Unconsumption means the accomplishment of properly recycling your old cellphone, rather than the guilt of letting it sit in a drawer.
Unconsumption means the thrill of finding a new use for something that you were about to throw away.
Unconsumption means the pleasure of using a service like Freecycle (or Craigslist, Goodwill, or Salvation Army) to find a new home for the functioning DVD player you just replaced, rather than throwing it in the garbage.
Unconsumption means enjoying the things you own to the fullest – not just at the moment of acquisition.
Unconsumption means the pleasure of using a pair of sneakers until they are truly worn out – as opposed to the nagging feeling of defeat when they simply go out of style.
Unconsumption means feeling good about the simple act of turning off the lights when you leave the room.
Unconsumption is not about the rejection of things, or the demonization of things. It’s not a bunch of rules.
Unconsumption is an idea, a set of behaviors, a way of thinking about consumption itself from a new perspective.
Unconsumption is free.
Founder & Editor:Rob Walker, journalist, Savannah, GA
Editorial & Community Manager: Molly Block, marketing and business development geek, Houston, TX
“Edel was interested in ways of bringing back manufacturing jobs to the city,” explains Melanie Hoekstra, director of operations at The Plant. The building is uniquely suited to food production; it contains food-grade materials (these allow for legal and safe food preparation) because of its meatpacking history. Instead of combining farming with other types of manufacturing, The Plant is sticking entirely to food—and lots of it.
I think we posted something about this project last year, emphasizing aspects that are recurring Unconsumption topics: adaptive reuse — the conversion of existing buildings to new uses — and urban farming. (Though I’m not finding an earlier post about it in the Unconsumption archive. Ah, thanks, Tumblr search.) Anyway, it’s great to see that the project’s progressing nicely.
Students in the University of Colorado’s design+build studio used pallet wood, 2x4s reclaimed from an old railroad bridge, and various other found and donated materials to construct two pavilions for local non-profit organizations to use for open-air markets and other agricultural and environmental purposes.
The project, completed in 2010, has earned awards from local and state AIA (American Institute of Architects) chapters.
(photos by Nathan Jenkins; via architectural firm Studio H:T, whose principals were involved with the project)
For construction photos, see the design+build studio’s Facebook album here.
As fuel prices go up, the cost of shipping produce thousands of miles away rises accordingly. In the past few years, a number of companies have attempted to capitalize on the increasing hunger for locally produced food — we’ve seen rooftop farming startup BrightFarms and Brooklyn hydroponic farming startup Gotham Greens, just to a name a couple.
[Atlanta-based] PodPonics started in 2010 when founder Matt Liotta — a serial entrepreneur who has launched Internet, software, and telecom startups — noticed that demand significantly outstripped supply in the local food business. “[My work] in Internet, telecom, and agriculture is all pretty similar in that the goal was to find a mature industry and come up with a disruptive technology,” he says. “If you wanted to produce fresh produce at the point of consumption in a way that was economically viable, what would you have to invent to do it?”
Liotta decided to use recycled shipping containers as “grow pods,” which are outfitted with organic hydroponic nutrient solutions; computer-controlled environmental systems to regulate temperature, humidity, pH levels, and CO2; and lights that emit specific spectrums at different points in the day. The system provides the exact amount of water, lights, and nutrients that a crop requires—so there is no wasted energy (though the pods are still hooked up to the power grid). In a 320 square foot area, PodPonics can produce an acre’s worth of produce. The pods can be stacked on top of each other for more efficient use of space.
I would eat here everyday if I could. I bet the food is amazing.
Love that the soil mix includes recycled polystyrene, compost from Sixpoint’s composter, and, as a top layer to aid in moisture retention, coffee chaff — husks from beans — a byproduct from Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ roasting process.
A group in London, aided by volunteers, is converting a “derelict shop into London’s first urban farming hub — a gallery and events venue packed to the rafters with living and breathing food — literally a farm in a shop.” In addition to connecting people with their food sources, FARM:shop will host workshops, film showings, and other events.
“They’re the bane of urban and suburban areas alike: the vacant, boarded-up K-Marts and Home Depot Expos, squatting like concrete cowpies amidst a landscape of weedy parking lots. But where most people see blight and a waste of space, San Francisco Bay-area entrepreneur Gene Fredericks sees opportunity: to grow food. Lots of food.”
“A funny thing happened after Keiji Asakura suggested the creation of a vegetable garden in the middle of the concrete corridor and skyscraper canyon that is downtown Houston.
“It actually came to fruition — with a swiftness that stunned the landscape architect and the nonprofit group [Urban Harvest] that shared his vision.
“Now, a mere two months later, herbs, vegetables and flowers are flourishing on a bustling city street. A community has been forged among co-workers and strangers who once did little more than brush shoulders on crowded elevators. Skateboarders and street people have grown protective of the fledgling plants.
“And this experiment, which involves nonprofit groups, the city’s Sustainability Office and employees of the Department of Public Works and Engineering, has become living proof that urban gardens can take root in the unlikeliest of places.
“The ‘Downtown Houston Container Vegetable Garden Project’ is … part of a trend in cities across the country, where once-vacant lots, apartment building windowsills and rooftops are being turned into community gardens which help provide fresh produce for the gardeners, farmers markets, and for food banks serving the needy.
“We haven’t heard of any other city doing this the way we have,” said [the city’s new sustainability director Laura] Spanjian. “The goal is to show people that they can grow local vegetables anywhere. We want to be a model for other cities and other businesses.”
“It adds greenery and beauty in an unexpected place,” said [Derrick] Neal [of the Public Works Department]. “This is what gardening is about — totally ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
Urban farms are sprouting in vacant lots and forgotten walls all over the country. But a farm in San Diego, California employs another type of abandoned real estate: The shopping cart. Firms Set & Drift and mi-workshop have used a signature blight on the urban landscape to create a mobile garden concept called The Farm Proper in the city’s Barrio Logan neighborhood.
Abandoned carts gathered from the neighborhood have been lined with burlap sacks donated by a local coffee retailer and packed with plants. Carts deemed inoperable have been anchored permanently at the space, and in this case, planted into a kind of bean pole teepee. The image of the supermarket staple serving as a planter for fresh food serves up some pretty nice symbolism as well.
It’s the meals-on-wheels element that really makes this kind of gardening exciting. One can imagine how banged-up carts could be collected from the streets, brought here for planting and then be wheeled away to permanently park at the homes of deserving families. Another idea, which was already demonstrated at a Farm Proper potluck, could bring healthy lunches to local workers: With the proper combination of crops, these mobile carts could roam the streets as super-fresh, pick-your-own salad bars.
Obviously urban farming is becoming much more pervasive, and more lucrative through services such as hyperlocavore, mentioned in a previous post. Yet you say, “but I live in an apartment! I don’t even have a balcony!”
Well, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis of Wicked Delicate decided to grow vegetables in the bed of an old Dodge pickup in Brooklyn. They’re documenting the growth of their mobile organic garden in a series of short films which monitor their crops’ progress through a solar-powered camera.
PSFK calls it “Craigslist for the Urban Farmer”, and hyperlocavore might replace your local Whole Foods as a source for seasonal produce. The service facilitates growing and sharing your own food with people in your community. You can sign up as a “pea” on an individual basis, or get a group together to form a “pod”.