Posts Tagged ‘ecori’

In Massachusetts, large facilities are complying with a food-waste ban, creating many green jobs and boosting economic activity.

EcoRi News reports, “The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently issued a report which found that the state’s commercial food waste ban has created more than 900 jobs and stimulated $175 million in economic activity during its first two years.

“Implemented in 2014, the nation’s first food scrap and organics ban requires any commercial organization that disposes of a ton or more of food scrap a week to pull it out of the waste stream and reuse it, send it for composting or animal feed operations, or use it in an anaerobic digestion facility that produces renewable energy.

“The report, conducted by ICF International Inc. of Cambridge, assessed the economic development benefits of food-waste-reduction initiatives. The 25-page report compared jobs and economic activity among food-waste haulers; composting, anaerobic digestion and animal feed operations; and food-rescue organizations before and after the Oct. 1, 2014 implementation of the ban. The ban creates jobs by driving a market for alternatives to disposing of food waste in Dumpsters, according to the report.

“The report also shows that food-waste haulers and processors, as well as food-rescue organizations, employ 500 people directly, while supporting more than 900 jobs when accounting for indirect and induced effects. These sectors generate more than $46 million of labor income and $175 million in economic activity. …

“About 1,700 facilities, including restaurants, hotels and conference centers, universities, supermarkets and food processors, are covered under the ban.” More here.

Meanwhile, the more of us who convert our own food scraps to compost for our yards, our friends’ yards, or community gardens, the better for the envionment. “One and one and 50 make a million,” after all.

Photo: Green Fingers
Converting food scraps to compost instead of putting them in the trash. In Massachusetts, large facilities are complying with a food-waste ban. Individual efforts add up, too.

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Love this story by Leigh Vincola at EcoRI News.

“The Harvest Kitchen Project is one of the many arms of Farm Fresh Rhode Island that keeps local food circulating in our communities. The program takes area youth, ages 16-19, who are involved with juvenile corrections, and puts them to work making sauces, pickles and other preserves.

“The teenagers participate in a 20-week job-readiness program that prepares them for employment in the food industry. The program touches not only on kitchen skills but the on the many aspects of work in the culinary industry, from sales and customer service to local farm sourcing to teamwork and cooperation. …

“For the past several years, Harvest Kitchen has operated out of a commercial kitchen space in Pawtucket.”

But when Pawtucket Central Falls Development (PCF) “approached Farm Fresh with its rehabilitation plan for 2 Bayley St., a downtown [Pawtucket] multi-use building that would include affordable housing, retail space and job-training opportunities, the match seemed perfect.” More  at EcoRI, here.

I’ve been buying Harvest Kitchen’s applesauce at the Burnside Farmers Market, and I’m being completely honest when I say it’s the best applesauce I’ve had in years. That’s partly because I love chunks in my applesauce, but also because it’s sweet with no sugar added. If you return the empty jar, you get 25 cents back on the next jar.

Harvest Kitchen offers cranberry and strawberry applesauce, too. Other products include dried apple slices, peach slices in season, whole tomatoes, pickles with veggies, dilly beans and onion relish.

In addition to PCF, organizations that have helped to make this happen include Rhode Island Housing, RI Department of Children Youth and Families (Division of Juvenile Correction), Amgen Foundation, Fresh Sound Foundation, The Rhode Island Foundation and TriMix Foundation.

Find sales locations here.

Photo: FarmFreshRI

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Imaginative storm drains are delivering a friendly message about protecting a river to residents who might like to enjoy more recreational river activities. The effort is one of many to improve water quality in Rhode Island.

Frank Carini of EcoRI has the story. “The health of southern New England’s coastal waters and its various, and vital, watersheds is improving, but major challenges remain, most notably stormwater runoff from urbanized areas. …

“Janet Coit, director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), recently told ecoRI News that stormwater runoff is one of the greatest challenges when it comes to protecting the region’s waters.

“ ‘It’s going to require a lot of small actions,’ she said. ‘We can’t deal with stormwater with just big tunnels.’ …

“Urban development has led to increased flooding, beach closures and limited access to waterways, with climate change serving to exacerbate these impacts, including those affecting marine life in Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay and Long Island Sound.

“In many urban areas, however, site-specific efforts to address stormwater runoff are marking progress, according to the fifth annual Watershed Counts Report.

“ ‘The urban projects featured in this yearly report can and should help drive more, broader and integrated initiatives,’ said Tom Borden, program director of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, which coordinates the annual report along with the Coastal Institute at the University of Rhode Island. ‘The benefits are not only environmental and societal, but have a direct link to enhancing the region’s economy.’ ”

More at ecoRI, here.

By the way, if you live near Rhode Island and are interested in doing part-time work as an investigative environmental journalist, they have an open position. See http://www.ecori.org/job-listings.

Photo: Brent Bachelder
The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council is working with artist and educator Brent Bachelder and The Met School to create storm-drain murals, such as this one in front of Donigian Park on Valley Street, along the Fred Lippitt Woonasquatucket River Greenway in Providence.

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At ecoRI, Frank Carini has a story about an unusual ambition.

“Julian Forgue’s life, at least his professional one, revolves around food,” writes Carini. “He owns the popular restaurant Julians on Broadway [in Providence], just opened Pizza J a street over on Westminster, operates a catering business and has a food bus. The foodie would like to add a vertical garden/indoor farming operation to his food pyramid. …

“The longtime restaurateur even has a piece of property in mind: the former Head Start school on Almy Street, at the corner of Meader Street.

