Return to Rural Small Farms, Hard Work, and Local Food
Rural Small Farms Boulder, Colorado is often in the news for being happy, healthy, and crazy about all things local—but not often does news coverage dive into policy efforts that underlie that hearty sheen.
One key: initiatives by the county government to support a local food system.
Boulder County leases approximately 25,000 acres to local farmers and ranchers in an effort to promote sustainable agriculture. This acreage is part of approximately 90,000 acres of county-managed open space.
Having such local agricultural production capacity is remarkable in Colorado’s sprawling Front Range. And heightened consumer interest in local foods has been a boon for local producers.
In addition to shaping consumer demands – the “all things local” craze also created new producer desires. More people began envisioning lives as small-scale producers – a few acres of organic vegetables, a lavender farm, some goats.
Yet historically, most of the farmers and ranchers leasing county land operated at a large scale. Niwot Farms, for example, is a natural beef operation with more than 1,000 head of cattle. And according to Mary Young, a writer for The Blue Line, third generation Boulder County farmer Jules Van Thuyne, Jr. runs a 1,800-acre operation, with 950 acres leased from the county.
Yet the county sought a way to facilitate smaller scale-farming dreams. And today, small producers (typically smaller than 20 acres) have access to public lands through recently developed regulations for a Growers’ Association model for agricultural leases.
Through the Association model, several producers work together on one larger parcel of land with access to shared resources, such as water, coordinated among members. According to Adrian Card, Boulder County’s Colorado State University Extension Agent, the county currently has 3 Growers’ Associations encompassing 8 producers, with annual leases running $100/acre.
Growers’ Association producers include Ollin Farms, a family business committed to sustainable agriculture that operates a farmers’ market booth, on-farm dinners, summer youth camps and also offers shares in its “community supported agriculture” (CSA). Organic produce, eggs, and honey can also be found at Hoot n’ Howl Farm, one of three farms which comprise the Gunbarrel Growers’ Association.
A key challenge of the program has been helping would-be farmers realistically consider the requirements of running a production business. Boulder County’s Extension Office offers a variety of informative print material, as well as interactive listservs and business workshops.
The county also requires each member of a prospective GA have farming experience and/or direct mentorship and oversight from an experienced farmer.
Many local producers have developed close connections with community grocers and farmers’ markets. Boulder’s top restaurants, including Frasca, Salt, and the Kitchen also foster close connections with local farmers and ranchers.
The Black Cat Farm Table Bistro has gone so far as to create their own organic 70 acre farm which supplies the restaurant, a farmers’ market booth, as well regular food deliveries for their membership-based community food share.
This strong connection between local restaurants and food producers – from vegetables to mushrooms to poultry — was noted in Boulder’s 2010 recognition as “America’s Foodiest Town” by Bon Appetit magazine.
Boulder County’s first Growers’ Association hit the ground in 2008 and the program is following a path of slow, careful growth. According to Extension Agent Adrian Card, key is to ensure potential producers have a solid business plan based on realistic expectations. A successful backyard garden isn’t sufficient to ensure larger-scale success.
Still, with its innovative policy setting and relatively strong local market, Boulder County offers a place where ambitious small-scale producers can pursue their farming dreams. Would-be farmers must bring experience, determination and a willingness to work hard, but the Growers Association Model provides access to another central requirement – land.
Return to rural communities: Resilience over efficiency
Before moving, twelve years ago, to a village with a population of 1,230 deep in the Alps, Daniel and Johanna led a dual life in Zurich, Switzerland — accountants by day and members of a small theatre troupe in the evenings and on weekends.
Living downtown in a city that consistently finds its way onto lists of cities with thehighest cost of living, however, did not come cheap.
According to Daniel, “when Johanna became pregnant, we knew we couldn’t afford an apartment with enough space for all of us”.
On an earlier hiking vacation, they had passed through a small village and had stopped to visit the garden in the local cloister.
At the time, Daniel’s eye was caught by the adjacent lot overgrown with weeds.
As Johanna’s pregnancy advanced, Daniel thought again of the overgrown lot and bought a bus ticket back to the village.
