Edible Gardens Help Fight HIV in South Africa

edible gardens

keyhole gardens are a representation of typical permaculture forms.

The country of Lesotho in South Africa is using edible gardens to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Lesotho is known to have a huge problem with HIV/AIDS infections. It is rated the third highest HIV prevalent country globally. The nation’s population is around two million, and almost a quarter of working-age adults are infected with  HIV. Non-governmental organizations and international agencies have helped out Lesotho’s government fight the epidemic by providing resources to stop poverty, food insecurities, and medical emergencies such as Tuberculosis, which has one of the highest infection rates in the world. Lesotho is the first in the region to implement the World Health Organization’s 2015 guidelines on the provision of antiretroviral therapy.

For antiretroviral therapy to work, patients need to have good nutrition. International agencies and organizations have helped out Lesotho in promoting crop diversity in subsistence farming and recycling household waste. This has helped Lesotho create keyhole gardens. These gardens are made by pouring organic waste, ash, and greywater into central composting bins, from which it filters into the surrounding soil.A cutaway provides easy access to the bin and gives the gardens the distinctive shape from which they take their name.  The result is a small plot of extremely fertile soil in which owners grow vitamin-rich vegetables such as spinach, beetroot, and carrots to complement a diet that is heavily based on corn and wheat. The edible gardens usually generate two harvests each year. According to Ian McKay, program director at Send a Cow, the organization has witnessed major improvements in the quality of diets in communities where it has worked over the past decade. The crops that are planted from the keyhole gardens have also been used for trade in meats and other vegetables such as corn. These gardens have aided in fighting off the HIV/AIDS epidemic and have found ways to help fight off poverty and food scarcity for this country. Source: MUNCHIES

From Architecture to Urban Farming

A Brief Story of a Vision of Urban Farming

 

“While doing research on solutions for sustainable mixed-use urban corridors, I came to foresee the value of incorporating urban farming into the common space of  habitats.”

In a brief story of her vision, Ruth brings us the case of urban farming as a growing movement to tackle problems that the world faces in the 21st century. Her story is personal.

She tells us how her vision evolved from childhood experiences in the Romanian countryside to her life in Rome. She had the mentorships of Professors, Zevi and Pellegrin, who introduced to her, Wright’s thinking and works. Later in her practice as an architect, her discovery of Permaculture, became a new passion for urban farming and local edible gardens.
She posed to herself some critical questions:

  • How can urban farming contribute to making the world a better place?
  • What is the connection between architecture, planning and urban farming?
  • What can each of us do to become self-reliable on the food we put on our table?
  • How can edible gardens become a design component integrated to urban development?
  • How can urban farming provide a stage for social interaction?

 

Some facts may help to put a global problem into perspective:

  1. The First Agriculture Revolution started about 10,000 years ago. As nomads settled, cities were born. The cities were surrounded by farms, which supplied its population with fresh food.

    San Gimignano, Photo: Pablo Charin, Rick Meghiddo, urban farming

    San Gimigniano surrounded by farms – Photo: Pablo Charin / Minube

  2. As the world’s population grew from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 7.5 billion today, the agriculture  transformed radically. Industrialized farming brought us ecological degradation.  Aggravated by the massive use of toxic chemicals, the path of food from the farm to the city became dependent on carbon-based fuel for transportation.
  3. Climate change is likely to expand the areas of drought, hurricanes and floods, diminishing the existing cultivable areas.
    Nwesweek 10/30/2015

    Newsweek 10/30/2015

    Milano EXPO 2015: Feeding the World, Rick Meghiddo

    Milano EXPO 2015: Feeding the World

  4. Today’s global population growth is about 75 million a year. We are likely to reach ten billion around by 2050. Too far away? Not really! That is just “around the corner.” By 2050, children born today will be in their thirties.

    World Population-1800-2050

    World Population-1800-2050

  5. One acre of land is needed to feed one person for one year. By 2050 we will need additional not-yet-existing cultivable land of about 10 million km2, equal to the size of the United States.

How shall we continue to feed the planet?

How shall we invent the future while we free cultivable land from the voracious appetite of urban sprawl?  If we want to create a decent living environment, the action is needed NOW. Here are some possibilities:

  • Increase mixed-use urban density along urban corridors.
  • Create cultivable areas within residential multi-family buildings, office buildings, schools, factories, hotels, etc.
  • Design common edible gardens as places for social interaction.
  • Design workspaces that provide edible gardens to its tenants.
  • Plan neighborhoods that include common cultivable areas.
  • Build multi-story farms.
  • Vertical Farming - Rendering: Blake Kurasek

    Vertical Farming – Rendering: Blake Kurasek

    Vertical Farming

    Vertical Farming

 

No single solution can fit all needs. The use of eco-friendly lightweight hydroponic systems that consume 90% less water than traditional farming can be incorporated into the built environment.

On the other hand, permaculture, first developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, brings a holistic approach that combines agricultural and social design principles. By increasing our awareness of “thinking globally and acting locally,” each of us can contribute to making the world a better place to inhabit.

