In their article entitled Deepening Food Democracy, Jill Carlson and M. Jahi Chappell highlight an innovative new take on democratic rule, known as deep democracy that is being used to address the problems in the food system. In theory, deep democracy is a system of governance in which all voices must be heard in order to fully understand and act upon a current issue. Instead of rule by a simple majority, deep democracy is accessible to everyone. It particularly ensures that marginalized and minority populations are involved and heard in the process of creating policy and implementing change. No issue, even the most divisive, is off-limits, according to the authors: in smaller, local contexts there is less emphasis on winning or losing, less expectation that everyone will agree. Instead, say Carlson and Chappell, the deep democracy formats allow for all citizens to share knowledge and experiences and engage in valuable compromises that result in the best scenario for the most people.
So while vertical farm concepts are to be applauded, their construction deserves much more.
New York has been the focus of intensive urban planning, especially in relation to urban farming. Fantastic concepts have been designed that create imagery of giant lush vertical forests, and amazing futuristic spaces, all of which have a very distinct focus on the US city. Perhaps because of its chic nature, stereotypically trendy population and dense population, New York has become something of a Mecca for urban farm concepts.
What some designers are missing in the maze of bright greens and blues of stylish concept images, is that for some time now, New Yorkers have been making the most of their extensive rooftop space and creating their own ground up rooftop farming systems.
Ecosystems are continuously affected by disruptions of various intensities and frequencies. Deforestation is a long-term conversion of forest to agricultural or urbanised land, and the human impact of deforestation and global climate change causes severe damage to forest ecosystems (Krebs 2009; Harrison & Pearce 2000). Globally, many rainforest species are increasingly threatened due to deforestation, and even though they cover only about 7 % of the Earth’s land surface, they provide a habitat for approximately 50 % of all the known species on Earth (Casper 2010). Many of the species known to occur in tropical forests have local distributions, which makes them vulnerable to extinction if their habitat is lost (Krebs 2009).
Once again, sir, I thank you for your inspiration and interest in what we are doing!
This is only the beginning!
THE BASIC IDEA
I was searching for ideas on how to do the most good with the least amount of money, and thought that vertical gardening was a good way to help provide nutrition to “campesinos” who don’t own a lot of land. I wasn’t finding any examples of vertical gardening methods that produced food, until I came across your videos on YOU TUBE, and it was like “Eureka!” for me :
PET bottles stacked into a bottle tower can be recycled to set up a vertical kitchen garden at home. The bottle towers are used for container gardening of vegetables and herbs. How to build such a tower is shown in different steps.
Des bouteilles en PET, empilées dans une tour de bouteilles, peuvent être recyclées dans un potager vertical à domicile. Les tours de bouteilles servent à la production de légumes et herbes en récipients. Il est montré en étapes consécutives comment construire une telle tour.
Plastic bottles stacked into a bottle tower can be recycled to set up a vertical kitchen garden at home. The bottle towers are used for container gardening of vegetables and herbs. How to build such a tower is shown in different steps.
This video shows the efficiency and sustainability of a bottle tower garden. They can be installed against the wall of a house or along a hedge or a fence. The number of bottle towers has to be adapted for providing food security for the family all year long and year after year. It is a method applicable anywhere on earth, both in rural and in urban areas, e.g. on a balcony. It can be applied at the lowest cost to alleviate malnutrition and hunger.
APPLYING FOOD PRODUCTION IN BOTTLES AND BOTTLE TOWERS IN GUATEMALA
It is a perfect solution to teach people to reuse (recycle) what normally may be considered garbage, along with providing some sustenance and style at the same time.
The neighborhoods of the indigenous Mayan population around Solola, Guatemala, can use some decoration and color as well, because it has a way in getting people to take pride in their community, and not want to throw garbage on the ground.
I initially came down here to put in an irrigation system on an American friend’s land, but when children were constantly asking me for money, I began telling them “It is important for people to work for their money, to have pride in themselves”.
That’s when children began asking me for jobs. I started thinking about how different it was in Guatemala from the United States, where children normally don’t have to worry about working until they are at least teenagers.
So in the meantime, our project begun construction of an Outdoor Horticultural Learning Center, and we offered the harvests we had grown to a local kitchen for the young and elderly, and provided snacks to children in school.
