Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brainstormmarathon Floriade 2022

Van middernacht 18 december tot en met zaterdagmiddag 20 december zal in Almere op verschillende plaatsen worden gebrainstormd over de Floriade.
En omdat de idee├źn online worden verzameld kan heel Nederland, maar ook iedereen daarbuiten, meedoen.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Urban Farming Jobs Increase in 2015

Urban agriculture will truly emerge as one of this country’s most visible economic and cultural forces in 2015

Urban agriculture is expected to maintain strong growth in the United States in 2015 as cities and states provide more incentives, more start-up farmers enter the field, smaller operations improve their profitability and consumer demand for locally grown food remains strong, according to

The growth outlook for land, production and jobs connected with urban farming was generated from Seedstock’s recent annual conference at UCLA where more than 250 farmers, entrepreneurs, policy makers, investors and others gathered to hear experts discuss current factors driving robust local food systems in dozens of urban settings across the country.

“Urban agriculture will truly emerge as one of this country’s most visible economic and cultural forces in 2015. We’ll see strong job growth, continued innovation, more commercial-scale farming in cities and greater production numbers of locally grown food,” said Robert Puro, co-founder of Seedstock, the nation’s leading information, consulting and networking company promoting innovation in urban and sustainable agriculture. 

Direct to consumer local food sales via community supported agriculture (CSA), farmers markets and farm stands increased from approximately $600 million to $1.2 billion from 1997 to 2007. USDA estimates that farm-level value of local food sales totaled about $4.8 billion in 2008 (1.7 percent of revenue from all farm production) and are expected to continue double-digit growth into 2015 and beyond.

The top five trends or changes for urban and sustainable agriculture in the U.S. in 2015, according to Seedstock, are:
  •     More government incentives, primarily through land-use policy changes, job training and economic programs. For example, a new law in California authorizes tax breaks for land-owners who lend their property to urban farmers. Cities across the U.S. are approving similar policies to stimulate more commercial-scale urban farming.

  •     An increase in aggregation and distribution centers catering to smaller farm operations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture set aside millions of dollars in the last farm bill to support these efforts, mostly through marketing assistance.

  •     Demand for locally grown food will continue to increase among consumers. Grocers, such as Whole Foods Market, have already placed heavy emphasis on marketing locally grown produce. Locally sourced meats, seafood and produce will remain the top trends in 2015 among the nation’s chefs, according to a survey by the National Restaurant Association.

  •     The rise of local food business incubators. Grocers and restaurants won’t be the only buyers of locally grown produce. Consumers already are looking to buy more regionally produced food products, which is prompting more business start-ups. In 2015, Los Angeles will open its first food production business incubator to provide entrepreneurs a staging area to develop, market and scale their fledgling food businesses.

  •     More controlled-environment farms. Hydroponic and aquaponic farming are increasing driven by a scarcity of affordable land in urban areas, reductions in the costs of technology and local food demand. The popularity of an indoor-ag conference in Las Vegas, and government incentives to convert abandoned buildings to farms are two indicators this industry is taking off. Also, more rooftop gardens will appear in more urban areas.
“As start-up costs go down and consumer demand continues to climb, the U.S. will continue to see many more people enter the field of urban, sustainable farming,” Puro said. “You also can’t overlook the significant societal change we’re witnessing – more and more young people are abandoning the typical office job or changing their career search to do something good for the environment. They are discovering they can make a decent living by growing food in or near urban areas on smaller plots.”

Another key to continued growth in urban, sustainable farming is education. Groups like Seedstock have become necessary to new farmers who need resources and networking. As highlighted in one of Seedstock’s recent articles, a variety of factors will determine whether an individual urban agriculture operation will be profitable.

“Smaller farms can face greater financial risks because their liabilities are not spread over as large an area as an industrial-scale farm, or they don’t enjoy the same economies of scale when it comes to purchasing supplies,” Puro said. “Those obstacles are beginning to fade as technology improves, more small farms emerge and entrepreneurs figure out the right business model. As a result, financing is becoming more available and profits are being realized.”

