The Irresistible Fleet of Bicycles

repurposed: agricultural waste in construction materials

posted June 13, 2018

As the interest in environmental sustainability continues to grow, many are curious as to how to reuse or re-imagine materials and substances that may be considered agricultural or construction waste. This interest may be partly fueled by pending shortages and rising input prices.

For example, insulation companies have developed alternative insulation materials from agricultural waste products. Additionally, researchers are looking for sustainable alternatives to concrete. A viable alternative to concrete derived from the root of mushrooms and fungi, along with other materials, may soon be worth considering. In fact, there are many ways in which agricultural and food waste can be remade and kept out of landfills.

Using sustainable alternatives often will potentially reduce the construction costs for materials. New home construction using agricultural waste materials is becoming more common. Sustainable materials are often appreciated by homeowners who may be looking to make their own homes environmentally friendly.

Using Agricultural Waste as Construction Material

Construction materials can be composed of many types of waste and be beneficial in resource management. There are predictions that use of organic waste materials can help reduce levels of waste. Building materials may be made up of waste from maize, potatoes and bananas.

The construction industry relies heavily on raw materials. Re-imagining the use of organic waste streams can offer lower-cost materials to the industry. There have been advances that can make it possible to create mushroom bricks and derive insulation from waste potatoes. Agricultural waste products that can be used within construction materials include:

  • Potato peels- This organic product can be used in the manufacturing of an acoustic absorbent insulating material that is water repellent, fire resistant and low-weight.
  • Banana leaves and fruit- The high strength fiber can be used in the making of rugged textiles.
  • Peanut shells- Shells can be a raw materials that may be incorporated into the production of materials such as low-cost partition boards that are both moisture resistant and flame retardant.

These waste products are often discarded. It has been reported that food waste amounting to 60 million tons goes into landfills and could be used in the manufacturing of building materials.

Advanced Research and Comparisons Continue

According to one study, traditional concrete has been compared to self-compacting concrete made in part with agro-waste. This agro-waste concrete was composed of materials including tobacco waste, husk ash, cork, oyster shell and groundnut shell. This concrete mixture performed better in terms of workability compared to their counterparts. Such materials can be used as a fine aggregate replacement to as much as 20 percent.

When it came to mortar, adding bagasse ash appeared to increase resistance to chloride penetration and including cork resulted in improved cyclic performance and better thermal resistance. It appears that more research on the use of agro-waste continues on many different fronts.

Planning for a Sustainable Future with Agro-waste Construction Materials

The construction industry may be able to successfully deal with shortages in resources and increased prices for materials by looking at the potential of agro-waste construction products. Such products may offer practical solutions when it comes to long-lasting construction materials that are gentle on the environment and in some cases, such as with concrete, help reduce global carbon dioxide emissions when used as an alternative.

Everyone, from construction companies, agricultural interests, investors and homeowners should all be aware of sustainable agricultural waste products. These products, when used in various ways, construction being one, can not only help the environment, but potentially also the pocketbook.

This is a guest post by Gred Geilman President and CEO of South Bay Residential, manhattan beach CA 90266. Find him online, on twitter, on linkedIn, Facebook and Yelp


Greenhorns presents: GPS for Beginners.

This workshop will go over the basics of making online digital maps of farm properties using a combination of handheld digital devices (GPS or smartphone) and online satellite and other imagery. We will discuss the most efficient ways to use and combine and manipulate these sources. We will look at additional data layers that can be added to a digital map such as information about elevation, slope and aspect (which direction a slope faces) as well as soil maps, tax maps and historical maps. We will also review a few software packages that can assist in farm management and the process of importing our digital farm maps into their management environments. If time allows, we will go over the use of drones to build very high res maps of farm properties. 

Our teacher is Markley Boyer. Markley has made maps for the Wildlife Conservation Society of a new national park system in Gabon, and mapped the historic ecosystems of Manhattan Island for the book Mannahatta.

Class size is limited, scholarships available. $40 to register: office@greenhorns.org


Small Grains Report

posted June 4, 2018

In February 2016, Greenhorns hosted a group of innovators in small-scale grains projects at Paicines Ranch, California for a first-of-its-kind convening.

We brought together these 40 farmers, millers, bakers and food activists for the purpose of discerning the trends and needs of the local grain movement. Our aim was to support relationship-building and networking amongst these pioneers. We also hoped to draw some conclusions about the next infrastructural developments and investments needed by this emerging regional grains economy.

