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Happy animals at Nibble Farm No022

 

It is most probable that we to some extent will be eating meat even in the future. Tellus Think Tank meets a passionate pig farmer that runs, what he calls, an eco dynamic breeding – and we investigate some alternative practises to what is labelled organic meat.
Text: 
Domi   Photography: AnnVixen & Nibble Farm

Momentarily we are being hit with the message, from many places and persons in society, that we should completely stop eating meat and become vegetarians. Media reports that livestock is one of the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.
We have also learnt that meat is expensive to produce because it requires more land and water than plants do to feed us. The growing population on Earth means that we will need to switch to a plant-based diet and there are no excuses left – all the proteins we need can be found in the more efficient plant kingdom, so why should we torment and eat animals?

Why do humans eat animals?

All people on earth do not eat animals, or at least not meat from certain animals. Hindus avoid eating cow,

Air-dried ham at Nibble Farm. Photo: AnnVixen
Air-dried ham at Nibble Farm. Photo: AnnVixen

Muslims avoid pig, Buddhists avoid any kind of animal, and in many countries people avoid eating dogs and cats.

But why do humans eat animals at all? The historical reason has to do with human survival, of course, as the possibility to feed on animals made it possible to live in places where the plant kingdom, for various reasons has not been sufficient, examples of such sites are numerous:

  • Places with geographical limitations such as islands with a growing population have turned instead to the sea and fish.
  • Places where the climate does not allowed the plant kingdom to provide food year-round, for example places with long snowy winters or dry periods.
  • Places where the kind of vegetation growing, such as grass, can’t feed humans but can feed animals such as cows, pigs, goats and sheep.

There are probably even more reasons to why we eat meat but we can probably agree that animals in many cases have offered mankind an alternative when the plant kingdom has not been sufficient and that from a very early stage of mankind the human diet often has been a mix of plant- and animal based foods.

Animal care is important

A Nibble piglet in a realy nice place. Photo: Nibble
A Nibble piglet in a realy nice place. Photo: Nibble

It is most likely that the human diet, in part, will continue to be both plant- and animal based. This is why we find it extra important that both agriculture and livestock breeding practises are organic and sustainable and that animals are well taken care of and do not live in misery.

Why is Tellus Think Tank visiting a pig farmer? It is thanks to the flowery descriptions from our local grocery store BEA, at Svedmyra, in Stockholm. The Swedish Christmas tradition includes ham in the oven, instead of a turkey. This Christmas customers could read a large sign above the Christmas ham from Nibble Farm, stating how well the animals were taken care of. On the BEA deli counter Linda, Jenny and Leffe where absolutely enthusiastic about the food from Nibble using phrases such as “tastes better”,
“happy animals” and ” they think differently at Nibble Farm” . This raised our curiosity.

The founder of Nibble Farm

A thin cover of snow lies over the beautiful Swedish Västmanland plains around Nibble Farm the morning I

The Västman plains, Sweden. Photo: AnnVixen
The Västman plains, Sweden. Photo: AnnVixen

meet Sven-Erik Johansson. He has over 50 years experience of farming and livestock breeding practises.

A few years ago he passed the responsibility for the farm to the next generation, Magnus and Lena Lindahl. Sven-Erik moved out of the main house of the farm and into a Tiny Home on wheels. He is still working as “Senior Advisor” and daily active in the operational tasks of the farm.

Sven-Erik is 76 years, very sharp and still very engaged and enthusiastic about the development of the farm’s breeding practises. Not only has Sven-Erik built and developed pig-breeding practises on the farm during his career but he also co-founded a hospital practise for spinal recovery – to give you a picture of his capacity. During our conversation, he talked about respecting animals and exploring new and better ways to develop breeding practises.

Sven-Erik’s upbringing, background and life reminds me of Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, who started off by selling matches to his neighbours. In Sven-Erik’s case, he took over four chickens when he was eight and started selling eggs to teachers and classmates. The proceeds where used to expand both the poultry practise and later to pay for his higher studies. When in his 20’ies he switched to pig farming.

Eco-dynamic Nibble

Nibble Farm. Photo: Nibble
Nibble Farm. Photo: Nibble

Nibble Farm breeds 5,000 pigs a year and Sven-Erik describes the development of the eco-dynamic pig practises. One of the farm’s research partners has been the SVA, Swedish National Veterinarian Medical Institution. The research has included filming of pigs to increase the understanding of their needs so that farms can develop operations to fit the pig better. The aim of research has often been to develop practises so that breeding pigs can thrive. It was discovered when filming the pigs that fixed feeding times stressed them immensely. Therefore the farm introduced feeding machines where the pigs could eat whenever they wanted.

Inspiration to develop the practises of the farm has also been sought abroad, much has been learnt from Danish farmers. Legislation in Sweden, however, has been better with an early ban on disease preventing antibiotics, says Sven-Erik.

The Netherlands is also a forerunner in livestock development and Sven-Erik was very impressed by the Dutch company Nedap, with 90 people in their research department working on technology for better animal conditions!

According to Sven-Erik, Nibble Farm runs a mix of breeding practises, positioning their farm between what is

The newly built stables at Nibble Farm. Photo: Nibble
The newly built stables at Nibble Farm. Photo: Nibble

considered pure organic and old fashioned “regular” pig breeding. Nibble calls their practice eco-dynamic and they aim to breed happy pigs that give the meat a great taste. It is equally important that the meat is affordable to everyone. In order to breed happy pigs one important factor is not to rush or stress the animals.

Instead of being visitors Nibble Farm is currently often visited by delegations from around the world– last week they received a delegation from Australia. They are happy to share their ideas on eco-dynamic farming and how the natural cycle of nature is mixed with the farming practises.

Nibble Farm and the natural cycle of nature

A sow and her lively piglets. Photo: AnnVixen
A sow and her lively piglets. Photo: AnnVixen

Nibble Farm is almost self-sufficient and grows about 90 % of the food needed by their pigs. They aim to run a practise with as little environmental impact as possible in both livestock breeding and agricultural practises and engage in crop rotation to avoid soil depletion, which also reduces the need to add nutrients. The farm also minimizes the use of pesticides, fertilise the soil with natural resources from the pig practise.

They run livestock breeding and agriculture practises in balance with the natural cycle of nature and try to minimize the harmful effects of the farm by, for instance, upgrading the agricultural machinery, such as tractors, to lighter versions to avoid compressing the soil too much.

The tour begins of Nibble Farm begins with the sows and their piglets

I admit to being a true city slicker and that this is the first time I have ever set foot in a real farm. From films

The piglets and their cubbyhole. Photo: AnnVixen
The piglets and their cubbyhole. Photo: AnnVixen

on YouTube I have understood that pig breeding practises are often murky with pigs trapped in dark and confined spaces and running and screaming in fear. Although Sven-Erik has told me that Nibble Farm’s practice differs I still enter expecting the worst.

The newly borns

We visit the sows and their piglets. The contrast between the biting wind outside and the pleasant warmth of this building is palpable. I learn that cold can stress both piglets and sows and that the heat in the building, therefore, is important.

Two piglets in their cubbyhole. Photo: AnnVixen
Two piglets in their cubbyhole. Photo: AnnVixen

In this large farm room there are about 20 boxes filled with mother-child pig families. Each box is 7 square metres and houses a sow with 12-14 piglets. In addition to the heated building, each box includes a cubbyhole with red heating lamps for the piglets to cuddle under. The sows have special heating tubes to warm them when feeding the piglets. Each box has a pipe throughout it to minimize the risk for the piglets to being squeezed under the sow as she lies down.

We visit one of the boxes and find the piglets to be lively engaged in play with each other. The mother-sow looks tired and a bit discouraged – it must be quite a job to feed 14 piglets. Sven-Erik says that the sow and piglets remain in the box for 31 days after farrowing, i.e. the actual birth. The sow can eat whenever she wants and doesn’t need to wait for fixed meal times, which reduces the stress that the pigs would otherwise experience. Sven-Erik says that this is why we do not hear any screams, the pigs are not stressed, eat when they want and are warm and comfortable. Undeniably, even though the sows are understandably tired, the piglets seem to thrive.

31 days old – time to leave home

Next stop we make is with piglets between 31 and 70 days old. They live together in a different building and are

Full rush among the two month old piglets, engaged in play with siblings. Photo: AnnVixen
Full rush among the two month old piglets, engaged in play with siblings. Photo: AnnVixen

kept indoors to keep their warmth. It turns out to be a fun visit on our tour of the farm as we visit 50 piglets in a 100 square meter box. They can eat when they want and also have a heating lamp to warm them. However, they seem not at all interested in the lamps as they playfully run around in groups in a style that resembles a tiny soccer team. I’m no pig expert but when I see these pigs, I perceive them to be happy!

Between the ages of two and six months the pigs move into the farm’s most recently built stables where they share a box with about 20 other pigs. This is the last station for them on the farm. The boxes do not look very inspiring but the pigs can eat when they want and if they want to go outdoors they have their own balcony. In the summer the balcony even holds a shower so they can cool down!

Soon six months old and enjoying some fresh air on the balcony. Photo: AnnVixen
Soon six months old and enjoying some fresh air on the balcony. Photo: AnnVixen

Again, I see pigs looking curious and happy. Sven-Erik tells me a few surprising things about the pig. One is that they do not like to stand in hot sun because of their weak pigmentation and lack of protective hair. The pig is one of the cleanliest animals. After researching the area, Nibble Farm now know that pigs prefer the shade and a cool water shower before taking a role in the mud and have designed the farm accordingly.

Not even one bad day

At six months of age, it is time for the pigs’ journey to the slaughterhouse in Skövde.

-So, Pigs only have one bad day? I ask.

-No, they do not even have one bad day! Sven-Erik responds.

He explains that the pigs move in a very easy and stress-less way into the transportation truck and that they quickly fall asleep during the journey as they feel safe and are still together with their siblings. Once at the slaughterhouse, they are calmly moved into a one-pig-at-a-time elevator and sedated prior to the actual slaughter.

During their lifetime they are never separated from their siblings.

The sows in waiting

The last building we visit on our tour is a classic Swedish Falu-red barn. It is one of the most beautiful places

The sows, in waiting, snuggling in the hay. Photo: AnnVixen
The sows, in waiting, snuggling in the hay. Photo: AnnVixen

I’ve visited and the air inside is fresh and cool, the birds are chirping in the rafters, and the airy walls let in a beautiful pattern of glorious daylight. The sows live here during their three months pregnancy and it looks very harmonious.

The sows can choose if they want to be in their outdoor courtyard or stay in the straw filled barn. The sow quarters have been designed so they can move around freely and exercise during their pregnancy. During my visit the weather is dull and most decide to stay indoors snuggle down in thick layers of straw. Some are curious and greet us upon arrival and when we go to look at their concrete yard some of them follow us out!

The Nibble pig feed

Nibble Farm grows 90 % of their pigs food. The food consists of roughage (hay), herbs such as camomile, bird’s-foot-trefoil and catsfoot but also peas, broad beans , linseed cake, rape seed and cereals. The last ten per cent of the diet consists of various nutritional supplements.

Nibble eco-dynamic farming compared to organically labelled breeding

krav_markeSwedes consumers find several different kinds of sustainable labelled food and the one that is the most difficult to produce is KRAV. Another widely used organic label is the EU organic logo, which is usually somewhat easier to produce.

Here are some examples of organic requirements that Nibble Farm follows:

The EU organic logo.
The EU organic logo.

The pig should be able to go outdoors at any time of the year. The pig should always have the possibility to root. During hot weather the pig should be able to cool off. The farm should be self-sufficient up to 50% of their pigs’ food (Nibble produces 90%). The pig should have free access to a bed of hay. Pigs should not routinely be given preventive treatment with antibiotics. During castration male pigs have to be provided with anaesthesia and analgesics.

Nibble Farm has chosen to deviate from some organic label requirement and Sven-Erik explains why:

  • According to some organic requirements pigs must obtain field grazing in the summer and have large areas to move around. Nibble Farm doesn’t provided this and Sven-Erik explains that for centuries pigs have become accustomed to a life indoors, that their pigment can’t handle strong sun and they don’t like to protect themselves from the sun by rolling in mud. Therefore, the animals have the ability to go out but they always have the opportunity to go back indoors and during summer they can take a cooling shower whenever they want.
  • According to the current organic requirements sows should be allowed to build nests. Nibble considered that pigs’ nests require so much straw that many piglets are “lost” in it and more easily squeezed to death. The sows are instead presented with enough straw to be able to make a nice bed and a heat lamp as a replacement to a full nest.
  • Additional organic requirements state the pig should only eat organically grown food, not treated with any chemical pesticides. Nibble Farm want both plants and animals to be healthy and therefore use pesticides when needed but not routinely. Pigs are also vaccinated to prevent disease but are not given
    The tasty and happy pig is one of the aims of the eco-dynamic farm. Photo: AnnVixen
    The tasty and happy pig is one of the aims of the eco-dynamic farm. Photo: AnnVixen

    antibiotics regularly.

