Tag Archives: Sustainable

Here’s another “weed” that is actually a superfood

Yet another weed that most of us pull and throw away has been uncovered as a super healing wonder herb. A recent study has found nettle to potently kill breast cancer cells.

If you have nettles in the backyard we strongly recommend that you collect and use them as part of your daily diet. Not only are the roots and the young leafy tops of stinging nettle edible, they are also very good for you. You can cook them and eat as food, use as an extract or herbal tea. Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) can supply your body with lots of beneficial nutrients. Continue reading Here’s another “weed” that is actually a superfood

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Top Reasons to Shop at a Farmers’ Market

Why shop at a Farmers Market?

Access to fresh, locally grown foods, for starters. That may be one of the best reasons, but there are many more. Farmers markets have fruits and vegetables at the peak of the growing season. This means produce is at its freshest and tastes the best. The food is typically grown near where you live, not thousands of miles away or another country. Shopping at farmers markets also supports your local farmers and keeps the money you spend on food closer to your neighborhood.
Continue reading Top Reasons to Shop at a Farmers’ Market

What? White Rice Better Than Brown?

A Reblog from: TheHealthyHomeEconomist | By Sarah  Thanks to Manang Kusinera for the link!  

My last videoblog titled Healthy Chinese drew some comments from folks questioning my choice of rice. Why was I using white basmati rice instead of brown?  Isn’t brown rice the healthier choice, after all?

Ok, I’ll spill the beans, rice.   Here are my reasons …

Truth is, neither my husband or myself have ever enjoyed brown rice.   Every time we eat it, it just seems to not sit very well in our stomachs.  It, well, uh, sits like a brick for lack of a better word.
Continue reading What? White Rice Better Than Brown?

Strawberry thrives in unique hot climate in the Philippines

By: Juan Escandor, Jr. | A Reblog from Inquirer News |  Agribusiness graduate Leonardo Libreja successfully propagated strawberry in the lowland of his town in Camarines Sur; demonstrating that the plant can thrive in a hot climate and bear fruit “sweeter” than those found in the Mountain Province in the Philippines.

It has been a common belief here that plants thriving in cold climate, such as strawberry, apple and tangerine (a citrus fruit similar to the mandarin orange) will barely survive in a tropical climate like in Ocampo town, northeast of Naga City.
Continue reading Strawberry thrives in unique hot climate in the Philippines

Building a Bamboo Future

The founders of Green School gave the award winning design-firm, Ibuku, the task to build the world’s “Greenest School.”

Every step of the design and construction process was unique. Instead of traditional blueprints, architects build bamboo models to scale with bamboo sticks. The sticks were bent, cut, and woven until the perfect model was created. The usual onsite visual of bulldozers moving the earth was nowhere to be found. The land remained as it was.  Buildings were designed to rise out of the earth’s natural contour, ensuring as little disturbance to the surrounding environment as possible.

Green School in Bali - Instead of traditional blueprints, architects build bamboo models to scale with bamboo sticks

Given both the setting of Bali and the sustainable task at hand, it is hardly surprising that Ibuku choose bamboo as their building material of choice. It is one of the fastest and most resilient growing plants on earth, and as such, environmentally-friendly.  “With very few resources or attention, a bamboo shoot can become a structural column within three years,” says Elora Hardy,  CEO of Ibuku. “And a building built from that bamboo could stand strong for a lifetime.” (View Slideshow)

The choice of bamboo, created strong buildings but also allowed for unique designs. Unlike the typical four-walled, cement classrooms, Green School rooms were woven together, creating spectacular webs of bamboo. Every formation there is unique and more complex looking than the last. Dynamic spirals and shapes spring from the ground creating spectacular open expanses, reflecting the magic spaces present within nature.

Green School in Bali completed architectural design by Ibukuarrow green with text

The designers, architects and local Balinese craftsmen behind these living structures have done an excellent job in imitating and integrating the beauty and complex perfection of the school’s tropical surroundings. Buildings weave harmoniously through the beautiful backdrop, integrating with the environment instead of standing apart from it. Aesthetically these bamboo structures entice a great sense of wonder and achievement. They are bamboo works of art that stand as a true testament to the creative potential and infinite possibility that lies within this resilient building material.

