From Vacants to Vegetables: How do I build a garden?

As reported in my last post, I obtained rights to build a community garden on a vacant lot from the City of Baltimore. But I have never actually gardened, and had no idea how to build a garden from scratch. After doing my homework, and looking into examples of urban gardens online and around the city, I had a better idea of where to start. So this is what I had to start with (see above). Not so great in the natural light department, but at least there wasn’t any trash to clean up!

The lot. 414 E 26th …read more

UN Climate Panel: Poor Will Suffer More from Climate Change

bangladesh flooding 1 (Photo credit: Peter Casier)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN panel, met in Japan earlier this week and released the second of three parts of a report to be published this year on the effects of climate change. The report attempts to discover the affects of climate change on human society in the coming decades. After September’s section of the report found climate change to be “the greatest challenge of our time,” what additional findings would the second part of the report offer?

The report found that unless we act to reduce carbon emissions …read more

From Vacants to Vegetables: You Got Your Garden Plot, Now What?

414 E 26th Street, Baltimore, MD. Here is the vacant property I adopted. Not too big, but a good amount of space to get started.

So I got my plot, pictured right, exactly one month after applying. Now what do I do? How do I go about turning a vacant city lot into a vegetable garden? Let’s start off with what I can’t do, and what I have to do.

According to the license agreement with the city, I can’t install “permanent landscaping,” such as an orchard or a tree farm. This is due to the fact that at …read more

No Clean Water? Suck It Up!

TECHNICIAN HOLDS SAMPLES OF “DIRTY” AND “CLEAN” WATER AFTER TREATMENT – NARA – 543808 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Suck it up!” may be the words residents of developing nations begin to hear more and more when in search for clean drinking water. Well, at least that’s what social entrepreneurs from companies like Life Straw are hoping the 780 million people that lack access to clean water will do. Like more than half a dozen water purification for-profit ventures that actively participate currently, Life Straw recognizes that clean water is a global concern.

Water.org morosely reports that 3.4 million …read more

From Vacants to Vegetables: So You Want to Garden in the City?

Urban blight turned into gardens (Photo credit: Bob Elderberry)

Almost one year ago, I moved from rural New Hampshire to urban, post-industrial Baltimore. I had lived in cities for most of my life, but always felt a visceral connection to the “great outdoors”. I also love to cook and am a big fan of anything DIY. This past summer I bought several herbs and vegetables for my apartment to cook with. Window space quickly disappeared, but my desire to grow did not. It became clear that I needed more space; I needed an urban garden.

But, how does one …read more

Harboring Hope

The Waterfront Partnership has proclaimed the goal of making the Baltimore Harbor Swimmable and Fishable by 2020. Specifically, they intend – along with support from local nonprofits, business leaders, city officials and harbor advocates – to turn the currently polluted and trash strewn Harbor into a place where marine life thrives, the water is clean enough to swim, and the public health threat is removed.

The Value of Knowing Where You Are

The Waterfront Partnership released the most comprehensive report ever on the harbor’s water quality – the grade was a C-, admittedly with a large curve, indicating water …read more

To Avoid Serious Damages of Climate Change We Need Intergovernmental Cooperation NOW!

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 relative to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On September 27th the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the first part of their report, called AR5, on “the current state of scientific knowledge relevant to climate change.” More than 840 scientists convened in Stockholm to complete the report, and came to the conclusion that not only is climate change definitely happening, but that they are 95% sure that humans are the ones who should be held responsible. Additional sections of the report, to be released in 2014, will investigate …read more

Taking the Reigns: How Much Evidence Is Enough to Ignite Change?

On Wednesday, the journal of Environmental Science and Technology published a study that found high levels of radioactivity, salts and metals in the water and sediments downstream from a fracking wastewater plant on Blacklick Creek in western Pennsylvania. Sediment in the creek contained Radium in concentrations 200 times above normal, which are above radioactive waste disposal threshold regulations and pose potential environmental risks. As reported in Bloomberg:

“The absolute levels that we found are much higher than what you allow in the U.S. for any place to dump radioactive material,” Avner Vengosh, a professor at the Nicholas School of …read more

Fire Threatens Water?

As a national parks enthusiast, I try to visit a new park at least every couple years. We visited Yosemite for the first time two weeks ago – yes, right around the time the Rim Fire broke out. At the time, the only signs of the blaze came from a road closer to the park’s Northwest entrance.

PHOTO: Hiking at White Wolf, miles from threatened sequoias at Tuolumne Grove

As the week went on, murmurs throughout the park began to increase, as did the smoke billowing into the sky that was visible from some of the park’s more …read more

Sweaty & Thirsty? Turn Your Sweat Into Purified Drinking Water

According to the United Nations, 780 million people lack access to drinking water worldwide. Around 125 million children currently do not have safe water to drink and thousands die each day as a result. While we’ve been basking in a stifling heat wave that causes one to constantly perspire and imbibe gallons of cold liquids to avoid dehydration, UNICEF has been promoting a machine that turns human sweat into potable water in an effort to raise awareness of the lack of clean water in many parts of the world.

While you might be squeamish about the idea of drinking water …read more