A Floating Food Forest In New York City | Modern Cities

New York’s ‘barge-to-table’ floating farm gives city residents without access to farmland the opportunity to pick their own food. As a successful demonstration at Brooklyn Bridge Park comes to end later this week, Mary Mattingly has shed light on an obscure New York City law that prohibits the growing of food on public land, and demonstrated that edible perennial landscapes can help solve food insecurity problems in even the harshest of urban settings.Swale is a public floating food forest built atop a 5,000 square foot barge, currently docked at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6. Founded in 2016 by artist Mary Mattingly, Swale allows visitors to harvest herbs, fruits and vegetables for free. The project began as an idea to advocate for food to be grown on some of the 30,000 acres of public land in New York City. Although NYC boasts over 100 acres of community garden space, the City has more than 30,000 acres of park space. Picking one’s own food is illegal on New York City public land, so Mattingly banded together a team of stakeholders to construct a dense garden of edible plants atop a barge- which is technically legal due to a loophole created by waterway common law.

Source: A Floating Food Forest In New York City | Modern Cities

Tesla doubles the energy density of its commercial batteries

While Tesla’s solar roof / Powerwall event isn’t until tomorrow, the product that preceded both, its commercial… cousin, Powerpack, has been upgraded and is already shipping to companies. The company says Powerpack 2 has double the energy density than the original model, paired with a new inverter (made at its Gigafactory), that’s apparently the lowest-priced, highest efficiency utility-scale inverter available. Arguably just as important, the new inverter also simplifies the installation process, with several once-separate components now baked into it.Tesla’s blog calls the new system a “a cost-competitive alternative to other traditional utility infrastructure solutions”. It adds that nearly 300 MWh of Tesla batteries have been deployed so far –including complexes in California. Now, where’s the solar part?

Source: Tesla doubles the energy density of its commercial batteries

Soil ‘booster shots’ could turn barren lands green | Science | AAAS

Want to make your barren yard lush again? Just add a bit of soil from your local meadow. A new study reveals that the addition of foreign soil—and more importantly, the organisms it contains—can shape which plants will grow in the future. Such “inoculations” could even help bring back fallow farmlands and turn deserts green.”This is a really cool and remarkable study,” says Harsh Bais, a root biologist at the University of Delaware, Newark, who was not involved in the work. “Dirt matters.”Soil isn’t as simple as it seems. It contains microscopic bacteria and fungi, as well as tiny worms called nematodes and other invertebrates. Ecologists have long known that these underground communities build critical partnerships with the plants growing nearby. But many of these partnerships remain a mystery. Small-scale studies in greenhouses have shown that adding the right soil can promote the growth of a particular plant community, and some researchers have even tried soil transplantation—replacing one soil with another—to get certain endangered plants to grow.Such need is great across the globe, where many once-fertile lands are turning into desert, and a significant amount of agricultural land is lost every year. What’s more, when governments and nonprofit organizations try to bring back grasslands, forests, and other ecosystems destroyed by agriculture and other human uses, they are often disappointed: Restoration can take decades. It sometimes fails altogether.E. R. Jasper Wubs, an ecologist at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Wageningen, hoped to find a better way. But instead of doing wholesale transplantation of soil—which can be expensive—he wanted to see what would happen with a booster shot.He and colleagues set up a series of 2- to 5-hectare plots on abandoned, degraded farmland in the Netherlands. They removed about 60 centimeters of top soil from part of each plot and spread a 1-centimeter-thick layer of soil in others. The soil was taken from either a heathland—rolling hills dominated by heather and small shrubs—or a grassland. They then added seeds from 30 plant species from a variety of habitats and waited—for 6 years.When their waiting was up, they compared the seeded areas with and without the added soil layers, looking at which species were thriving and which were not. The source of the added soil greatly influenced what grew where, they report today in Nature Plants. Plots with heathland soil were covered with heather and gorse, whereas plots with grasslands soil were overflowing with a variety of grasses. The added soil made the existing land richer—as the researchers found more nematode worms, more bacteria, and more fungi in those sections of the plots. Those with heathland soil also had a greater diversity of springtails and mites.

Source: Soil ‘booster shots’ could turn barren lands green | Science | AAAS

U.S. to offer $4.5 billion for electric-car charging stations via DoE loan guarantees

The Obama Administration said yesterday that it will invest up to $4.5 billion to build electric-car charging stations in a major push to create comprehensive charging infrastructure in the U.S.Officials hope this will lead to the construction of enough new charging stations to quell “range anxiety” and enhance the appeal of electric cars for consumers.The program will use Department of Energy (DoE) loan guarantees, and promote partnerships between Federal, state, and local governments and automakers.DON’T MISS: CA issues $9 million in grants for electric-car fast charger installationsAmong the goals of the program are a national network of DC fast-charging stations, and the creation of a coalition among 50 carmakers, utilities, and charging-network operators that will work together to ramp up charging infrastructure.State and local governments will also be encouraged to buy electric cars for their fleets.The DOE believes increased charging infrastructure will pave the way for widespread electric-car adoption.

Source: U.S. to offer $4.5 billion for electric-car charging stations via DoE loan guarantees

20 New Bicycle Repair Stations Installed at TTC Subway Stations | Urban Toronto

One of the most common issues facing public transit riders is the “last kilometre” problem. While rapid transit is frequent, not all of the bus or streetcar routes leading from the stations are, so the final part of a commuter’s journey is often a long wait or a long walk… which can be made easier by bicycle. Bike Share and more bicycle parking in new condos and office towers are already helping to alleviate the last kilometre problem, and now the TTC is making hybrid commutes easier too. New self-service bicycle repair station and parking at Rosedale Station, image by Jack LandauThis week, 20 new self-service bicycle repair stations and six larger bike parking facilities were installed at stations on Toronto’s subway network, giving cyclists a means of storing and repairing their bikes during commutes. The installation of this new cycling infrastructure follows the September 2015 installation of 10 initial bike repair stations, and delivers on a promise made in the TTC’s 2016 Customer Charter.

Source: 20 New Bicycle Repair Stations Installed at TTC Subway Stations | Urban Toronto