I understand that there are discussion about which approach should be accepted in the livestock industry,

ranging from “ordinary” to strictly organic according to official guidelines.

Nibble Farm has chosen its own path and conducted research in areas that have not seemed apparent to others, respecting the cycle of nature in balance with the urge to produce good meat affordable to the many.

 

My day at Nibble Farm is coming to an end and we pass the silo, the storage of the self-grown animal food, and the farmhouse where the air-dried hams and salami hang. During summertime Nibble Farm opens for visitors – I would recommend anyone that wishes to learn more to drop by!

To summarize my day at Nibble Farm it has been informative and full of happy and curious pigs!
If we are to continue eating meat in the future I believe every farm should be breeding happy animals.

Do you want to read more about the future of food, check out the skyscrapers that will feed city dwellers with vegetables!

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Tellus Think Tank
Tellus Think Tank

 

 

 

Australia and its sustainable population No021

A sustainable population. At the beginning of 2016 Australia reached a population of 24 million and worries where cabled over the Internet on how to handle the large population. It intrigued the team at Tellus Think Tank because the Australian continent, in size, is equal to the USA, Europe and China (with populations of 320 Million, 740 Million and 1,3 Billion).  Why worries about the meagre 24 million? Text: Domi. Featuring photo: Hanna Isabelle Sjöberg. Photo’s in article: Annika Hals Molnar & Hanna Isabelle Sjöberg

We where lucky to get in contact with Sandra Kanck, President of Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) for an on-line interview that turned out to be very interesting and enlightening. Tellus Think Tank normally strives to share inspiration on sustainable happenings around our globe, to be able to help people and societies chose a more sustainable path.

Our interview with Sandra showed challenges, some still without solutions – which can be inspiring to problem solvers. So let’s hope this interview shares some enlightenment and helps enhance problem solving in that force of friendly individuals that we know exists around the world!

Read more: The Growing Population of Earth.

"Sandra

Sandra Kanck, President of Sustainable Population Australia, March 2016.

Sandra, where were you brought up and what brought you to where you are today?

I grew up in Broken Hill, a rural city in outback Australia, and was the oldest of seven children. I learnt early on that my school friends who all came from smaller families had more money to go round. In my early 20’s I became involved in the anti-nuclear movement, and from that progressed to the peace movement and wider environment movement. From there it was a matter of joining the dots and finding the right group to join.

Australia has a arid and hot climate. Photo: Hanna Isabelle Sjöberg
Australia has a arid and hot climate. Photo: Hanna Isabelle Sjöberg

How was your connection to nature in an early age? Do you have any specific memory that sticks out?

Broken Hill was a town of 30,000 people surrounded by arid lands, where kangaroos and emus were common outside the city limits. The dry climate meant I occasionally experienced fierce dust storms, and I was brought up to understand the importance of conserving water.

You are the national president of Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).
What kind of an organisation is SPA and what does SPA stand for / aim for?

SPA was formed almost 30 years ago. We are not a political party, although aSPA Objectives eng significant number of our members belong to at least seven different political parties to my knowledge. We are registered with the Australian Federal Government as a Registered Environment Organisation, which allows people who donate to us to claim tax deductibility for their donations. Our specific aims are set out in our constitution as follows:

SPA visions a relationship between humans and the natural environment which ensures the integrity and sustainability of the Earth’s life support systems, the on-going evolution of natural living systems and the well-being of every person in a sustainable population.

One of SPA's objectives is to promote urban and rural life-styles and practices that are in harmony with the realities of the Australian environment, its resource base and its biodiversity. Photo: Annika Hals Molnar
One of SPA’s objectives is to promote urban and rural life-styles and practices that are in harmony with the realities of the Australian environment, its resource base and its biodiversity. Photo: Annika Hals Molnar

The mission of SPA is to establish Australia as a global model of, and to assist other nations toward, a sustainable ecological life-support system, retention of species diversity and human wellbeing, by influencing public debate and policy with particular emphasis on population size.

How did you get engaged in SPA?

Sandra tellus us: Senator John Coulter employed me. We had worked together in the Conservation Council of South Australia prior to his being elected to parliament. He gave me a membership application form.

The country of Australia is equally as big as the USA (population 320 Million) and China (population 1.3 Billion) and Europe (population 740 million).   The population of Australia has just reached a population of 24 Million. SPA and others in Australia are wording worries about the 24 million population of the Australia being to big.
Why is the, in comparison to demographics of other regions on Earth, small population of Australia something to be concerned about? Australia is still very sparsely populated in comparison?

Kangarou in Walpole with Artur Kurancinski 12662678_10153497494344220_5775926924040925267_n
The human footprint wreaks havoc on the natural Australian wildlife. Photo: Hanna Isabelle Sjöberg

Sandra Kanck:
While Australia’s land mass is relatively large, so too are the environmental constraints:

  • Only six per cent of Australia’s land mass is capable of producing food, and that small amount is being trespassed on by urban sprawl as a consequence of population growth.
  • The climate is overall arid to semi-arid and impending climate change will exacerbate that.
  • The average altitude for the whole country is 330 metres, meaning that there are only a few areas where snow falls with subsequent spring melts.
  • Deserts predominate in central Australia where drought is the norm
    Drought is the norm in many parts of Australia. Photo: Annika Hals Molnar
    Drought is the norm in many parts of Australia. Photo: Annika Hals Molnar

    with no potable water sources.

  • Geologically, there has been no major uplifting, land building or glaciation for millennia, and the consequence is highly infertile soils with a very low soil profile of no more than 7cm in arid areas.
  • The poor soil has been extensively over-grazed. Introduced species such as cats, rabbits, foxes and cane-toads wreak havoc on the natural wildlife.

So Australia is a very arid country, has it not always been dry?

Yes, and to give an idea of the water problems facing Australia, it’s important

Lake Menindee in 2016, the grey-brown areas used to be the lake. Photo: Sandra Kanck
Lake Menindee in 2016, the grey-brown areas used to be the lake. Photo: Sandra Kanck

to understand that drought is the norm in most of the country.  Droughts used to occur once in twenty years, but they now occur in six out of ten years.  Major flooding used to occur once every 5-7 years, but now occur every 14 years.

Australia’s major river is actually a cluster of 23 rivers in what is known as the Murray-Darling Basin.  By European standards it is little more than a stream.  Although the basin and its tributaries spread over one-seventh of the continent, the annual flow is equivalent to less than a day’s flow of the Amazon. Of the rain falling on the basin 94% evaporates. The basin still produces 40% of Australia’s agricultural produce.

"Darling

But while Australians are so very dependent on that river system, a 2014 study from Australia’s major science organisation, the CSIRO, predicted a worsening of this situation with a reduction of rainfall in this region of up to 70% by 2070 because of climate change.

Meanwhile, at the present time in Australia, a 400 km stretch of the Murray River has been subject to an algal bloom due to slow-moving water and high temperatures, making that water toxic for human and animal consumption.  The algal bloom normally resolves with cooler weather but each year the algal bloom outbreaks are more frequent, more extensive and last longer.

At the same time the southern-most state of Tasmania, which has long prided itself on being energy self-sufficient by using hydro-electricity, has found itself in a crisis situation where the dams that feed the water to produce electricity are at less than 17% of their capacity.

What is the root cause of the sustainability problems in Australia – is it only the growing population?

Melbourne 12321246_10153613879719220_6622038748227765337_n
Australia has a fragile environement…. Photo: Hanna Isabelle Sjöberg

Sandra gives us some facts: Basically the problem is a fragile environment, which can sustain no more than 23 million people according to The Australian Academy of Science. Some estimates set the sustainable level at a much lower figure of 7 million. Whichever of the two figures is correct, at a population of 24 million we have gone beyond Australia’s environmental limits.

What is the main reason for growth of the population?

Over more than a century, successive Australian governments have actively campaigned to increase Australia’s population, and particularly to increase immigration. Until very recently, 60% of the population growth has come from immigration and 40% from natural increase. In the last two years that has altered to a 55%/45% ratio, due in part to a pro-natalist policy introduced a decade ago called the ‘Baby Bonus’.

What would happen if the population of Australia grows, according to some forecasts, to 33 million by 2050?   What problems would be directly visible due to the population growth? And indirectly?

Sandra tells it as she sees it:
Directly attributable to population growth:

If global warming continues saline waters might make its way into estuaries and fresh water rivers of Australia. Photo: Hanna Sjöberg.
If global warming continues saline waters might make its way into estuaries and fresh water rivers of Australia. Photo: Hanna Sjöberg.

Increased demands for water. Lowering of water tables. Reduced water flow in major rivers including an increase in algal blooms. Increased demands for food production. Declining fish stocks. An increase in the infrastructure deficit. Shortage of affordable housing. Enormous waste management problems. Ingress of saline waters into estuaries and rivers. Increased urban traffic congestion with associated reduction in air quality and an increased demand for fuel. Loss of open space and biodiversity habitat. Urban pressures on agricultural land.

Indirectly: the backlog of infrastructure maintenance will further increase; social dysfunction and political instability related to economic inequalities; possible racial tensions

How will Australia have to do cope with problems arising from a growing population…

The business lobby has convinced the two major political parties that growth

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is good, and so they do not see problems arising, and therefore have no solutions.

What would SPA prefer to be the current (year 2016) action?

Acknowledgement from government that there will be big problems in the future has to be first step. Until that happens a conversation about what we need to do is all but impossible.

According to some people – SPA is a racist organisation – what would be your response to this?

I would tell them they are speaking nonsense. SPA has consistently called for a significant increase in our humanitarian (refugee) intake, cutting our immigration intake to allow this to happen. The source of refugees is generally from politically unstable areas in the Middle East and Africa. If we were racist we would set out to exclude them rather than encourage an increase in their numbers.

If the global warming continues it has been predicted that large movement of people over the globe would become a reality, as many will be in search of better living conditions with fresh water etc. If the climate warming continues would people be moving to or from Australia do you think?

Sandra shares insights from the region:
Leaders of some Pacific nations have already indicated that they will want to

The Pacific Nations of Micronesia according to truepacificdotcom. Hold about 40 million inhabitants incl Australia and NZ and Papua New Guinea.
The Pacific Nations of Micronesia according to truepacificdotcom. Hold about 40 million inhabitants incl Australia and New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

move to Australia. The Australian Government announced at the COP-21 climate change talks that is has allocated $1bn to Pacific nations for adaptive purposes. I believe they think by doing this it will stop them from emigrating. One other choice, in the region, would be New Zealand, as I do not expect they would want to move to another developing nation such as Papua-New Guinea.

Examples of Pacific Nations in trouble because of Global Warming are the Pacific Nation of Tuvalu, with a shrinking population. Inhabitants are emigrating to avoid effects such rising sea-levels, cyclones and high waves. The highest ground on the islands is 4 meters (12 feet) above sea level.

Do you have a view on how the world in general should be handling
The Global increase in population and the increase in migration between regions on earth – due to Global Warming making living regions useless to live in due to the climate change?

In the BBC documentary How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth? Sir

Read more about vertical greenhouses...
Read more about vertical greenhouses…a technology for a sustainable future.

David Attenborough commented: “humanity needs to reduce its impact on planet Earth urgently. And there are three ways to achieve this. We can stop consuming so many resources and we can change our technology. We can also reduce the growth of our population. We probably need to do all three.”

I think that says it all, the question is how to make governments recognise this and act accordingly.

3 Articles on tech and lifestyles that can enhance sustainable living:
Greenhouse Skyscrapers   
Cars and traffic of the Future    About alternative ways of living.

SPA is lobbying the Australian Government to redirect more funds to family

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planning and contraception in its foreign aid budget. We believe there is nothing more crucial than directly intervening to provide this particular form of assistance to the millions of women in developing nations who seek it.

While we agree with aid organisations giving priority to the education of women and girls, we keep working to get these groups to understand that this method will take a generation to bring about the necessary changes, whereas contraception and family planning almost immediately empower women.

Environmental refugees are not recognised in the Refugee Convention, and the UN should be looking at this. Without that recognition, no signatory countries would have any obligation to take in environmental refugees.

Do you see any light in the tunnel?

Is there hope in the tunnel? Photo: Hanna Isabelle Sjöberg
Is there light in the tunnel? Photo: Hanna Isabelle Sjöberg


What hope do you see for the world? What can globally be done to increase the possibility of living in better harmony with nature?

SPA members are very pessimistic about what the future holds. We see a

A Malthusian future ahead... Photo: Hanna Isabelle Sjöberg
A Malthusian future ahead… Photo: Hanna Isabelle Sjöberg

Malthusian future ahead of us given that so many indicators of collapse are coming together at the same time such as population increase, climate change, peak oil (and other resources) and economic instability and with no forward planning by governments.

US environmentalist Ernest Callenbach’s four laws of ecology state: “All things are interconnected. Everything goes somewhere. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Nature bats last.”

Nature will assert itself, we will be given little say, and it will not be kind.

