Category Archives: home & garden

Man Grows Citrus Year-Round For $1 Per Day With His Geothermal Greenhouse

Those who live in the Midwest United States understand how difficult it can be to eat local during winter. But for Russ Finch and his community, the task isn’t too difficult. A former mailman living in Nebraska, Finch designed a greenhouse that produces lemons, grapefruit-sized oranges, green figs, and grapes — all for just $1 a day. His magic trick? Geothermal heating.

Finch calls his structure the Greenhouse in the Snow. The original, which he constructed more than 20 years ago, is connected to his home. Finch specifically grew citrus in the greenhouse to prove that it’s possible. “Any type of plant we saw, we would put it in and see what it could do. We didn’t baby anything,” said Finch. “We just put it in and if it died, it died. But most everything really grows well. We can grow practically any tropical plant.”

NPR reports that the structure’s design is base don a walipini, or a pit greenhouse. The floor has been dug down 4 feet below the surface, and the roof has a slant toward the south to catch the sun’s rays. During the daytime, temperatures in the greenhouse can reach over 80 degrees F. At night, geothermal heat is relied on to combat the plummeting temperatures.

Only warm air is used to heat the greenhouse — no propane or electric heaters. Warm air is obtained from perforated plastic tubing that is buried underground. The tubing runs out one end of the greenhouse and extends in a loop to the opposite side. It is circulated via a single fan. “All we try to do is keep it above 28 degrees in the winter,” said Finch. “We have no backup system for heat. The only heat source is the Earth’s heat, at 52 degrees at 8-foot deep.”

Greenhouse in the Snow, Russ Finch, greenhouse, Nebraska, geothermal, sustainability, economics, low-cost, healthy eating, environment,

Because the 1,200 square foot greenhouse is not dependent on fossil fuels, energy costs are down to just $1 a day. Particularly in midwestern states, low energy costs matter. “There have been hardly any successful 12-month greenhouses on the northern High Plains because of the weather,” said Finch. ”The cost of energy is too high for it. But by tapping into the Earth’s heat, we’ve been able to drastically reduce the cost.”

Every year, the farmer grows a few hundred pounds of fruit which he sells at a local farmers market. His main business is selling the design for the Greenhouse in the Snow. A new version of his invention costs $22,000 to build. Finch says he has constructed 17 of them so far, throughout the United Statesand Canada.

Greenhouse in the Snow, Russ Finch, greenhouse, Nebraska, geothermal, sustainability, economics, low-cost, healthy eating, environment,

While Finch might not be able to supply a supermarket with the crops he grows, he can provide fresh produce to his local community. If more people in the rural midwest invested in greenhouses that rely on geothermal energy, carbon emissions from shipping fruit and vegetables all over the country would be reduced. This, in turn, would benefit the environment and people’s health as fresh, organically-grown food is more nutrient-dense and retains more flavor.

Zapisz

Zapisz

US Court of Appeals: States and counties can ban GMO crops despite federal laws

The entire organic community of the United States just won a massive victory that many may not yet even realize. Even though the DARK Act was passed by Obama and some Senate goons to prohibit labeling of GMOs nationwide, the US Court of Appeals just passed a law that enables states and counties to completely ban genetically engineered crops from ever being planted in the first place. Think about that for a minute. You see, back in the year 2000, Monsanto undermined all US organic and conventional farming by claiming that manipulating genomic material of plants did not introduce dangerous bacteria or even plant “pests” into the equation, but their noxious “Frankenfoods” prove otherwise. So biotechnology giants figured a way to not have their cancer-causing, Alzheimer’s-causing, pesticide-laden plants classified as a risk to the environment or humans. But now, none of that really matters anymore.

Thanks to the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals and their recent interpretation of the Plant Protection Act, all U.S. states, counties, and local communities can actually ban (or regulate) the planting of any and all commercially-grown genetically engineered crops, no matter what the feds or Monsanto claims about GMO.

Neither the Plant Protection Act nor the DARK Act can stop states and counties from banning the planting of GMO crops

Farmers with seed sanctuaries around the country are celebrating this huge victory because they know exactly what it means. No farmer in America who has any lick of common sense wants genetically engineered seeds that contain pesticides in their genetic makeup. It’s bad enough that 90% of US corn, soy, sugar beets, alfalfa, and canola are GMO, we don’t need biotech corporations controlling all seeds and crops. This new court decision sets a precedent and puts in place a powerful fulcrum for stopping Monsanto and Bayer in their tracks, literally. If they can’t plant and grow their Frankenfoods on our soil, they can’t ruin the surrounding environment that’s full of natural, healthy life either.