 

Jean Phillipe Pargade Technical and Scientific School, Paris. Photo: Sergio Grazia

Jean Phillipe Pargade Technical and Scientific School, Paris. Photo: Sergio Grazia

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“In Defense of Food,” Advice for Health

 

Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food, offers advice on how to eat to achieve maximum health.

In Defense of Food

“Where does your food really come from, and what should you have for dinner? Chances are that your food traveled hundreds of miles before it landed on your plate. But some experts say eating local might make us healthier, and better stewards of the environment.”

Read an Excerpt (bottom half of post)

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
That’s the advice journalist and author Michael Pollan offers in his new book, In Defense of Food.
“That’s it. That is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy,” Pollan told Steve Inskeep on NPR.

    ‘Eat Food’

“We are eating a lot of edible food-like substances, which is to say highly processed things that might be called yogurt, might be called cereals, whatever, but in fact are very intricate products of food science that are really imitations of foods.” – Pollan

Pollan acknowledges that distinguishing between food and “food products” takes work. His tip: “Don’t eat anything that your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”
Take, for example, the portable tubes of yogurt known as Go-Gurt, Pollan says. “Imagine your grandmother or your great-grandmother picking up this tube, holding it up to the light, trying to figure out how to administer it to her body — if indeed it is something that goes in your body — and then imagine her reading the ingredients,” he says. “Yogurt is a very simple food. It’s milk inoculated with a bacterial culture. But Go-Gurt has dozens of ingredients.”

    ‘Not Too Much’

A large part of the conversation about food — like debating low-fat and low-carb diets — serves as a way of avoiding the idea that maybe we’re just eating too much, Pollan says. He says his advice about how to limit consumption is based less on science, which he says “has failed us when it comes to food, by and large,” and more on culture. “Cultures have various devices to help people moderate their appetite,” he says. “Once upon a time, there was scarcity. We don’t have that anymore; we have abundance. But if you go around the world, you find very interesting tricks and devices.”

“The French manage to eat extravagantly rich food, but they don’t get fat, and the reason is that they eat it on small plates, they don’t have seconds, they don’t snack.”
– Pollan on French culture and small portion sizes

“You do know when you are full, and the idea of stopping eating before you reach that moment [when you’re 80% full]… if you do that, you will actually reduce your caloric intake quite a bit.” – Pollan on Japanese culture and “Hara Hachi Bu”

    ‘Mostly Plants’

“There is incontrovertible but boring evidence that eating your fruits and vegetables is probably the best thing you can do for preventing cancer, for weight control, for diabetes, for all the different, all the Western diseases that now afflict us.” – Pollan

But can you follow Pollan’s advice and avoid processed foods without spending a ton of time and money?
“You’re going to have to spend either more time or more money, and perhaps a little bit of both,” Pollan says. “And I think that’s just the reality. It’s really a question of priorities, and we have, in effect, devalued food. And what I’m arguing is to move it a little closer to the center of our lives, and that we are going to have to put more into it, but that it will be very rewarding if we do.
“And if we don’t, by the way, we are going to suffer from this — you know, we hear this phrase so many times — this epidemic of chronic disease. But the fact is, we are at a fork in the road. We’re either going to get used to chronic disease, and be … in the age of Lipitor and dialysis centers on every corner in the city, or we’re going to change the way we eat. I mean, it’s really that simple. Most of the things that are killing us these days — whether it’s heart disease, diabetes, obesity, many, many cancers — are directly attributed to the way we’re eating.”

    Excerpt: ‘In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto’

