the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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agtools technology to reduce waste for growers, shippers and buyers

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credit: Agtools

Despite the fact that 1 in 7 Americans if food insecure, every year, American consumers, businesses, and farms spend $218 billion a year, or 1.3% of GDP, growing, processing, transporting, and disposing  of food that is never eaten. That’s 52 million tons of food sent to landfill annually, plus another 10 million tons that is discarded or left unharvested on farms. Food waste occurs because of low market prices and high labor costs, which makes it uneconomical for farmers to harvest all that they produce. There is currently a lack of streamlined technology in the agriculture industry to provide accurate information that is timely and useful to industry operations.

AgTools hopes to reduce the amount of food that is wasted and increase sustainability by bringing new intelligence to the agriculture market. Their system employs real time information and statistics regarding time, cost, supply, demand, and more throughout the food supply chain and aims to optimize the economic results of all stakeholders in the industry but addressing the major communication gaps that exist between farmers and retailers. Their proprietary technology incorporates all levels of business operations from farm production to various stages of logistics, suppliers and buyers for Tier I, II or III and provides alerts and information that will directly benefit and influence decisions in the industry on a regular basis such as weather patterns and consumer trends.

Growers can use the software to plan their harvest based on solid information to get the most out of their crop. Shippers can get the data they need to have to ensure the timely and most efficient delivery of products. And buyers can get real time data to plan their purchases, know what is going on in the market every day in terms of product, availability, surplus, shortfalls, and basis for shifts in pricing

To find out more (and to try their free trial) click HERE


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if you wanted to track your local wind patterns…

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We’ve got another good one for all of our fellow map geeks out there. Sev just learned about Windy TV from the lighthouse keeper in the Azores. The website provides a real-time map visualization of wind and weather patterns around the globe. It allows the user to zero in on a specific address or to get a satellite’s-eye-view of whole continents, and it’s a great tool for educating yourself about about predominant wind patterns and their seasonal variations.

Utility aside, we’d be remiss for not mentioning that the visualization is in and of itself downright gorgeous; as far as we’re concerned this is kind of the best way to spend time on the internet since Google Earth.

Oh, and bonus? Windy TV also provides your local forecast five days out without the encroachment of ads.

It makes so much sense to be as familiar with the wind as you are with your coastline, your local watershed, your local politics…

The air is moving! Can you feel it?!


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crop planning resources for farmers

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‘Tis the season for nailing down your crop plan for the Spring! (Hypothetically, this would have been on our to-do lists for early December ago, but I can’t be the only one whose holidays got the better of her business agenda, right?) Is this your first time crop planning? Looking to upgrade your system? Maybe you’re feeling a little lost or a little down-to-the-wire. Here’s a collection of resources to make the process a little easier:

1. Penn State’s guide to making plans for the season: specifically for CSA farms, but this advice is adaptable to market and whole sale farms as well. Basic, comprehensive, and
2.  “Crop master” spreadsheet to model off of: comprehensive, super-logical, easy to follow, and easy to replicate– provided you are familiar with inserting formulas into spreadsheets.
3. A template that you can edit: a template from Tom Becker of Sunseed Farm, which will potentially save first-time veggie farmers a lot of time and energy: the sheet includes already-made formulas and already input crop information. Note: will have to be adjusted to reflect individual USDA zones.
4. Collection of great links/resources on the subject: “everyone’s brain works differently.”


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according to tech wizard lu yoder, this is the machine that he’s recommend if living in a boat, small apparent, or out of a station wagon in winters

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This vintage machine with heavy gauge steel mechanics is on long-term loan to AMT. It is installed in a cabinet specifically for sewing (do not remove). The Singer 401-A is a good strong machine capable of sewing heavy materials such as Canvas, Denim, Sunbrella, Duck Canvas, & leather as well as light weight materials. Before using please attend the short training.

Tool lead: Crafty Rachel

Training: Every other monday, during the textiles lab hours (see calendar)

Maintenance: Monthly = Oil and run according to the instructions in the manual. Annually (with heavy use) – Proffessional service which usually runs about $135.

Maintenance log: July 9, 2012 – Service at Berkeley Vacuum and Sewing Center $150

Manual: External link to PDF

Features:

  • Slant Needle
  • drop in bobbin
  • twin/double needle stitching capable
  • adjustable needle position
  • 28 built in stitches
  • Singer Stitch
  • (and a bunch more stuff)

Attachments:

  • 5 Bobbins
  • Straight stitch foot
  • throat plate
  • Button foot
  • Special Purpose foot
  • Seam Guide
  • Narrow Hemmer
  • Ruffler,
  • Singer stitch discs numbers 1 thru 5


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developing the grape cultivars of the future

With a focus on disease resistance and hardiness, researchers are hard at work developing the grape cultivars of the future.

Through a multidisciplinary collaborative project called VitisGen, researchers are are working to decrease the time, effort, and cost of developing these new grapes.

According to the VitisGen website, the project “incorporates cutting-edge genomics technology and socioeconomic research into the traditional grape breeding and evaluation process, which will speed up the ability to identify important genes related consumer-valued traits like disease resistance, low temperature tolerance and enhanced fruit quality.”

To learn more about VitisGen, click HERE!

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Today, in incredibly awesome things made available by the internet, a new(ish) website  called Vintage Aerial provides access to over 5 million photos, taken in 41 states over the second half of the twentieth century.

Looking to find an aerial photograph of a specific farm, homestead, or rural township? The librarians at the site are nearly positive that they can find it for you, and for no cost! Prints of the photographs are then made available.

Just looking to browse the visual rural history of this country? Many of the prints are available to view online— many accompanied by stories from current or previous owners.