Fresh produce can be hard to come by in city centers, let alone local produce. The corner convenience store may carry the odd potato or onion, but for a reliable source of fresh produce most urbanites are forced to drive, bike or take public transportation to a supermarket, most often well outside city limits.
That could all change in the not-so-distant future.
Meet Ben Greene. He's a student turned entrepreneur from Raleigh, NC. His brain child, The Farmery, promises to bring a whole new way of life to urban locavores.
"The Farmery is essentially a template to celebrate local foods," Greene says. "There's not really a grocery mall designed for urban communities. We make it available to different demographics."
The idea is relatively simple: bring vegetable production, harvest and distribution together in a single location, right in the middle of town. A modified farmer's market, The Farmery eliminates the middle man and brings fresh-picked produce almost directly to the consumer's doorstep.
"The Farmery could be potentially much more financially successful (than other urban farms) and make its way into the mainstream of our economy," claims Greene. "By growing and selling in the same place, you can get a much higher profit margin."
The Farmery is constructed primarily from repurposed shipping containers and greenhouse implements. Hanging from the outside of the containers, herbs, strawberries and greens are grown aquaponically. Aquaponics refers to the practice of raising fish in the water supply to provide nutrients and keep disease in check.
"It's almost impossible to get organic nutrients into your hydroponic growing system, because they go bad so quickly," explains Greene. "This way it eliminates disease in the system, because you're essentially cultivating bacteria to convert the waste in to nutrients, and that bacteria will out compete fungal diseases and other bad bacteria."
Ben chuckles as he explains the benefits of farming fish in grocery stores. "And it's cool," he adds. "People can be surrounded by an ecosystem while they're shopping for their food."
The Farmery is highly efficient on use of space. Something is grown on every available surface. On the inside of the shipping containers: gourmet mushrooms. The customer will literally be able to harvest his or her meal and consume it the same day, without ever having to leave the neighborhood. This is the basic prototype that has been used so far, but Greene has much bigger plans. The future Farmery will include a cafe and a grocery, for those who don't prefer to pick their own produce.
"In an urban environment, you kind of have to have a cafe," says Greene. "We want to sell the experience, as well as the product."
This is huge news for people living in urban environments, who may not have access to fresh produce currently. Anyone who has ever ridden the bus to the grocery store knows how inconvenient, time consuming and labor intensive shopping can be for urbanites. If the corner store does happen to carry fresh produce, it's likely to be expensive and of poor quality. Finding a single organic item in a convenience store is nearly impossible, and trying to avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is a lost cause.
"It's getting very difficult to not have them [GMOs,] because it's getting into the natural world," Greene laments. "It's kind of sad. It's like, it's in the air, now." But when asked about his official stance on serving GMOs in The Farmery, he bluntly states, "Basically, we're not going to have them."
Traditional urban farms, farmers' markets and CSA's provide an alternative to agro-chemical products, but are constricted to a shorter growing season and limited shopping time. Because of the costs of transportation, labor and the loss of spoiled product, the price of fresh, organic produce goes up exponentially when it's available in cities.
"You're looking at 36 percent inventory loss from the farm to the retailer," Green explains, "and we eliminate most of that."
Because the produce is only picked once the customer has made a purchasing decision, loss of product all but disappears. Anything that must be picked before it's sold can be used in the cafe. Other local farmers can drop off whatever product they have, knowing they have access to a reliable customer base, without worrying whether they've brought too much or too little product to today's market.
"The focus is on enabling small, artisanal farmers and enabling that farm culture," Greene explains. "By having a grocery store on site, you have a much higher traffic flow, so you can sell more product."
Because of this vertical integration, fresh, local produce can be sold at a reasonable price point to people living in urban centers. This is very important to Greene, who wants to see his product made available to people of all socio-economic backgrounds.
"After the first store gets going, we want to have a non-profit attached to it," says Greene. "We want to make food stamps worth double (face value) in our grocery stores."
The inevitable result of this food revolution is a closer relationship between people and their food—a truly farm-to-table experience, which has rarely been attainable for people living outside of rural settings. Greene is confident that once urban dwelling people get to know their local food, and local farmers, they'll be hooked and never want to go back to the traditional grocery store model.
"Instead of a supermarket format, where you're constantly trying to accommodate different products, and sourcing them from all over the place when it's out of season, I think instead you should celebrate it when it's in season," he says. "It becomes a reason to come to the store—We have these apples from western North Carolina, for three months. Come check them out—So it's like the store becomes an event, instead of just a place to stock up.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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