It was only until very recently that we decided to shift gears and start constructing these bottle towers more full time.
The people in the town of Solola (and the next town over) are now gathering their own bottles, and we install the gardens for them, providing composted soil, canes or wire mesh, and seedlings.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
We are very excited about the way this development project for a poor rural community in Guatemala is progressing. It is potentially an example for the rest of the world.
The 3 guys working with me are indigenous members of the community and they receive almost double the normal wage to work in this project, along with lessons on how to use the internet, and other basic math and literacy lessons.
For me it is very important that development projects directly employ members of the community in order to empower the very people they are attempting to help.
Let us read attentively some paragraphs (or parts thereof) of the former posting on this blog (UN News) :
RIO+20: UN AGENCIES SAY TACKLING CHILD HUNGER CRUCIAL TO ACHIEVING ‘THE FUTURE WE WANT’ (June 28, 2012)
United Nations agencies today stressed the need to tackle child hunger and undernutrition in the pursuit of sustainable development, highlighting a joint initiative (REACH) that offers practical and effective approaches to combat this problem in the most affected countries.
Under the REACH initiative, the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have committed to a renewed effort against child hunger and undernutrition.
…the main causes of child undernutrition – food insecurity, poor health and inappropriate care – are all known and preventable.
… governments and other actors know why nutrition interventions are necessary and there is evidence for what works, when and where.
“The greatest challenge, however, is how to scale up programmes so that they can have a real impact, and this is where the REACH approach can provide direction,”
The whole idea is to share knowledge to come up with good projects that really tackle the issues and do it in a very un-bureaucratic way.
Now, let us understand the essence of this message :
Acknowledging the need to tackle child hunger, WFP, UNICEF, FAO and WHO have committed to a renewed effort : the REACH initiative.
Seemingly, the main causes of child hunger and malnutrition are all known and preventable.
All key actors know why nutrition interventions are necessary.
They all know what works, when and where.
Remains to scale up their programmes with direction provided by REACH, so that they have a real impact.
Therefore, the key actors will share knowledge (un-bureaucratically) to come up with good projects that really tackle the issues.
As we all know what works, when and where, it seems to me that we do not have to share a lot of knowledge for years, not even for months. We even know what to do today.
We do not have to scale up existing (expensive ?) programmes, in order to have a real impact. On the contrary, we should use the available resources and means to replace those huge, but rather inefficient programmes by a multitude of very efficient small projects (an advice already given since decades).
We can use the lessons learned from the best practices to come up with good projects that really tackle hunger and malnutrition.
Let us follow Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s advice and join our efforts to promote small-scale farming, in which women play a very important role, at the largest scale. It has been shown over and over again that all the women of this world can become “experts” in food production, simply by offering them a small kitchen garden for their family (see UNICEF’s project on family gardens in the Sahara desert of S.W. Algeria).
If it has been possible in the past to provide fresh food in a sustainable way to thousands of people living in the desert, and this within the shortest period of some months, it should be possible for WFP, UNICEF, FAO and WHO to REACH a consensus over good projects for urban gardening, family gardening, container gardening, vertical gardening and other successful techniques of which we all know the lessons learned very well (see sack gardening in Nairobi and in the refugee camps of Dabaab).
May these international organizations work hand in hand with the national governments and other key actors, like the NGOs, to find the best lay-out for such good gardening projects, directly profitable for the hungry and malnourished children.
Hopefully, they will agree to do this in “a very un-bureaucratic way“, because “TACKLING CHILD HUNGER IS CRUCIAL TO ACHIEVING ‘THE FUTURE WE WANT’ “.
Let us read again attentively the former posting on this blog :
“WITH HIGH FOOD PRICES SET TO CONTINUE, UN AGENCIES ISSUE CALL TO ACTION” (New York, Oct 10 2011 10:05AM)
Let us first underscore the main issues :
A flagship report states that “small, import-dependent countries, particularly in Africa, are especially vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity“
The United Nations agencies working to combat hunger today called for action to ensure long-term food security.
Our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by half in 2015 are challenged.
“Even if the MDG were achieved by 2015 some 600 million people in developing countries would still be undernourished …………….. and suffering from hunger on a daily basis which is never acceptable“.
Therefore, “The entire international community must act today and act forcefully to banish food insecurity from the planet“.
