Good news this week; Our project “Soil, Food and the City” (“Suelo, Ciudad y Alimento“) was one of ten projects selected from around the world to be developed at the MediaLab Prado Citizen Innovation workshop to be held in Veracruz, Mexico, in November.
The objective of this project is to create a low-cost tool that we can use to evaluate the quality of soil in an urban setting. With this tool we’ll be able to map empty lots in the city which have the potential to be used to grow food, with the end goal of achieving food sovereignty and security.
To create this global picture of urban soil quality we’ll conduct various tests. These tests would be conventially divided into three ‘boxes’ or subsets of tests, each with its peculiarities and advantages. The kits consist of affordable and sufficiently qualitative tests for the assessment of soil properties in urban and peri-urban sites. The complementary nature of each test will help citizens and scientists to gain an overall understanding of soil health and processes.
So if you think you’d be interesting in helping us develop this project, or to learn more about the workshops as a whole check out the collaborators page here.
recently the refarm group of barcelona was invited to participate on the beijing design week by the barcelona 2014 BJDW guest city program. we are going to make a showcase of our tools for urban farmers and make several DIY and DIT workshops.
the idea is to implement, on an existing house, the cicles of nutrients, water and energy along with farm structures and electronic tools that allow in-house food production. three of our members (hernani, emilson and guilherme, will fly from 15 september to 5 of octuber.
stay tunned, next week we’ll open a call for colaborators to help us on the building process of this exhibition.
more news soon, but if you are on the area please join us, we need you ;)
This week we’ve sent off a project that we hope will be included in the MediaLab Prado “citizen innovation” workshops that will be held in late November in Veracruz, Mexico.
Our project relates to soil health in urban and peri-urban areas and how ordinary citizens around the world can learn more about their soil, its processes, what it contains, and even how to improve it using open source tools. Click the pic below to read more about the workshop.
We’ll know if we will be on our way to Mexico in the first week of September, so until then, fingers crossed as we tend to the veggie garden!
Currently there is a huge divide between the “scientific” world and the general public. The responsibility to protect and preserve our natural environment as well as to maintain our food security has been placed in the hands of too few people. And unfortunately it is way to common for these people to have political pressures to act in one way or another, and not always in the best interest of the general public. These figures too often bow down to big businesses and money. You only have to look at how many corruption cases are being held around the world involving political figures or people meant to be representing “our” best interests.
So what about citizen science? This is something that is meant to bridge the gap between politicians, those guys in white labcoats sitting behind a microscope, and you, a citizen of the world. Through citizen science, we can have millions of individuals, trained to observe and record, collecting data from all over the globe. The information gained through citizens world wide looking at what is happening in their backyard creates “study sites” in many more places than would ever be possible by just scientists alone. And it connects us back into a system in which we NEED to take more responsibility.
Currently is being kept an automatic irrigation system on IAAC’s rooftop. It’s a basic version that stores data in the Arduino, how often and how much time it was on. The basic components are: a switch by pressure, an Arduino and a valve to water control.
The next step will be build one that also measure flow, temperature and humidity, and maybe use a memory card adapter, if the data isn’t monitored in real-time.
The code is ready and the system is in construction, just missing a few pieces. It will be ready soon.
This system will be in the garden that is being constructed there too, big part of the structure that will keep the garden is ready. We were (and still are) working hard, cutting and fitting pieces of wood to be the best possible.
This event happened in Barcelona, one of the bigger event that I ever participate, where I could learn and share a lot of information, meet some people, good contacts, specially from other FABLABs, including one from Belém (Brasil), is where I live there. Also, I participated of some interesting workshops, one about construction of a 3D printer with a lot of materials from eletronic waste and other about Arduino, “SmartCItizen” and “Hands on Wireless Sensor Network”.
The Refarmthecity also has presented a workshop about the automatic irrigation system, the objective was tell people how to make one, learn how to build themselves, what is important about it, equipments, components and the cost (lowcost). Besides some problems with the FAB 10 the objective was accomplished, we presented the idea and made people get interested about it.
