Saturday, September 12, 2009

Japan's New Approach... cutting carbon emissions is to commit if everyone else will.

Japan’s Next Premier Vows to Cut Emissions Sharply
Published: September 8, 2009
Japan’s prime minister-elect re-affirmed a campaign pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent in the next 10 years from 1990 levels."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Last Day at St. George's School

Today is the last day of the show at St. George's School.

The Newport Mercury carried a nice review of the show. A bit of which I will excerpt here:

In a media-consumed culture where one alarmist sound bite is generally followed by one or two more, “Partly Sunny — Designs to Change the Forecast,” a showcase of innovative ideas, projects and policies by the Rhode Island School of Design, is an exercise in glass half-full optimism that sheds light on what is being done [now].

photo: Jacqueline Marque

FOOD: Community Gardens: Growing Gardens

In Britain, local governments and independent groups provide allotment gardens to individuals who wish to produce their own food. Many community gardening associations in the United States provide resources and space to those who wish to grow their own food. This provides fresh food to families and spares the expense of materials and fuel used in processing and transporting products grown elsewhere.


In Boulder, Colorado the non-profit Growing Gardens manages 1,128 community gardeners yearly on over 400 individual plots covering nine acres of land. The Community Garden Program supplies gardeners with water, mulch, tools, compost and training. In exchange, gardeners pay a modest fee, maintain their sites and agree to plant organically.

Participants in the Community Garden Program use a variety of gardening techniques including permaculture, biodynamics and traditional growing methods from Laos, Cambodia and Mexico. Plants used in the Community Garden Program include a variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers.


Growing Gardens defines itself as a human services and youth development organization that uses sustainable gardening practices to assist immigrants, seniors, at-risk youth, people with disabilities and families.

+ Educates new gardeners
+ Provides garden space
+ Engages youth

FOOD: Large-scale Farming: Martens Farm

Organic farming is frequently associated with small-scale production. But growing food on a large-scale need not call for environmentally damaging practices. With careful management growers can expand their operations without compromising sustainable ethics.


Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens have been sustainably farming 1,300 acres of organic fresh vegetables and grain in Pen Yann, NY since 1991. To control weeds and improve the fertility of their land they employ practices such as diverse long-term crop rotation, under-seeding and actively increasing soil organic matter. By using these practices they have substantially reduced their reliance on oil-dependant fertilizers common on conventional factory farms.

The Martenses produce much of their grain for Lakeview Organic Grain, a company they founded, which distributes feed to organic dairy and chicken farms throughout the Northeast. Various local and national distributors buy their fresh vegetables and they also sell seed stock for Certified Organic oats and wheat.

In 2008 the Martens won the Patrick Madden Award for innovation, leadership and good stewardship from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


The Martenses prove that organic practices can be done at a large scale. Their careful management establishes the long-term productivity and sustainability of their farm while protecting the local environment and bolstering the local economy.
+ increases soil health and quality
+ eliminates chemical run-off
+ produces high-quality food

FOOD: Production Facilities: Farmer's Diner

For regional food economies to grow and mature, local food must become more affordable. Some of the costs associated with local food are a product of the regulations that govern the processing of meats, dairy products and other farm goods.


Founded in 1999, the Farmers Diner spends 65 percent of its food budget within 70 miles of the restaurant. It is not a high-end restaurant, but a reasonably priced establishment committed to making locally sourced meals affordable by combining time-tested restaurant-chain basics with environmentally responsible operations. Having proven the model the Farmers Diner is in the process of adding two more restaurants in Vermont.

The next step will be to establish a regional, government-inspected commissary that serves a group of local restaurants. The commissary will spare restaurants from the demand of selecting fresh, local vegetables and meats from a network of regional farms. Centralizing processes eases the regulatory burdens that would otherwise be assumed by the farm.


The Farmers Diner business model pays small farmers more than they would normally receive for their goods. By sourcing food locally it creates a real demand for more local organic farming operations while reducing the overall carbon footprint of the meals it produces.

+ Simplifies local food purchasing
+ Centralizes local food processing
+ Invests money in the regional community

FOOD: Urban Agriculture: City Farm

Urban Agriculture, or growing food in cities, reconnects city residents with where their food is grown. It also shortens the distance food has to travel, reduces transportation costs and increases the amount of green space in urban areas.


Many urban food projects are small-scale neighborhood programs that convert vacant lots into private gardens. City Farm operates on a much larger scale. The sustainable, organic farm uses large, vacant properties to grow vegetables and make compost. The farm produces 20 varieties of tomatoes as well as other fruits and vegetables that are sold to local restaurants and the public.

In addition to growing fresh food, The Resource Center operates City Farm to create jobs. Ken Dunn, founder of the Center, notes, “We found that by planning and planting carefully, you can create a job for an individual on about 10,000 square feet, or about four lots.” In Chicago, that could mean 20,000 jobs to revitalize and farm 80,000 vacant lots across the city.


City Farm is a community-sustained operation that provides highly nutritious food to people living in underserved neighborhoods. It turns empty lots into vibrant and productive green spaces.

+ Reclaims derelict land
+ Creates green collar jobs
+ Revitalizes neighborhoods

FOOD: Distribution Systems: Beeline

In the United States our food travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to plate. Local food offers many benefits: cost, freshness, security and the preservation of open land. But merely localizing food production does not guarantee efficient delivery or the profitability of small farms. Many farmers often make less than ten cents on every dollar spent on their produce.


Beeline is a virtual marketplace and distribution system for fresh produce in the Pacific Northwest that was designed to support local farms by reducing the cost of transporting produce to retailers.

An online system connects retailers and restaurateurs to growers. As orders are placed, Beeline automatically plans transportation routes with a robust Global Positioning System and radio-frequency identification tags to “pool” pickups and deliveries. The system saves individual farmers from having to deliver their own product.

A version of Beeline is currently being tested in Portland, Oregon by Ecotrust’s Food Hub initiative.


Not only does Beeline’s system save time and reduce driving miles, it also provides small farmers with greater access to the marketplaces that keep them in business. By aggregating products from a number of farms, Beeline helps small farms stay competitive without having to resort to single-crop monoculture.

+ Maximizes transportation efficiency
+ Reduces costs to individual farmers
+ Helps local farmers compete