The court recognized the potential destruction to the environment and farmers from the widespread planting of Franken-crops citing well-documented concerns, including adverse economic impacts caused by transgenic farming on non-GE crops.

The reduction of biodiversity cited by the US courts as reason to limit GE crop planting

The Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals also recognized that “the cultivation of GE crops also may raise environmental concerns, such as harm to beneficial plants and animals caused by the increased use of pesticides sometimes associated with testing and growing GE crops, the proliferation of ‘superweeds’ and other pests resistant to pesticides, and the reduction of biodiversity.”

The court continued to protect organic farming rights for states and local communities throughout the United States, saying: “The regulation of commercialized crops, both of GE and traditional varieties, remains within the authority of state and local governments.”

Though the legislature left “field trials” of GE crops up to the nefarious USDA, as long as local and state authorities stand up for their newly declared rights to ban the planting of GM crops on their land, the organic world and conservation groups in general have won the “war” for clean food. Much like the victory celebrated recently by Sonoma County, California, when voters approved a measure to prohibit GE crops from being planted in their county (The Sonoma County Transgenic Contamination Ordinance), local and organic growers and producers nationwide have reason now to celebrate having power and control to protect Mother Nature and human health in general.

Organic farmers and consumers nationwide may have lost the GMO-labeling battle, but we just won the war – the one that bans the planting of Franken-crops! Now, at the local, county and state level, farmers and consumers can support organic crops right down to the roots, and that’s even more important than labels. It’s time to make sure everything you buy is local or labeled “certified organic.” Let’s all work together to put the finishing touches on this clean food movement.

US Court of Appeals: States and counties can ban GMO crops despite federal laws

How to Grow Tangerine Trees at Home

With its deep green foliage, tangerine (Citrus reticulata) is an attractive tree that grows well indoors in cool climates, outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8b through 11. Growing a tangerine tree from seed is an interesting project, especially for kids as the seeds germinate easily and develop into attractive trees. However, most tangerine trees grown from seed never grow large enough to blossom and develop fruit.

  1. Purchase tangerine seeds from a garden center or nursery. Alternatively, save the seeds from a fresh tangerine. Wash fresh seeds thoroughly as the sweet juices may cause the seed to mold.
  2. Fill a small pot with commercial potting mixture. Use a fresh mixture that contains materials such as compost, peat moss and perlite. Be sure the pot has drainage holes in the bottom, as poorly drained soil will rot the young seedlings.
  3. Water the potting mixture and then set the pot aside to drain until the mixture is lightly moist but not soggy.
  4. Plant two or three seeds in the pot. Cover the seeds with 1/2 inch of potting mixture.
  5. Cover the pot with clear plastic, or slide the pot into a plastic bag. The plastic promotes germination by keeping the potting mixture warm and moist.
  6. Place the pot in a warm location such as the top of a refrigerator or other appliance. Light is not important at this stage.
  7. Water as needed to keep the potting mixture moist, but not soggy. Never allow the mixture to become dry. Watch for seedlings to develop in about three weeks.
  8. Remove the plastic covering as soon as the seedlings emerge. Move the pot into a location with bright, indirect sunlight and room temperatures of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid direct sunlight, which may scorch the tangerine seedlings.
  9. Repot the seedlings into individual, 4- to 6-inch pots when the seedlings have a pair of true leaves, which are the leaves that appear after the initial seedling leaves. Continue to keep the potting soil lightly moist.
  10. Feed the tangerine tree monthly throughout spring and summer, using a liquid, acid-based fertilizer for rhododendrons or azaleas. Mix the fertilizer at half the strength suggested on the container.
  11. Repot the tangerine tree into larger containers as it grows, using a pot only slightly larger each time. The moisture in a too-large pot may cause the plant to rot. Alternatively, plant the tree outdoors in spring if you live in a warm climate.

Things You Will Need:

  • Small pot with drainage hole
  • Commercial potting mixture
  • Clear plastic or plastic bags
  • Individual pots 4 to 6 inches in diameter

How a hydroponic tomato garden inspired cops to raid a family’s home

The police report would claim it all kicked off at 7:38 a.m., but Bob Harte later thought it had to be earlier.