Looking foward to seeing the whole structure allover together!
After conceiving the wooden structure that will support the roof garden with the archictectural help :P of Nestor and Xavi, we passed to the action.
We already have it in a more advanced state – things are evolving quite well… next step: chosing the species that will be growing in the raised garden beds :)
‘Com va això?’
New expressions, ‘same thoughts’ (would we classifie it like that since it’s a matter of language ?¿?¿)!
Considering this major food struggle we’ve been living, sovereignety, autonomy and empowerment are crucial… saying no to some things, but mostly saying ‘yes’ as a creative and positive way of developing others :) Reappropriate some skills, knowledge and techniques, and leaving the place to ‘new’ (ancient knowlodge) ones.
Essens (sprouted grain) bread is a nice way of illustrating that point of view. Wheat grains and sunlight is all we need :)
Germinate your grains
until you’ll get a modulable pasta.
Then just let the sunshine works and enjoy :)
Referência para meus amigos lusofonos :)
Sharing a brief explanation about this concept that emerged at Todmorden, England.
An example of collective effort and cooperation in order to support a local, adapted and resilient production of food. Low input and autonomous network attaining food sovereignty by growing food at open, public spots, enabling citizens to meet their needs. Harvest freely, spread the concept and give yourself over to help :)
‘Go on, take some. It’s free’ :)) Mangez local!
When food sovereignty is a major task, we should think about holistic, practical and accessible solutions as …
… jogging?!?! Juste take a look more carefully… as with many other stuff, it’s always a matter of perspective. At the bottom of the foreground we see weed, weed and still weed. Looks like an ugly abandoned garden. At first we think about just cutting it off without hesitating, so that other decorative species could take its place. This rugby field is 5mn from my place, where i can also find this beautiful buckhorn plantain ready to be harvested :))
With appropriated instructions and a good manual, cooking weeds becomes pleasant and addictive :p
No more than 15mn later and voilà!
We see coquelicot (Papaver rhoeas), plantain lanceolé (Plantago lanceolata) – the most common traditionally used wild medicinal plant since the Antiquity -, trèfle des près (Trifolium pratense), passerage des champs (Lepidium campestre), achillé millefeuille (Achillea millefolium), petite camomile (Matricaria recutica), and the seventh one i wans’t able to determine. Otherwise i wasn’t that sure about my diagnoses concerning Achillea and Matricaria neither. For the first i had an eternal doubt with another specimen of the Apiaceae (some are really toxic) and the second one wasn’t really in a gooood state – so i didn’t cook them ;/
It’s hugely important to keep some instructions in mind when harvesting weeds! Assuring the diagnose is one of the most important ones, but neglecting the environment and pillage of the spot are as well crucial mistakes.
See more here (for french speakers) http://www.lavisdesplantes.fr/erreurs-eviter-cueillette/
Finally, a really diverse and nutritive meal with Fabaceae, Brassicaceae, Papaveraceae, Asteraceae, Plantaginaceae and Solanaceae (tomatos) :))
Mentioning briefly, we could list some benefits provided by this specimens such as headache and toothache prevention, anti-inflammatory properties, purgative and digestive action, gingivitis prevention, sedative and analgesic properties, and so on…
Why the renewed interest in Edible Weeds? Beacause they are:
1. Abundant – they grow everywhere;
2. Free – just find and pick them (taking care about the spot conditions and plant’s state);
3. Easy – they grow without any effort from you;
4. Nutritious – many are more nutritious than specimens you grow on your own veggie patch :);
5. Taste great!;
6. Many of these species have been eaten or used for their medicial properties for thousands of years. In many countries some are still considered delicacies today!
http://www.incredible-edible.info/?p=2512#more-2512 (GREAT one)
http://www.mauvaisesherbes.org/f1-les-plantes-sauvages-comestibles (good catalogue, in french)
It’s been a while now since i knew about Refarm, thanks to Surian! :) It happened last winter at Rio de Janeiro countryside. Since then, open solutions and resilient processes has been my major concerns.