“The garden was still there, but there was no one to clear the weeds from the next lot. I talked with the owner of the land, applied for a government grant, and we moved into a nearby vacant farmhouse two months later.”
He soon cleared the land, planted peppermint and an array of other herbs, and within two years had the land certified organic and started producing his own line of herbal tea mixes.
Since then, he has operated a small one-room shop on the cloister grounds, expanded sales of tea and vegetables to a number of local fairs and markets, and started raising goats.
After giving birth, Johanna got a part-time job at the town’s nursery and started organising a theatre group at the local church.
At the time, it was a big change, but now I can’t imagine it any other way. When I was young, I always liked the idea of living in the countryside. It has been much simpler and much happier than I imagined.—Daniel
Urban-rural migrants lost in the flood of rural-urban migration
But why consider the story of Daniel and Johanna? After all, statistics show that the largest migration in human history is currently underway as people move from the countryside to the urban centres. According to current models, the future is cities — bigger, denser, more populous and more externally dependent on resources and energy than ever.
At a recent symposium, entitled Sustainable Urban Development: Challenges and Issues in Developing Countries and co-hosted by the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) and the United Nations Centre for Regional Development, it was pointed out that experts expect the number of people living in urban areas to grow from 3.4 billion to 6.3 billion by 2050, an 85% increase.
Speaking at this event, Ms. Aban Marker Kabraji, Asia Regional Director of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, pointed out that “while cities cover a mere 2% of land space worldwide, they consume a whopping 75% of the resources”.
The massive scale and the rapidity of this shift in human civilisation have fostered broad generalisations of an inexorable movement of people from rural to urban areas.
Daniel and Johanna are not alone though — recent reports from Korea, for example, show that in 2011 there was a 158% increase in the number of households leaving cities to settle in rural areas.
One explanation given by Korea’s Agriculture Minister Suh Kyu-yong is that city dwellers are increasingly packing up and moving to the countryside “to seek a quieter life”.
Just as there are a number of commonly cited drivers of rural-urban migration, however, it likewise seems logical that the reasons for households moving in the other direction are more nuanced and differentiated.
Considering the fundamental changes in human civilization that are forecast for the coming decades, are these urban-rural migrants the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, or just exceptions to the prevailing rule? And what role can these urban-rural migrants potentially play in supporting ecosystems and fostering resilience?
The important role of rural populations in preserving biodiversity
Humans can play a crucial role in maintaining and even increasing the biodiversity in their surroundings. There are many places around the world in which people have interacted with their natural surroundings in a harmonious way for many generations, creating socio-ecological productions landscapes (SEPLs). These dynamic mosaics of land usage and ecosystems/habitats provide sustainable livelihoods that are interlinked with local culture and community.
Terraced rice fields, for example, are home to a multitude of species, but depend on regular human maintenance. A recent survey in Japan recorded a staggering 5,668 different species living in rice paddies. On average, rice farmers in Japan are 66 years old, and the rapid depopulation of the country as a whole, and rural areas in particular, means that these biodiversity-rich SEPLs face abandonment and fundamental change.
A case study published by the Satoyama Initiative looked specifically at landscapes that had been abandoned around Machida City, a suburb of Tokyo. After observing a steady drop in the numbers of plant and animal species, a project was set up under local management to restore the landscapes through human intervention and make full use of traditional knowledge.
In 1986 a baseline survey identified 591 different species in these areas, but by 2002, the landscapes had become home to 680 different species.
Likewise, forests left unattended — particularly planted monocultures — may grow denser as they age, leaving the forest floor without sunlight. Those thinned and managed in a sustainable fashion, however, let in enough sunlight to feed lush undergrowth, which in turn fosters a wide range of different species.
Such SEPLs require people to stay on the land to manage it in a harmonious manner. As such, there has been growing focus by urban planners, among others, on the impacts of this flow of people from rural to urban areas, while the SatoyamaInitiative and others look at how to maintain healthy communities and ecosystems in the face of ageing populations and a lack of successors.
Is specialisation antithetical to resilience?
With resilience a key focus of the upcoming IUCN World Conservation Congress to be held in September 2012 in Korea, it is useful to consider the implications of people moving to and from cities.
