Today marks the close of another tremendously inspiring Bioneers conference. If there's one subject that has been consistently touched upon by nearly every speaker, it's the state of our urban environment. Our cities, in large part, are an indication of the health of our communities and our culture. Hence, the decay of inner cities and the environmental injustices that plague low-income neighborhoods in particular, are an indication of an urban society that is in disrepair.
Many of the individuals and organizations who are presenting solutions to this problem, while they all may have different reasons, propose the same approach: greenery. Trees, plants, flowers, vegetables, parks: these things quickly and dramatically improve physical and mental health, air quality, and the vitality of a city. Representing the urban greenery frontier this year were Andy Lipkis of TreePeople, Omar Freilla of Sustainable South Bronx, Will Bullock of The Food Project, and The People's Grocery, just to name a few. Below we've rounded up a few of our own highlights on the subject from the past few months, which give a taste of recent agricultural and horticultural innovations from around the globe.
The mission of the experimental farm "showroom" is to demonstrate to visitors that farming isn't the exclusive domain of old-school rural families. Pasona wants to change the face of farming, and cultivate a fanbase for new, high-tech urban agriculture, introducing technological advancements that will allow productive plots in the midst of the city and encourage a new generation of farmers.
Because the wall naturally generates fresh air, and because the need for ventilation, heating and cooling systems is significantly reduced, the biofilter promises to be a big money saver for the university. Engineers estimate that up to 3.5 kilowatts per person can be saved during peak seasons.
In addition to all of these benefits, the wall adds tremendous aesthetic value to the area. The lush biofilter is a towering work of living art in the Humber building's atrium. Scientists are also attempting to quantify the psychological benefits of the biofilter, predicting that the presence of so much greenery improves attendance.
In the future, Air Quality Solutions, Ltd. hopes increase sales to other commercial and educational settings, and to the home market. The initial cost is not cheap- currently $1,200 per square meter-but the longterm savings and intrinstic benefit of the biofilter far outweigh the startup. For those of us accustomed to regurgitated oxygen from ventilation ducts, this kind of innovation is a breath of fresh air.
The Streamgarden utilizes hydroponics to cultivate a resilient and low-maintenance mini-garden. Hydroponic techniques are often utilized in extreme climates and non-conducive growing conditions (like NASA space stations). Taking them into your office or apartment, you no longer need to worry about having someone water when you are away. Instead of soil, the plants grow in tanks, where you only need to check the water level and refill approximately once a week. Every three months, all water needs to be changed out and nutrients added. More like a fish bowl than a flower pot.
Watch for Edens Lost & Found airing on PBS.
I had the opportunity to interview Lipkis
during the filming of the documentary.
Please look into aerobic compost and aerobic compost teas in reestablishing soil foodwebs in pounded and dead city soils where toxins predominate, for lessening imports. The tools for these are available, not expensive and work wonderfully in the city.
I am one-note on this because it is so important and is so overlooked in all the happy tech talk here. Thank you for allowing me to post sometimes.