About Seedstock:
Seedstock is a social venture that fosters the development of robust and sustainable local food systems through consulting services and the use of a variety of tools, including the news and information blog Seedstock ( and live events. Seedstock works with government agencies, municipalities and all private sector stakeholders to create a sustainable food ecosystem of innovation, entrepreneurship and investment.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Solar 'cloth' turns rooftops into batteries

A flexible photovoltaic fabric, which can even be used as yacht sails to harvest the sun's rays, is finally ready after 10 years of development.

While traditional solar panels weigh between 16kg to 20kg per square meter,
the cloth is just 2kg per sq m

A new flexible solar “cloth” could soon be coming to a roof near you.The Solar Cloth Company is seeking investors to help its lightweight photovoltaic material that can be used on any surface – or even as sails on a yacht – to harvest the sun’s rays.

While traditional solar panels weigh between 16kg to 20kg per square metre, this cloth is just 2kg per sq m. The material can be draped over car parks and will bond to the contours of “wavy, beautiful architecture”, said SCC’s founder, Perry Carroll, who has been working on the technology since 2004. So far, it has attracted £557,000 from 82 investors on the crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, for a 10pc stake.
The solar sail will be on the market next year, but the cloth also has some surprising niche applications. 

“I made a pair of solar underpants for a Japanese businessman,” says Mr Carroll. “He gave them to his boss with the note, 'I told you the sun shone out of my backside’.” 

There are 800m square meters of lightweight roofing in the UK, plus thousands of car parks that could be fitted cloth roofs. 

“We could power the National Grid three times over,” Mr Carroll claimed. He has signed contracts with 15 local authorities, four UK transport hubs, and two major retailers, generating a revenue pipeline of £65m.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lifers, short-timers get horticulture licenses


Christopher O'Neal has mastered many parts of landscaping and greenhouse work — plant cultivation and pesticide application, among six others — though it's unlikely he'll put those skills to use outside the walls of Louisiana's prison in Angola. So he tends to greenhouse plants that will be sold at the prison's rodeos and trains short-timers for honest work on the outside.

Of the 30 students and 11 mentors, most are in for life or "tall numbers." Those who will get out can make a new career or resume an old one with more licenses and updated information; those staying find a positive way to spend their time.

"It has taught me a side of myself I didn't know I had," said O'Neal, 40, who was convicted at 17 of killing an 8-year-old boy and at 34 of killing his ex-girlfriend's husband. He's been at Angola since 2008 and is getting help with appeals, hoping for a reversal, though the courts so far have not viewed his case favorably.
"Guilty as sin," Judge Harmon Drew wrote in an April 2009 opinion for the state's 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal.

Only about a quarter of the inmates getting their certifications are in programs aimed at helping them re-enter society.

"The thing about a life sentence is you've got to find something to do — to pass the time, to help others go out and find jobs, and look forward to getting out ourselves," said James Burns, convicted of stabbing and running over his wife and, like O'Neal, serving life for second-degree murder. He has two licenses and is working on a third.

The horticulture program here, started in 2002, has 7 acres at a prison that covers more land area than Manhattan, said Marcus Barnardez, who works at Angola full-time as an assistant professor of horticulture at Baton Rouge Community College. It's modeled after a program started in 1995 at the Louisiana Women's Correctional Institution in St. Gabriel.

Each inmate has a 50-by-75-foot plot to grow whatever he wants, and a larger plot where he must grow specific crops.

There's little scope for their skills in the rest of the prison. For example, few could spray pesticides on the 600 to 800 acres of row crops grown to feed inmates at Angola and other prisons, Barnardez said. Most are not trusties — inmates given special privileges for good behavior — and must stay in the prison yard, he said.

The mentors earn big money for prison inmates: 50 to 75 cents an hour. Field hands, by comparison, sweat for 2 to 20 cents an hour.

Some of the mentors are convicted killers, though there's an unspoken rule: No talking about the past.
"A lot of them have matured and moved on in their lives. We all make mistakes, some just worse than others," said Timothy "Bo" Blackwell, who served a year for running a meth lab.

More than 90 inmates have earned about 250 certifications from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry over the past five years, said Barnardez.

He said the few who have moved into society have done well, often earning supervisory jobs and running crews for landscaping companies.