Tellus Think Tank thanks Sandra Kanck for helping us understand

Help Tellus Think Tank share sustainable ways to the future. Photo: Hanna Isabelle Sjöberg
Help Tellus Think Tank share sustainable ways to the future. Photo: Hanna Isabelle Sjöberg

the challenges of Australia and how they are interconnected with the challenges of the Pacific Nations and the rest of the world. Tellus Think Tank, being for a sustainable future, is hoping solutions will be found that will help handle the growing population on Earth. Do you have any ideas or sustainable happenings that you would like to share, send us a message!

Next article: We meet a Swedish animal breeder and farmer – with 50 years experience of building an “eco-dynamic” practise. Click here to be notified…

 

Picture 100 autonomous self driving volvo cars on streets soon No020

 

Autonomous cars. You might be wondering why Tellus Think Tank, wannabe world saver, is caring  so much about the future of vehicles? Currently cars pollute our air, cause huge carbon dioxide emittances, are loud and limiting to lively outdoor urban communities. The Tellus Think Tank team looks towards the future of vehicles to find a better more people friendly way of conducting our daily traffic. We are visiting Gothenburg – a city soon equipped with 100 self driving autonomous cars! Text: Domi, Tellus Think Tank. Photo: AnnVixen

More inspiration on moving lives and communities of our planet into sustainable boundaries!

What is the big deal with autonomous cars?

Self driving autonomous cars may seem weird or scary to some and inspiring and exciting to others.

Imagine some of these scenarios of what could be possible for the future of transportation – when only self driving autonomous cars are in traffic:

  1. It’s 08.00 and you are getting ready to leave home to go to work. You ask your mobile wrist phone to send a car, tell it how many people will be travelling and where you are going…you are going to work, on your own and want the fast, cheaper and comfortable commuter train to take you the largest part of the way.
    The central traffic system sends you a message that an autonomous taxi for one person will arrive at your doorstep within 2 minutes to take you to the commuter station. This is exactly what happens. You arrive at the station with two minutes margin and easily catch the quiet commuter train to the city and arrive at work on time.The cost of travelling is deducted from your account. When you left the car at the station drop-off zone the central traffic system sent the car directly to a new assignment. There are no visible parking spaces around the commuter station but you feel at ease with that as you will have an autonomous taxi pick you and your spouse up at the commuter station on your way home. 
  2. Your 12 year old twins and four neighbourhood children have football practice this
    Future scenario: No cars in streets - more room for children. Foto: AnnVixen
    Future scenario: No cars in streets – more room for children. Foto: AnnVixen

    evening and at their request an autonomous electrical minibus picks them up to take them to the field together.

  3. You and your family of 5 are visiting your parents, about 1.5 hour drive from your home. The autonomous taxi gets you there safely, cleaner and faster to your destination by joining a car convoy on the autonomous-only highway. You and your family are using the travel time to engage in the game of monopoly that you brought with you for the ride.
  4. Road signs were taken down years ago, as autonomous traffic relies on online data
    Traffic signs will be taken down Photo: AnnVixen
    Future scenario: Traffic signs have been taken down… Photo: AnnVixen

    from the central traffic system. There are no cars parked in the streets. Your community is discussing if the overcapacity of the local streets could be turned into a community urban farm, make room for a new sportsfield or more houses. Or would all three options be possible?

  5. It is even cheaper to use the autonomous self driving local buses, they run silently, fast and safe. Even though it is raining you don’t mind walking 5 minutes to the indoor bus station where the buses come in with a high frequency, and you enjoy the ride down to the supermarket or to the gym down the road.
  6. You dare send your 5 year old across the street to ask for a cup of sugar, it is safe as the autonomous cars that might be passing will be aware of your child’s presence. Before dinner your children will be biking in the street for an hour, playing with their friends.
  7. Traffic is quiet. You stand on your toes and peek over the high fence at the back of
    Peeking onto the quiet self-driving motorway of the future. Photo: VincentVixen
    Peeking onto the quiet self-driving motorway of the future. Photo: VincentVixen

    your garden to look out over the peak hour traffic of the motorway – hundreds of cars are passing and you didn’t hear them once – forgot they were there, did you?
    You normally sleep with your windows open and are woken only by the song of the birds.

I hope that these scenarios give an insight as to how important electrical and self driving cars are – and what all the fuss is about – they will shape our future way of living.

So what is being done to move society towards the traffic of the future?

Is the car industry on track to making the future happen?

The ascent of the autonomous car might be the descent of the larger car industry and the car producers are keen to be in the first line of the autonomous car development as the earliest marketed autonomous cars might be the market winners of the future.

Many of us have heard or read about the Google Car trials in fair weathered Mountain View in California. In my online research I find that Google is also performing trials both in the hotter climate of Austin in Texas and in Kirkland, a suburb to the rainy and snowy city of Seattle in Washington state – all three trial areas are found in the USA.

You might also have read that the United Kingdom is requesting that Google Cars are introduced to trials in the streets of London.

Exactly how Google is planning to commercialise their car trials is not clear yet however John Krafcik, former CEO of Hyundai and TrueCar and by some called a “car guy”, was recently recruited to the role as CEO of Google Cars.

Marcus Rothoff is the Autonomous Driving Program Director and head of implementation of Volvos self driving cars. Photo: Volvo Cars
Marcus Rothoff is the Autonomous Driving Program Director and head of implementation of Volvos self driving cars. Photo: Volvo Cars

I turn to Swedish run Volvo Cars as they are planning the largest real customer trials with 100 autonomous cars running on real streets in the urban area of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Taking the seven scenarios of self driving cars into consideration Marcus Rothoff must currently have one of the coolest jobs in the world – Autonomous Driving Program Director and head of  implementation of Volvos self driving cars. He smiles and nods in agreement and humbly says it is very inspiring to be able to work in an area that might just change the way we live in the future.

According to Marcus all major car manufacturers are currently looking at the autonomous car development, to mention some: Audi, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Mercedes, BMW, Tesla, Nissan, Toyota, Renault, Ford, GM.

Online rumours say that Apple are doing something too, as they are hiring one thousand engineers in the area of autonomous cars, but nobody seems to know exactly what they are up to.

The eight scenarios above of fully autonomous traffic is still far away. How far down the autonomous track will the first cars on the market reach?  

DriveMe is an autonomous car project run in cooperation between Volvo Cars, Gothenburg City, Swedish government agencies and Chalmers University of Technology

Lars-Bertil Ekman, CEO of the City of Gothenburg. Photo: City of Gothenburg
Lars-Bertil Ekman, CEO of the City of Gothenburg. Photo: City of Gothenburg

The Swedish DriveMe trial is a project built on a unique collaboration between parties that CEO of Gothenburg City, Lars-Bertil Ekman, calls academia, industry and community.

The parties are Gothenburg City, the Swedish Transport Administration (vägverket), Chalmers University of Technology, Autoliv and Volvo Cars.

Marcus Rothoff is also Götethe project manager of the DriveMe project and plans to be placing 100 self driving cars on trial on the streets of Gothenburg in 2017.

-The city of Gothenburg is participating in the DriveMe-project as we want to remove the overpowering amount of cars from the city core, says Lars-Bertil Ekman.

We want to find better parking solutions for the city and clear public spaces such as streets and squares from cars and make them available to bicycles and pedestrians which will make streets more lively. Read more about this urban trend: Stockholm turns traffic pyramid upside down.

The quay's of Gothenburg are filled with parked cars. Photo: AnnVixen
The quay’s of Gothenburg are filled with parked cars. Photo: AnnVixen

Lars-Bertil talks about keeping cars in the city center but adjusting parking to the pre-requisites of the autonomous self driving cars. Autonomous cars could be packed tighter than today in buildings with lower ceilings, less lighting and wouldn’t need to be located in the very centre or even above ground as humans would very seldom would be entering the parking building.

Lars-Bertil’s parking vision for the city is still far away though, especially as the DriveMe-project will initially not be running cars in self driving mode in the city but rather on the motorways.

Volvo Cars asked drivers what part of the driving they liked the least and would wish to be rid of. The almost unanimous answer was commuter driving in queues to and from work. The DriveMe-project is therefo

Drivers like commuter traffic the least. Photo: AnnVixen
Drivers of Volvo cars like commuter traffic the least. Photo: AnnVixen

re focusing their first autonomous trials on motorways so that drivers can do other things when travelling.

Marcus and I engage in what happens when the human driver hands over the control to the car. Marcus says it has to be very clear who is in control and that there should be no unclarity here, either it is the driver or it is the car. The biggest risks are when handing the control back and forward it seems. Marcus gives me a morning scenario:

You get in your Volvo and tell the navigator your destination and start the drive to work. You manoeuvre the car up on to the motorway where you ask the car to take over. It considers circumstances like weather, reported traffic incidents and checks that the road is equipped with a barrier between you and meeting traffic and then takes over. The car informs you that it would like to give the control back to you in eight minutes which gives

Volvo Self-Driving panel. Photo: Volvo Cars
Volvo Self-Driving panel. Photo: Volvo Cars

you a two minute margin to take over before you arrive at the motorway exit by your workplace. During these eight minutes you pick up your computer, read, send a few emails and are ready to take back the controls when the car says it is time”.

I ask what happens it the driver doesn’t take over when the car requests to hand back the control and learn that the car then goes into “safety mode”. The car manoeuvres itself to the closest safe parking space so that you can take over the controls again when it suits you.

Autonomous cars, here and autonomous volvo.
Go ahead and read a document, as the self-driving car gets you closer to work. Photo: Volvo Cars

This gives you time to finish sending your emails or your phone call.

Volvos first autonomous self driving cars will be Plug-in Hybrids with an electrical range of 40 kilometers, the fuel part will be petrol fuelled. Marcus says that most people have their workplace within 40 kilometers of their home. It will also be possible to choose when to run the car on the electric drive or petrol.  All Volvo Cars are built on fuel efficient 4-cylinder engines since a couple of years back and have even won prizes such as the Volvo SUV that was appointed SUV of the year in US, 2015.

The trial, where Volvo will lend 100 real customers a self driving car, will be running on real streets in the Gothenburg region from 2017. Marcus says it is important that the 100 trial drivers use the cars differently but frequently so that as much data as possible can be gathered during the trial period. Google Cars already communicate having 1 million miles of test data.

The period up until the start of the Volvo DriveMe trial will focus on developing the most

The City of Gothenburg if supporting Multi-disciplinary projects to enhance traffic of the future. Photo: AnnVixen
The City of Gothenburg if supporting Multi-disciplinary projects to enhance traffic of the future. Photo: AnnVixen

safe self driving car possible and the trial itself is considered to be a period to gather evidence that the car is really safe.  

We hope to have the first self driving Volvo cars on market by 2020! Says Marcus Rothoff. And 2020 is also the year that Volvo has set as a goal for their vision of zero lethal accidents in a Volvo car which I find to be a very inspiring goal, lets hope they make it!

Multi-disciplinary traffic systems

Often when talking about the development of the future we understand that by mixing disciplines we can go much further than if we did not – read about Plantagon – planning  Urban Farming of the future.

When introducing self driving cars on roads they will not only be self driving at times but guided by information from a central traffic system.

The City of Gothenburg, Volvo Cars and buses, Autoliv, the Swedish Traffic Autorities are cooperating in different constelations to enhance traffic of the future. Photo: AnnVixen
The City of Gothenburg, Volvo Cars and buses, Autoliv, the Swedish Transport Administration and Chalmers University of Technology are cooperating in different constellations to enhance traffic of the future. In frame, the Gothenburg Bus Rapid Transit test. Photo: AnnVixen

Developing self driving autonomous cars and central traffic systems to guide them will include disciplines like technical development, digital development, human psychology, interaction between humans and machines, artificial intelligence, community development,  traffic statistics, incident- and accident statistics, safety, legal systems to mention a few.

The high complexity of multiple disciplines when introducing self driving autonomous cars and developing the traffic systems of the future is a very good reason for this not to be an area solely developed by car manufacturers, or only by men (which is often the case today).

The most challenging period is still ahead. It will be when two traffic systems (manual driving and autonomous driving) have to be run in parallel. The current traffic system is based on humans driving cars with guidance from signs etc. In parallel autonomous cars will be on the street, not needing street sign guidance, but will have to deal with them too. Double systems will mean double costs for a period. Driving might first become more expensive before it gets cheaper. Hopefully society can make a fast transition by phasing out “the old system of manually driven cars”.

Watch film on the coming autonomous self-driving cars by Volvo

The DriveMe project, as Lars-Bertil Ekman told us, is unique. There are many parties cooperating in developing a future traffic system for the Volvo self driving cars. The Swedish Transport Administration, one of the parties, is also involved in both national investigations and an international cooperation with the purpose of laying the foundation for future international traffic guidelines for autonomous self driving cars.  

Another party involved in the DriveMe project is Chalmers University of Technology that runs about 20 sub projects with articulately defined deliveries, fitted in size to fit PHD students heading towards a doctor degree.  

