If you’re a wine drinker, you’re in a powerful position.
Viticulture (the science, production and study of grapes) is a branch of the science of horticulture. “Sustainable viticulture” goes vital steps further and views the vineyard as a whole system which creates a high level quality fruit production reducing reliance on synthetic chemicals and fertilizers to protect the growers, the consumers and the environment. Many conscientious vintners ascribe to this method and produce some very fine wines while pursing a responsible higher goal. Universities and private organizations responsibly teach and encourage these practices.
All of us greenies know its better to buy directly from the small farmers at the farmers markets, then to buy from big business farming, right? Well, in most cases I would say that is true, but not always. I just came across Benziger Family Winery here in California and I am blown away. They not only grow all their grapes organically and Biodynamically, they also have built an sustainable water system. They save all the water used in production, clean it in their man made wetlands, and then re-use it again. Almost a closed loop system. Why isn’t everyone doing this?
Mike Benziger Talks About The Water System: “Winemaking can be a pretty water-intensive business. Preventing the conditions where bacteria could thrive means being meticulously clean. And that takes water. How do we to reconcile our commitment to environmental responsibility with our need to keep clean? How about a recycling system, built right into the property.
We pump gray water, which is the water used in winemaking production, into the first of two ponds. The water then flows through an embankment of water plants into the lower pond. By the time the water reaches the lower pond, about 3 days, the root systems of the plants have acted like a filter, and cleansed the water of impurities. Once clean, the water in the lower pond can serve as an irrigation resource during years as dry as we expect this one to be.”
Below is a featured video from the Sundance Channel about the Benziger water system.
What happens when a carpenter / artist learns about primitive techniques of building and experiments with tree saplings as a construction material? Natural organic forms of art on a grand scale.
Internationally acclaimed sculptor Patrick Dougherty is known for large-scale installations that incorporate tree saplings. Working only with these saplings, the North Carolina based artist twists and wraps his medium to create large, organic sculptures. The surrounding environment and its given materials play a significant role in shaping his sculptures. Dougherty often uses saplings gathered near the installation site, adjusting his designs to the different ways local materials bend and respond in his hands.
Architect Michelle Kaufmann shows us how simple it is to make your very own modern clean outdoor non-wood burning fireplace using some simple stones and alcohol filled cans . This is part of Michelle’s Green It Yourself Projects. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
Fresh on the heels of green roofs comes “Living Walls”, sometimes known as Green Walls — the latest trend in the blending of architecture and plant life.
Like the makers of green roofs, designers of living walls highlight the advantages of green living. Green wall enthusiasts tout the bonuses of cooling the house or building with the six inches of soil-plus-plants. The system utilizes a cycle of rainwater collected on the roof and solar power to run the operation.
When your crop is ripe – just reach out your window and pluck the fresh veggies from the wall for your dinner table.
What do you do, if you are itching to grow things, but live in a walk up apartment in Brooklyn? You convert a old pickup into a mobile Truck Farm. A funny way to indulge your green thumb. Wicked Delicate Productions, created a very special film about their journey to create their very own Truck Farm.
The ordinary looking truck — ordinary aside from the bed filled with soil (using green roof technology) and heirloom veggies — parked on Van Brunt Street had been turning heads in the neighborhood for a while but no one knew quite what to make of it. Two months later, Cheney’s mobile garden/CSA-on-wheels/four-wheeled farm is literally all over the place.
Truck Farm by Wicked Delicate Episode One (part 2 after the jump)
We are really into gardening and designing. So, when we saw Architect Michelle Kaufmanns little web shows about vertical wall gardens, we had to post it. Michelle shows us how to add green to a tiny or even nonexistent garden with a wall mounted garden. A vertical garden can work in doors or on any exterior wall.
This is a Green It Yourself Project. For the project you will need a vertical plastic planting tray, soil and some plants.
As we get closer to summer, I start thinking about spending more time in the backyard. I think this every year, but this time I mean business. And as a means of being proactive, I recently went to an enormous home improvement chain to look at outdoor furniture. And to my horror, all I saw was metal and wicker.
