The Tricky Business of Composting

Amy Mulvihill

Amy Mulvihill

Freelance Journalist

Baltimore

littlegunpowderfarm3Along with a hybrid in the driveway and solar panels on the roof, an earthy mound of compost decaying in the backyard has long been a signifier of an eco-conscious lifestyle—and with good reason. It is a cheap, easy, and natural way to divert organic waste from a landfill where it would otherwise almost certainly fester and release greenhouse gases, including uber-potent methane and nitrous oxide. In addition, composting results in a soil amendment that can be used to stabilize soils: runoff is reduced, moisture is retained, and crop yields are increased, all of which are ever more important as global population surpasses 7 billion. It is an elegant closed loop. Read More >

Two-Stage Ditch Could Reduce Farm Runoff on Eastern Shore

Nancy Averett

Nancy Averett

Freelance Journalist

Cincinnati

John Swaine III, Talbot County, Md.

John Swaine III, Talbot County, Md.

John Swaine III stands with his back to a field of soybeans, his sunburnt arms crossed, a dusty John Deere cap tucked over his strawberry blond hair. Near his feet is a ditch that runs adjacent to the winding country lane, Bellevue Road, that bisects his Talbot County, Maryland, farm.

The ditch is meant to collect rainwater that flows off of the fields and the road. For years, Swaine felt helpless when he saw the muddy brown water accumulating in the channel during a storm, knowing it contained soil from his fields that was enriched with commercial fertilizers. “It bothered me to see that water with sediment in it flowing right into the creek,” he says. “Still does.”

The problem is especially bad when the ditch overflows. The water crosses the road, runs through a field on the other side and eventually into Tar Creek. Read More >

Lessons Learned: Aquaponics in Baltimore

Kate McCleary

Kate McCleary

Senior Project Coordinator

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

RS2880_Aquaponics_224-scrAfter two years of daily measuring, monitoring, feeding, and harvesting, three researchers felt like they’d reached an understanding of how their aquaponics facility really worked. With a new study, “Energy and water use of a small-scale raft aquaponics system in Baltimore, Maryland, United States,” the authors describe the relationship between inputs (energy, water, and fish feed), outputs (edible crops and fish), and operating conditions for their Baltimore-based facility. Basically, authors Dave Love, Michael Uhl and Laura Genello asked, What resources does it take to maintain an aquaponics facility and how could the system be optimized for profit? Read More >

How to Comprehend a Fish

Catherine Kastleman

Catherine Kastleman

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Tilapia at the CLF Aquaponics facility.

Tilapia at the CLF Aquaponics facility.

“I learned more about fish than I ever imagined I would in my lifetime.”

This is the answer that I sometimes give to my friends when they ask me what it is exactly I was doing as a Research Assistant here at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. And despite how it may sound at first, it was some of the most exciting academic work I have ever had the opportunity to undertake.

Over the past few months, under the guidance of my supervisor, Dr. David Love, I analyzed data on the production and consumption Read More >

Climate Change and Future Harvest

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Amanda Behrens, Future Harvest conference, 2015

“Most farmers I talk to don’t believe in ‘climate change,’” said Lester Vough, a forage specialist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Maryland. “But they do believe in ‘climate extremes.’”

Vough, who is known through Maryland as “the hay guy,” was speaking about how climate change is affecting farming, specifically the hay business. He was one of the guest speakers at Future Harvest CASA’s annual conference, presenting his observations in the “Environment, Community and Policy” track organized by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. Read More >

Sustainable farming models can inspire you this Earth Week

Leo Horrigan, MHS

Leo Horrigan, MHS

CLF Correspondent

Center for a Livable Future

Out to Pasture airs on MPT, Tuesday, 9:30pm

Earth Day is coming up on Monday, but Earth Week is already upon us, and there are myriad ways to get your “green” on locally.  The Center for a Livable Future has a hand in a couple of them, namely Chesapeake Bay Week at Maryland Public Television (MPT) and Baltimore Green Week, and in both cases we are highlighting more sustainable ways of producing food.

1.  FILM SCREENING: Out to Pasture: The Future of Farming? Read More >