Farm Urbana is now a certified GREEN Business

Mayor Robert Garcia and City Councilwoman Suzie Price held a ceremony in Belmont Shore to recognize the first group of small businesses including Farm Urbana as an official certified Green Business in the city of Long Beach. Office of Sustainability Communications Specialist Courtney Chatterson and Chief Larry Rich were instrumental in making Long Beach a greener and more sustainable city and having Farm Urbana be a partner of the California Green Business Network.

Being part of the California Certified Green Business Network is the clearest way to show our community and clients that we care to be part of a global awareness towards sustainability. Our certification shows Farm Urbana’s commitment to taking action to conserve resources and prevent pollution in both the facility and operations. It means that our business complies with environmental regulations in the areas of waste, energy, water, pollution prevention, and air quality.

We have been promoting sustainability in the past few years with our edible gardens and now is the perfect opportunity to align ourselves with other businesses in building a greener, more vibrant economy, and helping our communities thrive. For more information, please visit https://greenbusinessca.org/.

Permaculture: A Quiet Revolution – An Interview with Bill Mollison

permaculture

Fragments From An Interview By Scott London: Permaculture: A Quiet Revolution – An Interview with Bill Mollison

Permaculture from permanent and agriculture — is an integrated design philosophy that encompasses gardening, architecture, horticulture, ecology, even money management and community design. The basic approach is to create sustainable systems that provide for their own needs and recycle their waste.

Mollison developed permaculture after spending decades in the rainforests and deserts of Australia studying ecosystems. He observed that plants naturally group themselves in mutually beneficial communities. He used this idea to develop a different approach to agriculture and community design, one that seeks to place the right elements together so they sustain and support each other.

……

London: Permaculture teaches us how to use the minimum amount of energy needed to get a job done.

Mollison: That’s right. Every house should be over-producing its energy and be selling to the grid. We have built entire villages that do that — where one or two buildings hold the solar panels for all sixty homes and sell the surplus to the grid. In seven years, you can pay off all your expenses and run free.

London: Short of starting a farm, what can we do to make our cities more sustainable?

Mollison: Catch the water off your roof. Grow your own food. Make your own energy. It’s insanely easy to do all that. It takes you less time to grow your food than to walk down to the supermarket to buy it. Ask any good organic gardener who mulches how much time he spends on his garden and he’ll say, “Oh, a few minutes every week.” By the time you have taken your car and driven to the supermarket, taken your foraging-trolley and collected your wild greens, and driven back home again, you’ve spent a good hour or two — plus you’ve spent a lot of money.

London: Even though permaculture is based on scientific principles, it seems to have a very strong philosophical or ethical dimension.

Mollison: There is an ethical dimension because I think science without ethics is sociopathology. To say, “I’ll apply what I know regardless of the outcome” is to take absolutely no responsibility for your actions. I don’t want to be associated with that sort of science.

London: What do you think you’ve started?

Mollison: Well, it’s a revolution. But it’s the sort of revolution that no one will notice. It might get a little shadier. Buildings might function better. You might have less money to earn because your food is all around you and you don’t have any energy costs. Giant amounts of money might be freed up in society so that we can provide for ourselves better.

So it’s a revolution. But permaculture is anti-political. There is no room for politicians or administrators or priests. And there are no laws either. The only ethics we obey are care of the earth, care of people, and reinvestment in those ends.

Source: Scott London

Is the Future of Farming Vertical

New findings of operations that can benefit from “vertical farms”? Vertical food production can take advantage of stranded assets, such as old thermal power plants. Urban food production can offer to more consumers local fresh food produced sustainably with less waste.

vertical-farms

America is having to rethink where and how it produces its food. In the 21st century, the U.S. food system is likely to change even more than it did in the past century. Because of climate change, major production areas such as California will experience extremes in temperature and precipitation, generally growing hotter and drier — and all at a pace that appears to be happening sooner than predicted.

The U.S. food system needs to diversify production. But instead of expanding into grasslands or areas already used for other crops, we should think about growing food at scale in big cities. Would our food system benefit from “vertical farms”? And if so, can we seize an opportunity to use existing, stranded assets?
Vertical farms are usually indoor operations with stacked or wall-like planters that leverage networked technology to monitor and nourish plants precisely, often without the use of soil. At least 100 vertical food production startups are in U.S. cities, but few take advantage of stranded assets, such as old thermal power plants.
Thermal power plants have qualities that make them inherently amenable to vertical farming. They consume about 45 to 50 percent of all the water used to cool plants during power generation. Disposing of the hot water is both a nuisance and a cost. Heat, water, energy and captured slipstream emissions are all byproducts of energy generation and could be available for producing food.There are social advantages, too. In most urban areas, thermal power plants are surrounded by low-value brownfields that have little or no productive use. Many have had to be been taken over by cities for back taxes, and they are usually in “food deserts” — poor neighborhoods with little to no access to grocery stores with fresh produce. These areas could benefit from vertical farms and fresh produce.

Vertical farming can create business opportunities. The centralization and specialization of food production have put considerable distance between consumers and their food, both figuratively and literally. By creating vertical, urban food production, we can narrow that gap and give more consumers what they want: local food produced more transparently and sustainably, with less waste and fewer impacts.

Many parties have vested interests in the answers:
Power companies can benefit from added value; retailers can benefit from shorter supply chains and reduced waste; government agencies can improve local food systems; communities can eliminate their food deserts; tech companies can drive research and development, and academics and research institutions can build capacity about new ways to grow our food.

Source: GreenBiz

Apple Now Runs on Green Energy

A true achievement for Apple, to hit the magic 100% goal of running all its facilities and its worldwide fleet of Apple stores solely powered by renewable energy.

energy

The achievement of green energy is the culmination of a furious effort over the past six years that involved financing, building, or locating new renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind farms, near the company’s facilities. Apple says it now has 25 operational renewable energy projects–with 15 more now in construction–in 11 countries. Just eight years ago, only 16% of its facilities were powered by renewable energy. By 2015 that number had increased to 93%, then to 96% in 2016.

Along the way, in 2013, Apple signaled its seriousness about green initiatives by hiring former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson as VP of the environment, policy, and social initiatives. CEO Tim Cook wanted Jackson to focus Apple’s environmental initiatives, and perhaps act as a respected emissary to Washington, D.C. She’s done both.

The overarching goal of Apple going 100% green is, of course, is to reduce harmful emissions from dirty fuels. The company says it’s reduced its greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e) by 58% since 2011, preventing 2.2 million metric tons of CO2e from entering the atmosphere. But Apple’s own progress as measured by the numbers isn’t the only point. In places where it has facilities, the company has often been a catalyst, working with local utilities and regulators to build new solar or wind farms that pump new green power onto the public grid. Jackson told me Apple especially likes to do this in markets where the majority of the existing energy comes from ecologically unfriendly sources like coal or oil. “It’s an approach that’s really important because you’re growing the clean energy market around you,” she says.

Lisa Jackson is optimistic about energy’s renewable future. “As the markets continue to develop, I don’t see anything that’s going to stop the trajectory toward lower-carbon energy worldwide,” she says. “At some point, you’ll just see countries doing it.” When they do, Apple, along with other tech giants, will deserve some of the credit for getting the flywheel going–a contribution to the betterment of humanity which might well be as meaningful as any new gadget it will sell in its stores.

Source: Fast Company

PindFresh to Bring Urban Farming Revolution to India

Now, this is huge! Urban India is engaged in a true farming revolution: local organic food production from rooftop gardens to spaces between buildings and also indoor areas designated for farming.

urban-faming
The agritech startup Pindfresh is turning small plots or spaces between buildings or in buildings into usable farm space. From rooftop gardens to floors specifically designed to incorporate farming, to other spaces within ­­high-rises filled with racks of perfectly lined leaf vegetables, it is striving to bring about a farming revolution in urban India.