Metal furniture, while durable, lacks the warm, cozy feeling I associate with outdoor living. It’s too industrial for my taste. Plus, what happens to all that furniture when it’s disposed of? While metal is certainly recyclable, a big chair doesn’t easily fit into your blue curbside bin, so I bet most people just trash it. As for wicker, I simply hate it. It looks cheap and it’s uncomfortable. Who knew buying outdoor furniture could be so complicated?
Looking for an alternative, I stumbled across Minnesota-based Loll. Their outdoor furniture is contemporary, durable and sustainable.
As I sit here staring into my two 30 inch screens, my eyes start to glaze over and I fall into deep dreamy thoughts of my future life as a gardener. Someday soon, I will balance my life, I will stop trapping myself in this box, I will stop staring into my screens for 14 hours a day. I will stop being single minded and start balancing my designing, business life with life as a gardener. For years now I have been waiting to start my gardens, because I live in Industrial crowded noisy Los Angeles, I wanted to be in a more natural place. I didn’t think L.A. was the place to dig in my roots, but maybe I was wrong. I could have started much sooner, if only I would have followed in the path of the Urban Homestead in Pasadena.
This simple little home in sun baked Pasadena, which is part of Los Angeles, is a world within it’s self. With only 1/5 acre they grow enough food to support the 4 adults living on the property. They grow over 350 varieties of editable plants, and produce over 6,000 pounds of produce each year. They even have some farm critters, such as ducks and chicks living within the gardens. Blows me away. Their site pathtofreedom.com, is basically a how to guide, for anyone interested in jumping in transforming your own small urban yard. It’s worth a look and if your in the area, you can even stop by for a visit.
We’ve written about urban farms before, how the future of farming might rely on giant skyscrapers, using hydroponics or other systems to feed our growing cities. New York Magazine has decided to do a feature on this as well, and has named it Skyfarming.
(via nymag.com) "A Columbia professor believes that converting skyscrapers into crop farms could help reduce global warming and make New York
Urban farming has always been a slightly quixotic endeavor. From the small animal farm that was perched on the roof of the Upper West Side’s Ansonia apartment building in the early 1900s (fresh eggs delivered by bellhop!) to community gardens threatened by real-estate development, the dream of preserving a little of the country in the city is a utopian one. But nobody has ever dreamed as big as Dr. Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental sciences and microbiology at Columbia University, who believes that “vertical farm” skyscrapers could help fight global warming."
The New York Magazine article is based on Dr. Dickson Despommier work and essay on Vertical Farming. He has recently updated his essay and we will include part of it here: Essay 2
If you didn’t know where to look or hadn’t heard the buzz of late… “High Line“, then you might just miss it. As you can see (from the picture below), other than some trees- it’s not really noticeable from street level.
But there is a big buzz about the High Line, because it is truly a wonderful and amazing thing to see, experience, and enjoy. It is even more special for residents of New York City, where public “green” spaces are quite limited. This and other movements toward the re-greening of NYC are very exciting… I know I am not alone in thinking we can more harmoniously mesh concrete living with more greenery and enjoy the best of both worlds.
Here we are in Early Spring, which means it’s time to get your garden going.
Before you order or purchase seeds, you’ll want to take into consideration the size of your garden plot. If you have limited space like most of us, it’s wise to narrow your selection down to your top priority plants. If you haven’t already done so, take a moment to make a list of the things you’d like to be harvesting this summer fresh from your garden.
It’s also practical to consider what will do best in your area. There are certain popular staples that will grow well most anywhere over the summer. For instance, in my small garden, I recently planted two dozen lettuce (in several varieties), a handful of kale, six basil plants, tomatoes and nasturtiums around the borders of the garden. At the very least, this will ensure that in a matter of weeks I’ll have greens for cooking, as well as plenty of pesto and multicolored salads garnished with tomatoes and edible flowers. My dream garden will be more complete, with an assortment of vegetables for any recipe, but this is undoubtedly a good step toward producing fresher and more vibrant produce for my dinner table.