August 11, 2020

AppHarvest’s Big Idea: Bringing Food Production Indoor At A Mammoth Kentucky Greenhouse

MOREHEAD, Ky. – Almost 70 percent of American consumers, including those who love fresh tomatoes, are a day’s drive from eastern Kentucky. That proximity to big markets is the primary reason AppHarvest is building the largest greenhouse in the United States in a big field in Rowan County just outside this university town. Sometime next summer, when production commences, the $97 million, 60-acre building will begin shipping 45 million pounds of fresh produce annually, primarily …

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I Wish, I Will

  NEW YORK — The three-day Clinton Global Initiative concluded with a flurry of new commitments including a five-year, $4 billion pledge by Pacific Gas & Electric and Ausra to build solar thermal generating stations that both companies says is cost-competitive with fossil fuel generation. California-based Ausra will build at least 1,000 megawatts of solar power plants and PG&E will purchase at least 1,000 megawatts of solar thermal, and the deal will eliminate over 36 million tons of CO2 emissions …

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Michigan’s Energy Schizophrenia

Late last month I had the chance to spend the day with scientists at Michigan State University who are involved in carrying out the work of the new Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, a partnership between MSU and the University of Wisconsin financed by a five-year, $125 million federal research grant. It is one of three such centers across the country determined to fill America’s national gas tank with fuel made from plants. Bruce Dale, a chemical engineer at …

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Before Grassoline, Settling A Dispute Among Experts

David Pimentel, an ecologist who spent all of his career at Cornell University after earning his doctorate in entomology in 1951, is one of the most respected environmental scientists of his generation. He was among the select group of young ecologists who in the 1960s first identified the environmental and public health hazards of farm chemicals, and helped build the scientific case for healthier, more environmentally-sensitive agriculture practices. The fact that organic crops are the fastest growing sector …

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Flip: Interactively Documenting Factory Farms

  Among the priority hazards of joining capital and technology the way we do in the 21st Century is that it can blow up the ordinary and familiar — a farm, for instance — into shapes and sizes that are extraordinary. That is what’s happening in Michigan and in many other states in animal agriculture. American meat, poultry, and milk, increasingly, are produced on immense sites that have come to be known as “factory farms.” For those who haven’t followed …

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Two Conversations on Energy in America; and Everything Else

You may have missed this little note out of Wall Street last week but many of the renewable and alternative energy funds are doing very well. The New Alternatives fund is up nearly 37 percent the last 12 months and 20 percent so far this year. The Guinness Atkinson fund is up 17 percent and 27 percent while the Wilder Hill funds, which launched last fall, are each up about 11 percent this year. By …

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Flip: Markets Are Key To Farmland Conservation

Here’s a great example of how to deploy Internet technology and interactivity to conserving farmland. The Michigan Land Use Institute just posted the latest version of our Taste The Local Difference Web site, which links buyers of local farm products to sellers. Here’s a new facet of the site that enables wholesale suppliers and buyers to connect very quickly on the Web, an online wholesale market as it were.   Just great work by the Institute’s …

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Big Green’s Silent Spring For Rachel Carson — Take Two

On the day late last month that Rachel Carson would have turned 100 years old I posted a piece on Mode Shift that focused on the surprising failure of the nation’s major environmental organizations to defend the mother of modern environmentalism. The free market right has set out on a deliberate path to diminish Carson, and by extension the American environmental community, as credible in responding to the consequences of industrial technology. The attack on Carson is …

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Pangea’s Biodegradable Package; Just Plant and Grow

Here’s a name worth paying attention to in the space where sustainable business practices and the non-profit sector cross. He is Joshua Scott Onysko, a 30-year-old native of Rhode Island who turned a bonding experience with his mother making organic soap into Pangea Organics, a very successful Boulder-based manufacturer of organic body and skin care products. I first learned of Onysko and Pangea Organics from a friend in Saugatuck who was as enthusastic about the company’s all …

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No More $125 An Acre Stuff

Bill Bobier, who’s a progressive Republican from Oceana County on Michigan’s west side, once represented four Lake Michigan counties in the state Legislature. At the time, in the mid-1990s, he was one of the rare good guys in a Legislature swinging so hard right that even Michigan Republicans didn’t recognize their own kind. What made Bobier especially distinctive was his farm, where he and his wife raised vegetables and beef. I once spent the day out there watching Bill …

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