Apart from selling in-house home systems (hydroponic and others) and fresh produce (lettuce, rocket, basil, and mushrooms), it also runs programmes to train people (in schools and societies). By using hydroponics, cocopeat gardening, and other soilless techniques, Pindfresh is attempting to educate urban dwellers to use a technology which takes less space, demands lesser water and is completely free from pathogens and biological contaminants.

The urban population in India, which stands at 377 million, is expected to reach 600 million by 2031, according to a new UN-backed report. The increasing nutritional requirements of this fast-growing urban population will pose a huge challenge in the coming years. Due to the ever-increasing urban population and decreasing rural population that used to tend to frame as a traditional occupation, India imported $906.3 million (INR 5,897 Cr) worth of fruit and vegetables in 2016-17, while the figure in 2014-15 was $832 Mn (INR 5,414 Cr). As a result, Indian consumers are becoming victims of processed food as there is a wide gap in the supply and demand chain.

farming

The startup is attempting to make cities holistic in their requirements of food and vegetation. To that end, it is working towards creating systems by which people will actually eat the local and fresh produce – just as if the food is coming directly from the Pind. Essentially, they offer three services: creating and selling systems for home and commercial use; producing food using Pindfresh systems and selling it and holding workshops. The startup is grossing over a monetization strategy that involves making the vegetable saplings available for procurement by offices and houses. They have two types of customers: one who buys the plants to grow the vegetables themselves and those who only buy the vegetables. Pindfresh is also selling to wholesale markets.

Source: inc42.com

The Swedish Revolutionize Indoor Urban Farms

Planatgon-indoor-urban-farm

In Stockholm’s central Kungsholmen district, Owe Pettersson is hoping to sow the seeds of an indoor urban farm revolution. Pettersson is the chief executive of Plantagon, a new Stockholm-based urban farming venture set to kick off operations in the basement of an office block in the Swedish capital later this month.

“This will be one of the most advanced food factories located in a city that we have today,” says Pettersson, who has spent more than 25 years in the insurance and banking industries.
Plantagon’s early promises echo this nascent optimism. Pettersson calls the farm’s approach “agritechture”: the combination of agriculture, technology, and architecture hoping to revolutionize how we live and eat. The Swedish startup says it will be more efficient than similar enterprises. Plantagon plans to grow high-value foods ― mostly salads and herbs ― in a pumice-like substance rather than soil. Water for the plants is measured with scientific precision. It will also dehumidify the air and reuse any excess water to ensure zero waste.

Plantagon-seedlings

The seedlings used for the indoor farm

In conventional agriculture, the amount of water required to produce a kilo of food can vary from about 130 liters (34 gallons) of lettuce to 3,400 liters (900 gallons) of rice. In contrast, Plantagon says it will only need to use one liter per kilo for its crops. Energy is also a major issue for indoor urban farms, which have to create artificial sunlight. Although advances in the efficiency of LED lights have helped bring down energy consumption in recent years, plants use only about 1 percent of the artificial light produced. This leads to a colossal waste of energy, most of which disappears as heat. Plantagon says it will capture around 70 percent of this unused heat in its 6,500-square-foot basement farm, and pipe it into the heating system of the office block above. Oxygen produced by the plants will be sent to office workers via the building’s air conditioners.

The firm’s recent crowdfunding campaign raised 4.4 million Swedish krona ($559,000) that will help its ambition to install up to nine more urban farms across Stockholm over the next three years. The inaugural farm, which cost about $863,000, was backed by a group of private investors. Plantagon also has a charitable arm, which owns 10 percent of the business and commits to invest in innovative for-profit companies that seek to address societal challenges. People can invest in “generation shares” in the charity that cannot be cashed for seven generations.

The firm’s confidence that it can be profitable rests in part on reducing expenses, with lower costs for energy and water, and savings on rent. Plantagon has negotiated a three-year, zero-rent deal in exchange for the heating and clean air that its farm provides to the building.

