Will The Oil Glut Continue?

 

What if the current cheap oil is replaced with expensive oil?  Will what is happening now in Venezuela be happening in Brooklyn?  Will we be ready?  Will community gardens help ease the transition?

While we may be able to use wind and solar power to replace fossil fuels in our electrical grid, the transportation sector will prove much more difficult.   Forget about the Teslas, Leafs and Volts.  It’s moving freight, not people, that will be the problem.  Ships, airplanes and trucks are not going to be battery powered.  The numbers just don’t work.  And these are the backbones of modern industrialized society, the means by which we get our cheap imported food, cars, shoes, clothes, electronics and just about everything else we consume.

Read this analysis of what’s going on now in the oil industry.  It’s a long article but worth the read.  Thanks to Dan Miner for bringing this to my attention.

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Are you contributing to Cali’s water crisis?

California drought with dried up canal

Are you part of the California drought problem?  Every time you buy a bunch of grapes from California, your contributing not only to some grower’s bottom line, you’re also consuming 24 gallons of California’s water.  For details, check out this recent article in the New York Times about the Cali Drought.
Long before Napa and Central Valley become the nation’s number one producer of grapes, New York had an established vineyard colony in the Finger Lake region.   While not reaching the levels of fame achieved by Napa, the the Finger Lake region still produces a passable riesling, and the climate is often compared to that of the riesling producing areas of the Rhine valley in Germany.  According to a 2005 study conducted about wine production in New York State, we have 31,000 wine bearing acres in New York and 1,384 farms producing grapes.
So as the drought bears down, and California’s water restrictions start to effect grape prices, you might want to look for a more local source.  We’ve actually got a nice grape vine growing along the fence at Imani Garden, which will be bearing grapes shortly, that is if Mayor De Blasio doesn’t turn the garden into unafforable housing instead.
IF this upsets, you might consider letting the Mayor know by writing him a letter.  Send us a copy at imanigreg@gmail.com.  Every little bit helps.  According to Paula Segal at 596 Acres, the City should be releasing in June the list of developers who’ve been awarded sites.  Stay tuned to find out if Imani has been awarded to anyone.
In the meanwhile, see you at the local wine bar!

Group shot – pond Imani I
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What Happens to NYC When California’s Central Valley Shuts Down?

California drought with dried up canal

Yesterday California Governor Jerry Brown announced an executive order mandating cities and towns in the drought-ravaged state to reduce water usage by 25%.  Unaffected by this order were the state’s farms, which consume 80% of the state’s water.  Why did farms get a pass on these reductions?  How much longer can they get away with it?
Check out this article in the Daily Beast about the politics of water in California.
According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the state in 2013 exported the following amounts of food key to our nation’s food supply:
Milk — $7.6 billion
Almonds — $5.8 billion
Grapes — $5.6 billion
Cattle, Calves — $3.05 billion
Strawberries — $2.2 billion
Walnuts — $1.8 billion
Lettuce — $1.7 billion
Hay — $1.6 billion
Tomatoes — $1.2 billion
Nursery plants— $1.2 billion

How will the rest of nation’s food supply be effected by California’s worsening drought?  What happens when the state’s farms are forced to reduce water consumption?
Wouldn’t it make sense for NYC residents to think about these questions now, before there’s a crisis.  Community gardens certainly provide at least part of the answer.  In January, Mayor DiBlasio’s Housing Dept. announced that 17 gardens were to be developed as affordable housing.  Let Mayor DiBlasio know that you want the 17 gardens saved from development so they can continue to provide residents with a secure and healthy source for fresh produce.  You can reach his Brooklyn liaison Kicy Motley at kmotley@cityhall.nyc.gov.  Send her a note today to express your concern.

Greg Todd with bike cart and food scraps in front of Imani Garden
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Can hydroponics be a key to making produce local?

Drawing of south facing greenhouse with solar collectors

In 2007 I was among a group of local permies who visited something called the Science Barge floating in the Hudson River.  It got a lot of media attention.  It focused on using solar power to do a lot of things, including growing vegetables with hydroponics.

Somehow, this little barge morphed into a big outfit called Bright Farms.  They’re still based in NYC, and one of their first projects was supposed to be in Sunset Park on the roof of a manufacturing loft.  As far as I know, that never happened.  They do appear to have a large operation in Bucks County, and are gearing up for greenhouses in Wash. DC, St. Paul Minn and a number of other cities.

They have a large staff and are based in lower Manhattan with lots of money from venture capitalists.

Ok, I get this all sounds too weird to be true, but there’s a lot to like in what their CEO Paul Lightfoot is saying.  My key question: how do we feel about hydroponics?

Hydroponic greenhouses
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