the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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growing true blue indigo dye in a closed loop system

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As part of their True Blue project, Fibershed, have recently released a report on the processes and practices involved in the making of blue indigo dye.  They explain the idea of a closed-loop ideal indigo dye production system which “moves from soil to dye to textiles and back to soil.” The basis for the report is multifaceted, including academic literature reviews, books on natural dyeing and personal interviews with skilled artisan dyers including  Rowland Ricketts, Jane Palmer, and Kori Hargreaves.

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accessible innovation

Haven’t we been hearing or a long time that that human innovation and technology will be the thing that gets us through the projected crisis’ ahead, from the environmental, to the social and political. Yet even as we are seeing an unprecedented increase in affordable technologies, these solutions still tend to consolidate power in the hands of a few as most are proprietary by design.

Wasn’t it Wendell Berry that said a solution is not a solution if it is not available to all? It’s a rational that resonates with a lot of the opensource and farmhack ethos of simple, user designed, accessible technologies and practices. Because beyond just being accessible, open source innovations respond to the needs of a community rather than being prescriptive solutions coming from outside.

We’re excited about this little project by some folks from France called The Gold of Bengal. The group has been sailing a boat made of recycled material, navigating the the world in search of different interesting initiatives. Their current voyage began in 2015 and for the next 3 years they are documenting low-technology innovations that they encounter along the way.

Three cheers for community led, decentralized, open innovation!

You can find out more info about the Nomade des Mers voyage here and look at some of their low-tech lab documentation here. And while you’re feeling inspired maybe you want to contribute some of your own low tech solutions to the farmhack tool list.


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hospital plus farm

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This seems like a combo we could use more of: according to Ecowatch, “this hospital prescribes fresh food from its own organic farm.” The reporting in the linked article accurately articulates a move we hope to see more of in Western Medicine: a holistic approach that recognizes patients as members of large societal systems in which the health of the two (patient and society) is inextricably linked.


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agricultural trailblazer dorn cox on GH radio tomorrow, dec. 20!

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Where does Dorn Cox find the time to get so much done? Dorn is a founding member and board president of farm hack, is director of Greenstart, and– as his bio on their webiste totes– on his 250-acre family farm in Lee, NH, “has worked to select effective cover crops, grains and oilseeds for food and energy production, and has designed, constructed, documented, and shared systems for small-scale grain and oil seeds processing, biofuel production,  and no-till and low-till equipment to reduce energy use and increase soil health.”

Also, in his spare time, Dorn find time to contribute to our Almanac. You won’t want to miss this interview. Tune in, as always, at 4:00 P.M EST to Heritage Radio Network.


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he may not yuzu, but his dragon flies

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Greenhorns Blog reader John D. Galuska, Ph.D., followed up our post on the cold-hearty Asian citrus the Yuzu, by sending us some pictures and information about the Flying Dragon fruit. The Flying Dragon is a dwarf cultivar of Trifolate orange, native to China and Korea, and supposedly hearty to USDA zone 6. Galuska, who runs Grown In Town Farmstead in Bloomington, IN, writes:

I’ve been growing Flying Dragon at my urban farm in Bloomington, Indiana for about 6 years (outside year round in Zone 6). The photos I’ve attached are from one of the larger trees I have now. It had a great deal of fruit this year and seems to be thriving. I know of only a few other growers who have mature Flying Dragon trees in Indiana, but the word is spreading.

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There are a few other reports of this citrus around the internet. By some accounts, it is not very tasty, but but there are people out there that use it for a variety of things including a citrus-ade, marmalade, allergy-aid, and syrups.

Do you grow a cold-heart citrus or other rare fruits? We’d love to keep hearing from readers who are pioneering rare fruit varieties in their communities and bio-zones.


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peace of earth’s amazing cold storage scheme

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We have a stubborn and delicious dream that farming can evolve to exist without a constant input of fossil fuels, and Peace of Earth Farm in Albany, VT is dreaming it too! Farmer Rebecca Beidler, has put out a call for support on a super innovative research project to combine the technologies of root cellars and ice houses to create an alternative to energy-reliant walk-in coolers. The farmers need money to complete this project, and they deserve your consideration!
“Peace of Earth Farm is looking to take the principle of using earth as a constant insulator a step farther by adding tanks of water inside the cellar that will freeze during the cold months,utilizing a passive heat exchange system of copper pipes filled with butane. The frozen tanks will slowly melt and cool the space in the summer months in order to meet the cooling needs of the farm year round without electricity.”
While the farm has launched its indiegogo campaign to meet its own needs for cold storage, the farmers have pledged to share all information about the design and outcome with anyone interested. Think of it as a community-backed “grass roots research” that could take us one step closer to reducing our alliance with and dependence on the oil and gas industry.
More information, detailed diagrams, and the opportunity to help are here!


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factories into farms

In Japan, Idled Electronics Factories Find New Life in Farming
Struggling to Compete with Rivals in South Korea or China, Fujitsu, Toshiba and Others Try Selling Vegetables, Too
By Eric Pfanner and Kana Inagaki, July 6, 2014

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AIZU-WAKAMATSU, Japan—Haruyasu Miyabe used to oversee a computer-chip production line at a Fujitsu Ltd. plant here. One day last year, the plant manager told Mr. Miyabe to prepare for a career change.

“Starting tomorrow, you are going to make lettuce,” he recalls being told.

Amid troubled times in the Japanese electronics industry, Fujitsu shut one of the three chip-making lines at the plant in 2009. Now, in a sterile, dust-free clean room that once built the brains of high-tech gadgets, Mr. Miyabe and a staff of about 30 tend heads of lettuce.