We have seen that cooperation between community, industry and academia can be very successful – check out the four Tellus Think Tank articles on Newcastle – which makes me believe that the Volvo DriveMe project will be laying some very important parts for the foundation of the traffic systems of the future!

Next week: We start an investigation on organic food, first talk will be with a passionate breeder of pigs, if your are interested in what you are eating you might find this article interesting!  
Click here to be notified when Tellus Think Tank’s next article is available – investigating inspiring sustainable happenings around the world!

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Compost – the black gold of urban farming No019

 

In our world today we have many different opportunities to go green. We can use solar energy to power our homes, drive hybrid cars, re-purpose old things to give them new life and even live in tiny homes. In this article John Morphis, founder of Backyard-eden,  sheds light on one of the most over-looked ways to go green! Text by John Morphis. Photos: John Morphis and AnnVixen

One of the most over-looked ways to go green is the practice of composting. It is a simple and easy way to turn waste that would be thrown out into a useful resource. Compost in small amounts can change your life, compost in large amounts can change cities. With this talk about lives being changed, you have to be wondering, what is compost?

What is compost?

Compost simply means decayed organic material used as a plant fertiliser.

Basically, compost is broken down waste that eventually turns into soil and then is used to amend gardens. There is nothing more important to a gardener than compost. As a matter of fact, compost is considered the “black-gold” that fuels the garden by re-charging the soil with the necessary nutrients and micro-organisms needed to produce delicious fruits and vegetables. When a plant grows , it uses up resources found in the soil.

Think about it like this: you work in an office where you make copies throughout the day, you go into the copy room to use the copy machine only to find out there is no copy paper anywhere to be found. The room was out of paper because no one chose to re-stock it for the next person. Plants using up nutrients can be seen the same way. If no one replaces the nutrients the next planting will not have enough to thrive. We can refill the nutrients by adding compost to our soil.

Next week: Why is the development of traffic so important to a greener life? Would you like to be notified when the article is available?

Composting is a natural process of Earth.

Composting is a natural process of Earth. Photo: AnnVixen
Composting is a natural process of Earth. Photo: AnnVixen

The earth naturally does this process itself in forests across the globe. In the fall, the leaves start to change colours and eventually fall to the earth. Layers upon layers of leaves rest on top of the soil and breaks down over the winter making food for the trees. This topsoil compost found in forests is called humus.

This process helps the trees continue to grow, helps retain water in the soil by adding a layer of mulch and provides food for the natural micro-organisms found in the soil. There is a circle of life found in this system, everything working together to thrive. This works so well that we have imitated it in our gardening/ growing techniques.

Layers of leaves rest on top of the soil and break down over the winter making topsoil food for the trees, called humus. Photo: AnnVixen
Layers of leaves rest on top of the soil and break down over the winter making topsoil food for the trees, called humus. Photo: AnnVixen

The Back to Eden and Hugelcultur methods both use a similar concept of building soil by layering organic material that slowly breaks down. The earth has already lined out how to compost by the model that is given by our forests.

Can I start composting?

Can we simulate the natural composting process in our homes and gardens? Yes, absolutely and it is easy too! I believe every home should be composting in order to give back to their piece of earth.

You can use almost any vegetable matter that you would have left over in your kitchen such as tea bags, coffee grounds, bits and pieces of paper. Leaves and grass clippings from your yard​ also make great compost ingredients.
Their are some things to avoid putting in an open compost such as cooked foods like meats, dairy or any fatty foods.

Kitchen scraps for compost - eggshells, peels and other produce. Photo: Backyard-Eden
Kitchen scraps for compost – eggshells, peels and other produce. Photo: Backyard-Eden

Different types, methods and ingredients of composting

Getting started with composting is easier than it seems because there are several ways to compost and products to help you.  The way you choose to compost is up to you but will greatly benefit you and your garden.  The method you choose will also depend on the resources you have available; the space you have to devote, how much and what type of waste you produce.  

The different types of composting are hot, cold, indoor, outdoor and vermi composting; however no matter what method you choose they all have the same basic principle.  

In this article we will look at the “lasagna” method of composting which is a type of hot composting.  The idea is to layer the different materials in such a way that the pile will heat up and break down faster.

Examples of nitrogen rich “greens” and carbon rich “browns” .
Examples of nitrogen rich “greens” and carbon rich “browns” .

As we said before compost means decayed organic material so composting is the process by which we allow that material to decay and break down creating that nutrient rich black gold for your garden.

Your compost needs four ingredients:

  • nitrogen rich “greens”
  • carbon rich “browns”
  • water  
  • oxygen in order to properly break down.  

These four things are absolutely crucial to making your own compost.  The compost pile needs the proper balance of the necessary ingredients and just like in life that balance can be hard to find.  Once you get the balance down you will begin to make some of the best compost and it will supercharge your garden.  Some of the best ingredients to compost are leaves, grass clippings, household kitchen scraps such as eggshells, peals and other vegetable materials (see Greens and Browns pictures above).

This is my compost, built from plans found online. It is still empty in the picture but ready to fill with layers of the four compost ingredients. Fill one side until full and then start filling the next half.​ Photo: Backyard-Eden.com
This is my compost, built from plans found online. It is still empty in the picture but ready to fill with layers of the four compost ingredients. Fill one side until full and then start filling the next half.​ Photo: Backyard-Eden.com

Getting started with the hot lasagna method

The easiest way to start composting is what gardeners call the lasagna method by starting a compost pile by layering nitrogen rich “green” materials follow by a layer of carbon rich “brown” materials. Alternate these layers as well as add water and some soil every couple of layers will put you well on your way to making compost.

​Soil from your garden would work or some organic compost from a local garden center would work.  The reason you add in some soil is to add in the micro organisms into the compost pile to speed up the process.

The water in addition to the other ingredients will cause your compost pile to heat up starting the decomposition process.  

Add some soil to your lasagna compost. Photo: Backyard-Eden.com
Add some soil to your lasagna compost. Photo: Backyard-Eden.com

You want to make sure to turn it every couple of weeks so that oxygen is introduced into the pile in order to aid in the material break down process.  This process can take anywhere from 2-12 months depending on the amount of time you devote to turning it.  

When the pile is almost completely broken down the pile will start to cool off some and it will be available to use in your garden or flower beds.  That is the beauty of compost, you do not have to grow vegetables to be able to use it.  Compost is great to add to flower beds, fruit trees or even indoor plants to add nutrients.

Everyone should be composting not only to feed their plants and gardens but also to help reduce the amount of waste going into local landfills.  With the availability of products to make composting easy in addition to the ingredients to make awesome compost even easier to find makes composting something that anyone can do.

Why should we be composting?

Composting is a great way to give back to our little piece of earth.  If we are successful with our efforts to reduce our global footprint then we are working toward a future for children and grandchildren to be able to grow their own food as well.  Help out by doing your part to make the world a better place for future generations.  

Indoor compost Bohasi.
Indoor compost Bohasi.

inomhus2inomhus1

17 gallons apartment composter.
17 gallons apartment composter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We googled for compost containers to be used in apartments or indoor.

 

If you would like to learn more about composting and other gardening topics, check out  Backyard-eden.com!

Tellus Think Tank is happy to have the opportunity to connect with John and the very inspiring home page of Backyard-Eden.com and hope you might have been inspired to start your own compost!

Next week: Tellus Think Tank visits the city of Gothenburg and their unique take on autonomous cars – taking a different stance compared to the Google Car project.
Would you like to be notified when our next article is available, click here!

 

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22 voices – Do It Yourself – Save Earth! No018

 

Thank you for contributing to the Tellus Think Tank quest of sharing ideas to inspire others!
We gathered 22 voices on Doing It Yourself – Saving Earth.

Can we continue living in this way?

In the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, about 1815, Earth was inhabited by one billion people.
Two hundred years later, there is currently seven billion people on Earth, a number still increasing.
Humanity is using more and more of Earths resources in not altogether constructive ways.

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The current human way of life is causing problems such as “Global Warming” but also decreasing the diversity on our planet. Many animal- and plant species are already extinct and many more are on the road towards the same unfortunate future.

In December 2015, at the COP21 UN climate conference in Paris, an international environmental agreement was reached. It shows that our politicians are working on finding environmental solutions. However, they are often also part of the vast amount of environment problems we need to tackle:

  1. Green house gas emissions are still increasing:
    Peak hour traffic Photo: AnnVixen
    Peak hour traffic Photo: AnnVixen

    -The amount of fossil fuelled transports causing massive carbon dioxide emissions.
    -The growing market for beef and lamm meat are causing massive methan emissions.

  2. The lacking of clean, natural land and nature, that give people, animals and plants the possibility to thrive and grow.
  3. The pollution of our lands and oceans because of waste and toxic contamination.
  4. The Depleting of agricultural land, allowing the use of pesticides and artificial fertilizers.
  5. The list goes on, read more about the challenges of Earth here…


22 voices – Do It Yourself – Save Earth
What if it’s up to You and me? Not everybody can do everything, but together we believe we can save our planet!

Ashish from Gujarat, India!
Ashish from Gujarat, India!

DIY #001 – Ashish, 21 years old, from Gujarat, India: I have worked for several NGO’s to try and help people in different ways and today I often take the role as a mentor at my workplaces to help people by visualising how to do things in a good way and avoid mistakes and waste.

DIY #002 –Vincent, 12 years, Stockholm, Sweden: I sort all my waste in piles; food, plastic, paper and metal.

Vincent, 12 years! Photo: AnnVixen
Vincent, 12 years! Photo: AnnVixen

Then once a week I take all that has been sorted to the recycle bins on our block.

DIY #003 – Kate Raworth, founder of Doughnut Economics, 45 years, Oxford, United Kingdom: I am a vegetarian for sustainability reasons. I try not to fly for privately. I try and influence the way people understand the world but providing them with new pictures and paradigms. I try to inspire my children by talking to them on why we don’t fly and why we don’t fill our house with plastic toys and why we rather take the bike than the car and why we have solar panels on our house.

DIY #004 – Josefina Skerk, vice president in the native Swedes parliament/Sametinget, 28 years: I moved back to the back-country / country side to be able to learn about traditional Sami ways of living – how to gather food in nature, fishing etc. And I support anyone to look further than to strive for a glamorous looking urban life. I question what is considered normal and promote slow living. Work is not the purpose of my life.  

Kate Raworth! Photo: AnnVixen
Kate Raworth! Photo: AnnVixen

DIY #005 – Niclas, 28 years, Södermalm, Stockholm, Sweden: I have chosen not to buy or drive a car. I do the

Josefina Skerk! Photo: AnnVixen
Josefina Skerk! Photo: AnnVixen

usual stuff like recycle and I also eat both organically branded food and locally produced food. I sometimes feel it is difficult to chose between the two – which one is best from a sustainable perspective? I also try to eat less meat.

DIY #006 – Juste, 18 years, Kaunas, Lithuania: I recycle trash at home and do not to throw rubbish in the streets. I would really like to know how to live more sustainable and I would like our government to help provide more sustainable ways of living.

DIY #007 – Johan, 15 years, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. One thing I do to be conscious about the environment is turn off the water from running in the sink, while I brush my teeth. This can waste over a gallon of water and is a huge waste of energy. To reuse materials, I recycle paper materials I am done using.  When I am out camping, I use newspaper clippings for fires (to keep warm), which I got from the newspaper I read.

Johan and Max! Photo: Anna-Karin Wohlferdt-Skillen
Johan and Max! Photo: Anna-Karin Wohlferdt-Skillen

DIY #008 – Max 12 years, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. Our family is really good at recycling items in our home, such as empty food containers, loose papers, metal in cans and cardboard boxes etc. Every week we have a completely full and even overflowing recycling can. While our trash can is usually only filled about ¼ of the way with trash.

DIY #009 – Bonny, 8 years, Stockholm, Sweden: I sort all food scraps that can be composted in a special bin and take it out to the family compost. I encourage my

Bonny! Photo: AnnVixen
Bonny! Photo: AnnVixen

parents to take me to school by foot and not by car, even when it is raining.

DIY #010Faith, 44 years, Taiwan, Taiwan: I recycle trash and food and I don’t use plastic bags.

DIY #011 – Rebecca, 25 years, Stockholm, Sweden: I ride my bicycle to work, spend a lot of my free time in nature and I try to live healthy by eating healthy food and exercising and meeting friends.

DIY #012 – Mikael, 45 years, Stockholm, Sweden: I try only to eat locally produced food when available.

DIY #013 – Kerstin, 25 years, Tullinge, Stockholm: I knit my own dish cloths of linen wool, instead of using dish cloths of plastic!

DIY #014 – Agata, 38 years, Södertälje, Sweden: I try to live a minimalistic life and use my stuff, such as Jeans and

Mikael, Stockholm! Photo: AnnVixen
Mikael, Stockholm! Photo: AnnVixen

mobile phones, until they break or are teared and don’t worka anymore. I prefer sustainable meat from organic free-cage poultry and use the public transport to the furthes extent.

