Tuesday, July 13, 2010


This past weekend I took the Radical Urban Sustainability Training (also known as RUST) offered at the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center in Albany, New York, by Scott Kellogg, Stacy Pettigrew, and Juniper Lauren Ross. It was an amazing educational experience, almost too much to take in during one weekend.

We looked at food systems, including 'urban agro-forestry' where I learned about fruits and nuts I'd never heard of that Scott said would grow in the northeast US: pawpaws, hardy kiwi, gooseberries, and hazelberts; 'aquaculture'; and urban chickens and goats; water systems, including an overview of global fresh water issues; rainwater harvesting; and greywater and constructed wetlands; and waste treatment issues, including 'humanure' and composting toilets; bioremediation by low-tech methods using plants, compost, compost tea, etc; and several types of composting, including cold composting, hot composting, worm composting, and using soldier flies. I took miniworkshops on testing water and soil, and alternative sources of power, including wind turbines, passive solar, rocket stoves, and biofuels. A man named Travis also came by to discuss gentrification with us, and offered some useful insights.

As I said, a bit much. I am going to be digesting all that I learned for a while. I'm hoping to get to use some of what I learned over the next little while as well. Still, I think that I might take the Training again--there's an unbelievable amount of information in it.

The next training is going to be the weekend of October 2nd & 3rd. That's too soon for me, but I'd recommend it--especially if you read the Toolbox for Sustainable City Living book first. Then you might have some sense of what all the stuff that is thrown at you is all about.

Quote of the Day: "We need to build a society ... that can meet human needs while simultaneously increasing ecosystem health." - Scott Kellogg


CrackerLilo said...

Just curious--did they speak at all about the ability to grow grain in an urban environment? That seems like the biggest challenge in urban farming to both me and my brother (who is a farmer). We've thought maybe grains can be grown on wide, flat roofs, but we're not seeing very much about that.

Hazelbert tree, eh? We love nuts. Don't know if it's doable on our postage stamp backyard or our terrace container garden, but it's worth looking at. Thanks for sharing some of what you've learned!

MoonRaven said...

Unfortunately, they didn't talk about growing grain in this workshop (other than a quick mention from someone that you can grow rice in the aquaculture environment) but you should check out the Biointensive gardening folks (see my post of 2/10/10) who do talk about growing grains (among other things) in fairly small spaces. (Though I don't know about flat roofs--an interesting thought.)

I was particularly intrigued by the fruits and nuts the RUST folks mentioned. We have strawberries and raspberries at our house, but having pawpaws and hardy kiwis would make this place seem like a tropical paradise!

Thanks for your comment.