by MICHAEL POLLAN

Food Science’s Golden Age
In the years following the 1977 Dietary Goals and the 1982 National Academy of Sciences report on diet and cancer, the food industry, armed with its regulatory absolution, set about reengineering thousands of popular food products to contain more of the nutrients that science and government had deemed the good ones and fewer of the bad. A golden age for food science dawned. Hyphens sprouted like dandelions in the supermarket aisles: low-fat, no-cholesterol, high-fiber. Ingredients labels on formerly two- or three-ingredient foods such as mayonnaise and bread and yogurt ballooned with lengthy lists of new additives — what in a more benighted age would have been called adulterants. The Year of Eating Oat Bran — also known as 1988 — served as a kind of coming-out party for the food scientists, who succeeded in getting the material into nearly every processed food sold in America. Oat bran’s moment on the dietary stage didn’t last long, but the pattern now was set, and every few years since then, a new oat bran has taken its star turn under the marketing lights. (Here come omega-3s!)
You would not think that common food animals could themselves be rejiggered to fit nutritionist fashion, but in fact some of them could be, and were, in response to the 1977 and 1982 dietary guidelines as animal scientists figured out how to breed leaner pigs and select for leaner beef. With widespread lipophobia taking hold of the human population, countless cattle lost their marbling and lean pork was repositioned as “the new white meat” — tasteless and tough as running shoes, perhaps, but now even a pork chop could compete with chicken as a way for eaters to “reduce saturated fat intake.” In the years since then, egg producers figured out a clever way to redeem even the disreputable egg: By feeding flaxseed to hens, they could elevate levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the yolks.
Aiming to do the same thing for pork and beef fat, the animal scientists are now at work genetically engineering omega-3 fatty acids into pigs and persuading cattle to lunch on flaxseed in the hope of introducing the blessed fish fat where it had never gone before: into hot dogs and hamburgers.
But these whole foods are the exceptions. The typical whole food has much more trouble competing under the rules of nutritionism, if only because something like a banana or an avocado can’t quite as readily change its nutritional stripes. (Though rest assured the genetic engineers are hard at work on the problem.) To date, at least, they can’t put oat bran in a banana or omega-3s in a peach. So depending on the reigning nutritional orthodoxy, the avocado might either be a high-fat food to be assiduously avoided (Old Think) or a food high in monounsaturated fat to be embraced (New Think). The fate and supermarket sales of each whole food rises and falls with every change in the nutritional weather while the processed foods simply get reformulated and differently supplemented. That’s why when the Atkins diet storm hit the food industry in 2003, bread and pasta got a quick redesign (dialing back the carbs; boosting the proteins) while poor unreconstructed potatoes and carrots were left out in the carbohydrate cold. (The low-carb indignities visited on bread and pasta, two formerly “traditional foods that everyone knows,” would never have been possible had the imitation rule not been tossed out in 1973. Who would ever buy imitation spaghetti? But of course that is precisely what low-carb pasta is.)
A handful of lucky whole foods have recently gotten the “good nutrient” marketing treatment: The antioxidants in the pomegranate (a fruit formerly more trouble to eat than it was worth) now protect against cancer and erectile dysfunction, apparently, and the omega-3 fatty acids in the (formerly just fattening) walnut ward off heart disease. A whole subcategory of nutritional science — funded by industry and, according to one recent analysis,* remarkably reliable in its ability to find a health benefit in whatever food it has been commissioned to study — has sprung up to give a nutritionist sheen (and FDA-approved health claim) to all sorts of foods, including some not ordinarily thought of as healthy. The Mars Corporation recently endowed a chair in chocolate science at the University of California at Davis, where research on the antioxidant properties of cacao is making breakthroughs, so it shouldn’t be long before we see chocolate bars bearing FDA-approved health claims. (When we do, nutritionism will surely have entered its baroque phase.) Fortunately for everyone playing this game, scientists can find an antioxidant in just about any plant-based food they choose to study.
Yet as a general rule it’s a whole lot easier to slap a health claim on a box of sugary cereal than on a raw potato or a carrot, with the perverse result that the most healthful foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke victims, while a few aisles over in Cereal the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are screaming their newfound “whole-grain goodness” to the rafters. Watch out for those health claims.

*L. I. Lesser, C. B. Ebbeling, M. Goozner, D. Wypij, and D. S. Ludwig, “Relationship Between Funding Source and Conclusion Among Nutrition-Related Scientific Articles,” PLoS Medicine, Vol. 4, No. 1, e5 doi:10.1371/journal. pmed.0040005.

Excerpted from IN DEFENSE OF FOOD by Michael Pollan. Reprinted by arrangement with The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) Michael Pollan, 2008.

The Future of Urban Farming

 

The Future of Urban Farming

Transcript of AhaGarden Presents Urban Farming with Tower Garden featuring FarmUrbana.com
Your Road Map to a healthy life by cultivating your own food and making a difference with the Tower Garden System!
In the past we grew fresh food which was nutritious and grown naturally, next to people’s homes.
With the industrialization of farming we grow food but we are extensively using fertilizer, GMO’s, and pesticides which depletes the nutrients from our foods.

We can make Urban Farming a Reality Today

You grow fresh and nutritious foods without pesticides and GMO.
You lower your food costs and lower your carbon footprint.
We can create an economically viable urban farming enterprise and create a more sustainable living environment
We can do this with permaculture, aquaponic, and Tower Garden aeroponic system.
Urban Farming also helps stimulate a more cohesive community environment.

A Model for Urban Farming Enterprise

Currently food is shipped across the country and even from other counties.
With Urban Farming we can grow our own fresh foods and with more nutrients, locally.
We also create local jobs and increase our food security with the advantage of consuming fresher, more nutritious produce from local farmers without the current health hazards.
Urban Farming strengthens our local economies by keeping dollars circulating within the community.

Children’s Education

Preschool education about nutrition starts by teaching our children about growing food and how to eat healthier.
With the Tower Garden system you can start to affect change today!

The Tower Garden is a smarter way to feed your family, it is better for the environment and
uses less water….only 10% compared with traditional farming.
No dirt or fertilizer, no pesticides, no insecticides.

The Tower Garden Way is a compact vertical aeroponic system invented by Tim Blank.

TO LEARN more and buy your own tower visit:
http://eco.TowerGarden.com
http://www.farmurbana.com

CONTACT: Ruth@FarmUrbana.com
Fun and Affordable, Tower Garden is the Future!

Gallery

Farm Urbana 2014 - Ruth Meghiddo

 

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