Outdoor Working, Biophilia, and Petal It Forward

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Monday, May 08, 2017

Jennifer Duffield White Subscribe
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COMING UP THIS WEEK:

Outdoor Working
Plants That Make Us Happy
Green Walls
Drip Irrigation That Cuts Costs
Iowa Defunds Sustainable Ag Center
Petal It Forward


Outdoor Working

Last week, we had the first really warm spring day of the year in Montana. You could almost feel the collective sigh. Shoes came off. People came out. I spent the afternoon working at my computer on the deck, and it reminded me how that ability to get outside, to work under a big old tree, hear the birds, and see the green grass, makes even the busiest (and longest) of work days ten times more enjoyable. (I was having one of those weeks where I work double the hours so I could go on vacation. By the time you read this, I’ll be in Nicaragua.) There’s a reason poets exalt about the first of spring. And a reason why people can’t get enough of the “outdoor living” trend.

For those of you who get to be in the greenhouse or outside, I hope you know how good you have it.

Plants That Make Us Happy

What do we call it when those plants boost our mood and health? Well, it’s biophilia—a connection to nature. (It’s why I love working on the deck so much.)

And while getting outside in nature is one way to find it, bringing the outdoors in is another way. Biophilic design is actually a thing. Designers use water, living walls, natural patterns, and natural materials to create effective environmental features indoors.

Not that interiorscapers haven’t been doing that for decades … but now it has a specific mission attached to it.

Here are a couple of interesting facts from an Arizona State University article: Biophilic design doesn't just look good.

  • Day lighting increases sales per square foot by an average of 6%.
  • Add trees, and a consumer’s willingness to pay for the same item increases by 15 to 25%.
  • Call center handling increases 6 to 7% with a view of nature. 

Green Walls

Speaking of biophilia and green walls, you’ve got to check out some of the living walls from Sky Plant Systems.

They have stunning and creative designs all over the world.

One of their latest projects is a living wall on the outside of a huge high-rise condominium building in Hollywood Beach, Florida. The wall covers an area of 6,478 ft. with Pandorea jasminoides and Confederate jasmine. 

Drip Irrigation that Cuts Costs

Solar-powered drip irrigation just got a massive improvement from engineers at MIT. They say they found a way to cut the cost of these solar-powered systems in half.

How? They changed the drippers’ dimensions so that you need less pressure to pump the water. According to an article from the MIT news service, needing just half the pumping power will mean needing way less energy to run the system.

But the team that worked on this project isn’t done yet. They say they plan to make more modifications to the system, including optimizing the tubing, filters, pumps and the solar power system itself.

MIT researchers have small crop farmers and off-grid environments in mind. We’ll see if it trickles down into horticulture commercial systems, as well. 

Iowa Defunds Sustainable Ag Center

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University has been home to major sustainable ag research projects for 30 years. (I’ve written about them several times.) But the Iowa State Legislature just passed a bill that defunds the research center.

Actually, if you read this, the bill doesn’t just defund the center, it instructs the center to close on or after July 1, with the university handling any remaining loose ends. The center relied on funding from the state and fees from nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides, as required by Iowa’s groundwater act. The bill instructs that those fees now go to the Iowa Nutrient Research Fund.

However, the one thing that could save the Leopold Center? A line-item veto from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who is about to become the U.S. Ambassador to China.

But Iowa isn’t the only place struggling with research funding. Read the blog post, “Public Funding for Agricultural R&D Continues to Decrease,” by Chris Higgins, for a look at the problem nationwide.

Petal It Forward

Mark your calendars and start planning how to give the “flower feel-goods.”

October 11, 2017 is the third annual Petal It Forward day. The Society of American Florists promotes this flower give-away campaign. It’s simple: flower recipients receive two bouquets. They keep one bouquet and give the other one away. You ask recipients to post a picture about it using the hashtag #petalitforward.

It’s a great way to generate both traditional and social media coverage and to remind the public about the positive impact of flowers.

Last year, there were 262 events in 234 cities in the U.S. SAF says to make it as big or small as you’d like. It’s a win-win. People feel good about the businesses that give flowers, and they get to experience the positive effects of giving/receiving flowers.

Learn more about how to participate at ttps://safnow.org/trends-statistics/consumer-research/petalitforward/.

Until next time,

 
Jennifer Duffield White
jwhite@ballpublishing.com 


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