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Nation's First Urban Farming School Teaches Kids to Grow and Cook Their Own Food
Students at one San Fransisco school will soon have the chance to learn about urban farming and the role it can play in the community in a unique setting. The Golden Bridges School's planned new campus will join indoor and outdoor learning spaces and will have several beneficial and environmentally friendly aspects.
The property is currently an urban farm, which was started six years ago by Caitlyn Galloway, the San Fransisco Examiner reported. Galloway hoped to prove urban farms could turn a profit as well as unite a neighborhood.
And she's done just that. Her farm, Little City Gardens at 203 Cotter St., sells enough produce to cover farming costs as well as partial incomes for Galloway and another gardener. The farm sells produce to local restaurants. Students at Golden Bridges School often help out at the farm.
The school recently bought the land to build its new campus. The Golden Bridges School teaches K-2 at its current location, but hopes to expand to K-8 at the new location.
The school's purchase of the land has raised multiple questions and concerns among residents in the surrounding Mission Terrace neighborhood. Increased traffic and noise from the school as well as potential increased flooding topped the list. The school and architect Stanley Saitowitz, of Natoma Architects Inc., took those concerns into consideration when designing the new campus. Systems have been designed to help with flood and sound control. The main tactic Saitowitz is using is plants: green roofs and walls.
The school's front entrance will be set back from the sidewalk to allow for a community meeting and green space. The front of the building will then slope up to resemble a hill. It will be covered in plants to continue the green space look from the street. Seventy-four percent of the property will remain open space for students to learn and play in.
The school building will be two-stories consisting of multiple classroom buildings that open to both indoor and outdoor courtyards and are connected by a bridge on the second floor.
The school will also employ green roofs to absorb water, reduce energy use and act as a sound barrier between the classrooms and neighborhood. Golden Bridges School hopes to further prevent flooding by collecting stormwater onsite in basins and recycling it as irrigation for the farm.
The green rooftops will also attract pollinators useful in the agricultural process. A huge green space behind the buildings will contain an orchard, edible garden, chicken coop and outdoor kitchen. Spaces not used for farming will include a kindergarten play space, nooks for outdoor class time and a "wild" area for play, according to the school's plans.
Classroom buildings will be fitted with huge windows to allow for natural light and heat inside.
The curriculum at Golden Bridges School is based on the Waldorf Education model, a progressive and holistic education system based on philosopher Rudolph Steiner's vision, Inhabitat reported. The system is rooted in a sense of connection to the land and seasons, encouraging students to learn about farming, cooking and raising their own food.
The campus will accommodate a maximum of 200 students. The school hopes to partially open on site for K-3 students as soon as September 2017, according to the school's project timeline.
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Colorado River Has Lost 1.5 Billion Tons of Water to the Climate Crisis, 'Severe Water Shortages' May Follow
California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.
The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.
"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."
While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.
The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.
"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.
Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.
"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.
NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.
As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.
"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.
The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.
"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."
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A warm day in winter used to be a rare and uplifting relief.
Now such days are routine reminders of climate change – all the more foreboding when they coincide with news stories about unprecedented wildfires, record-breaking "rain bombs," or the accelerated melting of polar ice sheets.
Where, then, can one turn for hope in these dark months of the year?