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4 Innovative Urban Farms Changing the American Landscape
There has been an explosion in urban farming initiatives across the country in recent years. All kinds of creative solutions have emerged in urban agriculture to feed the growing number of city-dwellers worldwide—from growing food in converted shipping containers to operating vertical farms out of abandoned warehouses and even repurposing swimming pools to become garden oases. Even some baseball stadiums like Boston’s Fenway Park are devoting space for stadium-grown grub.
And it's not just city centers themselves that have become sources of food production once again. Suburbs, where millions of Americans live, are embracing locally grown food as well. Here are four urban and suburban farms changing the American landscape:
It's a proposed 140 home, 230-acre development 20 minutes outside of Durham, North Carolina. It's part of a movement being called "agriburbia" or "agrihood"—agriculture projects integrated into suburban development plans. "Wetrock Farm offers a lifestyle connected to our roots," says the project's website. "The exciting new concept features a real community with high-quality homes, an organic farm and over 100 acres of preserved open space."
There will be hiking trails through forested land and picnic areas, and residents can volunteer for and learn from the lead farmer. The developers say the venture is a blend between the often ideologically focused intentional communities and a more traditional suburban housing development.
"There are co-housing communities out there that feature organic farming as an integral part of their model," developer Rick Bagel told Treehugger. "And there are conventional housing developments that include a farm as part of their master plan. As far as I know, though, we are one of the first conventional housing development that will include a weekly delivery of fresh, organic fruits and veggies grown on-site paid for through your HOA [Homeowners' Association] fees."
Eagle's Nest Farm
Students at Thea Bowman Leadership Academy, a high school in Gary, Indiana, developed a business plan and started a farm last year as part of an advanced business class that the charter school piloted. Now the venture has turned into a full-fledged chicken operation with a wholesale certificate of registration through the Indiana State Egg Board.
The entirely student-run project has been a huge success with each of their 17 birds producing between seven and nine dozen eggs a week. While a few eggs have been sold at the school, the vast majority are sold to a local grocery store—Local Organic Affordable Foods or LOAF, in neighboring Chesterton.
"The kids make every single decision for the business," teacher LaMario Richards told The Times of Northwest Indiana. "They feed the animals. They designed the packaging for the egg carton cover. They make the decisions regarding reinvestment of the money back into the business. They decide what products they want to expand to and any new markets. Any major decisions have to be brought back to the board of directors which consists of myself and Lynda Bodie.
"What I'd like the students to learn from this is what it takes to run a business. I want them to see that they have the ability to do that. I want them to understand about sustainable life. I'm not saying I expect them to be farmers but they need to know where their food comes from."
West Oakland Farms
The former chairwoman of the Black Panther Party, Elaine Brown, has made headlines in recent days for her ongoing efforts to turn a once-vacant Oakland, California lot into a bountiful farm that employs former offenders. The produce is going to a fine dining restaurant in town. But she doesn't plan on stopping there. Brown eventually wants to add "a juice bar, fitness center, grocery store and tech design space, along with affordable housing on the city-owned property under the umbrella of the nonprofit organization she founded last year, Oakland & the World Enterprises," reports KQED of Northern California.
“I’m not in the farm business,” Brown told Civil Eats. “I’m in the business of creating opportunities for Black men and women who are poor and lack the education, skills, and resources to return to a community that is rapidly gentrifying without economic avenues for them in mind.” She sees the venture as part prison re-entry program, part small business startup incubator and part community hub.
The Cannery Farm
The 100-acre mixed-use "farm-to-table community" includes a 7.4-acre farm, but that's not all. Also part of the "agriburbia" or "agrihood" movement, the site is located at the former Hunt-Wesson tomato cannery facility (hence the name)—a mile from downtown Davis, California. The planned community includes a total of 547 homes ranging from $400,000 to $1 million. If you can afford it, your residence will come replete with a 1.5-kilowatt solar system, bicycle parking and parking spaces wired for electric vehicles, and some home types can be upgraded to support net zero living, according to Curbed.
The Cannery drew thousands of visitors on its opening day in August, in which tours were given to prospective buyers and curious on-lookers. “The opening of the project marks a significant milestone for the city of Davis, with the former cannery site that closed over 15 years ago now representing a model development for other communities in terms of sustainability, aging in place, smart growth and incorporating a working farm into a new neighborhood," Davis Mayor Dan Wolk told the Daily Democrat. "The Cannery provides much-needed housing for families and seniors in Davis. I am very excited about the grand opening and look forward to it.”
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The supply chain that provides medical supplies to the world is favoring the U.S. and Europe, which are outbidding poorer nations for masks, gowns, gloves and ventilators during the coronavirus pandemic, according to NPR.