The group represented a broad cross section of this burgeoning sector, all of whom participate in develop- ing the supply chain for a regional grain marketplace. Meanwhile, the majority of US produced, mainstream grains and beans are grown for anonymous commodity markets. Farms are often 2000 acres and larger because the crops are high-volume but low value that privilege vast acreages and expensive large scale machinery. These barriers are part of the reason staple crops are late to lo- cal markets. Another reason is that they require intermediate processing facilities such as mills and malt houses, which disappeared as farming and food handling consolidated during the early part of the 20th century.

History of grain production in the US

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, agricultural technology, from seeds to machinery, advanced and grain farming consolidated in grain belts around the country (like Idaho/ Washington, California, North Dakota, Kansas). By the 1950s and 1960s, the only milling happening at a local and small scale was for animal feed. Consolidation of grain processing has resulted in near monopoly control by Cargill etc.. who operate plants across the country. Everything from seed to market is preset for this dominant system.

Rebuilding regional, and regionally owned, grain production means creating new infrastructure, like community and on-farm mills, on-farm and regional storage and distribution channels, and developing seeds suited to locales, as well as local agricultural knowledge. Beyond these basics, professional bakers and brewers need training. These professionals are used to the uniformity of commodity products. They also need education on how to handle the variations that occur when growing and processing on a small scale. Simple logistics of getting regional staples to regional users are challenging, as storage and shipping facilities need reinvention, too. It takes quite a multi-dimensional team to steward these crops seed to loaf and ground to glass.

The people gathered at the ranch are at the forefront of a growing interest in traceable, sustainably produced staple crops. The report is a summary of the characteristics of these farm and food projects and the discussions that occurred at the meeting. It is a record of the challenges and opportunities that exist in the emerging regional grains market.

View the full report here: Greenhorns Small Grains Report


swing into summer – greenhorns newsletter

posted June 3, 2018

Greenhorns,

With summer in swing we can take up our scythes to launch summer workshop season. Join us in mid June for the first sessions, spread the word about the series of summer camps and workshops (including blueberry camp!) see schedule and rsvp asap to office@greenhorns.org

This month we are looking for artwork submissions for the much anticipated fourth volume of the New Farmers Almanac, reflecting on the success of the Faith Lands gathering and reminding you of our much anticipated summer line-up!

SEND US YOUR ARTWORK!

We’re seeking black & white photographs, sketches, illustrations, picture essays, maps, natural world paraphernalia, and other original art for the New Farmer’s Almanac, Vol IV. Glance at an overview of themes here, or email almanac@greenhorns.org ASAP with your ideas, questions, sample work, and/or links to your portfolio.

FAITH LANDS

Greenhorns and our sister organisation Agrarian Trust recently collaborated to hold the successful Faithlands conference in California. We would like to sincerely thank the Globetrotter Foundation for generously supporting and Paicines Ranch for graciously hosting.

“The main purpose of the gathering was to explore the potential for lands held by faith communities to be placed in the service of the sustainable agriculture movement and beginning farmers in particular. Many of us left this gathering, however, feeling that something much deeper and more far-reaching had occurred during our three days together.”
– Robert  Karp, former Executive Director and current Strategic Advisor to the Biodynamic Association

Click HERE to read Robert Karp’s full reflection on Faithlands

Following on from the success of the gathering, Greenhorns will again be joining in partnership with the Presbyterian Mission and many others to sponsor this years Food Week of Action from October 14th-21st. The themes for this years week of action are:

Claiming Rights:  Claim the right to food and freedom from want, and end racialized systems of oppression.

Fair Compensation:  Demand fair prices for farmers, fishers and other producers, no stolen wages, and fair wages for everyone.

Food Sovereignty:  Resist harmful practices and policies, and build just and sustainable local & regional food economies.

Click HERE to learn more about Food Week of Action 2018.

SUMMER SCHEDULE DOWNEAST

Our full line up can be found on our events calendar online HERE

JUNE:

June 10th: Greenhorns Presents: GPS for Beginners – ONLY 5 DAYS LEFT TO REGISTER!!

This workshop will go over the basics of making online digital maps of farm properties using a combination of handheld digital devices (GPS or smartphone) and online satellite and other imagery. We will discuss the most efficient ways to use and combine and manipulate these sources. We’ll study additional data layers that can be added to a digital map such as information about elevation, slope and aspect (which direction a slope faces) as well as soil maps, tax maps and historical maps. We’ll also review a few software packages that can assist in farm management and the process of importing our digital farm maps into their management environments. If time allows, we will go over the use of drones to build very high res maps of farm properties.