His 7:20 a.m. alarm had just yanked him awake. Got to get the kids — a boy in seventh grade, a girl in kindergarten — ready for school. Then he heard, like a starter’s pistol setting everything into motion, the first pounding on the front door of his home in Leawood, Kan., a bedroom suburb south of Kansas City. It was thunderous. It didn’t stop. Should I get up? Bob thought. Should I not? Sounded like the house was coming down, he would recall later.

Wearing only gym shorts, the stocky 51-year-old left his wife in bed and shuffled downstairs. The solid front door had a small window carved at eye-level, one-foot-square. As he approached, Bob saw the porch was clogged with police officers. Immediately after opening the door, seven members of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) pressed into the house brandishing guns and a battering ram. Bob found himself flat on floor, hands behind his head, his eyes locked on the boots of the officer standing over him with an AR-15 assault rifle. “Are there kids?” the officers were yelling. “Where are the kids?”

“And I’m laying there staring at this guy’s boots fearing for my kids’ lives, trying to tell them where my children are,” Harte recalled later in a deposition on July 9, 2015. “They are sending these guys with their guns drawn running upstairs to bust into my children’s house, bedroom, wake them out of bed.”

Harte’s wife, Addie, bolted downstairs with the children. Their son put his hands up when he saw the guns. The family of four were eventually placed on a couch as police continued to search the property. The officers would only say they were searching for narcotics.

Addie had a thought: It’s because of the hydroponic garden, she told her husband, they are looking for pot. No way, Harte said, correctly reasoning marijuana wasn’t a narcotic. And all this for pot?

But after two hours of fruitless search, the officers showed the Hartes a warrant. Indeed, the hunt was for marijuana. Addie and Bob were flabbergasted — all this for pot?

“You take the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, all the rights you expect to have — when they come in like that, the only right you have is not to get shot if you cooperate,” Harte told The Washington Post this week. “They open that door, your life is on the line.”

The April 20, 2012, raid would not furnish JCSO with the desired arrests and publicity (a news conference had already been planned for the afternoon). But it would cause considerable embarrassment. Not only were the Hartes upstanding citizens with clean records, they were also both former Central Intelligence Agency officers. And they were not marijuana growers. Rather, the quick-trigger suspicion of law enforcement had snagged on — it would later turn out — tea leaves and a struggling tomato plant.

 

The Hartes would eventually file a federal lawsuit against the county, city, and officers involved. And although a federal judge later threw out their claim, this week a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that the family could move forward in court. The decision has larger implications for Fourth Amendment litigation and legislation targeting badly behaving police officers.

The scorching judicial pronouncement blasted authorities for laziness and possible fabrication, the kind of overzealous police work that’s become a sometimes deadly facet of the drug war. And despite the sustained effort of the Obama administration to power down the law enforcement’s more quixotic battles with illicit substances, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has promised to reprioritize marijuana investigations. The Hartes case is a textbook reminder how that can be dangerous.

“Our family will never be the same,” Addie told The Post. “If this can happen to us, everybody in the country needs to be afraid,” Bob added.

The events leading to the raid began a year earlier, according to court documents. Starting in 1997, Sgt. James Wingo of the Missouri State Highway Patrol started pulling surveillance shifts in the parking lots of hydroponic garden stores around the state. The project’s logic, as Wingo explained in a 2011 letter to other law enforcement agencies, was that the stores “sell items that are consistently found in indoor marijuana growing operations.” As customers came and went, Wingo would note their license plate information and enter names into a database.

In 2011, Wingo conceived of “Operation Constant Gardener.” In his letter to law enforcement, Wingo stated he would “supply your agency with the names of these customers that are within your jurisdiction. This will give your agency two weeks to initiate brief investigation” to “obtain probable cause for a search warrant.” Then, per Wingo’s plan, the various agencies would all strike on the same day — April 20. Wingo chose the timing due to the date’s association with marijuana: It was a date “celebrated in that community much as we celebrate Christmas.” Wingo promised the operation would be a “significant media event.”

 

The first series of “Operation Constant Gardener” raids were successful, and 30 agencies participated in the roundups. Fifty-two “indoor grows” were seized, according to court records. “The media coverage was 99% positive,” Wingo noted in an email to the agencies.

There was demand for a repeat in 2012. Thomas Reddin, a sergeant with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, emailed Wingo five months after the first raids asking about more joint operations on the upcoming April date. Wingo admitted in an email he didn’t have enough “new contacts to justify a full throttle 420 operation.” But the State Highway patrolman offered to share the names he did have with the county. On March 20, 2012, JCSO received the names from the garden store surveillance.

Bob Harte was among them.