 

Source:  Huffington Post

Bowery Farming Takes Urban Farming to New Heights

Bowery Farming greenhouse in Kearny, New Jersey, has a farm-to-table idea that takes on a whole new meaning. Co-Founder and CEO Irving Fain told Moore. “I became obsessed with this question of, how do you provide fresh food to urban environments? And how do you do that in a more efficient and sustainable way?” Fain was to build vertical farms in the skyscraper-saturated land near big cities that aren’t threatened by rain, snow or drought. Fain co-developed a software that anticipates and provides a plant’s every need.

“They have the perfect environment, the perfect nutrient profile for the certain stage of the plant and the different type of crop. So in many ways, it’s emulating the absolute perfect environment at any moment for a plant all the time,” he said.

Lush, leafy greens and herbs grow without pesticides with the help of robotics, under LED lights that mimic the exact spectrum of sunlight crops would get outside on a good day. But where’s the soil?

“The plants actually have their roots dangling down and they dangle not only into the water but the water that’s filled with all the nutrients that the plants actually need,” said Fain.

Bowery Farming is located eight miles from New York City, which he says speeds up the time from harvest to purchase to one day, versus the typical transit time of two to three weeks. Because of its vertical orientation, Fain says they can produce 100 times more greens than a traditional outdoor farm occupying the same footprint. Right now, Bowery Farming only produce leafy greens and herbs, but Fain says the company is hoping to broaden its product line to include a variety of produce.

This article was from CBS News New York and which they talk about urban farming not needing sunlight, soil, or land.

Source: CBS New York

Are California Community Health Centers Prepared to Meet The Need For Future Change?

health center

An excerpt from Candace Baldwin, Director of Strategy, Aging in Community

California stands out as a proving ground for change. With its diverse geography, cultures, a mix of rural and urban populations, and wide disparities in income, the state faces many challenges in meeting the care needs of an aging population. Several of the state’s Federal Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) have established themselves as models of how to provide integrated care for the “whole person” through community partnerships, changes in processes, and a commitment to making the Affordable Care Act ’s new pay-for-performance model cost efficient.
Lifelong Medical Care in Berkeley, for example, pioneered integrated care and services for seniors more than 35 years ago, providing primary care, chronic disease screening and management, referrals to specialists, mental health services, social services resources, and health education through an array of hospital and community partnerships.

Meanwhile, Redwood Community Health Coalition, which serves Marin, Napa, Sonoma, and Yolo Counties, provides a model of integrated care through its Population Health Improvement Program. The program aims to improve patient health, enhance the patient experience, and reduce health care visits using a Care Coordination Medical Record that provides in-depth patient profiles and health care planning across an array of providers.
In Redding, Shasta Community Health Center demonstrates that partnerships and care coordination can happen in a rural and severely impoverished setting, too. The center provides coordinated care for the community’s homeless residents, has established partnerships with many northern California health clinics, and offers mental health services.

These age-friendly health systems offer us a model of how communities can expand health equity in traditionally underserved populations. As a 2009 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study outlined, “Making America healthier will require action at all levels of society. Individuals, communities, health care, businesses and unions, philanthropies, and local, state and the federal government must work together to improve our nation’s health.”

Does California have a real, nutritious, healthy system that can aid patients in health centers both physically and mentally? To this day there has not been enough support for the use of urban farming in health centers that create a more sustainable living for the elderly and build a more healthy lifestyle.

At Farm Urbana, we help health centers and communities develop sustainable solutions for serving the health and wellness needs of all residents. We provide an active training program that teaches residents how to cultivate nutritious produce.

Health centers are supplied with an easy to grow system that is eco-friendly and resourceful. We envision community centers to be more prosperous and sustainable and have the patients be more resilient in dealing with health issues by providing the power of edible garden solutions in their hands.

Do you believe California Health Centers should invest more on urban farming to improve health outcomes in the future?

Source: From an article that appeared on Capital Impact Partners blog on August 30, 2016.