Perhaps it is most informative to look first at systems that demonstrate a lack of resilience. Coral reefs, for example, are characterised by dizzying levels of biodiversity, are visually stunning, and are recognized for the potential pharmaceutical value of their genetic diversity.
At the same time, many of the organisms living in these environments are tremendously specialized — individualclownfish species, for example, have co-evolved with anemones in a symbiotic relationship that leaves each highly dependent on the other for survival.
Considering the fundamental changes in human civilization that are forecast for the coming decades, are these urban-rural migrants the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, or just exceptions to the prevailing rule?
In a relatively static environment, such specialisation has allowed these organisms to efficiently exploit niches within the ecosystem. At the same time, it has rendered them highly susceptible to changes in their surroundings. Mass bleaching of coral has been closely associated with unusually warm ocean temperatures and rising water levels, both of which have been predicted as outcomes of global climate change.
With coral literally providing the foundation of these ecosystems, and each organism within the system heavily dependent on the others, such events could cause the entire ecosystem to collapse. Collectively, these specialised organisms therefore constitute an ecosystem with a low degree of resilience in the face of global climate change.
Scientists have predicted that global warming will spawn a host of extreme weather events, which will test the resilience of ecosystems across the world. Couple this with the spread of invasive species, widespread habitat loss and ecosystem degradation, and the future looks grim for highly specialised organisms like the giant panda, which feeds almost exclusively on bamboo, or the five-needle Alberta pine, which relies entirely on a single species of bird for seed dispersal, the Clark’s Nutcracker.
On the other hand, organisms with less specific diets and a greater capacity to cope with fluctuations in temperature and weather patterns may flourish in the future as more specialised competitors for resources disappear.
Are rural communities inherently more resilient than cities?
Turning away from coral reefs for a moment and focusing again on cities, it has been noted that efficiency is one of the keys to economic growth. Efficiency, in turn, has often been achieved through increased specialisation.
Many urban residents have a small range of highly specialised skills such as accounting, legal advising, pediatrics, etc. They exercise these skills in an efficient manner, and rely on other specialists to meet the fundamental needs of their daily lives.
In many cases, urban residents lack even the most basic skills associated with securing food and shelter, and are successful due to (1) continued demand from society for their own area of specialty; and (2) availability of other specialists who can provide them with food and shelter. The absence of either point would raise serious challenges for the individual.
It could therefore be argued that urban systems, filled with their highly specialised and externally dependent individual parts, lack resilience in the same way that a coral reef does. Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, for example, more than 600,000 people left the capital Port-au-Prince in a mass exodus for the rural areas because food distribution networks had shut down and many people had lost any form of shelter.
Movement away from urban centres towards rural areas may come with an increase in resilience as specialisation decreases and skill sets expand.
This does not have to be a dire conclusion, however. For, while evolutionary processes have shaped the specialisation within a coral reef, it is recent economic and social forces that have shaped urban specialisation. The giant panda cannot suddenly decide to diversify its diet, but people can always add to their skill sets.
Indeed it seems that the denser the community, the greater the pressure towards specialization. On one end of the scale, Robinson Crusoe alone on his island was responsible for every aspect of his daily survival. Further along the scale, a small group of pastoralists in the Sahara may have some areas of individual expertise, but each member of the group remains responsible for a broad range of different actions.
At the other end of the scale are extremes like New York or Tokyo, where specialisation has reached its zenith and it is possible to earn one’s livelihood solely from working as a pet therapist or wine taster.
In some cases, therefore, movement away from urban centres towards rural areas may come with an increase in resilience as specialisation decreases and skill sets expand, as with Daniel as he moved away from the specificity of accounting and took on all aspects of starting an organic herb farm, raising livestock, and marketing his wares.
If estimates hold true and the global population expands to over 9 billion people by 2050, including over 6 billion urban inhabitants, this means that over two thirds of the world’s population could potentially be based in areas characterised by a lack of resilience.
In purely economic terms, cities may represent paragons of efficiency, but the trickles of people leaving for rural areas may reflect some element of a universal human consciousness that resilience rather than efficiency may be the best survival strategy over the long term.
