Food price volatility and production due to climate change is upon us already, and you’ve probably noticed it at your local grocer through increase costs. Farmers are grappling with climate change’s impact on predictable weather, meaning crops are have a harder time growing and farmers have a hard time planning.
Historians provide a solution. By looking into how agrarian societies survived (and failed) in the past we can better see what our future holds. There are techniques, policies, and trading routes that we may need to revive from hundreds of years ago to ensure we can feed all on Earth.
Such policies and community projects, some of which I have had the privilege to be involved with, deal mostly with the present and the future. Yet for decades, climate historians have also looked to the past to more fully understand the relationship between human history and the Earthâ€™s climate systems. Agriculture has been at the center of many of these studies, as many pre-industrial societies relied largely on arable crop outputs whose success was contingent on specific meteorological and ecological conditions. All methods of food production, from farming to hunting, fishing, and foraging, were intimately linked to seasonal, annual, and decadal variations in weather and climate. For agrarian societies who relied on arable staple crops such as wheat or rice, the success or failure of a harvest had multifold ramifications for individuals, communities, and economic systems.
Sky Green has opened the world’s first vertical faem in Singapore and it’s well beyond a proof of concept. The functioning farm produces one ton of food every other day!
This new farm will hopefully encourage more urban vertical farming to increase local food consumption while cutting down on expensive food transportation.
The farm itself is made up of 120 aluminum towers that stretch thirty feet tall. Looking like giant greenhouses, the rows of plants produce about a half ton of veggies per day. Only three kinds of vegetables are grown there, but locals hope to expand the farm to include other varieties. The farm is currently seeking investors to help build 300 additional towers, which would produce two tons of vegetables per day. Although the $21 million dollar price tag is hefty, it could mean agricultural independence for the area.
Oakland California is not known for farming let alone technologically-driven hydroponics. Kijani Grows is a small company in Oakland that is trying to change this with a system of cycling water through fish, gravel, and plants to create a very efficient farming setup in a small space. What makes this system better than others is that it is integrated to modern electronics so you’ll get notifications when you should water or harvest the plants!
Check out this video of their system:
The land in West Oakland where Eric Maundu is trying to farm is covered with freeways, roads, light rail and parking lots so there’s not much arable land and the soil is contaminated. So Maundu doesn’t use soil. Instead he’s growing plants using fish and circulating water.
It’s called aquaponics- a gardening system that combines hydroponics (water-based planting) and aquaculture (fish farming). It’s been hailed as the future of farming: it uses less water (up to 90% less than traditional gardening), doesn’t attract soil-based bugs and produces two types of produce (both plants and fish).
“We have developed a strategy that is step-by-step. We cannot go organic overnight,” Gyamtsho said, describing a policy and roadmap which were formally adopted by the government last year.
“We have identified crops for which we can go organic immediately and certain crops for which we will have to phase out the use of chemicals, for rice in certain valleys for example.”
Bhutan’s only competitor for the first “100 percent organic” title is the tiny self-governing island of Niue in the South Pacific, which has a population of only 1,300. It aims to reach its objective by 2015-2020.
Nadia Scialabba, a global specialist on organic farming at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, says the organic food market and its premium prices are attractive for small countries and territories.
“This is happening in very small countries who are not competitive on quantity, but they would like to be competitive in quality,” she told AFP.
The global organics market was estimated to be worth 44.5 billion euros (57 billion dollars) in 2010, according to figures from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.
Being a chicken who’s sole purpose is egg-laying can be hard because of the horrible living conditions. Too many animals, in this case chickens, are held in enclosures that don’t allow for movement. This is starting to change for chickens in Europe as they have now been granted better enclosures thanks to some ethical activists!
On the first day of 2012, keeping hens in such cages became illegal, in all 27 countries of the European Union. Hens can still be kept in cages, but they must have more space, and the cages must have nest boxes and a scratching post. Last month, members of the British Hen Welfare Trust provided a new home for a hen they named “Liberty”. She was, they said, among the last hens in Britain still living in the type of cages we had opposed.
In the early 1970s, when the modern animal-liberation movement began, no major organisation was campaigning against the battery cage. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the mother of all animal-protection organisations, had lost its early radicalism long before. It focused on isolated cases of abuse, and failed to challenge well-established ways of mistreating animals on farms or in laboratories. It took a concerted effort by the new animal radicals of the 1970s to stir the RSPCA from its complacency towards the battery cage and other forms of intensive animal rearing.