Tuesday, July 28, 2015

CAUSES participates in Lotus and Water Lily Festival

by Arielle Gerstein, CAUSES Research Associate
On July 11, 2015, CAUSES participated in the annual Lotus and Water Lily Festival held at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. The festival had an estimated 6,000 visitors who came out to see the beautiful gardens and enjoy food, music and other activities. The festival spotlights these free activities:

  • A spectacular display of lotus and water lilies in full bloom
  • Gardening workshops & traditional Asian & African dancing performances
  • Hands-on activities including face painting, lotus tea tasting, and painting demonstrations
  • Educational and cultural exhibitors 

Promoting Pollinator Health

Photo by Carilyne Vance
Pollinator populations which include bees, butterflies, bats and beetles, support terrestrial wildlife, providing a healthy watershed and more. Honey bees play an important part in our agricultural ecosystem. According to the USDA, one-third of our daily diet comes from honey bee pollinated crops. Pollen is transported by bees, allowing plants to produce fruits, vegetables and seeds. 

Despite their critical role, these pollinators are being increasingly threatened by extreme weather, parasites and disease, and reductions in forage areas. Surveys of honey bee colonies as measured since 2006 have shown average winter losses of nearly 30 percent. Of particular concern is the impact of the invasive parasite, the Varroa mite, which the USDA considers “the single most detrimental pest of honey bees” and the one factor most closely associated with colony decline.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) was brought to national attention almost a decade ago. According to Michael Raupp, an extension specialist and professor of Entomology with the University of Maryland, contributing factors for CCD are: 1) Infesting Varroa mites, 2) nutrition and weakened diets, and 3) pesticides, which can weaken the immune system of bees. Read more at his Bug of the Week website.  

Encouragingly, urban beekeeping is gaining in popularity, especially in Washington, D.C., with even the White House cultivating its own colonies. Honey bees thrive in pollinator patches, which offer bees blooming opportunities and a variety of flowers to support different bee species, increasing pollinator diversity.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sustainable Urban Ag Certificate Program Begins August 31

By Arielle Gerstein
The fall 2015 session of the Sustainable Urban Agriculture certificate begins August 31, 2015! First offered in 2014, this program runs twice per year and teaches residents in the DC metro area how to farm using organic methods and how to start their own urban agricultural businesses.  This will be the program’s third session and will run from late August to mid-November. Learn how to register!

The certificate offers two tracks: Urban Agriculture Techniques and Business Principles in Urban Agriculture along with a prerequisite course that participants are required to take - Principles of Sustainable Urban Agriculture - so everyone has the same starting point for the two tracks.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Coming Soon: East Capitol Urban Farm

Have you heard about the East Capitol Urban Farm?

CAUSES is collaborating with the District of Columbia Housing Authority and other partners to operate an urban farm and aquaponics facility on a site across the street from the Capitol Heights Metro Station. Located in Ward 7 at 5959 East Capitol Street, SE, the 3-acre site will promote urban agriculture, improve food access and nutrition through community-centered farmers markets, provide job skills and entrepreneurship training, implement stormwater management best practices, and establish a nature playscape for neighborhood youth to play outdoors. 

There will also be educational components for local schools, residents and UDC students. The final site will include aquaponics, hoop and greenhouses, pollinator and raingardens, green infrastructure and farmers market. 

CAUSES Welcomes Two Volunteers

Thomas Wheet, Center for Sustainable Development and Center for Urban Agriculture

Thomas Wheet recently graduated from the University of Virginia. As a Government and Global Sustainability major, he became increasingly interested in the policies and systems that dictate human's interaction with the planet: the structures that control where we live, how we build, what we grow, and how we dispose, for example. This fascination led him to academic and work experiences focused on the systemic (mis)treatment of certain communities compared to others.

Thomas comes to CAUSES with experience in urban farming--specifically hydroponics and aquaponics--as well as community development and sustainable design. 

"I'm thrilled to be able to continue learning about designing spaces with the public's interest in mind from everyone at CAUSES." 

Rose Amolo, Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health

Rose Khasiala Amolo has joined the Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health (CNDH) as a program and monitoring evaluation intern. She is a post graduate student at American University pursuing a graduate certificate in monitoring and evaluation, and holds a MPH in Nutrition from New York University, and a Bachelors of Education from Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya.  

Her study focus is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education ( SNAP-Ed) program. She is working with the staff various program evaluation components including reviewing the existing data collection instruments, developing a logical framework and articulating a theory of change for the SNAP-ED program. She is also running statistical analysis with the existing data and will be doing a snapshot evaluation of the program progress on the current 2015-2016 fiscal year plan goals and objectives. Ms. Amolo has 15 years of work experience in international development, reproductive health, and maternal and child health programs in Africa. 

Dr. Monroe-Lord is delighted to add her expertise to the Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health and the SNAP-Ed program, stating "She is an outstanding addition to the Center."

Friday, July 17, 2015

CAUSES TV Lecture: Biogas, Climate Change and the Reduction of Poverty

This CAUSES TV lecture on biogas technology presented by David House, a renewable energy expert, designer and author of Methane Systems: The Complete Biogas Handbook. He is the designer of a low-cost, plastic-bag-based biogas digester for equatorial belt countries and inventor of a patented new technology for cochlear implants. Presently, he is developing a low-cost biogas digester for use in the U.S. and around the world. Watch his lecture to learn more.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

UDC inaugurates 20,000 sq. ft. food-producing green roof!

The College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences of the University of the District of Columbia has opened a 20,000 square foot green roof, which sits on top of Building 44 on the Van Ness campus. The official opening and ribbon-cutting of the site was held Thursday, July 9, 2015, with special guests Sonny Ramaswamy, director, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Tommy Wells, director, District Department of the Environment, and Ronald Mason, incoming president for the University.

While green roofs promote energy efficiency and storm water management by helping to cool buildings and reducing stormwater runoff, what makes the green roof unique is that it was constructed to produce food. The roof is the anchor of the CAUSES Urban Food Hub on UDC’s Van Ness campus. The Urban Food Hub concept consists of: food production, food preparation, food distribution, and waste and wastewater management. As the world’s population increases and cities, in particular, continue to grow in size, it is of utmost importance to meet the food and water security needs of urban populations. In urban areas as densely populated as Northwest Washington, rooftop food production is one method to grow food in a small space. Other Urban Food Hubs are emerging in other Wards across the District of Columbia.

“The green roof stands as a model of progress not only for the University of the District of Columbia, but also as a positive step in the fight to ensure that all District residents have access to fresh and nutritious food,” stated CAUSES Dean Sabine O’Hara.