We have started to compile a glossary of key concepts, phrases and techniques related to the project. Please leave a comment if we should add to this list. Most descriptions can be found on Wikipedia.
This is an increasingly popular concept in architecture that is part agriculture/ part architecture. This involves ambitious proposals for highly industrialised urban vertical farming and greenery being integrated into the functioning of the architecture. Click here for more information.
Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil or an aggregate medium. Laboratory research on air culture and vapour began in the mid 1940s and is now a commercially viable growing technique for biomass and food production. Such environmental conditions occur in tropical rainforests, where orchids grow freely above ground in the trees. Aeroponics mimics nature’s environmental conditions, which advances plant develop, health, growth, flowering and fruiting for any given plant species and cultivars. The basic principle of aeroponic growing is to allow plants to grow under pesticide-free and disease-free conditions, growing in a natural healthy manner; where the aeroponic environmental mimics nature’s environmental conditions, which advances plant develop, health, growth, flowering and fruiting for any given plant species and cultivars. Click here here for more information.
Agronomy is the science and technology of using plants for food, fuel, feed, and fiber. Agronomy encompasses work in the areas of plant genetics, plant physiology, meteorology, and soil science. Agronomy is the application of a combination of sciences like biology, chemistry, ecology, earth science, and genetics. Agronomists today are involved with many issues including producing food, creating healthier food, managing environmental impact of agriculture, and creating energy from plants. Agronomists often specialize in areas such as crop rotation, irrigation and drainage, plant breeding, soil classification, soil fertility, weed control, insect and pest control.
Aquaponics is the symbiotic cultivation of plants and aquatic animals in a re-circulating environment. Alternate definition: An integrated hydroponics (growing plants in water) and aquaculture (growing fish) system. Aquatic animal effluent (for example fish waste) accumulates in water as a by-product of keeping them in a closed system or tank (for example a re-circulating aquaculture system). The effluent-rich water becomes high in plant nutrients but this is correspondingly toxic to the aquatic animal. Plants are grown in a way (for example a hydroponic system) that enables them to utilize the nutrient-rich water. The plants uptake the nutrients, reducing or eliminating the water’s toxicity for the aquatic animal. The water, now clean, is returned to the aquatic animal environment and the cycle continues. Aquaponic systems do not discharge or exchange water. The systems rely on the natural relationship between the aquatic animals and the plants to maintain the environment. Water is only added to replace water loss from absorption by the plants or evaporation into the air. Aquaponic systems vary in size from small indoor units to large commercial units. They can use fresh or salt water depending on the aquatic animal and vegetation (fresh or salt water).
Bioremediation can be defined as any process that uses microorganisms, fungi, green plants or their enzymes to return the natural environment altered by contaminants to its original condition. Bioremediation may be employed to attack specific soil contaminants.
BioWall is a modular and lightweight building technique for climbing plants to grow into. It is often hand woven and three-dimensional that can be crafted into structures of any dimension. Springy composite rods are bowed into rings and woven together. Woven fibres create a balance between the rigidity of sheet material and the flexibility of a textile.
Composting recycles or “downcycles” organic household and yard waste and manures into an extremely useful humus-like, soil end-product called compost. Examples are fruits, vegetables and yard clippings. Ultimately this permits the return of needed organic matter and nutrients into the foodchain and reduces the amount of “green” waste going into landfills. Composting is widely believed to considerably speed up the natural process of decomposition as a result of the higher temperatures generated.
Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has released several copyright licenses known as Creative Commons licenses. These licenses allow creators to communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of other creators. Click here for more information.
Green waste is biodegradable waste that can be comprised of garden or park waste, such as grass or flower cuttings and hedge trimmings and even fruit and vegetable waste. It is possible that such resources could be transformed into a nutrient solution for our urban growing.
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium, such as perlite, gravel, or mineral wool. In natural conditions, soil acts as a mineral nutrient reservoir but the soil itself is not essential to plant growth. When the mineral nutrients in the soil dissolve in water, plant roots are able to absorb them. When the required mineral nutrients are introduced into a plant’s water supply artificially, soil is no longer required for the plant to thrive. Almost any terrestrial plant will grow with hydroponics. Hydroponics is also a standard technique in biology research and teaching. The earliest published work on growing terrestrial plants without soil was the 1627 book, Sylva Sylvarum by Sir Francis Bacon, printed a year after his death. Water culture became a popular research technique after that. The study of crop nutrition began thousands of years ago. In Ancient Greece various experiments were undertaken by Theophrastus (372-287 B.C.), while several writings of Dioscorides on botany dating from the first century A.D., are still in existence.
Irrigation is an artificial application of water to the soil usually for assisting in growing crops. In crop production it is mainly used in dry areas and in periods of rainfall shortfalls, but also to protect plants against frost. Additionally irrigation helps to suppress weed growing in rice fields. In contrast, agriculture that relies only on direct rainfall is referred to as rain-fed farming. Irrigation is often studied together with drainage, which is the natural or artificial removal of surface and sub-surface water from a given area.
Metabolism is a process of transformation and describes the set of chemical reactions that occur in living organisms in order to maintain life. These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. Metabolism is usually divided into two categories. Catabolism breaks down organic matter, for example to harvest energy in cellular respiration. Anabolism, on the other hand, uses energy to construct components of cells such as proteins and nucleic acids.
A nutrient is either a chemical element or compound used in an organism’s metabolism or physiology. The chemical elements consumed in the greatest quantities by plants are carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. These are present in the environment in the form of water and carbon dioxide; energy is provided by sunlight. Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur are also needed in relatively large quantities. Together, these are the elemental macronutrients for plants, often represented by the acronym CHNOPS. Usually they are sourced from inorganic (e.g. carbon dioxide, water, nitrate, phosphate, sulphate) or organic (e.g. carbohydrates, lipids, proteins) compounds, although elemental diatomic molecules of nitrogen and (especially) oxygen are often used.
Open source is an approach to design, development, and distribution offering practical accessibility to a product’s source (goods and knowledge). Some consider open source as one of various possible design approaches, while others consider it a critical strategic element of their operations. Before open source became widely adopted, developers and producers used a variety of phrases to describe the concept; the term open source gained popularity with the rise of the Internet, which provided access to diverse production models, communication paths, and interactive communities.
Permaculture is about creating sustainable human habitats by following nature’s patterns. An ecological design system that inspires and empowers us to create our own solutions to local and global problems, it provides ways to design and create healthy productive places to work, rest and play. “Permaculture is the art and science that applies patterns found in nature to the design and construction of human and natural environments. Only by applying such patterns and principles to the built environment can we truly achieve a sustainable living system. Permaculture principles are now being adapted to all systems and disciplines that human settlement requires. Architects, planners, farmers, economists, social scientists, as well as students, homeowners and gardeners can utilize the principles of Permaculture Design.” By Larry Santoyo
It is important to define this broad concept and understand its place today. Technology can be described as an animal species’ usage and knowledge of tools and crafts, and how it affects an animal species’ ability to control and adapt to its environment. Technology is a term with origins in the Greek “technologia”, “techne”, (“craft”) and “logia”, (“saying”). Technology can refer to material objects of use to humanity, such as machines, hardware or utensils, but can also encompass broader themes, including systems, methods of organization, and techniques.
The word, “wilderness”, derives from the notion of “wildness”; in other words that which is not controllable by humans. “The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet – those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with roads, pipelines or other industrial infrastructure.”