Category — Horticulture
Guest post by Jessica Henn- Buzz Troop Volunteen
What’s the buzz in Buzz Troop? Well, we are trying to help the bees and the butterflies by finding their favorite flowers, so the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden can plant more of their the plants they like best!
We all want to be able to enjoy these majestic creatures, so we are working on preserving them not only for our current generation, but also for generations to come. Without all of our terrific pollinators, we would not have many of the foods that we enjoy today, such as honey, onions, and kiwifruit. If we don’t want all of our pollinators, which we depend on for many foods, to disappear, we must all do our part in stopping the decrease of an essential part of nature’s ecosystem.
The Cincinnati Zoo’s Buzz Troop is helping our pollinators to again become abundant and thriving so that future generations can protect and enjoy all of these beautiful and critically important creatures. I personally find it important to protect and preserve all of nature so that the world will forever look original for everyone to see and experience as it was meant to be. Helping to save the pollinators is just one step to keep natural habitats safe.
July 7, 2014 No Comments
8 Tips to Celebrate Sustainably this Fourth of July
Guest post: Mary Sticklen and Kaitlin Burt – Sustainability interns
The Fourth of July is a great day to celebrate our country by cooking out and watching fireworks. Unfortunately, some of our traditional ways of celebrating can have negative impacts on the environment. So here are some tips that will help you to add some green into your red, white, and blue celebrations!
Tip 1: Buy Local
As you plan for your barbeques make sure to try and source your beef locally and buy your produce and breads at local farmer’s markets. There are farmer’s markets you can still visit before the Fourth (Findlay Market (8am-2pm), Lebanon (3pm-7pm), Madeira (3:30pm-7pm), and Mt. Washington (3pm-7pm). Or check out the locally supplied and organic products at your nearest grocery store.
Tip 2: Ditch Plastic Dishes
While you are feasting this fourth, make sure to use your glassware or buy biodegradable dishware instead of buying plastic or Styrofoam. Biodegradable dishware is not much more expensive than its plastic counterparts and the environmental difference is significant. Biodegradable dishware only takes a few months to degrade in landfills, while plastic can take hundreds of years!
Tip 3: Carpool
The Fourth is a great to time catch up with friends and family. To save money and help the planet carpool to your events and parties.
Tip 4: Reuse Your Cup
If you’re having a big party, opt for serving drinks in large pitchers rather than serving drinks in cans and bottles, which can pile up fast. If you do use plastic cups when serving, make sure to write everyone’s name on them so you only have to use one. Also don’t forget to bring your own reusable water bottle!
Tip 5: Use Propane
One way you can make your cookout greener is to use propane to grill the food rather than charcoal. Charcoal grills produce almost three times the amount of greenhouse gases as propane. If propane is not an option, charcoal briquettes made from scrapwood are the most environmentally friendly.
Tip 6: Compost and Recycle
Being diligent about your food waste and recyclables is another easy way to be green. If possible compost all your food waste after the party and make sure to recycle any cans or bottles.
Tip 7: Watch Fireworks with Friends
Fireworks are an integral Fourth of July tradition, however they are not the most environmentally friendly. Instead of setting off your own fireworks, bring your friends to a local firework event rather than setting off your own. Firework events in the Cincinnati include:
If you are setting off your own fireworks make sure to buy fireworks that are high in nitrogen because they release less smoke into the environment.
Tip 8: Enjoy the Outdoors
The best way to appreciate the outdoors is to go out and enjoy it. Have fun with your friends and family and enjoy the fresh air!
July 3, 2014 1 Comment
Written by guest blogger, Dan Divelbiss, one of the masterminds behind the Zoo’s aquaponics system.
“Waste” does not exist in nature. All our furred, feathered, and finned friends don’t take a trash can out to the curb each week to watch their undesirables go “away”. Instead nature has a plan for every scrap and left-over. As we learn from nature, we too can begin to apply this concept to our lives. If you were recently walking past the Base Camp Café on your way to Africa, you may have noticed a greenhouse filled with water, fish, and plants. This is the Zoo’s newest effort synergize with nature’s design ethic: Aquaponics!
Simply stated, aquaponics is growing fish to eat (aquaculture) and vegetables (hydroponics) together, where wastes from the fish are food for the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish. In this controlled environment, yields are high and reliable. Aquaponics systems range from simple, tabletop systems consisting of little more than goldfish and a few sprigs of basil to elaborate, commercial scale systems which employ many people and produce tons of food annually. This particular aquaponics system in the Greenhouse was designed to show how folks can build their own family-scale, aquaponic garden from materials available at local hardware/landscaping stores.
This system consists of a fish tank, two grow beds for vegetables, a pump, an aerator, solids filter, and a biofilter. Water flows through the system continuously in a closed-loop allowing nutrients and water to be cycled and recycled. If this system were meant to accommodate a higher fish density (aka more “waste” producers in the same space), it would require a few more components. However, this system with a low fish population and extensive biofiltration doesn’t require them.
Fish are housed in a tank. Water from the fish tank is pumped through solids removal and into a biofilter, where the fish waste is converted by bacteria from ammonia (possibly toxic to fish) into nitrates (non-toxic to fish) that can be used by plants. The water flows downhill from the biofilter into growing trays. Plants grow in beds of gravel or expanded clay (which also acts as an additional biofilter), or they are floated on the water in a floating raft. After the water passes through a network of plant roots, it is returned, cleansed, to the fish tank. All through the process, air is pumped into the system to ensure plenty of oxygen for the fish, beneficial bacteria, and plants. Each day the fish are fed and their excrement supplies the nutrients necessary for plant growth.
The current plants growing in the aquaponics system include basil, cucumber, and tomato. Each day, our SSA chefs harvest what they need for catering and restaurant meals, staying true to their commitment to providing our guests food that is as fresh and as local possible. For example, your caprese salad features basil grown in the Greenhouse, and picked just before it is tossed in your salad.
If you’d like to learn more about aquaponics, stop by the Zoo and check out this new exhibit next to the Base Camp Café. The Greenhouse was made possible by the Woodward Family Charitable Foundation.
Dan Divelbiss, MS is the managing member of Waterfields, LLC, an urban agriculture development company focusing on bringing commercial aquaponics to the urban core to create living wage jobs, revitalize communities, and sell to Cincinnati’s local food market. Learn more at www.waterfieldsllc.com
August 28, 2013 4 Comments