Archive for the ‘Agriculture & Gardening’ Category

waterwise

Yes, we got record amounts of rainfall this week, for this time year. But no, the drought is not over. Not by a long shot. We probably used more water wiping the spots off our windshields than we received in the form of rain. Estimates for most parts of SLO County indicate something between one and two thirds of an inch fell on Tuesday, so drought conditions remain as severe as ever, and so there’s no better time than now to get waterwise.

If you haven’t already started taking fewer and shorter showers, please do. If you haven’t already removed your fuzzy green lawn, or at least let it whither away by natural causes, then what are you waiting for? These are simple steps we all should’ve taken by now, minor inconveniences to our lazy lifestyles. But there’s plenty more we can do, especially if you’re not enamored with that golden brown front yard of dead sod.

Master Gardener Mary Wootten is hosting a workshop on Waterwise Gardening later this month, June 25th, at the Paso Robles demonstration garden to provide creative tips on more efficient and socially responsible gardening strategies. Topics will include drought-tolerant landscaping, grey water recycling, and drip irrigation. With her waterwise words of advice, you can enjoy a beautiful garden without taxing our diminishing water tables. Workshops are free; check out the flier for complete details.

greenhouse

What could be a more appropriate use for salvaged wood than use in a recycled greenhouse? Once a thriving organism in its own right, timber rescued from wine barrels, barns, old doors and retaining walls can become a shelter for developing seedlings. A Place to Grow | Recycled Greenhouses recognizes the potential in scrapped wood and bestows upon the material a new life as an environmentally conscious greenhouse, shed, or outdoor studio space.

Operated by San Luis Obispo residents Dana and Sean O’Brien, the company prides itself in finding a solution to construction waste and creating beautiful bespoke structures. Dana boasts a finance degree from Cal Poly SLO, over 20 years as a government employee, and an active role in Habitat for Humanity. Sean graduated with a degree in computer science from Cal Poly, has been a software engineer for more than 25 years, and possesses a California contractor’s license. Together, the O’Briens created their business to pursue their passions for eco-friendly building.

A Place to Grow has been honored by the Martha Stewart American Made Contest, and has created greenhouses for Sage nursery in Los Osos and private residences up and down the Central Coast. For more information, contact A Place to Grow through their website, or email Dana at dana@recycledgreenhouses.com.

Lush, green, and hardy, bamboo sets the stage for the perfect garden getaway. When planted in thickets, the grass forms walls that provide privacy and quiet. When in clumps, bamboo is an excellent highlight to just about any backyard.

You already know who’s got the best selection of bamboo clothing and textiles on the planet, but Paso Bamboo Farm and  Nursery is the only place on the Central Coast where you will find timber and exotic bamboos ready to be planted in your yard! The Nursery carries thirteen different species that tolerate extreme temperatures and are available in 5, 15, and 25 gallon containers, or can be dug to order. The staff is also able to create bamboo installations for home and business.

In addition to growing the their beautiful specimens of bamboo, the Nursery holds educational talks throughout the county. The owners love to inform the public as to the remarkable qualities of the plant. Easy to maintain, bamboo is an attractive way to sequester carbon and filter the air. Able to harvested for  building material, craft, or textiles, the giant green stalks are as practical as they are ornamental.

Interested green thumbs are encouraged to visit the Paso Bamboo Farm and Nursery at 5590 North River Road in Paso Robles. For more information, head over to their official site and discover a world of versatile, verdant bamboo!

Industrial Hemp

For decades, farmers and environmental activists have been trying to legalize nonpsychoactive hemp for cultivation in California. The plants require far less water and fertilizers than cotton, need no herbicides or pesticides, and produce fibers that can be used in everything from paper to clothing. The crop can renew itself every 90 days, making hemp and excellent natural and biodegradable material. Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 566 into law allowing hemp to be grown domestically. California joins nine other states and over 30 countries in its decision to raise hemp. Already a $500 million industry in the state, California will now no longer have to rely upon importing hemp to support manufacturing demand.

The bill was introduced in 2005 by Senator Mark Leno. Since its initial proposal as HR 32 in 1999, the legislation was vetoed  four times by three different governors. Governor Brown struck down the bill in 2011 citing a gap in state and federal policies, although he acknowledged it was “absurd” that the state had to count on Mexico and Canada to provide hemp. With his approval, farmers will now be able to raise “nonpsychoactive types of the plant Cannabis sativa L. and the seed produced therefrom, having no more than 3/10 of 1 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in the dried flowering tops.”