Our teacher is Markley Boyer. Markley has made maps for the Wildlife Conservation Society of a new national park system in Gabon, and mapped the historic ecosystems of Manhattan Island for the book Mannahatta.
Class size is limited, scholarships available. $40 to register: office@greenhorns.org

June 15th: Greenhorns and Scythe Supply present: One day short course in scything.

Taught by scything legend (and neighbour farmer) Jim Kovaleski and Carol Bryan of Scythe Supply. You will learn to manage fencerows, roads, paths, lawns, orchards – all without motor noise! Find the optimal physics, the romance of the swing, and learn some small tricks for sharpening and blade maintenance. (If you are coming from away, plan to arrive the evening of June 14th)

No purchase of Scythe is required, but all equipment will be available for sale. The daylong course costs $20 for downeasters/
$40 from away, and includes camping, picnic lunch, use of outdoor kitchen.Email office@greenhorns.org to register

June 16th – 17th: Greenhorns, Appleseed Permaculture and Owl + Bear Tree service present: Trail building theory and practice workshop

Join 3 experienced trail-makers as we cover theory, tools, practices and implementation in a very beautiful Maine forest. We’ll cover siting and planning, tool-use, wet-area materials, underbrush and trail-edge management. Reading slope, topography, landform– what does the land want? How can we design a sensuous slalom, with just enough intervention and design? We’ll do some wildlife trailing and tracking, noticing how animals use the landscape, where do they congregate, over-winter, nestle-down. How does this relate to our own goals, for hunting, for under-story herbalism, for siting our pathways across the forest?

$25 downeasters/$60 from away for the two day course, includes all meals. Email office@greenhorns.org to register

June 30th: Greenhorns and Maine Seaweed Exchange present: Wild + Cultivated algae: Seaweed Workshop #1

Join Sarah Redmond to learn more about the the relationship between humans and seaweed over the course of history and explore what comes next. This workshop will included presentations, introduction to marine biology, commons resource management methods and more!

Farm lunch provided $200/Scholarships available. Email office@greenhorns.org to register.

JULY:

July 21st – 22nd: Friends of Liberty Hall and Greenhorns present: “Halls away Downeast” – A bus-tour of historic halls from Ellsworth to Eastport, Maine

AUGUST:

All of August: Greenhorns Presents: Blueberry Camp!

August 5th: Greenhorns Presents: Blueberry Wine Workshop

August 17th – 25th: Greenhorns Presents: Sail Training Camp – Downeast Foxfire with Arista Holden

SEPTEMBER:

September 7th – 9th: Greenhorns Present and Eat Local Eastport Present: Edible Wild Plants and Mushrooms in the Maine Woodlands and Wildlands – with Russ Cohen and Peter McCoy

OCTOBER:

October 13th: Greenhorns Presents: Wild fruit vinega! Making apple cider vinegar on a homestead scale.

Registration required for all classes and workshops, email office@greenhorns.org ASAP to register.


Severine speaks at the Slow Living Event

The Future of Farm & Food Entrepreneurship Summit 2018 focuses on growing conscious food and agriculture businesses, giving current and aspiring entrepreneurs the tools, resources, and mentorship needed to evolve businesses, create positive change in your community, and revolutionize the future of food. This year Severine will be speaking with Charles Eisenstein.

The Summit takes place in the non-traditional conference surroundings of Main Street, Brattleboro — a small community in southern Vermont, long renowned for its commitment to healthy, local, sustainable living and technology, for its vibrant communities of visual and performance artists, craftspeople, poets and writers, and for the diversity of its shops, restaurants and galleries. In turn Brattleboro is a gateway to the Green Mountains and Vermont.

Strolling of the Heifers, the organizer of the Summit, is a non-profit organization based in Brattleboro, with the mission of supporting and sustaining family farms and local food systems by connecting people with healthy local food. We do this through a variety of year-round programs. Best known is our annual Strolling of the Heifers Parade and Slow Living Expo, which takes place during “Stroll Weekend” immediately after the Summit. We also organize a Vermont Farm/Food Business Planning Competition, and we publish the annual Locavore Index ranking the 50 states in terms of their commitment to local food, and other projects and events.


flintsburg, the perils of privatization of water services

posted May 31, 2018

Dangerously high levels of lead in Pittsburgh’s drinking water

It has recently emerged that a lack of corrosion control in the water system in Pittsburgh has caused dangerously high levels of lead in the city’s drinking water. According to Dr. Marc Edwards, levels recorded in Pittsburgh are even higher than the levels recorded in Flint MI in 2015. A lack of corrosion control was the physical issue in Flint, as it is in Pittsburg. However, that the level of lead was allowed to get to such levels shows an utter disregard for the wellbeing of those affected. Government and private actors tasked to serve the people and provide basic and essential services have failed.

