I run a popular gardening, ecology, and agriculture blog, regularly write for horticultural and agricultural publications, and do copywriting on "green" topics. email@example.com
(Syndicated from The Freelancer)
Despite the gender domination of freelancing, female freelancers working in the media sector may be experiencing a significant pay gap. According to a 2015 survey by the Writer’s Union of Canada, female writers earn only 55% of what their male counterparts make.
For several years now, David Skat Nielsen has been cultivating a 7,400-square-foot patch of land on the island of Amager, in the greater Copenhagen area. Here, he pays 900 DKK ($133 USD) per month to get away from the stresses of apartment living, plant some fruit trees, build a greenhouse, and generally bask in the stillness of a hedged-in green space. Due to zoning restrictions, he can only live on the property for six months of the year, but he’s part of a growing group of Danes that would like to make these minimalistic garden lots into full-time homes.
Danish kolonihaver, or “colony gardens,” like Nielsen’s are communal groupings of leisure lots—each complete with a little cabin—that are peppered around the urban and periurban corners of the country. They’re similar to allotment gardens, multi-year land rentals in a dedicated area, leased for the express purpose of gardening. Whereas community gardens often traffic in raised beds full of annuals, colony gardens are spaces in which fruit trees, perennials, and hard landscaping installations are more the norm.
On August 22, Gawker.com, the eponymous news and politics brand of media behemoth Gawker Media, officially folded. While the company’s other blogs, including Gizmodo, Jezebel, and Deadspin, will live on in some form under the wing of Univision, Gawker’s ending sent shockwaves across the media industry.
For media companies, it was a frightening reminder of how privately funded lawsuits could bring any publisher to its knees.
But for freelancers, the story was a more chilling example of how words can have personal and professional consequences. I may not be releasing 1,400-word expositions of celebrity sex tapes onto the web (and vowing not to take them down), but rulings like that of the Hogan case trickle down as precedent.
My hometown of Sherwood Park, Canada, is the birthplace of Booster Juice: Canada’s largest smoothie bar chain. I remember approaching the counter one day after soccer practice, and seeing a curious little flat of grassy sprouts, the contents of which were being freshly juiced into 30 milliliter shots. Feeling adventurous, I sprung for a dash of this mysterious grassy green elixir in my Mango Tango smoothie, but was disappointed to find that I paid extra to make my tropical fruit blend taste like a freshly-mowed lawn.
This was my first encounter with wheatgrass.
A couple of years passed before I figured out what, exactly, wheatgrass is. The answer somewhat banal: It’s wheat, or more specifically, the monocotydedon (or embryonic leaf) of Triticum aestivum, the common wheat plant.
There have been a number of attempts to understand the scope of “the gig economy.” But things are complicated. For one, there’s no real standard terminology: what one study calls “the gig economy,” another refers to as “nonstandard employment,” and a third uses “alternative work.”
Papaya Ringspot Virus, and the “SunUp” and “Rainbow” Papayas: the genetically modified trees that saved a species
Whenever I see photos of the symptoms of Papaya Ringspot Virus (PRSV) up close, I actually think that if it weren’t so destructive, if would be beautiful.
One of the two strains of this Potyvirus, called PRSV-P, infects both Papayas (Carica papaya) and cucurbits (Cucurbitaceae); the plants suffer mosaic (interference with photosynthesis), leaf distortions, patches of necrotic tissue (which invites fungal infection), deformities in the fruit, and greatly-reduced yields. The virus is highly infectious, moving rapidly from plant-to-plant, primarily through aphid predation.
After being introduced to Hawaii in the 1930s, the virus mutated, and by the 1950s had halted 94% of Papaya plantations on Oahu. Production moved to other islands, but the pathogen followed, and also began infecting home gardens in the 1970s. Even with aggressive horticultural and insecticidal management, by the 1990s, the virus infected commercial plantations, and over 50%-80% of the industry was decimated in various global sites of production.
Carica papaya is a rather genetically homogenous tree, so there were few reservoirs of resistance to the virus to be found in feral or wild populations of the plant. As a result, something else needed to be done to save the production of this fruit: in 1998, the answer came in the form of genetic engineering.
Periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) are among those insects that arrive in plagues.
Related to smaller bugs like leafhoppers, they are often mistakenly called locusts. But the similarities between cicadas and Biblically-significant pests are limited to their tendency to congregate en masse. Unlike swarming locusts—which eat everything green in times of drought—periodical cicadas descend upon deciduous trees (their preferred food source) in the eastern United States for a period of about four or six weeks, on specific years.
Divided into regionally-distinct and synchronous “broods,” different species of Magicicada emerge on either 13- or 17-year cycles; the vast majority of their lives are spent in a larval stage under the soil, sucking nutrients from tree roots.
Right now, the so-called “Brood V” of 17-year periodical cicadas has emerged in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, right on schedule. This brood consists of three species: Magicicada cassinii, Magicicada septendecim, and Magicicada septendecula.
I’ve begun to affectionately refer to my grafting projects as my Frankentrees—not just because they are occasionally hideous, but because they’ve become quite a bit more complex than the standard “rootstock + scion” fare.
My penchant for amateur tree surgery began in 2013, as I started getting serious about the idea of cultivating a back-yard food forest. I found myself totally unable to reconcile the diversity of cultivars I wanted to try with the square footage of the lot in which I was working.
Where space is at a premium and desire for agricultural diversity is high, multi-grafted Frankentrees are the home orchardist’s salvation.
Not too long ago, blogging was the de facto way of making your voice heard on the internet. Now, some are beginning to ponder if blogging is all but dead.
The number of millennials who maintained a personal blog declined by half between 2006 and 2010. Not surprisingly, this roughly corresponds to the rise of social media and micro-blogging platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
Since then, the so-called “death of blogging” has been a recurring conversation topic in writing and media circles. In a Motherboard article about the notorious blog Hipster Runoff, Brian Merchant characterizes the heyday of blogging as “a singular moment in internet history. A blip when a persistent weirdo, without the help of venture capital or a marketing firm, without getting swallowed by a media company, could simply blog his way into modest fame and profitability.”
Landscaping has historically been about marrying form and function, the beautiful and the practical. In recent decades, however, a third dimension has been added to the fray: concern for the environment at large. Permeable pavements are an example of all three: beautiful, practical, and ecologically-friendly
Raised on land that has been in his family since the 1600s, Bertel Hestbjerg didn't picture himself becoming a pig farmer. Nonetheless, after obtaining a degree in Economics from the University of Copenhagen, he felt the call that 13 generations of his family before him had heard, and embraced the agrarian lifestyle with gusto.
His expansive operation—the largest free-range, organic pig farm in Denmark—covers three separate parcels of land, totaling 100 hectares (247 acres) in the municipality of Holstebro, on the Jutland peninsula of Denmark.
Recently, Deere & Co.--the company that manufactures John Deere farming equipment--struck a deal with Monsanto in order to use both hardware and software from a subsidiary company called Precision Planting LLC.
These components, added to tractors and combines, wirelessly transmit data on things like soil, crop performance, and regional weather to Monsanto’s Climate Corp. unit.
This is the age of digital agriculture, where technology mediates many decision-making processes. In many ways, these kinds of technologies will make agriculture more efficient, making more rational and precise decisions than a human could alone. However, there are challenges lurking for farmers looking at high-tech equipment, particularly for smaller-scale producers.
Wired magazine recently described these computerized tractors as a “nightmare” for farmers.