By sharing my impressions and personal efforts to develop urban farming at this blog, i intent to, in fact, be part of this huge open and collaborative community/network, building together our utopias :)
In this process i’ll share my perspectives and findings, mostly concerning edible wild plants, seed sovereignty, agroecological soil management and obviously some results within Refarm :)
Pleased to share with and read you all! Keep in touch!
today we started our two days tour over barcelona city trash. first stop: Solidança on our workshops we always have this idea of building with what’s available and every city has their own trash dinamics and trash resources. and barcelona would not be different. Talking with Isabel Gimeno from Solidança we both aggre that after joining EU there was a big efford on regulate the trash and since then we have a strong environmental protection policy and a cultural conscience started to grip. I’m a caver since 14 and I’ve saw many weels and deep caves filled with all sort of trash: cars, medicines, sick cattle, cloth, batteries, electronics, house and industrial sewage, just to name the ones you can quikly identify.. me and caves al over the world have spend incontless hours cleaning this mess many times preventing or at least reduce the inevitable water contamination that occours with this human behaviors. lucky in recent years we don’t see has many trash on the caves and generaly dumped next to a river flow. we have became cleaner in europe but we still have many unresolved problems: stuff that is impossible to reuse or recycle, lack of design for disassembling or designed to be imposible to repair, over consumering etc Solidança, apart of managing 4 big collection centers, brings new value and meaning to coth, electronics and house appliances. Solidança also has a strong social commitment. giving workshops of waste managment, electronics and electrical appliances reparation, gender equalty, new tecnologies, social competences, etc. Solidança also reseaches new protocols and systems with this idea in mind: work to reduce poverty and protect the environment. we were warmly recived by Miquel Caballé and Isabel Gimeno who gave us a quick tour and a long chat :) we then went strait to what was waiting for us: 60 washing machines. and this is the final result: 6 pressure switches, 2 water pumps, 6 electro-valves, 1 flowmeter!! and several other things to you know.. hack :) we ended the day with Merce Jara (tks for all ;) with a suprising tour to l’Hort Fort Pienc.
Again I missed another gathering (a bit busy these days). However, my bacteria are still up and running!! I didn’t take a picture of the serum with milk after two weeks, but basically it was a slightly cloudy liquid with big white cheese floating on top. Yesterday I separated the serum and added some molasses. As a carrier, I found some brown wrapping paper, which I drowned in the serum. Subsequently I put these wet papers (about 6 layers) in a plastic bag, sealed it, and now it should ferment another two weeks.
Since ‘tortilla’ is made in our kitchen on a weekly basis, I though the remaining egg shells could serve as a good calcium source (also mentioned by Mathew some weeks ago). To speed-up the degradation rate, I dry and grind them by using a (very) basic pepper mill, which works pretty well.
After a while I realised it’s quite labour intensive, so I’m wondering how many egg shells you need before you see a significant calcium increase in your compost.
Today I found these two projects that build closed loop ecosystems to grow small gardens and fishes at home. The fish produce the nutrients that are cycled up to feed the garden, as the garden clean and oxygen the water for the fishes;
I don’t really like the idea of the fishes trapped in a bowl, and with led lights above I can’t think they really like it… but the idea is smart anyway.
strange day today :) we started with a power faillure at IaaC from a unknown source and was until 12:30 that the energy mysteriously appeard. lucky the lactobacillus preparation does not require external energy ;)
so today we finish the bokashi process.
we filtered the serum with coffee filters
we prepared the molasses 1 part of brown sugar and 3 parts of mineral water
then we added one part of molasses, 6 parts of mineral water and one part of serum
then we soaked kraft paper with the mixture and let it rest for 10 min.
we finish the process by putting the soked paper in frezzer bags and let it rest for 2 more weeks on a dark and fresh place. the bokashi paper is now ready. after this 2 weeks we will leave it dry and it’s ready :)
A very nice and didatic video about this very ancient irrigation method that uses ceramic pots (ollas).