Alexandra from Stockholm! Photo: AnnVixen
Alexandra from Stockholm! Photo: AnnVixen

DIY #015 – Alexandra, 42 years, Stockholm, Sweden: When shopping home and clothes cleaning products or body- and hair products our family normally tries to find products with an official environment trademark on – here in Sweden we often choose from “Svanmärkt”, “Astma & Allergiförbundet” or “Bra Miljöval” to mention some. Classifications like this give us the impression that the product substances are easily recycled!

DIY #016 – Yasmine, 25 years, Christchurch, New Zealand: I use my bicycle to avoid using vehicles that run on petrol!

Eric from Edinburgh!
Eric from Edinburgh!

DIY #017 – Margareta, 62 years, Vallentuna, Sweden: I have down-sized my living quarters from 75 to 47 square meters and I buy organic food. In the process of down-sizing I took all the stuff I wanted rid of to Starcycle as they distribute everything to organisations like the Red Cross or Womens Aids etc. I prefer to buy services from company’s that have a green- or peoples rights profile. 

DIY #018 – Eric, 51 years, Edinburgh, Scotland. I don’t waste food or eat meat, and I

cycle or walk around my home city.

DIY #019 – Matilda, 12 years, Stockholm, Sweden: I recycle paper and other things at home, take my bottles back to the shop and I don’t litter! 

Raz State!
Raz State!

DIY #020 – Raz State, 43 years, Stockholm, Sweden. I avoid products containing uncertified palm-oil, to give some examples Nutella and Palmolive products. They use palm-oil from uncertified plantations mainly in Indonesia and are the direct cause of the diminishing habitat of the organutangs. I have also taught my children to be ambassadors, among their friends and in school, for CERTIFIED palm-oil.

DIY #021 – Maja, 68 years, The Old City of Stockholm, Sweden: I recycle trash and avoid wasting more than necessary and I try to consume and buy as little stuff as possible.

DIY #022 – Frida, 26 years, Lund, Sweden: I make an effort to choose food of good quality and not just buy the cheapest alternative available. I also try and buy food from smaller producers and not just from big-chain-brands.

 

Join in – Save Earth by sharing ideas!

Send us your contribution:

1) What you are doing to save the planet
2) your name
3) your age
4) your country of residence
5) picture

Understenshöjden eco village! Photo: AnnVixen
Understenshöjden eco village! Photo: AnnVixen

Read about one of Swedens first eco villages, Understenshöjden! Built by people that actively have chosen to live in a more sustainable way!

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The green car fleet of Stockholm City is on descent – making the city more sustainable No017

 

Stockholm is the largest city in Sweden and its population is estimated to grow by 15% during the next 8 years. The City Council is, in spite of the population growth, decreasing its vehicle fleet and still planning to keep the inhabitants happy! Read more about the plan…

Stockholm city has a population of 900 000, in the 1,8 million Stockholm county. The city employs over 40 000 people to provide the service needed by Stockholmers and companies and owns 800 cars!

ABOUT TELLUS THINK TANK…read

The current traffic situation is already strained and inhabitants of the county are daily squeezing in subways, commuter trains and car queues, the region is undergoing rapid expansion. According to the prognosis Stockholm city will be

Stockholms green car fleet. Photo: AnnVixen
Stockholms green car fleet. Photo: AnnVixen

growing by 15% in the next eight years. By 2024 the city will have another 140 000 citizens, also in need of transport, putting further strain the city traffic situation.

Stockholm politicians are aware and cooperating to make a change. The current City Hall majority, a coalition between the Social Democrats, the Green Party, the Left Party and the Feminist Initiative have ambitious plans for a more sustainable city – see last week’s article in Tellus Think Tank.  

Johan Seuffert is Fleet Manager for Stockholm City and responsible for the vehicle fleet strategy of the city. Johan says that Stockholm City is positive to growth but that many new residential homes need to be added to an already dense city. He says that it will be an important task to adjust the cityscape to the growing population.

-Car traffic is becoming a question of democracy, he explains, as a car needs at least 6 square meters compared to public transport busses with 40 passengers that only need 40 square meters. Busses are very seldom parked and don’t cram city streets.

Johan Seuffert, Fleet Manager for City of Stockholm. Photo: AnnVixen
Johan Seuffert, Fleet Manager for City of Stockholm. Photo: AnnVixen

Johan Seuffert reasons in similar lines as Stockholm City Traffic commissioner Daniel Helldén, when saying that it could be considered unfair that cars are covering the cityscape at the cost of public transport, cyclists and pedestrians. Read more.

There are several reasons that the City wants to prioritise pedestrian-, cyclist- and public transport traffic:

  •   Cars take a considerable amount of the cityscape, space that could be used to more sustainable traffic such as bicycle lanes, bicycle parking, sidewalks, bus lanes or even more residential homes.
  •   The cost of parking spaces when building new homes are making both streets and new residential quarters more expensive.
  •   The environmental reasons as equally important, fossil fuelled cars emit greenhouse gases and poisonous particles from fumes and tyres. They are the reason behind much of the sound pollution of the city.

Stockholm wants to increase the sustainability of the city. Johan Seuffert, what plans do you have for the 800 cars in the city vehicle fleet?

Stockholms city has several ambitious targets!

100% environmentally classed cars in the fleet

This target is not new and today 98 % of the 800 cars can be sorted under the Swedish national definition of

Park your car on top of the induction charger and be ready to go within three hours! Photo: AnnVixen
Park your car on top of the induction charger and be ready to go within three hours! Photo: AnnVixen

environmental vehicles.

There are some exceptions that have had to be made, Johan tells me, and mentions some emergency vehicles as the lake ice-plough used to clear snow for skaters. It has an emergency exit in the roof!

Johan Seuffert tells me that Stockholm, in all other cases try to adjust the fleet to the national environmental definition which the city, undeniably, has succeeded well with!

Tellus Think Tank has in earlier articles written about research that led to the sorting of diesel emissions under carcinogenic substances. Read more in the article about Urban Foresight. The Swedish national environmental definition still includes diesel fuelled cars as it has not been adjusted for a couple of years. However, Stockholm city only keeps a small amount of diesel fuelled vehicles in their fleet of 800.

The Stockholm City environmentally classed car fleet is allocated like this:

  •  Petrol fuelled 2.5%
  •  Diesel fuelled 5.8%
  •  Plug-in hybrids 7.3%
  •  Electrical / fuel hybrids 9.8%
  •  Electrical vehicles 11.2%
  •  Ethanol fuelled 16.9%
  •  Gas fuelled 44.2%
Johan Seuffert show Tellus Think Tank how the induction charging device works like the instruction panel in a car wash "drive forwards". Photo: AnnVixen
Johan Seuffert show Tellus Think Tank how the induction charging device works like the instruction panel in a car wash “drive forwards”. Photo: AnnVixen

Johan, with his vast experience of vehicle procurement, says:

-There is a good supply of electrical vehicles up to medium size, such as a Volkswagen “Golf”.

Cars in a larger category such as electrically fuelled service vans with a longer range are not currently available. Therefore the city has had to find alternatives such as gas fuelled vans until better options are available.

One reason that the amount of electrical vehicles in the present fleet is relatively low is because the city is reducing the amount of cars and choosing to use the them for a longer period. Consequently the city is currently buying less cars which is both economically and sustainably beneficial!

Fuel targets. Stockholm has set fuel targets to encourage employees to tank with renewable fuels such as gas or ethanol. There is a bi-annual follow up on all fleet vehicles.

Increase electrical vehicles. Stockholm has set a goal to increase the portion of electrical vehicles by 2% a year.

Smaller electrical vehicle - drives 210 km's after a three hour charge. Photo: AnnVixen
Smaller electrical vehicle – drives 210 km’s after a three hour charge. Photo: AnnVixen


Not accounted for in the numbers above are the electrically charged “golf club cars” that the city uses for property and park maintenance

Stockholm fossil free 2030. Stockholm city has set an overall target, in accordance with the Swedish national target, to be fossil free by 2030. Johan explains that big changes will have to be made, all vehicles of certain types with a 10 year lifespan will have to be electrical from 2020. He mentions large trucks as an example.

What else is Stockholm doing to make the fleet greener?

Blue Kangoo Service car, one charge gives a range of 170 km's. Photo: AnnVixen
Blue Kangoo Service car, one charge gives a range of 170 km’s. Photo: AnnVixen

Reducing the vehicle fleet. The city is purchasing less new cars and encouraging employees to walk, cycle, use public transport or carpools. Thanks to the initiative the city has been able to reduce the amount of cars in the fleet with 400 vehicles since 2007.

Encouraging increased movement by foot, cycle and public transport. The City is actively encouraging employees to walk, cycle and use public transport in the line of duty.

The City is joining car-pools. Johan says that several city departments have joined a car-pool (Sunfleet). The car-pool owns the cars and civil servants and other customers handle their own reservations, pick-ups or drop-offs through a mobile App.

-The beauty in this system is that city employees use the car-pool vehicles during office hours and private individuals are the main customers at other times. It’s a perfect example of effectively used vehicles as they are seldom unused and serve several people’s needs instead of just one, says Johan.

What other car fleet improvements can we see ahead?

Stockholm City will continue the work of reaching current targets and increase the amount of car-pool usage. Johan foresees that new types of vehicles could come in use and mentions electrical bicycles or smaller electrical vehicles such as Renault Tweezy or Toyota iRoad. These two vehicles are still very new and untested by the city.

With Johan’s vast knowledge I ask him for his view: Are there are any excuses left for a private person, in order to buy a new car, not to choose an electrical car?

-The question is if one should buy a car at all? It would be better if we could all use the alternatives; public transport, car-pools, walking and cycling. If one needs to go on a road-trip then one can rent a car for the specific trip.

I think to myself that what sounds radical today might be normal in everyone’s life in a couple of years. At the end of this interview I am feeling happy as my city, Stockholm, is moving in the right sustainable direction!

Next week: We meet 20 people from around the world to hear what they are doing to save our planet! Let us notify you when the article is available, click here!

 

Stockholm turns traffic pyramid up side down – No016

 

Stockholm, capital of Sweden, is often called “Queen of Lake Malaren” and considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. However, the once lively street life is being intruded upon by the growing amount of cars. To improve the situation Stockholm is turning the traffic pyramid upside down by prioritising pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. Join Tellus Think Tank and meet the Stockholm City Commissioner of Traffic, Daniel Helldén! Text: Domi, Tellus Think Tank, 2016-02-25 Photo: AnnVixen

Bathing in on of Stockholms lakes. Photo: AnnVixen
Bathing in on of Stockholms lakes. Photo: AnnVixen

I grew up in Stockholm and love this city for several reasons! It’s not only a beautiful city, close to nature, but it’s the place where I went swimming during the summer, my parents taught me to bicycle and I spent most of my work life. Now I am watching my own children grow up here.

ABOUT TELLUS THINK TANK…read

The city has changed a lot since my friends and I played in the calm streets of our neighborhood, with no cars present. We played tag, jumped with skipping-ropes, played land hockey and climbed trees!

The children of today have little room left to play as the streets are full to the brim with parked cars and aren’t safe with bypassing traffic. Consequently, children play more indoors and often with their computers, a situation shared by children in urban societies all over the globe.

A while back Tellus Think Tank met David Beeton, founder of Urban Foresight. The British company helps cities plan for a more sustainable future traffic situation. After this meeting we wondered about what was being done to improve traffic in our own hometown, Stockholm.

Read about David Beeton and Urban Foresight here!

This week Tellus Think Tank meets with Daniel Helldén, the current City Commissioner of Traffic in Stockholm and elected as a representative of the Green party of Sweden.

Next week: We meet Stockholm City Fleet Manager, Johan Seuffert, would you like us to notify you when the article is available, click here.

City of Stockholm – Queen of Lake Malaren

Stockholm from a Google Earth perspective.
Stockholm from a Google Earth perspective.

Stockholm was founded on the Island of Gamla Stan over 700 years ago. The island is one of many in a cluster of islands in the eastern part of lake Malaren. The region has since grown and the city is now spread over several islands and onto the mainlands north and south of the lake.

The region has a population of 1.8 million people. Daniel Helldén represents the most central part of the city with 900 000 inhabitants. Stockholm is growing rapidly and estimates show that the central parts will be expanded with another 140 000 inhabitants during the next eight years.

The traffic situation of Stockholm is challenging, a situation shared with many other cities. Cars often

Peak hour traffic in Stockholm. Photo: AnnVixen
Peak hour traffic in Stockholm. Photo: AnnVixen

dominate the cityscape and the character of the city. At times cars and buses stand still in the daily traffic queues. Peak hour traffic is expanding over a longer period as more people drive their car to work and try to avoid the queues by leaving earlier or later. On Friday afternoons weekend traffic starts as early as 13.00 PM.

Daniel Helldén, City Commissioner of Traffic, is responsible for all roads, pavements and bicycle paths in the city. The regional council, another organisation, is responsible for the public transport vehicles.