Paris Fills Skylines with Rooftop Farms

paris-skyline

Paris has taken the farm out of the field and planted parts of it onto its rooftops to make the city greener and more sustainable. This summer, metro operator RATP became one of the first companies to host a commercial farm on one of its roofs.

A sudden breeze carrying gentle notes of basil and mint envelops pedestrians walking by the RATP building at Place Lachambeaudie in the 12th arrondissement, a middle-class district located in the east of the French capital. Some passersby quickly lift their noses to try to figure out exactly where the fresh and appetising scents are coming from, but none seem able to locate the origin.

The scents are coming from the top of the grey and arch-shaped office building where Michel Desportes and Théo Manesse have been spending the better part of the afternoon harvesting row upon row of various types of organically-grown herbs ranging from violet-coloured basil to chocolate-and-banana-flavoured mint.

“It’s growing so much at the moment that we have to harvest every day,” Desportes, one of the founders of the start-up Aéromate which runs the farm, tells FRANCE 24. Bees and ladybugs constantly buzz around the plants, seemingly oblivious to the traffic and pollution on the streets down below.

The farm was started in July this year after a 2016 call by the City of Paris for a series of urban agriculture projects to make the city more environmentally sustainable. By 2020, Paris aims to have transformed 33 hectares, or 330,000 square metres, of its unused urban space into urban agriculture.

Although the commercial Lachambeaudie farm, which sprawls over a 450 square metre area and houses up to 5,000 plants, mainly focuses on growing fresh herbs, it also offers some seasonal fruits and vegetables. At the moment, this includes several different species of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and lettuce. This winter, Aéromate plans to cultivate crops like watercress, spinach, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and artichoke. Everything is grown hydroponically, a hydroculture method developed by the Inca and Aztec Indians and in which the plants are grown without any soil by using only mineral nutrient solutions in water solvent.

The decision by RATP to install and invest in the farm is part of its corporate mission to contribute to a more sustainable Paris. The group, which owns several buildings in the city, has identified 1.4 hectares (14,000 square meters) that it plans to transform into cultivated grounds by 2020.

“We wanted to do something with our unused rooftops – up until now they haven’t really served any particular purpose – and this concept turned out to be just the right thing for us.”

Aéromate is currently setting up a 180-square-metre farm, also on the roof of real estate group Tishman Speyer, at Place de la Bourse in central Paris, and is planning for a third commissioned by the City of Paris at the nearby Place de la République.

Aside from selling the herbs and produce to staff of the companies that own the buildings, Aéromate also offers its harvest on online platforms such as “La Ruche qui dit oui!”, which connects local producers with consumers directly. Aéromate has also begun doing business with local restaurants and bars, of which two of its current customers are Michelin-starred eateries. As the business grows, Aéromate expects to harvest up to 31 tons of herbs, fruits and vegetables each year.

“It feels good to work up here. I feel lucky to be surrounded by all these green plants while actually working in the centre of the city,” Desportes says.

 

Source: France 24

Smart Cities: The Future Way of Living

smart-cities

Article written by Arvin Varshney

How often have you wondered what a smart city was? How often do you get asked the same question? Most likely you’d say: more often than I’d like.

Most attempts to define smart cities start with features of smart cities and end up how they work. India’s Smart Cities Mission says: ‘There is no universally accepted definition of a smart city. It means different things to different people’. This is not entirely incorrect, but neither is it helpful.

This article will give you a definition which can be used universally and it will not only help you visualise smart cities better but also help you plan for one in a structured way.

Smart city is the solution

Contrary to the hype a smart city is not a different genre of cities! It is only a notion, a concept. It came into being as a result of the need to urgently adapt our existing cities to meet the fast emerging needs of exploding urban population and fighting climate change. The notion of smart cities represents nothing but urban renewal, on steroids though. It can also be applied to new greenfield cities.

The idea of existing cities becoming smart is seen as the best way to resolve the problem. But what is a smart city?

Simply put, when you leverage technology in the governance of a city to achieve a set of pre-determined goals (purpose) you get a smart city.

So what does that really mean?