It works with the same principle as the UFRRJ system, that uses ceramic filters as humidity sensors. The irrigation is controlled by the water saturation in the soil.
Thanks to El Amaral ; )
today we continued the bokashi system. we clear the rice serrum with a coffe paper filter
add 10 parts of milk and let it rest for more 2 weeks.
then we started the construction of the hardware: we got 2 17L butter buckets carefully washed.
laser cuted a circle with holes to let the “liquids” leachate drain to the bottom of the container.
and then we started to make the stand that will go to IaaC’s kitchen.
we found some woods that were already cutted. a perfect fit
nestor and xavi made it more stable
to finish with glory and happy bellies, wen and amina made us an amazing rice with mushrooms, potatoes, onions and “herbs”
it was delicious!!
today some of IaaC students went for some short vacations so we went to visit a place they already know. valldaura.
we went walking from mundet metro station. ~1h climbing collserola park
we were welcomed with open harms and dirty hands by nuria ;)
after a short visit to the main building, green fab lab, woodshop, the kitchen and the property we started the preparation of one of the most important tools for a urban farmer. well for every urban , I would say, since you can include here cats and gods :p the bokashi system.
first we need to make a starch base. we used rice and shake it with water. 1 clean jam glass + ⅓ of rice +⅓ of water + ⅓ of air. shake it, take the rice. leave the jam glass lousy closed (must breath) for 15 days in a dark, ventilated and fresh place.
we were supposed to cook the rice, but since silvia was already cooking for some workers we were invited to join the same table :) a great pasta with ginger!! we here also eating an omolette so we gave our rice to the chicken :p
next week we have holidays. the right time to let the rice milk work for us ;)
under intensive rain we went visit a old friend, juan carullas.
juan is probably the oldest urban farmer guru in barcelona. he has been digging his terrace for the last 30 years!! his farm is beautiful, super dense, full of mini-water reservoirs (5000L in 5L water bottles!! + 7000L on bigger tanks) with trees and season crops.
he collects organic material from neighbors and supermarkets, compost everything and doesn’t add anything else. no fertilizers, no poisons, no moon nor biodynamic alignments. old school farming were every season he adapts and transforms to learn and experiment. you don’t tell him about companion planting he found it by doing. amazing how 80m2 can be enough to learn about, your hole life..
tks juan for keep this work without stoping all this years. we know now that this make sense but 30 years ago you were sailing alone. tks juan tks for sharing ;)
after this visit to the oldest urban farm of barcelona we went cooking :) that’s right!! for now on we’ll cook our meals in IaaC :D why? cause it makes sense, cause is expensive to eat good food in barcelona, cause cooking is a tool and has a lot of technology involved, cause we like to eat and share knowledge, cause friends always share the same table.
me and nia opened the menu today. we made pizza from the beginning. 400g of flour, 2 soup spoons of olive oil, water and salt. mix everything until you have a smooth ball that doesn’t stick in your hands. cut onions, tomatoes and garlic and slowly cook everything until you make a dense sauce. if needed improvise a shredder :)
cover with leftovers and cheese. 15mins of oven and you are ready to hear hungry mouths saying it’s the best pizza they have ever tasted :p
pizza pictures not found.. I wunder why..
ops! sorry about the pic ;) does anyone have a better one?
today we had mathew in the workshop. mathew is not a normal agronomist, he practice organic urban agriculture but he is not fundamentalist, he travels a lot, he’s friend of rats and cats albeit everyone has his place in the ecosystem :p mathew has great experience, hands on, urban farming. he saw many different types of farms, structures, systems and he just gave us a amazing lecture!! tks mat ;)
them we prepare the material to start our first watering system.
next week we’ll start cooking for ourselves!! we have a nice kitchen here in IaaC and everyone is from a different part of the planet. what a great opportunity to mix season vegetables, gastronomy, cooking technology and team building. everyone is invited to cook and eat with us. just send me a email and we squeeze you in ;)