Daniel Helldén, thank you for meeting Tellus Think Tank and our readers! You have been Stockholms City Commissioner of Traffic since the elections in the autumn of 2014. What were your initial ambitions for improving sustainability of the traffic situation in Stockholm?

Stockholm is turning the traffic pyramid upside down! Picture: City of Stockholm
Stockholm is turning the traffic pyramid upside down! Picture: City of Stockholm

My ambition was and still is to improve the sustainability of Stockholm which demands many changes in the infrastructure of the city, so that traffic by foot, bicycle or public transport is prioritized instead of car traffic. There is a common understanding about this that is shared by all parties in Stockholm. I would really like to make a difference in this area, which will include decreasing traffic by car and contributing to the Swedish national climate targets.

What are the biggest challenges in the Stockholm traffic situation, from a sustainability perspective?

The amount of cars is a large problem, from two main perspectives:

  •   Cars emit both poisonous particles and greenhouse gases.
  •   The amount of cars in the city corks traffic, extends commuting time and also claims a lot of living space that could have been used better.

The amount of cars in Stockholm today makes the city unavailable, not just for drivers but also for bicyclists and people on buses. The space that cars claim when driving and parking could be used for bicycle paths, bus lanes to enhance the speed of commuter traffic and for cleaner pedestrian paths.

We would like to improve the living space of the city so that traffic flows better, people can spend time outside and walk or take their bicycle to work.

What progress has been made during your first year as City Commissioner of traffic?

Daniel Helldén looks a bit surprised and I realise that my question comes early in the change process,

The new commuter ferry of Stockholm! Photo: AnnVixen
The new commuter ferry of Stockholm! Photo: AnnVixen

what changes can be achieved in just a year?  Daniel has some early improvements to share, either implemented or in the planning stage. Daniel talks about a general understanding between all political parties in Stockholm, however other people say that “the Greens” are very driving in matters of improving the sustainability of the city.

New boat line. Today, says Daniel proudly, is the opening of our new commuter boat line that runs between two of Stockholm’s central islands. Now pedestrians and bicyclists need not walk miles around the waters of the central city but can instead use the city’s new boat line! The boat line is the result of cooperation between the County Council and Stockholm City.

Bicycle path infrastructure expansion. Stockholm city is focusing investments worth 100 million

Daniel Helldén and Norrmälarstrand - being adjusted for bicycle traffic. Photo: Domi
Daniel Helldén and Norrmälarstrand – being adjusted for bicycle traffic. Photo: Domi

Euros on expanding the bicycle path infrastructure and making it safer. Several roads and parking places are being removed from the city because of bicycle path expansions – Daniel mentions streets such as Norrmälarstrand, Skanstullsbron and other areas under planning.  

Increasing the speed of public buses. Because of the amount of traffic and cars parked in the streets the average speed of public buses is currently only 11 km/h! Several steps have been made to increase their speed such as more bus lanes and changing intersection traffic signs and directions so that cars don’t slow down the bus traffic. Some roads have been closed to private cars all together.

Dagisbarn i Vasastan
More room for city dwellers in Stockholm? Photo: AnnVixen

Increasing  pedestrian areas. During the summer of 2015 experiments were made to try and increase the street life in the city and two streets were closed off to traffic, Swedenborgsgatan and Skånegatan. The purpose was to increase livability and street life of the areas involved and create more sustainable spaces for city dwellers.

We find the developments that Daniel has spoken of so far are inspiring and interesting and see how they could help lift the quality of living in Stockholm.

What will Stockholm do to improve sustainability of the traffic situation further?

Continued investigations. Several ongoing investigation will lead to a more sustainable traffic situation for the inhabitants in the expanding city and will help Stockholm move towards improved public transport, pedestrian- and bicycle traffic.

Increasing the possibility of street life in the city during the summer of 2016. Being wiser from the experiments during the summer of 2015 Stockholm will close even more streets to traffic during the summer of 2016. Daniel mentions areas that might be affected: Swedenborgsgatan, side streets to Biblioteksgatan, Humlegårdsgatan, Rörstrandsgatan and Skånegatan might be on the list again.

Stockholm is moving towards more lively cityscape! Pic: Stockholm City
Stockholm is moving towards more lively cityscape! Pic: Stockholm City

Parking strategy. Another thing that Daniel believes will improve sustainability is the city parking

Room for more bicycles? Photo: AnnVixen
Room for more bicycles? Photo: AnnVixen

strategy being developed. He hopes the formal decisions will be made during the summer of 2016. The strategy will most probably suggest implementing parking fees in the more central suburbs of Stockholm.

Why are parking fees needed in the suburbs?

-Implementing parking fees will, for one thing, help increase the flow of traffic in the city but there are several positive effects expected, he expands his reasoning:

The current urbanisation process is making Stockholm grow rapidly and the building of new dwellings such as apartment houses needs to continue to house the expanding population. By decreasing the amount of parking in conjunction with new estates costs of building can be lowered and the space can be used for bicycle garages, car pools or even more residential homes.

However, when new estates are built without parking lots the risk is that cars are parked on the streets instead. This leads to a slower traffic pace and less space for pedestrians, bicyclists and public transport. Introducing a fee on street parking promotes use of public transport and bicycles.

It seems like there are many good initiatives going on to improve the sustainability of the Stockholm traffic. Daniel, which three initiatives would you prioritise during this term, 2014- 2018?

  1. We would really like to see big improvements on the bicycle path infrastructure and see broader
    Skånegatan in Stockholm was made into a pedestrian area during the summer of 2015. Photo: AnnVixen
    Skånegatan in Stockholm was made into a pedestrian area during the summer of 2015. Photo: AnnVixen

    bicycle paths be implemented on streets with many bicyclists. We want Stockholms bicycle infrastructure to feel safe, all year around and have a plan to make it happen!

     

  2. We’d like to see Stockholm street life and cityscape become more lively during the summers as an effect of  closing of car traffic in certain areas and implementing a pedestrian plan for the city.
  1. We want to increase the average speed of public buses from 12 to 20 km/h. It doesn’t sound much but is an ambitious project. I would like Stockholmers to trust that public transport will get them to their destination on time.

Tellus Think Tank thanks Daniel Helldén for an inspiring meeting. We hope that Stockholm is able to continue on the path towards more sustainable traffic situation that makes a more lively cityscape possible. The Stockholm approach to the traffic pyramid might change the city in ways we would never have thought off!

Next week: We meet a civil servant of Stockholm, in charge of the city car fleet! What is done to increase the sustainability of the car fleet without having to decrease citizen service – would you like us to notify you when the article is available, click here.

Are there alternative ways of living our lives? The people of Skattungbyn are trying different options! No015

 

Last week we had the pleasure of investigating living in homes on wheels, this week we further investigate alternative ways of living in Skattungbyn, Sweden. Maybe you will find something in Skattungbyn that might inspire a change in your own life?
Text: Domi.  Photo: Agata Mazgaj, AnnVixen, Daniel Zetterström.  Tellus Think Tank 2016-02-17.

The village of Skattungbyn has about 350 inhabitants and maybe half of them have at one time taken a course at

At the top of the slopes of Skattungbyn. Photo: AnnVixen
At the top of the slopes of Skattungbyn. Photo: AnnVixen

Mora Folk School. After having finished the course, some remain in the village and keep exploring alternative ways of living.

ABOUT TELLUS THINK TANK…read 

What fascinates me most is not the beautiful landscape, the fresh air and the harmonious atmosphere of the village but the insight that it is possible to live quite differently to what I am used to from my suburb life in Stockholm. f

  • A person in Skattungbyn can live for less than 200 Euros a month, including rent, food and phone costs – further ahead in this article.
       In most parts of Sweden the normal monthly rent for a one roomed apartment would be between 300-700 Euros, food costs of about 150 Euros per person to be added. City life is much more expensive!
  • Several people in Skattungbyn have chosen not to work full time or have more radically decreased the amount of hours they work a week.
       In most other parts of Sweden adults work full time, regardless of marital status. Generally we talk about the treadmill of the 24 hour day divided into:
    8 hours work, 8 hours sleep and 8 hours for organising one’s life so one can keep on working – i.e. picking kids up from school, commuting to and from work, cleaning, washing and shopping.
Tiny Home on wheels. Photo: Daniel Zetterström
Tiny Home on wheels. Photo: Daniel Zetterström

How can the differences be so big between a group of people in the village of Skattungbyn and the rest of the western world?

The answer is that there are several things that contribute to the possibility of living inexpensively in Skattungbyn:

  • Land is cheaper than in urban developed areas.
  • The trend for Tiny Homes on wheels – see last week’s article
  • Good prerequisites to grow or buy inexpensive food and other things that might be needed in special types of local shops – read more below

Markus arrives at Skattungbyn

Markus Skoog, 34 years old, left the rush of the city for an alternative life in Skattungbyn.

The farmland sleeps under its snowy cover, awaiting the farming season. Photo: Agata Mazgaj
The Flurlundar farm land sleeps under its snowy cover, awaiting spring. Photo: Agata Mazgaj

He grew up in a suburb of Stockholm and soon understood that his high school teacher’s diploma would never enable him to buy his own apartment in the Stockholm area. He changed course and started off as a carpenter’s apprentice and was soon making more money but the life he led, building small exclusive apartments in the city, didn’t give him the  satisfaction he was looking for. Markus searched for ways of living closer to nature and shortly after was accepted to the Mora Folk School.  

 

Mora Folk School

The course at Mora Folk School followed the farming year and started in January, continuing throughout the season. Sessions were held in growing and preserving food, how to eat more nutritiously and lessons in different crafts such as weaving and making homespun clothes. The pedagogical narrative of the school is sustainability and global human rights.

A cozy Tiny Home on wheels in Skattungbyn! Photo: Daniel Zetterström
A cozy Tiny Home on wheels in Skattungbyn! Photo: Daniel Zetterström

-During the course, my fellow students and I came to understand just how much work lays behind just one t-shirt sold by the retail industry, says Markus.

Markus initially moved into the dorms of the school dorms but soon he and a couple of other fellow students decided to build their own homes on wheels, according to the Skattungbyn-way.

The most important lessons for Markus where on how to grow food and living in collectives can not be done successfully with just anyone. One needs to be selective when choosing with whom to live.

What kind of people have chosen to investigate alternative ways of living in Skattungbyn?

Three Tiny Homes on wheels by the woods at Flurludar farm. Photo: Agata Mazgaj
Three Tiny Homes on wheels by the woods at Flurludar farm. Photo: Agata Mazgaj

Skattungbyn villagers that investigate alternative ways of living have often attended the Mora Folk School. Markus first calls them “hippies”, “greens” or “alternatives” but in the next breath he says people are difficult to group.

Persons that after school succeed in finding a job in the area often stay. They start off living in the dorms at the school and some move into Tiny Homes on wheels, others buy their own land. After a couple of years most look for a somewhat more spacious way of living and often keep a strong alternative focus in their lives.

We make a short stop at the home of Anna Berggren that came into possession of an old farm high up on the south slopes of Skattungbyn. She has an amazing view over the nature of

Annas orangery on the mountain! Photo: Agata Mazgaj
Annas orangery on the mountain! Photo: Agata Mazgaj

Orsa Finnmark and herds her sheep on the mountain. Anna recently built out the old farm with an orangery that gives her lemons in the midst of winter!

Markus tells me about the 86 year old woman who down-sized as she got older and moved into a home on wheels to avoid an old peoples home.

-She was the most hard-core person of all Tiny Home dwellers, says Markus Skoog. He was very impressed by

Markus shows us the outhouse of Flurlundar farm, built of wastewood. Photo: Agata Mazgaj
Markus shows us the outhouse of Flurlundar farm, built of wastewood. Photo: Agata Mazgaj

her. She only had about 7 m² which gave her space for a bed, a small cabinet and a wood stove. She lived there without electricity and running water and loved it!

Markus has his home on wheels on a plot of land that belongs to FrejaLina. FrejaLina recently bought the estate of Flurlundar farm and started a collective on the property. Today there are five persons living in the mother house of the estate and another four residents that live in their own homes on wheels. Some of them have access to electricity and fresh water, and some of them live totally “off grid”.

Life at Flurlundar farm reminds me of my university dorm where we also had a very positive fellowship community going on with film evenings etcetera. There are several differences here such as, members of the collective are involved in their community farm and also take turns in cooking vegetarian dinners for each other.

There are no children in the collective, yet. One person owns the dog, Birk, that is one of the most cherished dogs I have ever seen – he has a lot of different people to take him for a walk!

Dumpster diving for food

Most of the people who have chosen an alternative lifestyle in Skattungbyn eat vegetarian and buy or grow their own food. Markus tells me that there are some that dumpster dive for their food, meaning that they “dive” into dumpsters behind food stores for food that has past  its best date. Markus avoids dumpster diving as some locals find it annoying. He was once invited to a friend for a really lovely salmon ceviche dinner, and learnt that the salmon had been found in a dumpster!

Are the alternative of Skattungbyn idlers?