Buying used equipment an essential part of sustainable farming
Buying used farming and construction equipment is a key part of sustainable farming. When you choose to farm ecologically you are not only focusing on the profitability of your crops but you are also benefitting your environment by utilizing renewable resources to grow your food. This enhances not only the lives of people you provide product to but also the farmers who work and live off the land.
A single farm can become a self-sufficient method of recycling when you consider how damaged crops and animal waste can become fertilizer. Crop rotation nurtures the soil and rain water can even be used to water the plants. Money and natural resources are saved to a great degree by using this method. Purchasing used construction equipment is just another form of recycling (or reuse) that can take place on a farm.
Used construction equipment for a farm usually comes from previous users or suppliers that no longer wish to use the pieces because they have gotten older and their parts are harder to find. This can be a nuisance for an operation that doesn’t have the time to stop and work on their equipment or try to find parts for it.
Farmers who know how to work on their own equipment and don’t mind doing a little looking around for parts won’t have a problem with used equipment. Technology also often becomes outdated and manufacturers phase out certain pieces that don’t match up to the new and latest releases.
As the economy fluctuates and the construction equipment market changes certain pieces come and go. As people buy new, the older equipment that still functions well needs a new home.
Unless a piece of equipment is labeled as being broken down it probably will function nicely after a small tune-up and inspection. Sometimes a few small pieces are needed to make the engine run better but this often only costs a few dollars and can make a big difference over how much you would have saved on a brand new piece of construction equipment.
You can also make any modifications you need for your own farm and it’s often easier to do this on an older piece of equipment.
It’s not necessary to doubt the quality of a used piece of equipment in order to make sure you are running a self-sustaining farm. Most sellers will encourage you to try out the equipment before purchasing and it’s never in their best interest to try and sell something that doesn’t work properly because a bad reputation could develop.
This could prevent future transactions from occurring so it’s not likely a bad piece would be sold. Most details are stated upfront and many times a warranty is put into effect for at least 30-60 days. This gives you enough time to take your new purchase home and try it out. If any problems are going to arise they usually will within the first month or so.
Purchasing used equipment as a key part of sustainable farming allows for a reduction of energy costs and improvement in the environment. New equipment doesn’t need to be made if there are older pieces being used and this saves on factory costs.
Raw materials won’t be consumed at high levels either. Used construction equipment is a great way to go green on your farm and help not only yourself but others and the environment as well.
Business Of Sustainable Micro Gardens
Micro gardens are small growing areas planted without the benefit of a plot of land, even without extensive space. These are gardens that require only pots, which can be created out of any kind of vessel, encouraging creative recycling. Urban citizens are encouraged to go green and grow their own food inside old flowerpots, buckets, and more.
Generally, a sustainable garden feeds just the people whose home or land it is attached to, but by slightly enlarging the project, one can create a small business. The great thing about a micro garden is that it is sustainable, and a great way to teach children sustainability.
Experts suggest you need less water than with a conventional vegetable plot and can simply transfer rain water to the purpose of watering your plants.
Many types of plants can be grown, including leafy green vegetables and root veggies like carrots. Herbs are especially easy to grow. All of these are highly nutritious and would be expensive to buy at a supermarket.
You might still have to supplement, but the savings would be enormous.
Another reason this method of gardening is sustainable is that gardeners are recommended to use soil and mulch created from what can be found locally.
Finally, if you are interested in organic gardening and getting away from GMO produce, creating a self-contained garden makes it even easier to prevent cross-contamination from nearby farms or neighboring gardens. This includes the spread of weeds.
A big part of green living is learning how to be self-sufficient. When you buy produce, no matter how high quality it is, there is usually packaging around it. To be really green, one strives to get rid of packaging entirely. Produce grown at home does not have to be bagged in plastic or paper.
Because a micro garden can be set up on a patio or a deck, it can be an indoor or outdoor venture. The trick appears to be fitting as many tables and buckets into a small area as possible, with just the essential space for moving between plants to care for and harvest them.
