Growing Returns

Selected tag(s): #compost

Buy me some peanuts and … sustainable produce?

hotdogLet the games begin! America’s sports teams are moving into the sustainable food arena.

A new report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Green Sports Alliance highlights 20 venues that have played their part to reduce their impact on the environment. Of the 20 locations, 18 purchase produce from local farms, 17 provide organic food options, 14 compost their food, and seven use biodegradable eating utensils and plates. In order to provide the freshest food available, five venues even have their own on-site gardens.

These venues are going the distance – from the Portland Trail Blazers’ Moda Center to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park – and providing fans with sustainable food options while simultaneously combating issues such as greenhouse gas emissions from food waste.

Which team’s efforts are best? We asked some of EDF’s sports fans (myself included!) to talk about what their favorite team’s venues have done:

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Full Belly Farm: The model for innovation during drought

Full Belly Farm owners in the pepper field

Credit: Paulo Vescia

It’s not always easy to incentivize private landowners to voluntarily implement water efficiency and conservation measures, particularly when there’s a drought. When drought hits, farmers desperately need water to grow thirsty crops and remain profitable. In the near term, it’s a lot easier, as “60 Minutes” recently reported, to keep drilling deeper and deeper to access quickly dwindling groundwater – at any cost.

As the “60 Minutes” story notes, groundwater is like a savings account that should primarily be used in times of need to supplement surface water supplies. With the most severe drought ever on record and surface water supplies at an all-time low, farmers all across California are pumping groundwater in record amounts – putting the state in serious risk of widespread groundwater overdraft.

That’s why the case of Full Belly Farm, a 400-acre, 30-year old certified organic farm located in Northern California – and recent winner of the prestigious Leopold Conservation Award – is especially impressive.

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Spreading compost on the range can earn ranchers new revenue

Improving the soil helps ranchers and the climate. © rui vale sousa / Shutterstock Images.

Improving the soil helps ranchers and the climate. © rui vale sousa / Shutterstock Images.

Rangeland ecosystems cover approximately one third of the land area in the United States and half the land area of California. What if that vast domain could be utilized to combat climate change, and ranchers could get paid for land management practices that keep more carbon in the soil and enhance production?

That’s the direction we’re going, thanks to a new carbon accounting standard approved today by the American Carbon Registry. The new protocol allows ranchers who reduce their greenhouse gas footprint by applying compost to their fields to earn credits that can be traded on the voluntary carbon market.

Climate benefits

The standard is supported by research conducted by the Silver Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, which shows that applying a half inch of compost to rangeland soils removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere at the rate of half a ton per acre each year.

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Spreading good news about the compost protocol

Cows in fieldThere’s a growing excitement around spreading compost on rangelands to help fight climate change. Over the past four years we have learned that grazed rangelands are really good at pulling carbon out of the air and sequestering it in the soil below. And if you add compost just one time, you can capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for more than seven years. Plus, you’ll  increase  both the quality of the grasses and the ability of the soils to hold water. If we scaled this to just 5 % of California’s rangelands, we could capture approximately 28 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is about the same as the annual emissions from all the homes in California.

To measure the capture of CO2, we collaborated with Terra Global Capital to create a protocol to calculate the amount of CO2 and enable ranchers to generate carbon offsets which they can sell on the voluntary carbon market.

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