Skattungbyn is becoming known to be “hippie” and is famous in the Swedish alternative circle but the village also has a lot of inhabitants that do not count themselves as “alternative”. Markus says that there are some prejudiced ideas circling about the alternatives, such as that they probably idle and live on welfare. He strongly opposes this.

Open on Saturdays only! Photo: Agatha Mazgaj
Open on Saturdays only! Photo: Agatha Mazgaj

Markus says that it is possible to live very inexpensively in Skattungbyn, if one wants to, and that neither a full time job or welfare is needed to survive. A friend lived during a longer period for under 50 Euros a month. How could he do that? He took care of people’s houses when they were abroad, dumpster dived for food, worked for food doing things like chopping wood. One job gave him a couple of Euros that he put used for his mobile phone subscription.  

-It is difficult for some to understand that such inexpensive living is possible, says Markus, which might lead some to believe that welfare is in the picture, which it is mostly not.

Some people he knows work a couple of hours a month in the Folk School and live for under 200 Euros a month. Markus lived with costs less than 180 Euros a month, during a period. Costs included rent for his Tiny Home on wheels, electricity, water, mobile subscription and food.

-Vegetarian drygoods are pretty cheap, Markus explains with a smile!

Slåttergubben is open on a Saturday afternoon. Photo: AnnVixen
Slåttergubben is open on a Saturday afternoon. Photo: AnnVixen

Today Markus works fulltime at a refugee camp in the neighboring village of Orsa and estimates that his monthly living costs have increased to 500 Euros as he needed a car for work. Some of his friends also work at the refugee camp and others work at the local hospital or in youth care.

There are several “shops” in Skattungbyn and none of them can be considered normal but they all help the inhabitants to live more inexpensively!

Slåttergubben, bring your own container! Photo: AnnVixen
Slåttergubben, bring your own container! Photo: AnnVixen

Skattunge Handel was once the only food store of the village but was deemed unprofitable and about to be closed. To avoid having to drive 15 miles for food or gas the villagers took over shop and founded a cooperative association. Today the shop holds the same assortment as a small food store. It has employees to run it but much of the administration is done by the co-op members.

Slåttergubben is the second food store in the village. It is also co-owned by some of the villagers but classed as a procurement association. The shop buys large sacks of locally grown food or European organic food. Customers bring their own packages to fill.

The shop is very much cheaper than a normal store. It is only open between 13 pm and 15 pm on Saturdays so that it doesn’t compete with Skattunge Handel. The village is too small for competition but big enough for cooperation it seems!    

Hansen House Folks kitchen is serving lentil soup today! Photo: AnnVixen
Hansen House Folks kitchen is serving lentil soup today! Photo: AnnVixen

Hansen’s House is run by the Swedish study association for study circles and theatre groups. On Saturday afternoons Hansen’s House becomes a meeting places for the alternatives of Skattungbyn they then hold a “folk kitchen”, serving vegetarian meals to anyone that might be interested. The kitchen is financed by donations from both guests and donors.

The Free Shop – this might technically not be a shop but rather a place where villagers can bring unneeded clothes, books or utility articles and also help themselves to anything that they find. Markus Skoog tells me that the Free shop isn’t owned by anyone and doesn’t have a formal administration but is run by anyone who is interested. We meet Malin who

Pick what you need in the Free shop. Photo: AnnVixen
Pick what you need in the Free shop. Photo: AnnVixen

currently has chosen to organise the Free shop, it looks absolutely lovely and pittoresque!

Interestingly enough, all of the shops in the village are non-profit making and run either by a cooperative or by driving spirits helping other villagers to a more inexpensive life!  

Some people in Skattungbyn do their Saturday shopping tour by first visiting the two food shops and then passing the Free shop to either pick up or leave stuff off and then continue to Hansen’s House for a meal. The latest news is the recently opened tool library where villagers can borrow good quality tools.

Malin Haglund is currently the spirit running the Free shop! Photo: AnnVixen
Malin Haglund is currently the driving spirit running the Free shop! Photo: AnnVixen

Markus and the blogg

Markus started the blog “Att Leva det Levande Livet”. 

-Because “life must be able to be better than this”, he smiles!

He wanted to document his own learnings of alternative living and share it with others that might be interested!

What about the farming?

At Flurlundar farm the collective recently laid the foundation for a 2000 m2 farming plot. The soil isn’t as good as it could be yet and the collective is planning for an all organic farm. It might take up to 8 years before the yields hit their highs and make the collective self sufficient in beans, peas, red

A snowy shower when opening the Dome! Photo: Agata Mazgaj
A snowy shower when opening the Dome! Photo: Agata Mazgaj

cabbage, kale, artichokes, onions, squash, pumpkins and potatoes. They also built a greenhouse, “The Dome”, to be able to grow their own chili, basil, cucumber and tomato.

A second greenhouse will soon provide the collective by providing the possibilities of biannual crop rotation to avoid pests.  Most of what they know about growing food was learnt from their very appreciated teacher Patrik Ytterholm at Mora Folk school.

Will Markus always live like this?

Markus is happy in his Tiny Home on wheels but is planning to buy his own plot of land and build a real house on it. He also has plans to allow others to move onto his property to

The inside of the green house. Photo: Agata Mazgaj
The inside of the green house. Photo: Agata Mazgaj

gain a passive income from rent. He doesn’t mind working but wants to do things that matter to him such as giving a course this summer on how to build you own Tiny Home on wheels!

The visit to Skattungbyn has been an eye-opener showing that life can be more free and not so structured as life often is in urban areas. There are of course pro’s and con’s with every lifestyle but Tellus Think Tank is happy to understand this alternative!

Next week we investigate the development of Stockholm as a green and environmentally friendly city from a traffic perspective, would you like to be notified when it is available, click here!

Thinking of down-sizing? Could you consider living in a sustainable Tiny Home on wheels? No014

 

Do you live a fulfilling life in the midst of the rush, the fumes of the city with high costs of living and

Sunrise in Skattungbyn. Photo: AnnVixen
Sunrise in Skattungbyn. Photo: AnnVixen

the need to commute to work or school? Do you ever wonder if life could be lived differently? From the 70’ies until today at least 200 people have had the same thoughts as you and moved to the small village of Skattungbyn in the rural district of Dalarna in Sweden.
Text: Domi, Tellus Think Tank. Photo: Agata Mazgaj, AnnVixen, Daniel Zetterström

My friend Agata and I often have long discussions on everything from sustainable living to Swedish media and Polish politics.

ABOUT TELLUS THINK TANK…read

One day she told me about a Swedish blog she found on the theme of living in small quarters and in this way making as small a footprint on our planet as possible. Would this be a life for us? All of a sudden we are on a road trip to Skattungbyn in the Swedish district of Dalarna, tag along!

The view of the vastness of Orsa Finnmark from the village of Skattungbyn. Photo: Agata Mazgaj
The view of the vastness of Orsa Finnmark from the village of Skattungbyn. Photo: Agata Mazgaj

Tiny homes on wheels in Skattungbyn

The roads are empty when we drive into Skattungbyn this sunny, frostbiten Saturday morning in January. We get to experience the village in sunlight as it clutches on to the hillside with a fantastic view over the nature of Orsa Finnmark. This at once feels like a harmonious place, a feeling that endures through our full visit!

In the village of Skattungbyn one can find a rather unique way of living, Tiny Homes on wheels. We have the privilege of meeting Markus Skoog, that some here would say personifies, thanks to his blog , “AttLevaDetLevandeLivet”, the Tiny Home dwellers.  

The first Tiny Home in the village of Skattungbyn was built in the beginning of the 2000’s. There are currently 20 people living in Tiny Homes in the village and the word is spreading throughout both Sweden and the world.

The people that build their own Tiny Homes on wheels later seek permission from a landowner in the village and roll their home onto the designated part of the land. The rental agreements differ from situation to situation.

Also read the next article about Skattungbyn and the community there, it will be available next Thursday! Would you like to be notified, click here

Why live in a Tiny Home on wheels?

Markus tells us that there are several reasons behind the Tiny Home residents in Skattungbyn:

Markus and Agata in the magic forrest of Flurlunar farm. Photo: AnnVixen
Markus and Agata in the magic forrest of Flurlunar farm. Photo: AnnVixen
  • One reason is that Skattungbyn is a lovely place to live but it is difficult to find land to buy in the village.
  • Another reason is that living in a Tiny Home on wheels makes a very small dent on nature and a very small carbon footprint as the houses are not attached to the land and don’t use concrete. Living in a Tiny Home on wheels is easy and simple and a way to live an  alternative life.
  • A third reason is that it is very cheap to live in a Tiny Home on wheels. Read more about costs below.

What I find the most interesting is the insight that it is possible to live so much cheaper than we currently do in the city, and it isn’t hard to come by this simpler life. Depending on how the perspective living simpler might even bring a higher quality of life? Ofcourse, there are pro’s and con’s connected to every way of living!

Living in a Tiny Home on wheels in Sweden compared to the American way

Swedish Tiny Homes on wheels are all about simple living. Photo: AnnVixen
Swedish Tiny Homes on wheels are all about simple living. Photo: AnnVixen

The Swedish Tiny Homes on wheels differ a lot from the American Tiny Homes. Markus tells us that Tiny Homes in the US want to hold their distance from the trailer people and that they pretty much squeeze every comfort into their Tiny Homes, at almost any expense.

-The kitchen areas in the US Tiny Homes cost a fortune even though the size of the houses are very small. Also, every Tiny Home in the US has a toilet and a shower. They look like normal houses in a mini format.

The Swedish Tiny Homes on wheels are all about living simple.

Markus’s Tiny Home on wheels

Markus built his first Tiny Home on wheels and quickly sold it. During the

One of the beautiful wood stoves in the Tiny Homes on wheels. This specific one is not used for cooking. Photo: Agata Mazgaj
One of the beautiful wood stoves in the Tiny Homes on wheels. This specific one is not used for cooking. Photo: Agata Mazgaj

coming winter season he borrowed his friend Lorraia’s Tiny Home, which he smilingly describes as a “glorified tent” as the house was very badly insulated. The heating system consisted of a wood stove and when Markus came home late at night it would be so cold that he would have to be quick to light the wood stove fire, jump into his sleeping bag and fall asleep.

After a while he found that he could heat water on the wood stove and pour it into plastic bottles that he would snuggle into his sleeping bag to keep the heat during the night. After that particularly cold winter Markus felt a strong urge to build his own, well insulated home.

The day Agata and I visit Skattungbyn we read -17°c / 1,4°f and we understand how important insulation is in this climate!

Markus’ new house, designed with a “broken” gable roof like the cutest Astrid Lindgren cabin, is very well insulated! The Tiny Home on wheels was built in 2013 and it took Markus about two months to finish it to the point where he could actually move in. He didn’t have everything in place from the beginning, and finished bits and pieces when he could afford it. In the beginning, until he was able to afford indoor paneling, he dressed the walls with colourful cloths!

A Tiny Home on wheels, 17 square meters of living space, tin rood, organically insulated. Cost 80 000 kronor / 8 000 Euro. Photo: Agata Mazgaj
A Tiny Home on wheels, 17 square meters of living space plus a loft, tin roof, organically insulated. Cost 80 000 kronor / 8 000 Euro. Photo: Agata Mazgaj

-It was lovely to finally get the panel in place, smiles Markus!

The cost for the Tiny Home on wheels initially added up to 50 000 kronor / 5 000 Euro. After having chosen to improve the quality of the house with a tin roof and some other comforts Markus estimates that he has paid about 80 000 kronor / 8000 Euro for his Tiny House on wheels.  

-I chose not to equip the kitchen part with a drain but there is a kitchen bench and I have a large pitcher of water and a large bowl for kitchen use! says Markus!

Agata and I are invited into Markus “one roomed apartment”. It feels airy, warm and minimalistically decorated. On the right short side of the room we find a kitchen bench, in the middle of the room the wooden stove is crackling. By one of the windows we find a second heating source, an electrical heater, that works since Markus has electricity installed. At the other end of the room Markus has built a wooden sofa covered with mattresses. From the sofa we can just make out an almost hidden ladder leading up to a so called mezzanine loft, half storey loft. That is where Markus has installed his sleeping quarters, just under the roof.  

Markus Tiny Home is 3.1 meters x 6.0 meters / 10 x 20 feet and it weighs about 6 tons. The height is 4.5 meters / 15 feet. The living space is 17 m² / 182 f² and the Home stands on wheels!  

The house is properly insulated with old newspapers, that can be bought in large sacks at any local home depot. The

A Tiny Home on wheels, 15 square meters of living space, plus a loft. Cost 50 000 kronor / 5 000 Euro. Photo: Agata Mazgaj
A Tiny Home on wheels, 15 square meters of living space, plus a loft. Cost 50 000 kronor / 5 000 Euro. Photo: Agata Mazgaj

papers are put into a large mill and blown into the space between the columns of the walls of the house. The newspaper insulation works really well and is  a much more sustainable alternative compared to Rockwool or such, says Markus that is a professional carpenter!