“I have great confidence in a recent statement by Attorney General Eric Holder,” Leno told the SF Bay Guardian. “He’s said that if a state puts into place a legal allowance and regulatory scheme, that the federal government would not interfere with marijuana. Now, we need clarification between hemp and marijuana, but there’s no sensical way that that could be interpreted that hemp is excluded, given that hemp’s not a drug.”

Bambu Batu offers a few hemp items in the shop, but looks forward to seeing more sustainable, locally-grown fibers on the market!

What could be a more appropriate use for salvaged wood than use in a recycled greenhouse? Once a thriving organism in its own right,timber rescued from wine barrels, barns, old doors and retaining walls can become a shelter for developing seedlings. Based right her on the Central Coast, A Place to Grow recognizes the potential in scrapped wood and bestows upon the material a new life as an environmentally conscious greenhouse, shed, or outdoor studio space.

Operated by San Luis Obispo residents Dana and Sean O’Brien, the company prides itself on finding a solution to construction waste and creating beautiful bespoke structures. Dana boasts a finance degree from Cal Poly SLO, over 20 years as a government employee, and an active role in Habitat for Humanity. Sean graduated with a degree in computer science from Cal Poly, has been a software engineer for more than 25 years, and possesses a California contractor’s license. Together, the O’Briens created their business to pursue their passions for eco-friendly building.

A Place to Grow has been honored by the Martha Stewart American Made Contest, and has created greenhouses for Sage nursery in Los Osos and private residences up and down the Central Coast. For more information, contact A Place to Grow through their website, or email Dana at dana@recycledgreenhouses.com.

Luffa sponge

 

For a lovely lather, nothing beats a luffa. Whether you are washing yourself, your car, or a sink full of dishes, the dried plant makes a fantastic sponge. Organic and free of any synthetic material, the luffa is a great alternative to scrubbers made from foamed plastic polymers (and makes a perfect companion to your trusty bamboo washcloth!) If you have ever wondered how and where these household items are raised, take a trip down to Nipomo’s Luffa Farm. There, you can take a tour of the greenhouse where the plants are grown, view the production process, and meander through the gardens where the herbs for the farm’s bath products are cultivated.

The Luffa Farm began as an informal hobby of the owner who would establish the vines on small plots of land everywhere from Northern California to Missouri. In 1999, she moved down to the Central Coast along with a collection of heirloom luffa seeds. Thinking that she could grow enough to display her luffas at a local drugstore, she began raising luffas in a greenhouse on her property. Once word spread about the quality of her products, curious locals and tourists began to drop in to her farm. She began to offer tours of her operation, and visitors are welcome to learn a little about the luffa two days a week.

The Nipomo Luffa Farm currently grows and harvests over 6,000 luffas every year. The owner promises the softest and most luxurious sponges you have ever felt. The luffas are machine-washable, durable and biodegradable. The Luffa Farm is open to the public Wednesdays and Sundays from 10am to 4pm and located at 1457 Willow Rd. in Nipomo. Products are available for sale at the farm or online.

 

Organic cotton parody shirt

 

 

Whatever happened to the good old days when deciding what to eat didn’t have to be a political statement or involve enough research to qualify for a doctoral dissertation? Now, if you want to be sure that you are consuming food that is free of pesticides, genetic modification or the influence of big agribusiness, it’s necessary to be hyper-vigilant about what goes into your body. Among the major offenders to the environment, small farmers, and decency in general, is Monsanto, the maker of Roundup and a number of GMOs that have infected other crops, created superweeds, and potentially affected the health of millions around the world.

From its poisonous pantry of industrial seed stock, Monsanto boasts a wide variety of “Roundup Ready” crops — including soybeans, alfalfa, corn, sugar beets, canola and cotton — whose DNA has been altered to withstand heavy doses of their own trademarked herbicide. This allows farmers to spray their fields with toxins, eradicating the weeds and  leaving behind nothing but their cash crop, albeit laden with Roundup®. These Roundup Ready crops grow prolifically in the United States, although they have been banned throughout the European Union and much of South America.

Here at Bambu Batu, we like to wear our hearts on our sleeves and our convictions on our shirts. We are now featuring a proudly organic (and non-GMO) cotton t-shirt that cheekily proclaims, “Roundup: Its whats for dinner!” For each shirt we sell, we will donate one dollar to Millions Against Monsanto, run by the Organic Consumers Association. The front side sports the chemical composition for glyphosate, the weed-killer sold as Roundup®.

Make a strong statement by using a little sense of humor! Start a conversation and a revolution to take back control of our food supply. Roundup may be what’s for dinner, but Monsanto will get their just desserts.

NOTE: Although our parody of Monsanto is protected by the Fair Use Act, we have opted not to list this t-shirt on our website, due to biotech behemoth’s notoriously aggressive legal practices, regardless of what side of the law they are on. Please contact us directly to order a “Roundup” shirt, and we’ll gladly send one your way.