It is not surprising to learn that the private company behind the lead crisis in Flint, is behind the current situation in Pittsburgh. Vieola is the worlds largest private supplier of water services.

Unaccountable

The cities of both Flint and Pittsburgh have taken legal action against Vieola. Charges in flint include: “professional negligence and fraud. These actions caused Flint’s lead poisoning problem to continue and worsen, and created an ongoing public nuisance”. In Pittsburgh, the Water and Sewer Authority sued Vieola in 2016 for the sum of $12.5 million. Charges against Vieola include: gross mismanagement of PWSA’s operations, abuse of it’s position of trust and confidence, and misleading and deceiving PWSA.

Despite legal proceedings, Vieola has so far been able to avoid responsibility. In Pittsburgh both the city and Vieola are trying to pass the blame onto each other. Neither party is taking responsibility for poisoning those who they should be accountable to. After an extensive arbitration process Vieola and the city authority issued a joint statement . It said that neither party “admits or concedes any allegations or claims made”

In an era of increasing water scarcity and rapid urban growth, privatization of water services and resources is a global threat. Privitization can seriously undermine the democratic control and power of the people and the structures of the state. Recent events have shown that water privitization also puts the people at risk of being held hostage by unaccountable mega-corporations who have a monopoly on our most precious resource – water.

Read more in the Intercept HERE.


the first of the summer events – gps for beginners june 10th

posted May 29, 2018

There are less than two weeks to go before we kick off our jam packed summer events schedule in Downeast costal Maine! First up on June 10th is GPS for Beginners, led by Markley Boyer. This workshop will be particularly useful for agrarians, young and old who are looking to more efficiently use their land, as well as those interested in cartography and topography.
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a guide to sharing farm equipment

posted May 21, 2018

Faith Gilbert has just released her Guide to Sharing Farm Equipment, a 42-page guidebook intended for farmers, service providers, cooperators, and organizers of shared equipment pools. The guidebook covers a wide array of practical concerns for equipment sharing. It includes case studies, a review of ownership and management arrangements, financial considerations, annotated budgets, best practices, as well as much more to facilitate tool-sharing initiatives. It’s available for free online HERE and print copies are available by request from Letterbox Farm.

the coffelt farm on orcas island is seeking a farmhand!

posted May 16, 2018

The Coffelt Farm is an historic, diversified farm situated on 185 acres in pastoral Crow Valley. Farm operations include a certified raw milk dairy, a market garden, orchards, and a livestock operation which includes cattle, sheep, hogs, and poultry.

Here are the farmhand position details:
Duties and Responsibilities
  • Helping care for all livestock, including, sheep, chickens, beef, dairy cows, and hogs
  • Assisting with milking and bottling most days
  • Assisting with harvest of livestock
  • Helping to maintain facilities, equipment and tools
  • Participating in on-site educational activities
  • Participating in garden and orchard care
  • Helping with various other seasonal work (haying, etc.)
Personal Qualifications
  • Farm-related work experience
  • Strong commitment to the mission of the Coffelt Farm
  • Positive attitude and willingness to work cooperatively and take direction
  • Self-motivated
  • Able to perform physical labor in all types of weather
Compensation
  • $800-1000/month stipend
  • Basic housing (trailer)
  • Produce, milk and eggs and some meals

Click HERE to visit their website and please contact Sara Joy at: sjoypalm@gmail.com to apply.


bicimakina: biking across the US celebrating alternative uses for human-power

posted May 15, 2018

credit: bicimakina

 

You may be familiar with Farm Hack, started by Greenhorns founder Severine. Farm Hack is a worldwide community of farmers that build and modify their own tools (including a few bicycle based tools like the bike tractor). But have you heard about Bicimakina? Bicimakina is a community of makers, educators, and enthusiasts all joined by a common love of human-powered machines. Pedal-powered blenders and hand-cranked grain mills are just a few of the awesome machines that these guys have come up with. Their mission is to create a renaissance of interest and exploration into human-powered technology.

This fall, the Bicimakina team are leaving Oregon and heading across the US on an epic bike trip to find and interview other like-minded Human-Powered Machine users and builders. If you are one of these minded people get in touch with them and tell them about your project and they might just come to you! Their trip will take a year, and their exact route will be determined by the locations of the people who are going to be on the show but their goal is to do a full loop across the US.

Check out their website HERE