He had met his wife, Addie, in 1989, when both were working for the CIA. Ten years later, the family relocated to the Kansas City area to raise a family. Addie worked as an attorney with a local financial group. Bob stayed home and raised the children. Around 2011, he’d come up with the idea of trying to raise tomatoes, golden melons, butternut squash and other vegetables in a hydroponic garden in the family’s basement as an educational project with his son. The setup was small, just two parallel tubes of PVC piping with plastic cups of seeds and dirt under the lamps. And to gather supplies for the project, on Aug. 9, 2011, Bob and his two children piled out of the family’s Kia minivan in the parking lot of a gardening store called Green Circle in downtown Kansas City.

Wingo was watching from a parked car and noted the license plate.

Eight months later, as law enforcement continued to search every inch of their house for drugs, Addie sat on the couch, trying to explain to her son what was going on. “I had nothing, how do you explain that? They know I can’t protect them then,” she told The Post this week. “Sitting in your home, having your Miranda rights read to you, it’s absolutely surreal.”

The raid turned up no marijuana. Before leaving the Harte house, police would only say the family had been targeted and surveilled because marijuana “seeds and stems” had been found on the property. The police also suggested the couple’s son was smoking pot, and told the Hartes to take him to a pediatrician for a drug test.

In the year following the raid, Addie and Bob both struggled to come up with an explanation for why marijuana seeds and stems would have been at their home. The couple say they’ve never smoked pot themselves. There just wasn’t a sensible reason for the raid. The unanswered question began to eat particularly at Bob; previously calm and carefree, he stopped sleeping, and found himself mentally tripping down a rabbit hole of possible scenarios. Who were they dealing with here, he wondered. Was this a situation of corrupt cops or a setup? Or did a neighborhood teen drop some marijuana on their lawn walking by?

Addie, whose brother was a former New York City police officer, watched as her children became frightened just driving by the police station or seeing a patrol car on the road.

Finally, nearly a year after the incident, JCSO provided some documentation to the couple. Right away, they understood what had happened. On the official paperwork before the raid, investigators noted they had pulled the couple’s trash before the incident as part of the investigation. But the reports didn’t refer to “stems and seeds.” They referred to “wet glob vegetation.”

“As soon as we heard that, we knew it was my tea,” Addie told The Post, referring to a loose-leaf Teavana brand tea she drank regularly. “But it took over a year and about $25,o00 for a lawyer to figure out what had happened.”

There was more to learn about the pre-raid investigation.

Court records later indicated that after identifying the Hartes from Wingo’s tip, JCSO conducted three trash pulls on the house. On the first, April 3, the officers noted wet “plant material” but determined it was “innocent.” At the next two trash pulls — April 10 and April 17 — the same material was found again, but this time JCSO officers tested the material with a marijuana field test. The results came back positive, but the offices didn’t take photos of the results or send the material to a laboratory for confirmation. Instead, based on the Wingo tip and the two positive drug tests, JCSO applied for and was granted a search warrant for the April 20 raid.

In November 2013, the couple filed a federal lawsuit against the county’s board of commissioners, as well as the officers involved. The family claimed the raid was an unlawful search-and-seizure in violation of the 14th and Fourth Amendments. The suit, which asked for $7 million in damages, also argued law enforcement violated state laws including trespassing and abuse of power.

In December, 2015, U.S. District Judge John W. Lungstrum threw out the family’s case citing qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that shields officers from liability for otherwise lawful acts in the course of their duty. The Hartes appealed.

This week, the three judge panel — Carlos Lucero, Gregory Phillips and Nancy Moritz — ruled against the state, sending the case back to district court. The 100-page decision pushed back hard against the claim that police officers are immune from legal responsibility if they are just doing their jobs.
“The defendants in this case caused an unjustified governmental intrusion into the Hartes’ home based on nothing more than junk science, an incompetent investigation, and a publicity stunt,” Lucero wrote in his opinion. “The Fourth Amendment does not condone this conduct, and neither can I.”

The judge went on to question the department’s claim of probable cause for the raid — particularly on the issue of the supposedly “positive” field-tested tea leaves. “There was no probable cause at any step of the investigation,” the judge wrote. “Not at the garden shop, not at the gathering of the tea leaves, and certainly not at the analytical stage when the officers willfully ignored directions to submit any presumed results to a laboratory for analysis.”

Ed Eilert, a chairman of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners, did not respond to an email seeking comment on the decision.