Modern man has been awful rough on the oceans. With climate change acidifying the seas, and through overfishing, pollution, dead zones and resource extraction, humans have done an amazing amount of damage to the world’s aquatic ecosystems. Brendan Smith encountered many of these challenges as a commercial fisherman. After realizing that most current fishing practices were unsustainable, he decided to settle in Long Island Sound and raise oysters. As of last year, he integrated kelp into his practices, creating a 3D farm that could take advantage of the entire water column. Once he added the green-blue algae, he found that the seaweed and shellfish had great economic and environmental benefits.

Now the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, Smith is looking to expand his 3D farm and educate others as to the applications of kelp and shellfish. Known as the “rainforest of the sea”, kelp is able to capture an incredible amount of carbon at almost five times that of land based plants. His 2o acre farm alone can sequester up to 134 tons a year. Seaweed and oysters can also filter out nitrogen which is the main cause of dead zones created by agricultural runoff. His Thimble Island Oyster Co. farm sucks up 164kg of nitrogen annually, purifying the water and converting the nutrients into a healthy source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Kelp also possesses the added bonus of being a terrific feedstock for biofuel. According to the US Department of Energy, a kelp farm the size of Maine could potentially produce enough algae to replace petroleum for the entire country. Farming kelp has the ability to jump-start what Smith describes as a “Blue-Green Economy” that could not only help to repair damaged ecosystems, but create valuable jobs and revamp a crumbling infrastructure. Instead of drilling and contaminating the water supply, why not take advantage of natural processes that allow life to flourish?

Farmgram SLO

Local CSAs are a great way to eat healthy, support local farmers, and renew a connection with the land. However, what happens if you run out of ideas for all of those veggies? Often times, too many pieces of produce end up rotting in the compost bin because you either have no clue what to do with them, or cannot bear to look at the same ingredient for the third week in a row.

Farmgram San Luis Obispo is a project designed to deliver fresh food from the county as well as provide ideas and directions on how to use them. Each box follows a theme, such as the “breakfast box”, “juicing box”, or “meals with friends box”. In addition to vegetables and value-added items such as eggs, nuts, honey, or bread, the Farmgram comes with a chef’s recipe, starter kits for projects, and discount coupons. The canvas boxes are delivered directly to the home or office, making grocery shopping a breeze. Buying a Farmgram also helps those in need with funds each box sold used to donate fresh produce to hungry families in San Luis Obispo.

The project was started as a collaboration between three 5th year Seniors at Cal Poly. The trio hopes to encourage customers to learn new ways to enjoy the agricultural heritage of their homes, bolster local businesses, and promote food culture across the county. The Farmgram project is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, and is looking for donations to get off the ground! A pledge of $35 will secure you the first pre-order box. Contribute now to go on a culinary adventure that is good for the body, community, and creative spirit!

Oh, honeybees! Forgive me for a moment while I extoll the virtues of the this humble insect. These hard-working ladies accomplish so much to contribute to human well-being. Aside from pollinating our crops and producing the miracle elixir that is honey, scientists have also found that bee venom can contribute to destroying HIV. Yes, that is correct, nanoparticles found in their naturally occurring compound can help to cure one of mankind’s most pressing medical catastrophes. So, in case it wasn’t enough to honor these brilliant bugs for their contributions to health, you may be surprised to learn how honeybees are working towards ensuring our collective safety.

Some very out-of-the-box scientists in Croatia are training honeybees to detect landmines. It may sound ridiculous at first, but upon further reflection, a tiny flying creature with a fantastic sense of smell might just be the perfect tool to identify the location of such destructive and sensitive weapons. Researchers from Zagreb University have developed a method of using a sugar solution laced with TNT to condition the bees to recognize the chemical signatures of the landmines. Nikola Kezic, the lead scientist of the project dubbed “Tiramisu” has high hopes for his hives. Weighing less than rats or dogs who have also been taught to search out the underground explosives. the bees have the potential to find the mines without setting them off.

During the Balkan wars, 750 square kilometers were laced with 90,000 ballistics without a set pattern or legend. Since the beginning of the conflicts in 1991, over 2,500 have perished from landmine explosions. For a country that is set to enter the EU this summer and one that hopes to maintain the safety of its population, any tool in its efforts to rid the country of the scourge of its turbulent past can be seen as nothing if not a step in the right direction. Croatia would like to become a tourist destination, and using the bees to make certain an area is safe for recreation could be an added reassurance. Now, if only we can return the favor to our winged warriors by reversing the colony collapse disorder brought about by climate change, pesticides, mites, and a host of other man made actions.

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