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Off topic: Grow salad in your window!
Thread poster: Charlotte Blank
Charlotte Blank  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:43
Czech to German
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Oct 16, 2010

http://www.windowfarms.org/

"Want to grow some of your own food but don't have a yard?
WindowfarmsTM are vertical, hydroponic, modular, low-energy, high-yield edible window gardens built using low-impact or recycled local materials.

You can grow up to 25 fresh live vegetable plants—lettuce, herbs, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, peppers, kale, small squash, edible flowers, and many more—in a normal 4'x 6' window in your home. That could be a salad a week."

This is the "lighter" side of this new way of growing plants but it is also a very serious issue:

http://www.verticalfarm.com/

"By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth's population will reside in urban centers. Applying the most conservative estimates to current demographic trends, the human population will increase by about 3 billion people during the interim. An estimated 109 hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by the country of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today. At present, throughout the world, over 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use (sources: FAO and NASA). Historically, some 15% of that has been laid waste by poor management practices. What can be done to avoid this impending disaster?"

And here's an article about all this (in German): http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6093959,00.html


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patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 23:43
Spanish to English
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And as October Oct 16, 2010

is vegetarian awareness month, it's worth mentioning that the vast majority of our crops (and water) goes to feeding livestock. I don't have the exact figures on hand but I do know that we could easily feed every living person on the planet if we used our farmland to better advantage i.e. cereals, beans, fruits and vegetables for people. Seriously, we can serve ourselves and the planet far better than this (not to mention the animals...don't get me started!).

Good post, Charlotte.


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:43
Spanish to English
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thank you to both Charlotte and Paty! Oct 16, 2010

I just found this on the Internet (knew to look because friends keep reminding me about this fact!):

According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.

I have a little land, but I have to share it with so many critters that everything gets eaten long before I can get to it! And the water used for irrigation evaporates quickly. So, when I have a few free minutes, I'll look into the hydroponic window idea.

Thanks again for sharing!

Patricia


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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Exactly! Oct 17, 2010

patyjs wrote:
is vegetarian awareness month, it's worth mentioning that the vast majority of our crops (and water) goes to feeding livestock.

Indeed! If you don't feel like becoming a vegetarian but are concerned about the amount of land we use, just reduce the quantity of meat you consume! Eating fully ovo-lacto-vegetarian dishes one or two days per week is a pleasure and reduces the load for the environment!

The true catastrophy is the fact that we eat more, more, and more meat!


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:43
English to Arabic
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It's a sad sight... Oct 17, 2010

Charlotte Blank wrote:

And here's an article about all this (in German): http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6093959,00.html


So that's what we'll have in the place of rolling fields of green. Obviously a lot better than the world going hungry, but still, what a sorry sight!


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:43
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Growing your food Oct 17, 2010

Ok guys. I wanted to share some thoughts about all this thing of "growing your own food".

Ok. I live in a country with lots of sun, lots of fertile soil, and in some areas enough water to grow lots of food. In fact, my country exports huge quantities of vegetables and fruit of all kinds to all over Europe. And all this food, I mean the food we export and the food we consume locally, is produced by 5% of the population. Thanks to farming machinery, it is no longer very hard work, but it is very tricky work.

I really doubt you can reasonably produce more than 3-4 kilos of vegetables a year in your window, basically for a number of reasons:
- Only warm countries have a reasonable growing season. Forget about it in Northern Europe. Vegetables not only need water, but also light and a reasonable temperature.

- Windows in cities only get sun for a certain part of the day. On the flat surface of farming land or green gardens, vegetables usually get enough sunlight for 8-10 hours a day in the summer. Depending from your building, the orientation of the window and what other buildings you have around, your window could probably get some 3-4 hours of sun... or no sun at all in most of the year.

- Plants need leaf surface to produce something: forget about eating more than three or four small tomatoes unless your tomato plant has at least a square meter of leaf space. Is your window much bigger than that?

- If your plants do grow nicely.... do you want to lose the view in your window?

Not every year, but many years I plant a 100-sqmt green garden, and can tell you that the produce we obtain from it is not much higher than 30-40 kg of produce in a good year. Does that feed my family? Of course not. It is merely testimonial.

As for growing produce on top of buildings, personally I think it is quite absurd. How many people live in a 5-storey building with 4 apartments each? Maybe some 50 people? How much space will you have for each neighbour? Ridiculous.

Now, if we are talking about is about health, culture, and reduction of the load to the environment by growing in the cities, I personally support the idea of converting big parks to big green gardens. Parks are beautiful, but they don't feed anyone apart from squirrels and black birds (actually black birds are great pest killers for green gardens).

Let's take Hyde Park, for instance. With 140 hectares (1,400,000 square meters), I reckon it could allow some 280 family-sized green gardens. 280 families with 5,000 square meters each could grow all their food for a year, by growing vegetables, eating some, selling some (to exchange for fish, rice, wheat, etc., milk, butter) and feeding some chickens and a pig each family. Now, what do we do about the other hundreds of thousands of families living in the area?

Now, honestly guys: let's let farmers grow our food. They are very good at it and they like what they do. Unless we live in the countryside, have a big piece of land, and have the time for it, we have no option to produce our food more than for the fun of it.

However, just think what damage are you causing by:
- Eating too much meat
- Drinking too much milk or eating too much butter and cheese
- Buying too much food that was produced 5,000 km away (or 1,000 km away, or 500 km away, for that matter)

OK, we all like orange juice, a bit of lemon in our soft drink, some of those lovely bananas, and sushi fished across the world every now and then, but if we have too much of that, we are directly destroying our planet.