An indoor garden is completely feasible where weather is too inclement to maintain an outdoor system or when the growing season is very short. Moreover, many people only have a balcony at their disposal because they live in an apartment. If they can get enough sun onto their herbs and veggies, there is no reason to rely on the produce department of the local grocery store. Urbanites can enter the green revolution.
Because a sustainable micro garden is typically an independent operation for the benefit of a family or household and is very small, raising a business from this practice seems unlikely. Yet, add a few more boxes, expand the venture while remaining small, and you could have the beginnings of a green business. Sell the excess produce you grow, even if there is only a little bit. Local grocers sometimes buy goods from individuals with green thumbs.
A Green Consulting Business
Besides growing and selling herbs and lettuce, consumers with skills can work as consultants to other householders. Those with high education, such as individuals holding project management degrees can be of great assistance in starting and maintaining a green business. Experience is valuable. Hire yourself out as a teacher with the skill of turning a 4-foot-square brown brick terrace into green space.
Act as hired troubleshooter. People will also pay to get a micro garden growing. A one-off cost will be quickly justified as the pots flourish for seasons to come. Many community groups need this kind of help but cannot afford to pay. Become a volunteer consultant, or apply to organizations that provide funding for green management to low-income families who will make an effort to become self-sustaining if they know where to start.
Garden Decor Ideas
Turning your terrace, patio or porch into a beautiful, relaxing, and fun place for your family and friends is personally rewarding. A garden décor is great tool that can enhance the aesthetic qualities of your garden or backyard. It’s time to rethink how you can make your backyard or garden the place to spend time alone or with people you love.
This article tells you how you can transform an ordinary area into something that will elicit “oohs” and “aahs” even if your budget is tight or have little space.
You need to have a theme for your garden’s overall look to make this makeover easier to accomplish. Choose from the garden décor themes listed below based on what you already own. Don’t think your area is too small because even a tiny space can look bigger with a few tricks.
And if you think you don’t have enough greenery to make it look like a garden that issue can be remedied, too. All it takes is a little creativity, patience, and some new ideas.
Garden Decor Ideas
Here are 15 of the best outdoor themes you might want to consider:
- Stick to a monochromatic theme by giving your garden a fresh, polished look sans the overkill. You might already have essential pieces such as a wide beach or golf umbrella and wire-work stools and round table so that’s a plus. Other future accessories will blend right in with a white/gray scheme. A patio umbrella is an excellent visual addition to any garden.
- If you have plenty of benches, now is the time to maximize their use. Arrange them with a picnic table to play up a nautical theme such as blue hydrangeas in clear vases and fish motif on placemats and lines. Benches work well outdoors because they have no backs to obstruct the view. Garden Benches
- You don’t need a complete makeover if you’re on a tight budget. Weave splashes of fire engine red throughout your space with table linen, planters, red-based table lamps or ceramic vases for centerpiece.
- Give outdoor space a tropical twist with colorful accents such as cushions in shades of fuchsia, tangerine, and lemon yellow. Get table linen in stripes, florals, and ikat. Have wide floor mats in hot pink and orange and, if your space has trees, and a draped canopy in a splash of any of those colors for balmy days.
- If you love wicker furniture, use it to your advantage and create an intimate and cozy gathering space prepped for some evening entertainment. Add a fire pit, a portable griller, a freestanding umbrella, and you have a barbecue-cum-poolside hang-out, even without the pool!
- Do you live in a totally urban place where privacy is an issue? Enclose your small backyard with a wooden fence a foot taller than usual. Get shelves on the wall for outdoor cooking ingredients and condiments and set up essential stone furniture pieces such as stools.
- If dining alfresco is your preference, choose furniture that is weather-resistant and a canopied “roof” that has sufficient sun coverage; you can take it down after sunset if you want to dine under the stars. If you plan to have wood furniture, ensure that they have been water-proofed. Outdoor Canopies
- How about using that trunk in your attic as a coffee table for your garden, lawn or backyard? Add some Chinese lanterns, a day bed, and some colorful potted plants and you’re all set for lounging in style in your outdoor space. Small crates make good side tables for this lounging area as well.
