Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Videos: Urban agriculture in Detroit and sustainable parasite control

I added three videos to the Powerpoint that accompanies my lecture on agriculture on the food supply and showed them to my students yesterday. Two of them illustrated the promise and perils of urban agriculture in Detroit. For the promise, here is Michigan State University's video about the MetroFoodPlus Innovation Cluster that it will be building in Detroit.

Rick Foster, professor of Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies, discusses the MetroFoodPlus Innovation Cluster project.
Note that this will be an integrated approach that considers no only food, but energy and water as well. Also, did you catch the "People, Planet, Profit" diagram explaining the goals of the project and how the MetroFoodPlus Innovation Cluster lies at the intersection of all three Ps? This is explicitly a sustainability project.

MSU's involvement in Detroit extends beyond what it calls metropolitan agriculture. Another video, MSU and Detroit: Side by side, which I didn't show to my students, describes the scope of the cooperation between MSU and Detroit. It's more promotional than informative, so I'm not embedding it, but it is very well done.

The video that displayed the perils of urban agriculture in metro Detroit was the one that I embedded in Oak Park Woman plants vegetable garden; city objects, illustrating the problems Julie Bass had with the Oak Park over her vegetable garden. That situation provoked a really lively discussion, as most of the students had heard about it and a few already knew Julie personally (her former home is within five minutes drive of where I teach). One of the things that came out was how much more accepted vegetable gardens and even raising chickens has become, just during the past year.* Julie made a difference.

I won't embed the video here, as the entry where I first featured it has slipped from second to fourth most viewed this month and I want it to get some readership love.

For the third video, which is about sustainability in unexpected places, but isn't about Detroit, follow over the fold.

The final video I played for my class illustrated the perils of pesticide resistance and how to use pesticides in a sustainable way. It also connected medicine and agriculture, as the pests cause disease and the pesticides are medicines.

University of Georgia on YouTube: Fighting Parasites the Sustainable Way

University of Georgia Professor Ray Kaplan describes how parasites in our animals are becoming resistant to the deworming drugs we use to kill them and what we must do to stop this alarming trend.
University of Georgia: Overuse of deworming drugs led to widespread resistance among parasites
July 19, 2012
Athens, Ga. - A long forgotten foe is beginning to reemerge on pastures and meadows around the world, and farmers are finding that they have no way to combat it. Parasitic worms infecting cows, sheep, goats and horses are becoming resistant to the drugs used to kill them, and if changes are not made in how the few remaining drugs that still work are used, there may be no way left to fight the growing threat, according to Ray Kaplan, a University of Georgia professor in the department of infectious diseases.

Kaplan has studied drug-resistant parasites for years, and his findings recently published in the journal Veterinary Parasitology warn that the continued overuse of deworming drugs has the potential to create parasites that cannot be killed.

"We're already seeing the worst-case scenario playing out," Kaplan said. "In goats particularly, which have the worst problems with parasites and drug resistance, we quite frequently see farms that have parasite resistance to all de-wormers. Some of these farms reached the point where they no longer could control the effects of the parasites and decided to go out of business."
This video demonstrates how my blogging improves my teaching, as I first included it in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Two space anniversaries edition) at Daily Kos. Blogging as professional development and community outreach--imagine that!

*It's not universal, as WXYZ reports about a rooster being kept as a pet stirring up his own controversy.

A local community is facing off over a rooster that one home owner is keeping as a pet.
The argument over the rooster being a pet looks a lot like the dispute over Julie Bass's garden being "suitable," doesn't it?

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