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Colin Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:43
Italian to English
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I respectfully disagree... Oct 18, 2010

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
OK, we all like orange juice, a bit of lemon in our soft drink, some of those lovely bananas, and sushi fished across the world every now and then, but if we have too much of that, we are directly destroying our planet.


Um, no we're not, actually. If we do the above, then we're simply drinking orange juice, eating sushi etc. "Directly destroying the planet" would involve, at the very least, detonating a lot of thermonuclear weapons.

I could just as easily say to you that you're "directly destroying the planet" by using a computer and having an internet connection. You do know that those things are produced by polluting industries, right?

Sorry to jump down your throat, Tomàs, it's nothing personal; but I don't like being patronised. When I was an angry young man I was utterly anti-globalism and totally green, and I pontificated to all my friends on the evils of eating pineapples flown in from Ghana, etc. But you know, if you ask the Ghanaian pineapple farmers their opinion of this arrangement, they will give you a very short and blunt explanation.


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:43
English to Hungarian
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True catastrophy Oct 19, 2010

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

The true catastrophy is the fact that we eat more, more, and more meat!


Nope.
The true catastrophy is the fact that we produce more, more and more people, who eat whatever is edible to survive and produce more, more and more people!


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:43
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Indeed Oct 19, 2010

juvera wrote:
Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
The true catastrophy is the fact that we eat more, more, and more meat!

Nope.
The true catastrophy is the fact that we produce more, more and more people, who eat whatever is edible to survive and produce more, more and more people!

I agree in a way. But how can you suppress the natural desire of every person to have descendants? I think it is quite impossible. Having my two sons has been the best experience of my life and I wouldn't have agreed with any law prohibiting me from having children.


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Colin Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:43
Italian to English
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There's no point in worrying. Just do the best you can. Oct 19, 2010

Not wishing to appear pessimistic, but simply by continuing to exist we will eventually inevitably use up everything we have and be forced to colonise other planets. That's demonstrable for as long as population grows, which it will keep doing.

I just refuse to worry about it. So much of the Green "agenda" is geared towards scaring the crap out of us... why? What would be so bad about an Earth with a population of 500 billion, if they were all happy and enjoyed a better lifestyle than the average person does now? I live in a big city today, and I might only travel outside it every couple of months, or less. Even if I take a flight somewhere, it's to another city. So I don't see that my life would really change very much.

Obviously I know that trees are necessary etc., but something tells me that in the future we'll have worked out how to manage land a bit better. That's the problem with today's predictions of the future: they all fail to factor in future innovations, which are of course unknowable, and therefore they must all, necessarily, be wrong. There might be a breakthrough around the corner that can make space travel possible for the masses within a decade, for all we know.

[Edited at 2010-10-19 12:35 GMT]


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Thanks so much Oct 19, 2010

This is so funny, I was just researching hydroponics on my lunch break!
Universal consciousness...
GL


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Colin Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:43
Italian to English
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Well, I suppose it is funny. Oct 19, 2010

Laugh, drink and be merry... for tomorrow the world may not end after all...

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:43
Member (2005)
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I don't care about space... Oct 19, 2010

ryancolm wrote:
There might be a breakthrough around the corner that can make space travel possible for the masses within a decade, for all we know.

Personally I am not at all interested in space travel. Space is a huge, cold emptiness and I my interest for it is comparable to my interest for crossing the Gobi desert on a bycicle... nearly nil.

I think that the mothership we have to care for is right under our feet. Of course there will lots of innovations that will reduce the load on our environment, since reducing that load is important for a big part of the population and there will be money and fame for those who create new things. But I don't think we can rely entirely on the hope for future innovations: we must try to think twice when we buy things and make decisions for our daily lives.

As for trees, in fact trees is what we lack of in our cities, increasingly enslaved by minimalist, cement-and-metal city planners and landscapers. Soon you will have to go to the countryside to see a tree! Well, a living tree made of wood and leaves and not a metal imitation of a tree, that is.


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Colin Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:43
Italian to English
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What if the dystopia turned out to be a utopia? Oct 19, 2010

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
Personally I am not at all interested in space travel.


Neither am I. I was merely pointing out that a scientific breakthrough could change everything in the comparative blink of an eye. Suddenly we might be able to mine the Moon for some kind of miracle fuel and all our energy worries would be over. No more power stations on Earth, of any kind.


As for trees, in fact trees is what we lack of in our cities, increasingly enslaved by minimalist, cement-and-metal city planners and landscapers. Soon you will have to go to the countryside to see a tree! Well, a living tree made of wood and leaves and not a metal imitation of a tree, that is.


What city do you live in, exactly? I've thought about this, and I don't think I've ever been in a city that didn't have parks in it. Or tree-lined avenues. Or just trees, full stop. To paraphrase Ogden Nash:

I think that I will never see
A city that is without a tree.

Why are you so sure that soon I will have to go into the countryside to see a tree?
Why do you automatically assume a dystopian future?

[Edited at 2010-10-19 15:13 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:43
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English to Spanish
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The future is here! Oct 19, 2010

ryancolm wrote:
Why are you so sure that soon I will have to go into the countryside to see a tree?
Why do you automatically assume a dystopian future?

But the future is here! I don't know about Italy, but in Spain we are living an era in which every renovation of a street or square replaces proper big trees with bushes pruned in the form of trees, metal works, stone and cement.

For instance, I went to Seville last weekend, and the world-famous "Parque de Maria Luisa" looked like a thinning old-man's scalp! Less and less big trees for the last 20 years, as locals report. All because of some landscaper in charge of Seville's parks and who apparently does not believe in dense tree areas.

So the tree-less future I was announcing is here already.


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