My first question is : “Who are these 600 million people suffering permanently from hunger?“.
No one will deny that most of them live in the developing world, not in developed countries. We can deduce from it that the entire international community should concentrate its forceful actions to banish food insecurity from that part of the planet, where “small, import-dependent countries, particularly in Africa, are especially vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity“, not from the developed countries where food is even wasted.
Before thinking at reducing food waste in developed countries “through education and policies“, before thinking at reducing “food losses in developing countries by boosting investment in the entire value chain, especially post-harvest processing“, before even thinking at engaging in the combat of “high and volatile food prices, major contributing factors in global food insecurity“, the entire international community and in particular the United Nations agencies concerned should focus on the daily situation of the most vulnerable and poorest of those 600 million hungry or malnourished people.
It is my strongest believe that such a focus would clearly show that investment in the large-scale agricultural sector (to enhance food production and to improve “food security in the long run“) is not the sector in which we should preferentially “act forcefully to banish food insecurity“. On the contrary, if the number of hungry people has still been growing from 850 million to an estimated 925 million in 2010, our actions should be focused in the first place on the hungry themselves, not on those who have to subsidized and supported to produce efforts to improve food security in the long run.
My second question is therefore: “Shall we continue to invest in large-scale industrial agriculture, aiming at enhancing food export potentials to stimulate the economy, “incentives for increased long-term investment in the agricultural sector“, or shall we really act forcefully to help the hungry people and their malnourished children to at least one decent daily meal ?“
With 925 million hungry people in 2010, the international community can not afford to consider actions that would possibly improve food security in the long run. Time has come to start as soon as possible actions that offer ALL THE HUNGRY PEOPLE, WHEREVER THEY LIVE, a chance to produce their own fresh food.
Maybe you belong to that group of people who think that such a world initiative is totally impossible ? Well, open your eyes widely and look at what is going on all over the world today. People who can’t afford the high food prices, the hungry of this world, are waiting no longer for the aid organizations to offer them food, they start growing fresh food themselves, in different ways, in different places, with minimal means, but with maximal results :
Allotment gardening (the Victory gardens of the hungry people during the two World Wars 1914-1918 and 1940-1945, but still a growing success at world scale, especially now).
Container gardening at home (in recycled, discarded pots, bottles, buckets, barrels, gutters, in a small yard, on the balcony, on the deck, …).
Sack gardening (multi-storey gardening like in some refugee camps).
Urban gardening (in open spaces, replacing weeds by vegetables, rooftop gardening, …).
Vertical gardening (on racks, on trellises, against walls, on stairs, in bottle towers, …).
Even guerilla gardening in the cities !
Denying this multitude of splendid successes booked by the hungry people themselves is refusing to recognize that inexpensive, but very efficient solutions are at hand to save the lives of millions of children and unfortunate people. Why aren’t we giving them a helping hand at almost no cost ? Why would we invest in the far future, if we can offer them a more decent life today ? Making people healthier and stronger is also a form of investment in the far future !
It suffices to look at the evidence of thousands of already published photos and videos, illustrating the efficiency of all these simple gardening methods, applied by the most vulnerable people without consistent help of the international community, to realize what the effect could be of a possible UN-supported program to offer every single hungry family a small kitchen garden (see my photo above). It should not remain a dream.
Let the UN agencies not offer them A FISH anymore, but teach them HOW TO FISH ! For food security can better be achieved by the hungry themselves, if only we decide to give them that helping hand.
Their nice dinner menu is figuring the gardening techniques mentioned above.
In the battle against desertification and hunger, soil and water are generally the most difficult factors to manage. In most drought-affected and desertified regions, soils are often sandy or stony, poor to infertile. Water is generally the limiting factor for plant growth. These tightly linked factors limit the production potential for food crops and fodder as well as improvements from afforestation or reforestation efforts.
Traditionally, when speaking about agriculture and horticulture in the drylands, one normally associates such initiatives as:
Improving soil conditions with either the use of fertilizers, manure, compost … or with the application of permaculture.
Assuring the availability of sufficient quantities of water through the use of wells, drip irrigation, canals, sprinklers… or through the application of water absorbent soil conditioners, such as TerraCottem.
