So why would you want to help farmers harvest when everything is readily available in the grocery stores? Not only is picking your own produce fun but it is also a great way to pay less and get a fresher product.

What many consumers are not aware of is the amount of time that a single piece of produce must endure before reaching the shelves at the grocery stores. For instance, avocados must go through a long process of picking, cleaning, storage, packaging, travel and so on. This process might take up to two weeks! In fact, a few weeks ago I went to the grocery store and talked to a produce stocker whom told me that the avocados that they sell are actually frozen during shipping so there is no rotting in the travel process. Although grocery stores try their best to receive the freshest produce, it is almost impossible to get everything completely fresh from the bush or tree.

Additionally, if you are picking your own produce from the farm, consumers are allowed to be a little picky. Numerous times I have taken a visit to the grocery store and found that bundled produce contains both good and bad fruit. For instance, before I started harvesting my own produce in the summer, I would purchase fresh strawberries from the grocery store. To my chagrin each time, each package of strawberries contained a few good berries while also a few bad ones. It is hard to find the perfect produce. By choosing to u-pick produce, consumers are allowed to pick the largest, juiciest fruit and vegetables possible. If you like smaller berries, well then pick smaller ones. U-pick …

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Categories Farming

Americans Will Rediscover Farming as a Solution to Rising Prices

The skyrocketing oil prices, as well as corn and grain price increases of 2008 have caused the traditionally cheap and easy supermarket foods to become more expensive. As a result, more people than ever have turned toward locally grown. Until the middle of the last century, most people raised their own food or bought locally. Gradually, farming began to get bigger and more commercialized, and it became cheaper and easier to buy food at the grocery stores. Small farmers, unable to compete with the bigger and cheaper mega farms, were forced to sell out, making it increasingly harder to buy locally. But this trend has slowly begun to reverse itself, with more people choosing to buy from local farms or buy into CSAs. A great many towns today offer farmers markets, which sell a wide variety of products from local farms and gardens for prices now comparable to some supermarket prices. But the taste and quality of these homegrown products are far superior.

Home gardening isn’t just for hobbyists anymore, and gardens don’t need a lot of room to yield a good amount of produce. Small, raised beds can produce enough fresh vegetables for the table, as well as the freezer and for canning. Even those who don’t have a bit of space to plant a garden raise some of their own food. Tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, onions, herbs and even squash are today often grown in containers on a balcony or patio. Many urban areas even have community supported gardens in what were once vacant lots and even on apartment building rooftops.

Livestock has changed dramatically since WWII as well. Before then, it was not uncommon for folks to have a small flock of chickens in their backyard for meat and eggs. Gradually, home poultry flocks began to disappear. Commercial livestock raising required a specific type for maximum yield and profit, so the majority of breeds were discarded for one or two that fit the bill. Fortunately, most of the old traditional farm breeds, known as “heritage” breeds, were preserved by dedicated enthusiasts and are making a big comeback. Their superior taste and quality hearken back to a time gone by, and their price has become affordable for the average consumer. Heritage breed turkeys are …

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Categories Farming

Biodynamic Farming

As Bob Dylan so aptly chanted, “the times they are a changing”. Though many Americans may not realize the impending urgency of rethinking our food production policies, we will all be forced to do so soon. We are currently poisoning our soil and water with organophosphates, leaching our top soil with production efficient corporate farming practices, drastically reducing the numbers of family run farms, and depleting the nutritional value of the produce that we do manage to get to market. Now with the increasing costs of transportation fuel, we can no longer avoid the issue of how to feed ourselves. Our survival requires a shift in the way we carry out our agricultural mandate.

Biodynamic farming is a critical piece in the rethinking process of moving food production into a nutritionally viable place. Imagine true sustainability; a farm that heals its soil, feeds a neighborhood, and restores the soil to its original vitality. Biodynamics includes each of these principles in its unique approach to bring about balance to the earth with conscious farming.

Biodynamic agriculture has been around for 75 years. Philosopher Rudolf Steiner incorporated his holistic approach to the small farms of post-WWI Germany. He saw farming as more than mere food production. He saw it as a path to knowledge. Biodynamics treats the Earth sacredly and scientifically at the same time. Here are a few of the basic principles behind the biodynamic approach:

  1. Plant life and the soil are bound together– The two cannot be separated. Without mineral-rich soil filled with beneficial bacteria and insect life, food will not thrive and absorb the nutrients that revitalize the human body when ingested.
  2. Homeopathic preparations transform the Earth – There is a benefit beyond the nutritional component. Biodynamic preparations actually reverse the damage that has been done by traditional farming practices.

3.A self-contained farm is a healthy farm – The practice of keeping the processes of farming in-house keep costs down and insure the freshest produce available.

    1. Diagnosing the changes of nature – Rather than rely on pesticides and artificial fertilizers, biodynamic farmers take note of subtle soil changes, beneficial insect life, composting quality, and even influential astronomical occurrences.

 

  1. Community Supported Agriculture as an economic model – Changing the methods for growing
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Categories Farming

Exotic Animal Farming

Taking a look at a world that few of us see, and looking at a world few of us know exist. Have you ever wondered about where those animals in the zoos come from? How the animals that are going extinct keep surviving? Maybe the exotic animals drive through parks that we visit with our families? Where do these animals come from? How are they pulled out of their natural environment and brought to our attention?

There is an entire world of Exotic Livestock ranchers/farmers all over the world. These farmers/ranchers may specialize in one breed of animals to several breeds. Some circulate through this world for the showing of them, to the breeding of the species, to reproduction for food. They may raise just monkeys, or deer, or even different exotic breeds of cats, unlike our house cats, bovine, equine, etc. These people help in several ways keeping the chains of many animals alive. These animals may of been bought from livestock sales, or even rescued out of the wild due to their inability to maintain survival on their own. Just like us, some animals have medical problems to, like diabetes, kidney problems, deaf, etc. Some of these animals are actually lucky enough to be put in captivity, get the medical attention they need, and possibly even reproduce living a more comfortable life. From these animals that follow this unexpected turn in their lives, we learn a lot about them, maybe even learn more of ourselves.

An unexpected career path some have chosen is deer farming. These deer farmers are all over the world. They specialize in aspects of the trade from breeding to trophy hunting to stock replenishment. It is similar to cattle ranching, goat herding, etc. Like all career paths and animal farming like this has its pros and cons. Again there are many different avenues to follow, like breeding of the animals, to trophy hunting, to the replenishment of the herd, to maybe scientific research, or the maintenance of endangered animals, and even the buying and selling for money profit which may touch on one of the subjects above, etc.

Just like any profession you have those who abuse the right to work in their field of expertise. This is why

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