GBTV brings you the second in a series of guest blogs from Green School in Bali.  Their first blog, Welcome to the Greenest School on Earth, was an introduction, not only to their building practices, but to their amazing concept in teaching. This blog takes us behind the scenes to the details of building with bamboo.

Visit Green School for more information, Like them on Facebook and follow on Twitter. Find out more information about Ibuku and their work with Green Village Bali.

Bloglink: http://greenbuildtv.com/blog/building-a-bamboo-future/#more-12016

Exploring the Seedy Side of Philadelphia: Heirloom seed-savers are preserving our area’s rich horticultural heritage

Story by Brian Rademaekers | Photos by Rob Cardillo  A Reblog from GRID Magazine | The Fish Pepper was an African-American heirloom plant popular in Philadelphia and Baltimore, dating to before the 1870s. As anyone with the gardening bug knows, the bleakness of midwinter in Philadelphia has a way of making you dream of warmer times, often hatching ambitious plans for your raised beds. I had one of those moments this winter while looking through the glossy pages of a seed catalog. Among the hundreds of pages of colorful fruits, flowers and vegetables, a particular plant caught my attention: the Fish Pepper.

With distinct white-striped leaves and young green fruit, the pepper bush was interesting in on a purely visual level. But what really got my attention was the pepper’s history as an African-American heirloom plant popular in Philadelphia and Baltimore, dating to before the 1870s. Heirlooms are plants whose seeds have been saved over generations, replanted year after year, consistently reproducing similar traits. Many vegetables offered at nurseries and big-box stores are hybrids that can produce sterile seeds or offspring with erratic traits.

The idea of a plant with deep roots in our history intrigued me. How many others plants like this were out there? What is our region’s history in growing heirloom food plants? Could I make a whole garden featuring heirloom plants with Philadelphia ties? Thus began my seed-searching quest to create the ultimate Philadelphia heirloom garden.

Center Seedy

As I quickly found, such a garden needn’t lack diversity. The Philadelphia region has long been a powerhouse of heirloom seed production, starting with Native Americans and Quakers and growing with seed companies like D. Landreth Seed Company (founded in 1784) and Burpee (founded in 1876), right through the 19th and 20th centuries.“We had Quakers in the city who were always interested in botany and food production improvement,” says William Woys Weaver, a Chester County author who has been collecting and growing local heirlooms since the 1970s. He inherited his grandfather’s seed collection of hundreds of local heirlooms and has since expanded it to include thousands of local plants. (Learn more about Weaver’s work on p. 46.)

“Philadelphia has always, since at least the 1700s, had a special interest in growing things, so we’re ahead of the game,” Weaver says. “You had all these people growing things here, and the list of heirlooms to come out of this region is incredibly huge, more so than any other part of the country, I think.”

arrow green with textGenerally, heirlooms are considered “any variety that’s older than 50 years,” says Tim Mountz, founder of Happy Cat Seeds in Kennett Square. But not all heirloom-type plants go back 50 years. “We call anything newer than 50 years ‘open pollinated’ varieties,” Mountz explains.  If you’ve ever grown or eaten a Green Zebra Tomato, you know a “new heirloom.”

Open pollinated or “OP” varieties are created through  a process in which two plants with different traits — say, a green tomato and a yellow tomato — are interbred to create a hybrid, explains Mountz. This is done across six generations of plants, with the grower tracking a desirable trait over successive generations. After six generations, the plant can be considered stable. After 50 years, it can be called an heirloom. The Green Zebra Tomato, bred in 1984, is now stable and can be called its own variety, but it is not yet an heirloom.

Happy Cat is one of many places where gardeners can find heirlooms with local roots. One of Mountz’s favorites is the Stoltzfus String Bean, which he found in his grandfather’s collection after he passed away. “It had been extinct for 70 years before we brought it back,” Mountz says. “It’s a string bean, so we’ll eat it green before its beans develop in the pod, and we’ll also dry them and then soak them overnight for use in the winter as a cooking bean for things like refried beans.” Beyond the good eating, he says it’s just a good looking plant. “The flowers are more beautiful, the plant itself is more beautiful, and the bean itself is a dark purple.”