“The derelict three-story building has been wasting away for years, but thanks to the vision of city officials and ambitious urban farmers the pavement surrounding the 90,000-square foot property has been growing food for the past three years. Forgue would like to do the same inside. …

“Forgue said he has been intrigued by the idea of vertical farming for about a decade. … [He] has had very preliminary discussions with a city official who didn’t shoot down the idea. That’s a start.

“ ‘It’s not necessarily about making money, but drawing action around growing more local food in inner-city neighborhoods,’ Forgue said. ‘It’s about the action of proof and showing projects like this can be done. There’s energy out there for this. We can’t just keep opening up restaurants and bars.’ ” More here.

The article was made possible with support from the Horsley Witten Group. Did want the same piece of information that I felt was missing? What happened to the Head Start school?

Photo:  Joanna Detz/ecoRI News
A Providence restaurant owner would like to see this vacant building at the corner of Almy and Meader streets turned into a vertical farm. An urban farmer is already growing food outside the former Head Start school.

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Tim Faulkner at ecoRI has been covering Rhode Island’s newest food initiatives. Recently he wrote about the unusually advanced greenhouse of Boston Greens. in Kingstown.

“Lewis Valenti, CEO and founder of the greenhouse and the Boston Greens line of leafy green vegetables and herbs it produces, spent five years studying how to start a business that grows produce indoors and year-round. …

“The result is what Valenti describes as the most technologically advanced greenhouse in New England. The 8,400-square-foot glass barn relies on advanced computer programs to manipulate light, feeding and humidity.

“All plants are fed a fertilizer-rich water that recirculates in a system of troughs at the base of the plants, a process known as hydroponic growing. The water alone goes through several filters and processes that strip it of minerals and all non-water elements. A nutrient mix is then reintroduced before it is fed through the hydroponic system.

“The benefits are an ability to control the nutrients in the plants and increase their overall health benefits. There are no pests and therefore no need for pesticides or herbicides, according to Valenti. The process conserves water, using 1,200 gallons a day compared to 28,000 gallons for a comparable outdoor field, according to Valenti. The yield is higher, too. The greenhouse will grow 250,000 heads of lettuce throughout the year, producing the equivalent of a 4-acre farm. …

“So far, the $1.3 million project has been privately funded, and it’s already generating revenue. All future harvests of lettuces and herbs have been pre-sold to a handful of restaurants and eight grocery stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

“Valenti, who went to college in Rhode Island and keeps a home in East Greenwich, said Rhode Island is a foodie state with top restaurants, culinary schools and a burgeoning agricultural movement. But with limited space for farmland, the new greenhouse is the best way to keep the local food movement sustainable while creating jobs, he said.

“ ‘I can’t think of a better place to grow food than Rhode Island,’ Valenti said.”

More here.

Photo: Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News photos
The new greenhouse is expected to grow 250,000 heads of lettuce annually.

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I’ve been learning a lot lately from reading ecoRI’s Tim Faulkner. Recently he wrote about entrepreneurial approaches to taking carbon out of the atmosphere. He notes that one of the more ironic opportunities, according to Thorne Sparkman of investor Slater Technology Fund, is through the oil and gas industry, which uses CO2 in extraction and now can at least bury it instead of releasing it.

“Finding ways of supplying some [CO2] from existing carbon sources is a one of the main markets in the emerging, and broadly defined, field of carbon capture and storage (CCS),” writes Faulkner.

“ ‘CO2 is everywhere, but it has not really been harnessed,’ said Emily Cole, co-founder of Liquid Light, a New Jersey-based startup that wants to reduce greenhouse gasses by transforming carbon dioxide into industrial chemicals. …

Enhanced Energy Group of West Kingstown is also looking at cutting emissions from the oil and gas industry, while increasing production. Its founder, Paul Dunn, spent 25 years designing engines for the Navy, some of which were emissions free.  He’s now building power sources that sequester CO2 before it vents into the air. …

Bioprocess Algae is converting unwanted CO2 into algae for fish and animal feed, and as nutritional supplements. The company recently relocated its headquarters from Portsmouth, R.I., to Shenandoah, Iowa, to be closer its CO2 supply source, a corn-fueled ethanol plant.”

Chief technology officer Toby Ahrens says that sequestering carbon dioxide in algae may not have large-scale prospects, but so far, it is one of the few profitable opportunities in this arena. More at ecoRI, here.

Photo: iStock
Trees are one way to sequester carbon.

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We all have ambitions, and it seems that there are people in Providence whose ambition it is to hold the tree-hugging record. If you can help, the date is April 25.

According to Tim Faulkner at EcoRi, the goal is to be greener than Portland, Oregon.

“In an effort to establish its green cred and presumably give a big thanks to the environment, the city will attempt to wrest a unique world record from the undisputed champion of green cities: Portland, Ore.

“What’s the record? The largest tree hug. Portland set the benchmark in 2013, with 936 people hugging trees at one time.

“Providence and the Rhode Island Tree Council will host the group hug during its Earth Day Spring Cleaning on April 25. The record attempt will take place at Roger Williams Park, after some 40 neighborhood cleanups across the city. Last year’s cleanups drew about 2,200 volunteers, and organizers hope the Portland record will fall if at least half of them join the after party in the park.

“Registration for the after-cleanup party at Roger Williams Park will be held from 1-2:30 p.m. All tree huggers must register, and early registration is recommended. To register, click here. The event begins at 3 p.m., and all participants must hug a tree for a minute.”

More here on solar power, composting, bike sharing, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza’s sustainability proposals, and plans for energy-saving streetlights.

Photo: Momma on the Move

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