Essentially, there are three components in a smart city:

1. Technology,

2. Governance, and

3. Purpose.

Let us discuss all three. The Purpose first.

Purpose

The cities today are in the danger of failing under the pressure of exploding urban population. Main roads are bursting at their seams due to heavy traffic and all infrastructures is overloaded. Shortage of power and water plagues the city. Sewers overflow. Waste disposal is inadequate. Housing is scarce. Slums are mushrooming. And crime is on the rise. All this contributes to the deterioration of the social and ecological environment. The threat of climate change makes the situation further challenging.

While this seems like a common description of most cities, the intensity of challenges varies from city to city. Congestion of traffic might be a big challenge in Bangalore, Beijing might have air quality as the biggest challenge and Delhi might want to have water supply secured as one of the high priority challenges. Every city would have a different set of goals with some that seem like being pursued universally such as become resilient to climate change, become energy efficient and improve quality of life for residents.

Technology

We often think of the internet as the technology but it is the oil and the gel at the same time which brings all the elements of technology together and runs them smoothly. The technology consists of two other things:

1. Hardware includes appliances, sensors, and other physical tools and machinery

2. Software runs the hardware, creates interface between people and machines such as apps, internet tools

We are witnessing an explosive growth of new technologies— from GIS, communication, IoT, Big-data, LIDAR, mobile applications to exploration of earth from space. These technologies are not only unlocking massive streams of data but also have massive potential for use in all walks of life, including in the design and building of cities-with or without planners’ involvement.

It is essential to develop and utilise emerging technologies so that this significant change will be made in a sustainable way not doing so is an opportunity wasted and ignoring the answers to all the questions that we haven’t yet asked.

Governance

We need our cities to be resilient and environmentally sustainable and offer wellness and quality of life along with other objectives that might be specific to different cities. But every city government/administration has the mandate to pursue those goals. What sets a ‘smart city’ apart from a business-as-usual (BAU) city is how it is governed. In other words—how decisions are made in a smart city. These decisions range from how it should be designed, to how and what policies should be made, and how it should be run on a day to day basis. And this is where the most visible aspect of smart cities comes in—the technology.

On the face of it may seem like the technology is making things happen which it is. IoT devices embedded in street light poles sense the flow of traffic along a set of roads and let the traffic light at their junction know when to turn green or red. Another set of devices secured to trash bins across the city lets the cleaning team know when the bins are full and need emptying. In addition to performing these functions, they are also performing a more important task which is often not conspicuous to most city dwellers. And that task is collecting and generating data. And lots of it.

Google is world’s most valuable company not because of what it does but because the data it possesses. Facebook is rich because of the data it has. Walmart, world’s largest retailer not only sells all sorts of stuff to people but also collects data about them: who buys what, when, how often, who spends how much etc. Companies and organisations that collect and use data to govern their strategies and actions not only create unprecedented efficiencies in operations because of swift and relatively less error prone decision making but also new streams of revenue earnings.

Time has come when cities need to do the same. Only those that are doing this are ‘smart’. Indeed data is at the core of smart cities. The data comes from measuring as many aspects of an urban ecosystem as possible; it generates a huge volume of data from a plethora of sources as a result. Data, on how people move throughout the city, how and where they consume resources, what facilities they are converging on etc.

By measuring these factors, the city’s infrastructure can address issues with minimum human interaction with least amount of time lag. If sensor read high level of pollution level next to a location with traffic congestion drivers could be automatically diverted to an alternate route.

Conclusion

So the notion of smart cities is really a management + policy response to the inadequacy of current cities to accommodate the exploding urban population, with the strategic intent to take advantage of technology that is available to us.

When technology and governance combine to achieve certain goals for a city’s future the quality of ‘smartness’ emerges in the city. A city cannot be perfectly smart or not be at all smart as we don’t know the limits of ‘smartness’, it is an emergent characteristic.

While technology is the most ubiquitous means to achieve the desired goals, governance is the operative component of a smart city, with data collection and its judicious use in decision making is key to smart governance.

Source: LinkedIN