A garbage yard in Lucknow, India where plastic bottles are dumped before being sent to recycling. Abhimanyu Kumar Sharma / Moment / Getty Images
Scientists have engineered a mutant enzyme that converts 90 percent of plastic bottles back to pristine starting materials that can then be used to produce new high-quality bottles in just hours. The discovery could revolutionize the recycling industry, which currently saves about 30 percent of PET plastics from landfills, reported Science Magazine.
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Cabin fever is often associated with being cooped up on a rainy weekend or stuck inside during a winter blizzard.
In reality, though, it can actually occur anytime you feel isolated or disconnected from the outside world.
What is cabin fever?<p>In popular expressions, cabin fever is used to explain feeling bored or listless because you've been stuck inside for a few hours or days. But that's not the reality of the symptoms.</p><p>Instead, cabin fever is a series of negative emotions and distressing sensations people may face if they're isolated or feeling cut off from the world.</p><p>These feelings of isolation and loneliness are more likely in times of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/yes-covid-19-cases-are-rising-why-you-still-need-to-practice-social-distancing" target="_blank">social distancing</a>, self-quarantining during a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-a-pandemic" target="_blank">pandemic</a>, or sheltering in place because of severe weather.</p><p>Indeed, cabin fever can lead to a series of symptoms that can be difficult to manage without proper coping techniques.</p><p>Cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological disorder, but that doesn't mean the feelings aren't real. The distress is very real. It can make fulfilling the requirements of everyday life difficult.</p>
What are the symptoms?<p>Symptoms of cabin fever go far beyond feeling bored or "stuck" at home. They're rooted in an intense feeling of isolation and may include:</p><ul><li>restlessness</li><li>decreased motivation</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irritability" target="_blank">irritability</a></li><li>hopelessness</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/unable-to-concentrate" target="_blank">difficulty concentrating</a></li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irregular-sleep-wake-syndrome" target="_blank">irregular sleep patterns</a>, including sleepiness or sleeplessness</li><li>difficulty waking up</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/lethargy" target="_blank">lethargy</a></li><li>distrust of people around you</li><li>lack of patience</li><li>persistent <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/depression-vs-sadness" target="_blank">sadness or depression<br></a></li></ul>
What can help you cope with cabin fever?<p>Because cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological condition, there's no standard "treatment." However, mental health professionals do recognize that the symptoms are very real.</p><p>The coping mechanism that works best for you will have a lot to do with your personal situation and the reason you're secluded in the first place.</p><p>Finding meaningful ways to engage your brain and occupy your time can help alleviate the distress and irritability that cabin fever brings.</p><p>The following ideas are a good place to start.</p>
When to get help<p>Cabin fever is often a fleeting feeling. You may feel irritable or frustrated for a few hours, but having a virtual chat with a friend or finding a task to distract your mind may help erase the frustrations you felt earlier.</p><p>Sometimes, however, the feelings may grow stronger, and no coping mechanisms may be able to successfully help you eliminate your feelings of isolation, sadness, or depression.</p><p>What's more, if your time indoors is prolonged by outside forces, like weather or extended shelter-in-place orders from your local government, feelings of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety" target="_blank">anxiety</a> and fear are valid.</p><p>In fact, anxiety may be at the root of some cabin fever symptoms. This may make symptoms worse.</p><p>If you feel that your symptoms are getting worse, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can help you understand what you're experiencing. Together, you can identify ways to overcome the feelings and anxiety.</p><p>Of course, if you're in isolation or practicing social distancing, you'll need to look for alternative means for seeing a mental health expert.</p><p>Telehealth options may be available to connect you with your therapist if you already have one. If you don't, reach out to your doctor for recommendations about mental health specialists who can connect with you online.</p><p>If you don't want to talk to a therapist, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/top-iphone-android-apps" target="_blank">smartphone apps for depression</a> may provide a complementary option for addressing your cabin fever symptoms.</p>
The bottom line<p>Isolation isn't a natural state for many people. We are, for the most part, social animals. We enjoy each other's company. That's what can make staying at home for extended periods of time difficult.</p><p>However, whether you're sheltering at home to avoid dangerous weather conditions or heeding the guidelines to help minimize the spread of a disease, staying at home is often an important thing we must do for ourselves and our communities.</p><p>If and when it's necessary, finding ways to engage your brain and occupy your time may help bat back cabin fever and the feelings of isolation and restlessness that often accompany it.</p>
Pope Francis spoke about the novel coronavirus, suggesting that the global pandemic might be one of nature's responses to the man-made climate crisis.