Williams Woy Weaver. photo by Rob CardilloWeavers Way Co-op in Mt. Airy, Primex Garden Center in Glenside, and Burpee Seeds in Warminster all carry local heirloom seed varieties, but the Fish Pepper that first caught my eye came from the Baker Creek catalog, based out of Missouri. Baker Creek owner Jere Gettle cites the Jersey Devil tomato as one of his favorite heirlooms from our region. “It looks sort of like a horn, which is where I guess the ‘devil’ part comes from. It’s my favorite paste-type tomato … they’re just incredibly good eating.”

Growing Local

Weaver notes that there currently isn’t an extensive guide to regional heirlooms, let alone a one-stop shop for buying them. Finding them takes some research and “hunting and pecking through catalogs,” he says. But, one great resource can be seed exchange groups like the Philly Seed Exchange.

Aimee Hill, a co-coordinator with the Philly Seed Exchange, says the group doesn’t only focus on seeds with historic ties to the area, but since they come from plants grown in the region, they are by default local heirlooms.

“The idea is to get as many local seeds as possible and have people save seeds no matter where they came from in the first place,” Hill says. “As they’re grown and saved and grown over generations, they become more adapted to the Philly area.” They’ve gotten many seeds from the pre-1800s collection at Bartram’s Garden and the Pendle Hill Quaker community in Wallingford, Pa.

While proponents of heirlooms have long lauded the superior taste compared to hybrid versions grown for commercial markets, there are many other reasons to grow not just heirlooms, but local heirlooms.

arrow green with text“If you have organically raised heirloom food plants in your garden, you’re going to be living a lot healthier than if you’re just growing hybrids. The heirlooms have not declined in their nutritional value the way these hybridized plants have,” Weaver says, citing studies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Since the 1950s, hybridization has bled out nutrition for the sake of shelf life, or for whatever reason. It’s just not there.”

Mountz and Weaver also extol the vigor of plants that have been bred to cope with our climate, soil and pests. “They’ll either germinate earlier, or be more resistant to humidity or insects,” Mountz says. “It’s really great to see the local traits you’ll get; it’s not just the local flavor and the local history, but the ability to grow in a climate that’s really cold in the wintertime, but then subtropical for two-and-a-half months in the summer.”

Tim Mountz found the Stoltzfus String Bean in his grandfather’s seed collection after he passed away.Hill agrees. “If you grow things over generations and save the seeds from specific areas, they become more resilient. It’s like terroir with wine and grapes grown in specific areas,” he says. “They’re better at getting all the good stuff, the fancy stuff, out of that soil so they taste better.”  It also enhances economic independence, because seed savers don’t have to buy new seeds each year.

Saving for a Seedier Future

I look forward to contributing to that diversity with my “ultimate Philadelphia heirloom garden.” This spring and summer, in addition to the Fish Pepper and the Stoltzfus String Bean, I will be growing Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage, Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce, Philadelphia White Box Radishes and Jenny Lind Melons. My local tomatoes will include Jersey Devil, one called London Grove (from Happy Cat), and of course some Brandywines — the superstar of our regional heirlooms.

Saving local seeds does more than put delicious food on your plate, it keeps alive a history that is rich but fragile. As Weaver explains, those superstar Brandywine tomatoes, first grown on the banks of the Brandywine Creek in Chester County, are the perfect illustration of that fragility.  Just a month after delivering the seeds to a seed company, the grower who gave Brandywines their name was thrown from a horse and killed. Had he died a month earlier, the Brandywine tomato as we know it might have died along with him.

Weaver compares preserving local heirlooms to linguists preserving endangered languages. “With languages, if you lose the speakers, you lose the language,” Weaver says. “It’s the same with these plants — if you lose them, they’re gone. I’ve come very close to losing some things, and it scares me because I shouldn’t be the only one on planet earth with some of this stuff.”
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Bloglink: http://www.gridphilly.com/grid-magazine/2013/4/11/exploring-the-seedy-side-of-philadelphia-heirloom-seed-saver.html
Featured Photo: The People’s Community Garden