The appellate win, if not successfully appealed, means the Hartes will be able to press their case in district court. Five years after the raid, the couple say they are committed to pushing forward especially if the challenge could impact the latitude law enforcement takes when conducting police work.

“The Fourth Amendment was not there when we needed it,” Bob said. “We want to restore that for future generations.”

 

source:www.washingtonpost.com

 

Meet The Woman Rescuing Fruit and Feeding Her Community

Currently, 40% of all food goes to waste in San Diego leaving one in five people in the city food insecure. Food insecurity means, simply, the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

Supermarkets dispose of too much good food, regular consumers waste groceries, and the erosion of environmental resources means that North Americans lead the world in food waste. It’s a depressing thought for sure. Luckily, YouTuber and activist Rob Greenfield’s new video may give you some hope.

Enter, Nita Kurmins Gilson, the woman bringing fresh fruit to thousands of San Diegans in need. In 2009, Nita learned that one in six people in her county were going to bed hungry. She also saw an abundance of fresh produce going to waste all over the city.

Nita connected the dots to be part of the solution for both food waste and hunger. She began by picking excess fruit from neighborhood trees and hand-delivered it to local food pantries. What started with “one woman, one box, and one car” has expanded to 300 volunteers, and together they have harvested over 100,000 pounds of fresh fruit.

Besides fruit trees, they also harvest excess crops from local small farms, and collect unsold produce from weekly farmers markets.

All to feed children, families, seniors, veterans, and the homeless in need. Nita also speaks to and educates the community about sustainability and food justice. She co-founded CropSwap with the mission to feed the hungry and reduce waste, and she’s doing an amazing job!

Meet The Dad Making A Sustainable Difference In San Diego

California’s drought may have ended but there is still work to be done. With the EPA running the risk of a full defunding under President Trump, research around water conservation is at risk. This is a critical moment for the people of California to save the valuable natural resource and create a more sustainable water ecosystem.

Californians waste too much water and the toll is being felt statewide. Water conservation may seem daunting but the process is rather simple. Reduce, reuse, and recycle water. If that doesn’t make sense, YouTuber and activist Rob Greenfield’s new video will break down just how easy it is.

Meet Brian Blum, a busy dad who uses water wisely by harvesting rainwater, and reuses it by sending the water from his washing machine and sinks to his garden. His house is run 100% by the solar panels on his roof, and he composts everything he can to increase the fertility of his land and keep waste from the landfill.

Brian wants a world where his daughter grows up experiencing the same beauty he did. His sustainable best practices are simple and routine but they ensure a happy, healthier earth.

Follow Brian’s example by making some small sustainable changes around your home. Save water. Reuse water. Look into solar panels. The earth will thank you for it.

Couple Builds Greenhouse Around Home to Grow Food and Keep Warm

With average January temperatures hovering around 27 degrees Fahrenheit, Stockholm, Sweden isn’t very pleasant to live in when you don’t have heating.

But for Marie Granmar, Charles Sacilotto and their young son, their environmentally friendly house-within-a-greenhouse is a true winter escape.

The “Naturhus” is a living home located near Stockholm, Sweden. Photo credit: Fair Companies

The couple recently gave Fair Companies a tour of their “Naturhus” (or Nature House) that’s surrounded by a 4-millimeter pane of glass that cost roughly $84,000 to install.

The Naturhus was built on the site of an old summer house on a Stockholm archipelago and was inspired by Swedish eco-architect Bengt Warne, who was also Sacilotto’s mentor.

There are many advantages of living in a greenhouse for this family. Sunlight helps warm the home during the day and residual heat is stored in the bedrock below the house. The roof deck can be used for year-round activities such as sunbathing, reading or playing with their son.

The environmentally conscious family is incredibly self-sufficient. They collect rainwater for household needs as well as for watering their plants. Kitchen and garden waste is composted.

Sacilotto, who is an engineer, even built the house’s sewage system. According to Fair Companies, “the sewage system begins with a urine-separating toilet and uses centrifuges, cisterns, grow beds and garden ponds to filter the water and compost the remains.”

And yes, because it’s a greenhouse, they also grow their own food such as tomatoes, cucumbers, figs, grapes and herbs that wouldn’t normally survive during the Scandinavian winter.

You might be wondering: Is it safe to live inside a glass greenhouse?

“It’s security glass,” Sacilotto told Fair Companies. “So in principal this can’t break. If it ever does, it will break in tiny pieces to not harm anyone.”

Take a tour of the Naturhus in the video below.

source

Zapisz

Zapisz

Zapisz