Most often, farming and gardening are seen as an activity performed at the horizontal level – whether on a certain parcel of land or on terraces. It is the exception that farmers are thinking of growing crops in a vertical setting – in a “vertical garden“.
There are important benefits to vertical farming or gardening that provide a number of remarkable advantages:
Less dependency on soil qualities.
Fewer irrigation problems.
Improved potential to optimize growing conditions.
Easier resource management.
Vertical Farming or Gardening in PVC Tubes
One of the earliest examples of ingenious vertical farming I encountered was performed by Prof. WANG Tao in Beijing (P.R. China). She used PVC tubes with a diameter of 6″ or 8″ (15-20 cm), standing upright nearly 2 meters high, 10” (25 cm) apart – like poles in a rack.
The tubes, filled with potting soil, were perforated in a spiral with the perforations being 1-2” (2,5-5 cm) wide. In each perforation (hole in the wall of the tube) where a garlic bulb or a clove had been planted, there developed a cluster of roots in the tube’s potting soil.
The new garlic plants were growing on the outside of the tubes with all new bulbs sitting quite closely to one another. Remarkably, each tube was completely covered with growing garlic plants. Irrigation was very efficient. Water was simply poured into the top of the tube and could percolate slowly through the tube – keeping the soil within the cylinder completely moistened.
With a minimum of water, a maximum amount of soil was kept humid for a longer time. Evaporation was limited to the top of the tube and to each of the narrow perforations. Moreover, all surplus water, running through the whole tube, was collected in a bucket at the bottom of each “tube garden”. During the percolation process, water became loaded with dissolved nutrients from the potting soil. Recycling occurred by pouring the bucket content back again into the tube.
As each tube was almost fully covered with growing young garlic plants, the overall view of such a vertical garden rack of tubes was truly magnificent.
The extraordinary advantages of such a “vertical garden” are:
Maximal plant production within the smallest surface area (footprint): e.g. several hundreds of plants on only one square meter.
Significant saving of irrigation water and nutrients.
Vertical farming or gardening techniques could easily be promoted by development organizations as a low investment method with a high return-on-investment (ROI).
Vertical Farming or Gardening in Soda Bottles or Pots
Considering that the greater majority of dryland populations cannot afford PVC tubes, I decided on a set of experiments utilizing plastic soda bottles and pots. Most developing countries are experiencing increasingly greater volumes of environmental pollution from this form of litter. By creatively recycling discarded containers, I have been successfully growing a number of different crops and saplings in individual bottles and pots, e.g. yogurt pots (see links below).
Having sufficiently demonstrated that one can easily and successfully grow a variety of food crops in individual containers, evolved the idea of stacking individual bottles or pots to form “towers”.
This farming/gardening solution – growing vegetables and herbs in small “window-like openings” in the sidewall of recycled bottles and pots – has the potential of becoming a simple, but effective tool for environmentally-challenged dryland people. The process is basic, uncomplicated and easily understood. The footprint is compact with important resource conservation benefits. Watering the entire tube-like “tower” of 4-5 bottles through one single “water-tank bottle” on top of each tower offers impressive water savings and conservation.
This water-saving, efficient tower arrangement offers anyone on earth the possibility of growing fresh food on an extremely limited surface, e.g. 4-5 lettuces on one single bottle tower.
To learn more about the way I have been setting up the “bottle towers” with my Belgian friend Gilbert VAN DAMME, please have a look at:
Vertical Farming is a great idea with the help of which one can minimize the land usage while still feeding the masses. It is not difficult to adopt this idea; just find a fertile urban land, create blocks through concrete and glass and then start farming the vegetables, pigs, fruits, poultry, and fish on it. All this will be happened in a structured and controlled environment. Surely, you will be interested in Vertical farming advantages and disadvantages, for you I’m going to explain both .
You probably know I’m not the actor Gene KELLY, that’s why I’m not dancing and singing in the rain, but in the drought.
The reason for my optimistic mood today is quite simple : there are so many remarkable reports published on successful, sustainable, cheap, efficient methods and techniques to grow fresh food in containers, in family gardens, in allotments, in community gardens, in vertical gardens etc., that I get the strongest believe that everyone, every family, every community living in the most harsh environments in Africa, Asia and South America, can definitely ban hunger and malnutrition, with a little bit of help, of course.
