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Posts Tagged ‘agriculture’

BY MIMI ZEIGER

Marijuana wafts across the California landscape as legalization of recreational use approaches.

FROM THE OCTOBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Ed Rosenthal grows weed. He has for decades. The Oakland, California-based horticulturist, author, and activist is the go-to expert on home cultivation. He’s written more than a dozen books on the subject and the policies that surround medical marijuana and legalization. Their titles fall somewhere between what you’d see in your local nursery and your corner head shop: The Big Book of Buds (volumes one through four), Marijuana Garden Saver, and Marijuana Pest & Disease Control.

“Growing is addictive,” Rosenthal says with a laugh, and then quickly clarifies that the drug is not. “Given the right conditions and a sunny backyard, marijuana can be grown almost anywhere in California.” He speaks poetically about marijuana’s diverse morphology: It has male and female plants. Some are tall, some wide, and there are different strains like indica or sativa that range in color—like heirloom tomatoes—from absinthe yellow–green to maroon and deep purple. To cultivate cannabis for its THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and psychoactive properties, only the female plants are grown. The male plants look a bit like wild mustard; the female plants are the ones that produce buds for consumption. “With humans and cannabis, the female is considered more beautiful,” he explains. “I have a bunch of marijuana plants growing, and they all look different, like six different varieties of a dahlia. Each plant is (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Discarded pesticide cans, photographed in 1972. By Daniels, Gene, photographer, Photographer (NARA record: 8463941) (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

In early March, the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), the trade group that represents professional landscape contractors and maintenance professionals, released a statement warmly embracing the new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in the hope that he would roll back pesticide regulations. Three weeks later, Pruitt gave them a strong positive signal. On March 29, ignoring the EPA’s own research, he signed an order denying a petition that would ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to memory loss and neurological damage.

NALP executives declined to comment on Pruitt’s rescinding the ban, because chlorpyrifos is no longer used by landscape contractors. (It has not been manufactured for nonagricultural use since 2000 because of the risks it poses to human health.) But NALP Vice President of Government Relations Paul Mendelsohn said in an email that the group’s goal in pushing back on pesticide regulations is to make sure its members, who purchase and use pesticides for much of their landscape maintenance work, have as many options as possible: “We have members who offer organic services, and others who use synthetic products,” Mendelsohn says. “Our goal is to strive for a regulatory environment that offers our businesses and their clients a choice in what products are used when providing services.”

NALP’s welcome for an EPA administrator who has spent much of his career suing the agency he now runs stands out among other landscape professional associations and conservation groups. Most have rejected Pruitt (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

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The Living Filtration System. Illustration by Living Filtration System.

It’s the habitat that most determines the health of any ecosystem, but it’s largely invisible to the naked eye. The soil under your feet, if it’s healthy, is filled with all manner of micro-organisms, bacteria, and fungi that break down organic matter into fresh dirt loaded with nutrients, and nourish the plants growing there. Soil is the building block for all healthy biomes, and a critical concern for all landscape architects. It’s also a finite resource that’s been continually degraded (more…)

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Design disciplines often bounce around words hinting at the experimentation with practices beyond their expertise: multidisciplinary, collaborative. And it is this idea of expansion beyond one’s discipline that Outside Design wants to explore. From now until December 19, the exhibit will be on display at the Sullivan Galleries at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a collateral event to the first Chicago Architecture Biennial. Landscape architecture, architecture, art, materials, agriculture, biology, and more collide in “laboratories” installed on site that change throughout the period of their installment. Using frogs to measure oxygen levels in buildings, reclaimed materials for human and animal cohabitation, and a compact self-sustaining system, these installments experiment with creating fluid movement between neighboring professions.

If you are attending the 2015 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO, be sure to stop by during the Sullivan Galleries open hours, Tuesday–Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For more information and a list of upcoming exhibit events, please visit here.

Credit: Images courtesy the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sullivan Galleries; “Honey Windows,” “Habitat Wall,” “Amphibious Envelope,” “Biodynamic Feedback Loop,” Tony Favarula; “Black Gold Magic,” Christine Kousgaard.

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A European honeybee (Apis mellifera) cared for by Urban Apiaries, in Philadelphia. The hives live on the roof of the SHARE Food Program in North Philly. Photo by Lauren Mandel.

A European honeybee (Apis mellifera) cared for by Urban Apiaries, in Philadelphia. The hives live on the roof of the SHARE Food Program in North Philly. Photo by Lauren Mandel.

Lauren Mandel is one of rooftop agriculture’s more ardent cheerleaders, but also one of its most helpful handicappers. Her new book, Eat Up: The Inside Scoop on Rooftop Agriculture, is a complete guide to making rooftop agriculture work at various scales, and she’s not afraid to let people know about the challenges as well as benefits. We talked with Mandel about what’s going on in rooftop ag today and how farms are showing up in the most unlikely places.

You have a landscape architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania and you’re now working for Roofmeadow, a firm that’s known for roof gardens. How did you get from A to B?
I’ve always been interested in green roofs and rooftop agriculture, and when I went to Penn, my objective was to get really solid training in landscape architecture with the idea that I would eventually work in a slightly different industry but with a landscape architecture lens. Learning how to think like a landscape architect has been instrumental in my ability to design at multiple scales, and understand how all the parties and priorities relate to one and another. So there’s been a lot of things I’ve learned from landscape architecture that I’ve been able to apply to green design and rooftop agriculture.

I had worked for a few years in landscape architecture firms in Philadelphia and Seattle, and then again while I was in graduate school. During my last semester of graduate school, I wrote the first draft of my book; my advisors were landscape architect Karen M’Closkey, urban planner Domenic Vitiello, economist Anita Mukherjee, and Charlie Miller, the founder of Roofmeadow. I thought it was important to have these advisors because it was a very multidisciplinary subject.

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