The Tiny Home, just like the other Tiny Homes in Skattungbyn, is built on boat trailer wagon structures or similar. Markus chose to build his Tiny Home on a two wheel wagon structure. Most Tiny Homes here are built without drains and toilets but have possibilities for cooking on the wooden stove.

Owners of the Tiny Homes on wheels can sign for a comprehensive household insurance allowing the Tiny Home to be moved twice during a year.

A Do-It-Yourself staircase. Cost: zero Kronor / Euro. Photo: Agata Mazgaj
A Do-It-Yourself staircase. Cost: zero Kronor / Euro. Photo: Agata Mazgaj

Markus has films on youtube, with soon above 60 000 views, on how to build his Tiny Home.

It is icy cold in Dalarna today and Agata and I have dressed accordingly but are still freezing when we move around the grounds to look at more Tiny Homes on wheels.

Costs of building Tiny Homes on wheels

Costs of the Swedish Tiny Homes on wheels differ depending on the type of material and the origins of the materials.  Markus Tiny Home on wheels cost 80 000 kronor / 8 000 Euro. Flurlundargård, the farm that Markus house stands on, has another three tenants in Tiny Homes on wheels. The other houses have cost far less ranging from 4 000 kronor / 400 Euros to 50 000 kronor / 5 000 Euros. The Tiny Home with the lowest cost was one where all the wood was donated from a de-construction site, total cost of zero kronor / zero Euros.

Interested in running costs of life in a Tiny Home on wheels, read more in next week’s article, get a notification when it is available.

If Markus would have built his house today, what would he have done differently?

-I have a long list of improvements that should have been thought of! he laughs and tells us he would have built higher

A mezzanini sleeping loft provides more living space when living on 15 square meters. Photo: Agata Mazgaj
A mezzanini sleeping loft provides more living space when living on 15 square meters. Photo: Agata Mazgaj

walls and a normal gable roof. He would also have built the house much smaller than 17 m² / 182 f² as the current house is a bit big for his personal needs and needs a tractor to move it! The current design places the wood stove in the middle of the room to match the aesthetically placed chimney, set in the middle of the roof. If he could re-do this he would have placed both the wood stove and chimney along one of the walls.

Living without running water and electricity in a Tiny Home on wheels

Markus has access to both electricity, a kitchen, a shower and fresh water in a tap system as he is camped on the land of and affiliated to the FrejaLinas collective, that locally goes under the name Flurlundar farm. He estimates that about half of the Tiny Home dwellers in Skattungbyn do not have direct access to either electricity or water.  

-What, is it possible to live this way, I wonder curiously? How?  

A sustainable outhouse by the edge of the woods. Photo: Agata Mazgaj
A sustainable outhouse by the edge of the woods. Photo: Agata Mazgaj

Without fresh water toilets
Markus says that most of the people that want to live in alternative ways in Skattungbyn have access to large plots of land and in some cases also to water toilets but they choose to build and use an outhouse.  

A Tiny Home on wheels, 7 square meters of living space. All but the inner paneling was built with recycled material. Cost 10 000 Kronor / 1 000 Euro. Photo: AnnVixen
A Tiny Home on wheels, 7 square meters of living space. All but the inner paneling was built with recycled material. Cost 10 000 Kronor / 1 000 Euro. Photo: AnnVixen

The sewage from a water toilet is difficult to clean and far from sustainable and

expensive for society.  

An outhouse, composted in a correct manner, is transformed by bacteria to very good farming soil in just two years. The soil can be used as fertilizers to farmlands or tree- and bush cultivations.

Without fresh water
The Tiny Home dwellers of Skattungbyn have several possibilities to shower and even take a sauna.  There is the “village sauna” at the cost of 10 kronor / 1 Euro per visit. The village also has a small sports auditorium that also provides a shower, for free. Markus tells me that several people who live

Markus is just about to take a winter bath! Photo: Daniel Zetterström
Markus is just about to take a winter bath! Photo: Daniel Zetterström

without direct access to water heat water on their wood stoves and wash with soap and towel at home. Water can be fetched from the snowy winter slopes or from many of the lakes and streams that run through the village during the summer.

Without electricity
Almost everyone in Skattungbyn has a smart phone and if they don’t have access to electricity in their home phones are charged at work or with battery chargers.

Electric lighting is replaced by gas lamps, battery lamps or oil lamps. The Tiny Homes are  often solely heated by wood stoves. Cooking is also mainly performed on the specially designed wood stoves. Many Tiny Home dwellers are vegetarian or even vegan. Food that is cooked could be oatmeal porridge, lentils, soups or boiled

A Tiny Home on wheels, 7 square meters of living space. Cost 4 000 Kronor / 400 Euro. Photo: Agata Mazgaj
A Tiny Home on wheels, 7 square meters of living space. Cost 4 000 Kronor / 400 Euro. Photo: Agata Mazgaj

eggs.

Markus is more of a flexitarian, as he eats meat if someone invites him to it. The Flurundar farm collective however cook all their meals together and only cook vegetarian food.

Do you find that life in a Tiny Home on wheels differs quite a bit from other Western lives? Read more about the community of Skattungbyn next week. Do you want to be notified when the article is available, click here! 

No012 Will Smart Cities of the future have local food production in vertical skyscrapers?

 

The sustainable city of the future needs to feed a growing population in a sustainable way. This is already a challenge! Swedish Plantagon is working on an innovative industrial scale vertical skyscraper farm, to feed cities of the future with leafy greens! Development is planned to start during the summer of 2016! By Domi, Tellus Think Tank, 4th of January 2016.

About: Tellus Think Tank aims at inspiring lives and communities to choose the sustainable and regenerative road towards the future by sharing good examples and ideas! We keep our eyes open to the problems and focus on ideas, best practises and solutions. We hope this article inspires you to ask your city council for a solution like a city vertical greenhouse!  

The problem in short 

In short, the population of Earth is currently 7,3 billion and is expected to continue to grow. Consequences of continued population growth, Global Warming and continued urbanisation are future strains in supply of food and water.

It raises the question: Will Earth be able to feed 10 billion people in 2050? Read more about the challenge here. 

One possible solution to feed the population in the sustainable city of the future is the smart and vertical greenhouse

Global Warming and environmental changes on Earth have made societies ponder on how to move towards “smart cities” where several types of digital systems are connected to make life in the city more effective but also offer a higher quality of living to the city inhabitants. “Smart City” interconnected services that are often mentioned are transport and traffic management, energy, water, waste management but also innovative urban agriculture and Tellus Think Tank is therefore meeting with Plantagon.

Read more about the future transport systems of the future: Urban Foresight and the Mill-project

The food from a local city greenhouse becomes more affordable for city dwellers as costs for both food transports and middlemen are taken out of the production process. Plantagons innovative techniques to grow crops in sustainable ways aim to help boost production of sustainable food and save a significant amount of input of resources by harnessing resources like waste from other urban infrastructure – sustainable city thinking!

Early idea of a vertical greenhouse. Picture: Plantagon
Early idea of a vertical greenhouse. Picture: Plantagon

Plantagon has  first version of a greenhouse consisted of a large and spectacularly looking spherical greenhouse, which would have been a real eyecatcher in any city!

The innovation process has however moved on and the current idea being developed is an impressive 17 story building supported by an array of interconnected sustainable digital systems and mixing offices with food production!

The south side of the building constitutes a vertical greenhouse and the north side of the building consists of office space. 

The latest version of the vertical greenhoues. Picture: Plantagon
The latest version of the vertical greenhouse. Picture: Plantagon

Produce from the vertical greenhouses of Plantagon

Plantagons 17 story greenhouse will grow leafy greens on 4000 m2 / 43 000 ft2 while only occupying 400m2 / 4300 ft2 of land on ground level. The building also provides 4000 m2 / 43 000 ft2 of northern facing office space.

Sepehr Mousavi, Sustainability Strategist, at Plantagon tells me that the greenhouse will initially produce foods like herbs and salad such as Pak Choy, kale, lettuce, spinach, parsley, basil. Sepehr calls them leafy greens.

The running cost of the growing process is very lean indeed and able to run on a staff of three persons, not including staff for transports or building repairs or maintenance.

Plantagon estimates show that their latest developed, but not yet built, greenhouse will probably produce as much as 2 tons of leafy greens, salads and herbs, a day! This is enough for the annual needs of about 25 000 persons, based on the average consumption of leafy greens in Sweden.

 

Horticultural aspects, techniques and inventions for the sustainable city of the future is found in Plantagon’s vertical greenhouse

There are a lot of aspects to be taken into consideration when building an effective horticultural system with the ability to produce a large amount of leafy greens on every day of the year. To make the system as effective and sustainable as possible the greenhouse is designed to be a closed system, not letting unmonitored air, water, nutrients, energy or waste in or out of the building.  

Not soil. Instead of soil, the plants will be planted in Icelandic volcanic pumice. This material gives stability to the

Volcanic pumice from Iceland, in a specially designed microwave oven. Photo: AnnVixen
Volcanic pumice from Iceland, in a specially designed microwave oven. Photo: AnnVixen

roots and plant, provides some nutrition in form of different kinds of minerals and allows the roots to build up pockets of oxygen needed for the photosynthesis process. Other, more pure, Hydroponic solutions on the market today lack providing protection from the flow of the water so that the oxygen pockets around the roots needed are washed away. The pumice is believed to be in use for upto 10 years, before it has been grinded by the daily greenhouse process to become too smooth to be able to support the plants. Before using the pumice it has to be disinfected, which is done in special microwave ovens.

The Plantagon uPot. Photo: AnnVixen
The Plantagon uPot. Photo: AnnVixen

The pots. The specially designed and copyrighted uPOT to be used in the vertical greenhouse, is another of Plantagons inventions. The pot is expandable and will grow in diameter as the plant needs more space. The pot is one of the solutions that makes if possible to avoid replanting the crop during its 5 week growth process. 

 

Spiraling road of growth. The plants and seeds are initially planted in their pots at the ground floor of the greenhouse and then sent up to the top floor in an elevator that runs up and down the back wall of the greenhouse and then pushed onto the slowly, downwards spiraling and moving band, called the helix. It will be the plants home during 4-5 weeks. When the plant reaches the ground level again it is fully grown and ready to be transported to the local shops or even sold in the greenhouse shop.

This short film shows a model that has been built to visualise the 4-5 week spiraling path of the plants on the helix. Film: AnnVixen

Water and organic nutrient. Water and organic nutrition is mixed to perfection and pumped up to the top of the greenhouse. From there is lead down the spiraling helix system, watering all the plants on its two hour journey back to the bottom of the greenhouse, to soon be reused again.

The temperature of the greenhouse has to be constant all year around and needs to be monitored and adjusted. The

The double facade. Photo: AnnVixen
The double-shell facade. Photo: AnnVixen

glass walls of the building is based on a bi-glass-wall system that Sepehr calls a “double-shell façade”. The correct temperature air is sent in the canal between the two glass frames from the bottom  and then blown to the top of the building. The air gathered at the top is fed into the air conditioning system to either cool or heat the greenhouse or offices, when needed.

Sunlight or not. The most effective way of growing leafy greens, according to Plantagon, is by providing sixteen hours of continuous daylight and leaving the plants to rest in darkness during the rest of the day. The greenhouse will be kitted with pink-led-lamps as a sun-supplement to be used when needed.  

Symbiotic system of water, waste and energy. The water, electricity and waste of the greenhouse will be interconnected in a symbiotic system, involving the local biogas plant and the local energy power plant.

Carbon dioxide from the biogas plant could be led to the greenhouse plants, as they need it  to grow and this also lowers the plant’s carbon-footprint. The same could be done with the carbon dioxide in the office part of the building, and the oxygen produced in the greenhouse could in turn be led to the offices. Waste from the greenhouse can be returned to the biogas plant, and

sustainable city of the future Photo: AnnVixen TellusThinkTank.com
Sustainable city farming with Plantagon. Photo: AnnVixen

the energy that the greenhouse produces from its geothermal bore-holes can be sold back to the local power plant. The Plantagon greenhouse has a lot of possibilities to be a “smart building”!

An automatic ordering system. Buyers of the leafy greens will place orders in an ordering system so that the demand for the salads and herbs shows if further marketing is needed in new geographic areas and so on.  

Smart systems. Sepehr tells me that the greenhouse can hardly work without supplying smart systems, ICT-systems, to monitor heat, lighting, cleanliness and PA-levels of the water, the amount of nutrients, need of energy, the surplus of energy, the redistribution of carbon dioxide from the office part of the building with the oxygen from the greenhouse part of the building and much more. According to one of Plantagons alliance partners, Sweco, this is one of the most complex projects they have ever worked on, and one can understand why!

Read more about Plantagon and the first greenhouse planned to be built in Swedish Linköping in 2016 here!

 

Next week: Tellus Think Tank will share an alternative way of living, small living, in tiny homes – something for you? Read more next week! Want a notification of when the article is available, click here!

Tellus Think Tank
Tellus Think Tank
Tellus Think Tank
Domi