Once they're out, they must check in weekly with the court and meet twice weekly with other former inmates and counselors, said Michael Costello, 47, who earned four licenses. In the meetings, he said, "you try to be a light to others."

Costello had his own landscaping business before going to prison for theft. While serving his 18-month sentence, he lined up a job with the brother of another inmate in the horticulture program.
Blackwell, 36, also had a short search — his family owns a Folsom nursery. He earned four licenses in a year, completing work on a fifth after his release
"I'd wanted them for years," he said. "I just was too lazy to go do 'em."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Public Wi-Fi in full bloom

Canberra's new public Wi-Fi, CBRfree has proved popular at this year's Floriade with more than 48,000 sessions and nearly 13,000 unique users connecting to the network over the duration of the festival, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Minister for Tourism and Events Andrew Barr announced today.

This year, for the first time in Floriade's history, visitors were able to access free public Wi-Fi through Canberra's new free public Wi-Fi network, CBRfree.

"Since the event kicked off in September, more than 1.4 million people have seen a Floriade related post on Facebook. Floriade's Facebook fan base grew from over 12,000 likes at the beginning of the event, to around 40,000 by the end, making it clear that providing free public Wi-Fi has been a success," the Chief Minister said.

"CBRfree public Wi-Fi has not only enhanced the experience of Canberrans and visitors alike by making it fun and easy for people to share their experiences at the event with friends and family over social media, but it has also started promoting Canberra's image as a leading digital city.

"The free public Wi-Fi offered at Floriade this year provided users with the same capability that is currently being rolled out in Civic East – the first area of the city to be fully live at the end of this month. This will be followed with a staged rollout in other town centres and commercial precincts over the following 12 months to deliver the benefits of greater connectivity across the ACT.

Floriade free public Wi-Fi usage statistics from 13 September through to 12 October 2014 include:

12,827 unique user connections;

a total of 48,601 unique sessions; and

an average data usage per user of 41.49MB.

"It is also fantastic to see that Floriade has again achieved outstanding results in 2014, recording the highest overall attendance in the event's 27th year. A total of 481,854 visits were recorded, up from last year's figure of 448,987," Minister Barr said.

"These results further prove that Floriade remains one of Canberra's favourite events and continues to be Australia's premier spring time celebration. It also demonstrates the positive impact CBRfree Wi-Fi will have in making Canberra an even smarter and more liveable city," Minister Barr concluded.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Canberra's Floriade attracts more visitors than ever

  Floriade close up

Attendance figures for this year's Floriade Spring Festival in Canberra were the highest in the event's 27-year history.

A total of 481,854 visits were recorded at the Commonwealth Park, up from last year's figure of 448,987.

The influx of local, national and international visitors are a welcome economic boost for the national capital.

ACT Tourism Minister Andrew Barr said the crowd numbers are the result of a strong events program around the theme of Passion.

"Amongst the record number of attendees over the month will be people who have come multiple times and that's really encouraging," he said. 

"Obviously, every time they attend they are contributing to economic activity in the Territory, particularly interstate and international visitors." 

"We can be confident that the economic contribution will be in the ballpark of last year's, if not more, so we are approaching $40 million into the Territory economy. So that's a good result."

Monday, July 7, 2014

Growing Green Cities

Growing Green Cities is the central theme of the world horticultural exhibition Floriade 2022 in Almere. Almere is the Floriade also a shared, multi-movement which Almere is working on a permanent green and healthy city. Growing Green Cities shows the efforts of citizens, civil society, business community and in different manners.
Competition Round of Weerwater
At this meeting the competition "Round Weather Water" was launched. In a follow-up to the Communication from City in 2011, concrete ideas are sought for (parts of) the Circle, as an icon of Growing Green. What changes the shores of Weerwater may greener, more active, more beautiful, sporty, energetic, calmer, more exciting, more attractive, more interesting, more fun, be? And what do you want for that specific initiative start?
Do you know a promoter or Growing Green initiative that deserves the spotlight on February 15? Let us know! We are to inspire others. Gladly give February 15 promoters and model projects a spot on the podium, Send your nomination with a short explanation of growing green @ .
The program February 15
14:00 Walk 14:30 Welcome by Alderman Henk Mulder and grand opening of Workplace Growing Green Cities Making Almere 14:45 Promoters Growing Green on stage with Alderman Ed Anker 15:00 Time for blind dates and auction of supply and demand 16:00 Launch Contest Run Weerwater 17:00 Conclusion and end Demo # 2
Are you coming?
February 15 from 14:30 to 17:00 hours Waterfront Cafe (in the theater), Esplanade, Almere growing green cities @
During the first "Growing Green presents' on November 2, 2013 presented many parties Almere their growing green initiative. Saturday, February 15, 2014 is the second Growing Green presents! We open the new workshop Growing Green Cities Making Almere and we bring supply and demand together. Together we will create an inspiring Growing Green presents # 2. Reserve this afternoon in your diary, come network, share knowledge and explore new initiatives.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Preserving from the backyard