That’s why “I’m dancing and singing“, just like Gene KELLY, not in the rain, but in the drought. And I hope that one day those one billion hungry people will dance with us.
The title song for that celebrated film musical Singin’ in The Rain (1952) was originally created by lyricist Arthur Freed and composer Nacio Herb Brown for MGM’s Hollywood Revue of 1929.
I couldn’t resist changing a few words to express “my glorious feelin’ ” about all those opportunities we have to offer hungry and malnourished children and adults a better life. So, here I go :
“I’m singing in the drought Just singing in the drought What a glorious feelin’ I’m happy in thought I’m laughing at skies So bright up above The sun’s in my heart And I’m ready for love Let the stormy clouds chase Everyone from the place Come on with the drought I’ve a smile on my face I walk down the ford With a happy thought Just singin’, Singin’ in the drought”
You get me ? Let’s dance and sing together, because “with a little help of my friends” (Ringo STARR) we can make this world better.
“Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends, Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends, Oh, I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends.”
Forget the billions of dollars for long-term food aid. Keep those for emergency cases.
And with a little help of our friends, let’s teach those people in need how to grow vegetables and fruits in containers, buckets, used barrels, pots, whatever can contain some potting soil.
Because we will really help them towards sustainable development !
Do we still have to be convinced that there is an urgent need for assisting the millions of people suffering from drought, malnutrition, hunger and famine in the Horn of Africa ? Who could deny that there is an urgent need of humanitarian assistance for them ?
A financial gap to respond to this emergency has still to be closed. That explains Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s appeal on many top officials described in my former posting on this blog.
I am convinced that Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s voice will be heard and that in the weeks, maybe months to come, sufficient humanitarian aid will be provided. However, many children and adults will not survive this catastrophe. Those who will be more lucky, will try to stay alive for a number of years, until a new catastrophe will come.
And then, the same old story will happen again ! Because emergency aid, noble as it is, will never change a thing at the causes of those catastrophes. So, it makes me sad that all those noble humanitarian aid actions will have to be repeated, some day, somewhere, etc, etc., etc.
Tired, after a busy day taking care of my dear wife, who had a brain stroke and remained paralyzed already for 3 years now, I wanted to go to bed for a good night’s rest, when slowly I closed my eyes in front of my computer and started dreaming.
I heard Mr. Ban Ki-moon pronouncing a beautiful speech about the urgent need to use all necessary funds for a worldwide application of the well-known successful methods and techniques to produce food crops with a minimum of water in all the drylands of this world. Very well informed, the Secretary-General described a number of these “success stories”, thereby reconfirming the important role of smallholder farmers and women. He spoke about successes in dryland management, soil conditioning, water harvesting, permaculture, agroforestry, container gardening, free distribution of seeds of drought-tolerant plants, nurseries of drought-tolerant fruit trees, school gardens, allotments in the cities, vertical gardening and many “best practices” more.
At the end of his speech, Mr. Ban Ki-moon made clear to the audience of world leaders and directors of the agencies and organizations, that the most urgent objective to achieve will be to use our knowledge and skills to ban the hunger from this world in the shortest time, not by bringing food to the hungry, but by teaching them how to grow fresh food themselves, rural and urban people all the like.
What I then heard was filling my heart with great joy : a deafening applause.
That heartwarming noise was waking me up, sitting still in front of my computer, and although even more tired, I decided to tell you about my dream.
For today, that’s all folks ! But I will keep on dreaming, because the day will come …
The current 3.3 billion global urban population is expected to grow to 5 billion by 2025… Today our agricultural footprint is the size of South America…what will it be tomorrow…
EDITT Tower (“Ecological Design In The Tropics”) is being built in Singapore with the financial support of the National University. The 26 story tower will have over half its surface area covered by organic local vegetation. Solar panels will generate up to 40% of the building’s energy demands, and human waste will also be converted into an energy source via an on-site bio-gas facility. The Architecture firm TR Hamzah & Yeang is constructing the building using recycled and recyclable materials when possible!
Needs funding to build dozens of micro gardens throughout the Strathcona neighbourhood and help turn this into the heart of the greenest city
We propose to create 20 to 30 community micro-gardens throughout the Strathcona neighbourhood. The gardens would be installed on private properties adjacent to public spaces in highly visible, underutilized areas.
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