- One of the most important furniture pieces that can make or break your outdoor decoration is the sofa. Choose a unique couch in rattan and transform it into a conversation piece with plush pillows. Hang some festive-looking glass lanterns and throw in a few foot stools in bright-colored slipcovers.
- You can convert any garden space into a casual area with smart seating options. If you have a stone backyard, pepper it up with a few wire-work chairs in colors most people would find unconventional for garden furniture: purple, aquamarine, neon green, and sapphire.
- No awning in your garden? No problem. Create yours with a simple fabric canopy in beige, camel or tan. The key here is seating options like cushioned benches or stackable stools that your canopy can cover. Create a garden under glass. Of course this setting will make you and guests huddle close, but that’s what it’s all about, right?
- You want formality in dining but definitely without the fuss. A reclaimed table in teak with low-backed wicker chairs will keep the setting relaxing. Tabletop décor of lanterns made of chicken wire are not only cheap to buy or make but uniquely “cool.” Use fragrant votives in the lanterns for awesome dining aroma.
- Summer may be a long way off but you can make your lawn or patio look like summer with some lively details like bistro-style chairs in hot pink, a freestanding or golf umbrella, paper pom-pom lanterns in summer colors, and a huge jar with a circular wooden top for your dining table.
- Having your morning coffee or afternoon lemonade outdoors is perfect when your garden has a “country living” theme. Anything goes, actually, but pieces such as solid back wooden chairs, white lace-edged table linen, and blue flatware and cutlery translate to rustic cottage even when it is set up in a garden.
- The avant garde in you can spice up your garden theme with chairs in different designs and colors without looking odd. Just remember to have them all of them in one material like heavy metal, wire work, rattan or wood. Interestingly-shaped chairs are all over flea markets and the internet.
Garden Decor Accents
Giving your garden your own personal touch makes all the difference between an ordinary yard, patio or lawn and a breathtaking spectacle. Take the time to consider what accessories will make your garden a dreamscape. Plants, vegetation, and flowers play a key role in giving your outdoor spot a classy finish.
Garden Decor Accents
Here are ten great garden décors to choose from:
- Arbors: add elegance to your patio or garden entrance with an arbor. You may not imagine it now, but garden arbors add some whimsy to any garden. Trailing plants – honeysuckle, grape vines, and roses – can be strategically placed in a garden arbor.
- Storage sheds: when you have that sense of style, a storage shed can easily blend with your garden scheme. Create a flagstone path for a potting shed with wide-plank and peeled paint exteriors for rustic charm. Sedum and other green succulents on a shed’s roof keep it cool, bright, and brighten any garden.
- Statuary art: find your style and give your garden a sense of artistry with little gnomes, forest animals, and even gods and goddesses. Statuary makes elegant accent pieces and gives your garden a classic touch. Just make sure you don’t go overboard; you want a few pieces, not the whole Mt. Olympus community.
- Water fountains or waterfalls: these are typically found indoors but why not think out of the box and give your garden the whole Zen appeal? A water fountain or waterfall makes for an arresting focal point for any garden, including yours. Get one with lights for quiet yet twinkling nights.
- Bird feeders and bird baths: the available sizes, colors, and styles of bird feeders and bird baths is seemingly endless. Choose your while from those with planters, in ornate metal, hand-sculpted, in brass finish, tube shape, with pedestals, in marble, and mosaic glass, among other popular choices.
- Stone arrangements: although typical of a Zen garden, stones and pebbles can be ideal décor even in an outdoor setting sans the Japanese motif. Lush vegetation and low-lying blooms look easy on the eyes with big and small polished flat stones used as steps.
- Container options: get clever with unusual plant containers! Use old porcelain toilet cisterns as planters by concealing their past lives behind bamboo screens or other plants around their bases. Colanders, baby bath tubs, crock pots, children’s wagons, old sinks, and even baby prams make terrific planters.
- Gazing balls: these are yet another set of unusual décor items for a unique garden. Gazing balls are multi-seasonal, add sparkle to the conventional greenery of a garden, and become the center of attraction for al fresco dining. Make your own or scour the internet for great deals.