Bec Pollock in her garden at her Bonython home harvests a golden globe turnip.
In season .... Bec Pollock harvests golden globe turnips, swedes, kohlrabi,
and a variety of kales at her Bonython home. 
Jars of pickled yellow zucchini, tomato and chilli sauce, sage and apple chutney, and green tomato relish fill Bec Pollock's pantry in Bonython. In a glass container on the kitchen bench, she is lacto-fermenting garlic, which she says adds probiotics and enzymes. And she has a jar of garlic powder, made from garlic that she has minced then dried it in a Fowlers Vacola dehydrator.

Pollock will lead a preserving workshop at the Canberra Environment Centre on October 19. Pollock and her husband Ryan Mavin moved to Canberra in 2008.

They came from Coffs Harbour where she was raised on a small farm, so her early years involved sheep, chickens, horses, pigs and vegetable gardening. She says they became more aware of the environment and self-reliance when their children were little. She learnt about permaculture and they started growing organic produce, keeping chickens, making their own toiletries and foraging.

Bec Pollock's pickles and preserves at her Bonython home.
Time capsules ... Bec Pollock's pickles and preserves. She will give
presentations on preserving at Floriade on Thursdays at 1pm. 
In 2010, Pollock read about ''urban homesteading'' on a US blog and realised that's what they were doing. This backyard or city farming involves connecting with the community and living more frugal, lower-impact lifestyles. Pollock and a friend have a common passion for urban homesteading, and they've set up a website (, with plans for events and workshops.

In the home garden in Bonython, Pollock and Mavin have four large, raised, wicking worm garden beds where the soil is rich and friable. They make compost and use chicken manure from their own hens.
They are harvesting golden globe turnips, swedes, kohlrabi, and a variety of kales. Garlic and broad beans, sugar snap peas and purple podded peas are cropping. 

Pollock grows beetroot, carrot, chillies, radish, silverbeet and herbs year round. In a greenhouse, tomatoes, zucchini, squash and cucumbers are germinating from seed, ready for planting out into the garden in November. Pollock collects seeds from tomatoes, beans and peas but says saving seed means knowing which species will cross-pollinate so she does not collect seed from turnip, kohlrabi, swede or kale.

Colourful start ... Purple potted peas from Bec Pollock's Bonython garden.

Colourful start ... Purple potted peas
from Bec Pollock's garden. 
During spring, she is making casseroles and curries using homemade jars of relish, chilli jam and kasundi, as well as beans that she dried last year served with fresh greens from the garden. She uses eggs from five chooks in omelettes and vegie bakes with rocket and fresh herbs. Last year, after doing a ''natural beekeeping'' course with Tim Malfroy, they obtained a hive that had made a home in a research bird box. The bees have been rehomed into a wooden hive. The queen survived and the bees are out in force now feeding on the garden's blossoms on a donut peach tree, apple and apricot trees.

■ Bec Pollock gives presentations at Floriade on seed saving (Thursdays, 10.30am), preserving (Thursdays, 1pm), urban homesteading (Sundays, 10.30am), and cooking from the garden (Sundays, 1pm). Floriade also has a city farm display with vertical planting and chooks. 

■ Pollock also leads a workshop on preserving through the Canberra Environment Centre at the Bush Capital Lodge in O'Connor ($80, October 19, 2pm-5pm,