Food Well Alliance, in collaboration with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, the Atlanta Community Food Bank’s Community Gardens project, Terra Nova Compost Cooperative, Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture, Global Growers Network, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and Park Pride, designed the Healthy Soil, Healthy Community Initiative to help Atlanta’s community gardens adopt better composting practices to improve metro Atlanta’s soil. Improving soil practices is an opportunity to decrease plant pests and diseases, but gardeners often neglect composting, which is a much-needed step to improving soil. For more information about the Food Well Alliance or upcoming compost workshops, visit foodwellalliance.org. Workshops will run from August through the end of October and will be held at several locations around Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties. The collaborative partners will offer a series of composting workshops through October across metro Atlanta to increase awareness of building healthy soil and help gardeners maximize productivity. Community gardens from Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties are eligible to register for the workshops, which can be completed on the Food Well Alliance’s website. Selected gardens will receive free compost, bins, soil testing and resources to improve their soil practices. “Healthier soil is a cure for many common garden woes,” said Becky Griffin, community and school garden coordinator for UGA Extension. “[Gardeners] think it’s intimidating, so they shy away from it,” Griffin said. “They see the big bins; they know they have to turn it, and they know they need a mix of nitrogen and carbon sources. It just seems like too much … but once they take a basic class and see that it’s not as difficult as they thought, they are eager to try it.” In addition to offering hands-on training, the Healthy Soil, Healthy Community workshop series will also shine a light on the secret ecosystem that is thriving underneath everyone’s feet. Soil is a living system that includes minerals, organic matter microbes, fungi, worms and more that make food production possible. In an effort to raise awareness about soil’s relationship to the health of the global population, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2015 the “International Year of Soils.” “I work with so many gardens where they start out with soil that is compacted, poor and with very little organic matter in it,” said Fred Conrad, community garden manager at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. “Compost can transform the most discouraging lot into a garden of abundance and beauty.” For more information about UGA Extension’s community and school garden outreach program, visit blog.extension.uga.edu/communitygardening/. The power of good soil is often overlooked, but in the garden, it can make the difference between a bumper crop of tomatoes or the bumper crop of frustration that comes with lackluster vegetative performance.
ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading » Existing-home sales grew 2.5 percent during July, according to data from the National Association of Retailers. Following a steady decrease of sales from late 2018 into early 2019, NAFCU Chief Economist and Vice President of Research Curt Long attributed the growth to lower mortgage rates.July’s uptick follows a string of months that saw a decrease in home sales, including a decrease of 1.7 percent the previous month.“Overall inventory declined slightly in July and remains tight, but the real problems have been in the starter home category,” Long said in a Macro Data Flash report. “Limited availability has led to rapid appreciation, pricing out many prospective first-time buyers.”Sales in the West saw the biggest increase at 8.3 percent from the previous month. The Midwest and South saw increases of 1.6 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively; the Northeast was the only region that saw a decrease with sales falling 2.9 percent.
Patrick Kanters, APG’s managing director for global property and infrastructure, said: “Relatively few companies have the expertise and contacts required to anticipate the best investments options in this sector.”APG’s decision to invest in hydro power has come as a surprise to some in the industry, particularly in light of the scheme’s recent decision not to invest in offshore wind farms in The Netherlands.But hydro power, unlike offshore wind power, is largely free of subsidies and other government support.Indeed, one risk that has pushed many institutionals away from sustainable energy projects to date has been the possibility that those subsidies will soon end.Water power is also more efficient than wind power. Hydro-electric plants have an energy-efficiency ratio of up to 95%, considerably more than wind turbines (50%) or solar power (20%).Kanters said APG was putting a lot of effort into finding infrastructure investments with sustainable characteristics.“Hydro power is the most efficient of the traditional energy sources and complies with all our risk/return requirements, visible cash flows and a strong sustainability profile,” he said.APG will also start investing in power lines in Latin America – mainly in Brasil and Chile – through a strategic alliance with Spanish energy firm Elecnor, which focuses on developing and operating power plants.As part of its agreement, APG is to take a 49% stake, equating to €237m, in Celeo Redes, a full subsidiary of Elecnor’s concession subsidiary Celeo.Both partners are committed to a joint investment of €372m over the next five years, Elecnor said.Harmen Geers, spokesman for APG, said: “We are very pleased that, in Elecnor, we have found a reliable and expert partner for infrastructure investment in Latin America.“Elecnor has been operating in the region for a long period and has already 8,000 kilometers of power line under management.”Elecnor said the deal, pending regulatory approval, would increase power transmission through the combination of its expertise and market knowledge and APG’s scale and expertise on finance and asset management.Currently, APG – the asset manager for the large civil service scheme ABP – has an infrastructure portfolio worth €5.5bn.According to Geers, APG wants to increase its infrastructure holdings to at least €9bn in the coming years, depending on its ability to find and acquire the right investments. The €369bn asset manager APG is planning to invest €500m in hydro-electric projects in a venture with alternative investment manager Aquila Capital. APG is to participate with €250m in an investment vehicle – to be established by Aquila – for the purchase and development of hydro-electric plants.The required capital is to be completed through bank loans.Aquila Capital will be responsible for operational and portfolio management.