- Garden stakes: give your outdoor place some interesting finds like garden stakes that require no other hardware; you just push them right into the ground. Choose from a plethora of lawn art, pathway lights, flags, glass orbs, candle holders, outdoor shadow, weathervanes and metalwork, among other finds.
- Go solar: help the environment and save money while you beautify your garden with solar lighting. eco-friendly Garden entertaining has never been more fun or eco-friendly than with solar tabletop lanterns, solar string lights, pathway lights, and garden wall lanterns, and lawn stakes, to name a few.
Outdoor Garden Decor
You can easily have an attractive, affordable outdoor garden on a shoestring budget (unless you want to replicate the one hanging in Babylon!). The key factor is to have outdoor decor that is durable, inexpensive, sleek-looking, and blends well with your general garden motif.
Outdoor Garden Decor
If you are stumped on what to get, here are some ideas for great outdoor ideas using garden decor:
- Create a patio in your garden with durable furniture pieces such as tiny chairs and small benches that take up little space. Ditch the idea of a garden resembling that of Eden and “scatter” potted plants in your patio. Have the planters in rich colorful hues to make greenery stand out.
- Go for gravel. Crushed limestone is a great substitute for grass. Get privacy with galvanized metal for your fence; it costs practically the same as a wood fence with a distinct advantage: metal will never rot. Provide irrigation with an eco-friendly rainwater collection container to help your garden grow.
- Do you want attractive landscaping but don’t want to spend loads of money for it? Create your own! Install a “waterfall” or a water fountain. Better yet, make your own fish pond and populate it with your favorite koi or construct a reflecting pool and surround it with colorful flowers.
Hopefully, these ideas will help you decorate your green garden beautifully or a Micro Garden on the cheap! I have been using and reviewing a great resource The Home Book: A Complete Guide to Homeowner and Homebuilder Responsibilities, I’m finding this to be an authority guide on workmanship to Homeowners and Homebuilders alike.
What Could Bee the Problem?
Recently, life for nature’s natural pollinators has been nothing short of a terrifying and detrimental nightmare. The continuing trend of dying bees is known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Estimates show that CCD is responsible for approximately 10 million fallen beehives, worth $2 billion in agriculture and ecological benefits over the last five years.
The most troubling news is that none of us seem to know what causes such a massive population decline to such an invaluable species. However, recent studies by scientists at the University of Maryland provide new insight and developments on the possible cause of Colony Collapse Disorder.
In the past, researchers and scientists have hypothesized myriad explanations for the CCD phenomena. Explanations range from mites to cellphone towers, but new data supports one hypothesis as the crux of the issue. Maryland Researchers collected pollen from hives on the East coast and fed the pollen to a group of healthy bees.
The findings show that the test group of bees developed a serious decline in their ability to resist a parasite that causes Colony Collapse Disorder. The pollen ingested, on average, was a mixture of nine different pesticides and fungicides that normal bees would otherwise collect and feed to their hive.
One sample of pollen collected revealed a combination of 21 different harmful chemicals of pesticides and fungicides. The results, which were published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggested that bees exposed to the sample of collected pollen are over three times more likely to be affected by the CCD-causing parasite.
Pesticides and fungicides, once thought safe for bees, will now be completely re-evaluated. Out of their gathered sample, UMD researchers expressed particular concern over fungicides. They “found an increased probability in Nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load”.
Finding a solution to this discovery will of course take time and innovation as halting the use of pesticides is out of the equation. Pesticide and fungicide use requires reconsideration in terms of usage, placement, and development in order to maintain a fine balance between crop protection and bee wellness.
One hopeful solution is the host of innovative Ag-Tech companies spearheading the cleantech sector. For those looking to make their own personal impact, companies produce natural herbicides, pesticides and fungicides from botanical oils for residential and commercial use.
Another strongly venture-backed company is American biological pesticide producer, Agraquest, who was recently acquired by Bayer CropScience for $424 million. This acquisition is telling of a developing trend for big corporations need to procure more sustainable agrochemical product portfolios.
It will be up to the big organizations to invest in the expanding sea of clean-agritech innovations in order to secure a sustainable and working system for agrochemicals. Only then can we start to rebuild from the damage caused by Colony Collapse Disorder.