Archive for the ‘vegetables’ Tag

Developing for Post Oil America

Locally grown food is a good way to promote community sustainability and cut back on energy use.

Locally grown food is a good way to promote community sustainability and cut back on energy use.

It is inevitable. If we keep consuming oil, we will eventually run out. Although estimates vary as to how much oil we have left in our reserves, it nevertheless is a good idea to start planning for the post oil period. Some communities have started to piece together parts of the puzzle. Brattleboro, Vermont, typically known for its alternative lifestyle has started a grassroots organization to deal with what might happen after the life of oil. The group is called Post Oil Solutions, or POS for short, and its aims goals at five different factors: community gardens, local food, energy, transportation, and education.

What I found most interesting of these was the local food. POS says the following:

Did you know that most of the food on local store shelves has traveled an average of 1400 miles? Between transportation, and conventional agricultural practices, there are 10 to 15 calories of fossil fuels in every calorie of food you eat.

That means if you eat a 500 calorie meal (a calorie is measure of energy), at least 5000 calories went into the making, maintaining, and transportation of that meal. If the ratio of energy consumed versus needed is indeed that high, it means that there are huge amounts of energy wasted. It is clearly not possible for everyone to eat only local foods; the cost of growing food around New York City will cost much more than food being grown in developing countries, but I think most Americans believe there should at least be more local food available, especially if it carries a reasonable price tag.

In a link from POS site, there is an article from One passage I thought really related to our situation today: “[With 15 minutes a day and a piece of] lawn roughly the size of the parking space for your car, you can grow a significant amount of good food—food that is organic, food that is tasty, food that is healthy[...] During World War II, Americans started “victory gardens,” growing up to 40 percent of their fresh produce. In these tough economic times, it again makes sense for us to grow some of our own food.”

Any community visioning or master plan should incorporate making enough areas suitable for both individual and commercial farming, as it is an important part of sustainability. Doing so will cut down (however slightly or large it may be) our oil dependence and consumption.

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Student Intern, Vertices LLC


Bringing Cities to life with Plant life

A prospering garden in the heart of Cleveland, Ohio

A prospering garden in the heart of Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland has had its fair share of downtime in recent years, but now it seems small community efforts are helping to recreate the image of the city- and it doesn’t involve superstar LeBron James.

In the West Superior Hill section of the city, Burning River Gardens has been putting small community efforts to work. 15 garden plots were erected last year and now in its second year, 13 volunteers have been assigned garden plots to grow organic only vegetables. Rules strictly forbid any unnatural weed killers or fertilizers, making organic food each year and avoiding soil contamination and river contamination (when rain drains the chemicals into the water via runoff).

A community garden such as this one are good ways to bring local food into local homes and therefore create more productive people and communities. One instance pulled from this article I was reading from says one of the gardeners who had a plot offered a nearby homeless man a few dollars a day to water her plant while she was out of town, but the homeless man said he had already been watering them for her.

Despite how little this community garden may be, it offers recreation activities for more community residents on a plot of land that might otherwise go unused. The site is also lined with brick that was left over after a local school had been torn down. A small image of a trickle down effect in the community can be seen from this by connecting different types of people with different activities. Many people being able to say they played a part in a local success, whether it be the person who donated the bricks, the homeless man watering the vegetables, or the person who finally eats a ripe product of the garden (they’re eating local).

Community gardens are just a small example of community interaction methods that can be employed in nearly every city, suburb or rural area. Small actions like these gardens reproduced many times will have an exponential effect on the livability, likeability, and overall quality of urban areas for future living. You can start by planting just one seed today.

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Student Intern, Vertices LLC

All resources drawn from: