a love potion as organic pest control

Driving up North Vasco Road to Brentwood is a wonderful way to spend a sunny Sunday springtime morning: white wind mills, green soft hills, family farms, cattle, goats, and orchards in bloom. For the annual blossom festival farmer Al of Frog Hollow Farm was giving us a tour of his organic fruit orchards. For pest control he uses a special “love potion” that prevents the moths from mating: from every tree hangs a little plastic envelope that is filled with female pheromones. When the male moths arrive there is an intense smells of female everywhere but they cannot find a single one. Poor male moths … I know exactly how you feel.

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RIP penguina

Penguina died last week. It was sad. We realize that farm happiness comes hand in hand with occasional farm sadness. Penguina was our favorite – she was so tame and sweet. But she did have a severely bent spine and “behind her back” we called her the “cricked” chicken. I was planning to have a nearby chiropractor adjust her as a promotional event on the farm … we’ll miss her.

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the biggest bee in town

Everyone surely knowns by now that we at downtownfarm find that honey bees are cute and – if careful – a lot of fun. Imagine how hard I had to laugh when I saw the farm house “dressed up” as a honey bee by the termite company. (-:

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chickens + lasers = the avatar feeling

downtownfarm combines three passions of mine into one operation and uses cutting edge military-grade light-scanning technology (popularized by Radiohead‘s innovative “House of Cards” video—see below) to broadcast our activities to ipods, ipads, iphones, and facebooks around the globe:

  • enable children to make informed decisions by teaching them about factory food production and by exposing them to the joys of urban farming
  • develop & implement cutting-edge remote sensing laser technology (e.g. LIDAR, multi-camera systems, infrared, RADAR, …)
  • familiarize children with today’s multimedia, networking & GIS technologies

Urban farming puts that little “Na-vi” in our live that we are all yearning for since we saw Avatar. downtownfarm shows how a trip to your local farm store and your neighborhood nursery can create a slice of Pandora in your frontyard.

The resulting “happy feed” will motivate brilliant and creative minds across the globe to drive cutting-edge laser technology forward and showcase it at downtownfarm. Geeks (like me @ livermorelasso) will work incredibly hard to enable 3 – 16 year old children to pick up their favorite “Pumpkin” or “Omelet”, hold it towards the LIDAR “laser camera”, and present it to the world in streaming real-time 3D. Constantly pushing for higher-resolution, fuller color, higher frame-rate, we will put in all-nighters to make kids hearts glow (and not just for meeting a deadline or fulfilling some contract). This will drive the technology forward and every field (e.g. intelligence, land planning, surveying, security, education …) will benefit as a nice “side-effect”.

And farmville will look so last century. But hey … I don’t want to alienate the farmville and iphone app developpers. Help me create the downtownfarm app. I need your brilliance and foresight. You & Cafe Fanny & James Cameron & Ocracoke Coffee & Michelle Obama & Weaver Street Market & Michael Pollan & McDonalds & Sundari Kraft & Caffee Driade & Upton Sinclair & Great Harvest Bread & Eric Schlosser & Berkeley Bowl & Michael Moore & Gather & Michael Krasny & Hossana Homes & Greg Mortenson & First Pres & MLK & Bulworth & Alicia Vagts & Cafe Gratitude & Barbara Ehrenreich & Mama Dip’s & the people that I have met and continue to meet … you are my heroes. You paved the way for downtownfarm. These are all your ideas … all I did was to combine them in the most obvious way and to find a good location for them: The only old farm house in the very core of downtown Livermore. And now I really need your help.

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following the grey bunny

The days in Denver have been so elating that I am emotionally exhausted. A friend suggests a calming experience: the Holistic Living Expo in San Jose. After a grounding meal at her parent’s house I surround myself with the very folk that I have been mocking for years. I am still skeptical … but after the events of the past few weeks I am at least open to the possibility. It feels like the Matrix (or rather the Meatrix): I bargain “the oracle” down by $5 (I am still cheap). I told her my name, date/time/place of birth, that I am employed in a nuclear weapons lab, that a life-change is ahead, and made sure she did not use google. She told me this. Draw your own conclusion (if you care) but I start looking forward to meet Trinity. Have I met her already? Pace yourself, Martin! Baby steps got you here and there is no point in starting to run now …

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the farm house

Traditionally Livermore has been a farm town. But currently the downtown shows few signs of its rich agricultural past. Soon downtownfarm will move to 2410 Second Street and bring happy farm-life back to Livermore. Local students will help us to create the most beautiful urban farm in America. We will also develop cutting-edge LIDAR technology behind the Bay window of the farm house and show-case it with chickens, goats, and organic vegetable beds. This will be so irresistibly beautiful & educational … you will copy us (or so we hope).

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the men who snuggle with goats

I meet Larry at Denver airport and we hit it off instantly: we are both excited about our chickens—green love! Larry gets off the shuttle early because he wants to tell me about Sundari. His wife eventually picks him up at the Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast where I am staying. Two days later Dave offers me a ride to Sundari’s place during a conference break. The 30 minutes there make me really happy. I only met Larry because they had messed up his airport shuttle reservation. We are still trying to figure out who “they” was …

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high-tech bees (part one)

Bees are a fun way to teach yourself or your kids about the latest technologies: digital photographie, video editing, image processing, technical writing, blogging, etc. An outdoor IT education with bees is very memorable. Your kids will never forget the lesson they learn from cute little honey bees. Look at Tim, Jessica (aka “Queenie”), and Karleen: They are filming the “frames” with digital high-definition video. Later they look for the queen bee by inspecting some still images. Did they find her? You can find out here. And bees are good in geometry: look how perfectly regular they build the comb. To be continued …

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fruit salad trees in bloom

Spring is here. The newly planted fruit salad trees are coming to live. Every day downtownfarm looks prettier with all the new flowers blooming everywhere. The bees are working hard to collect pollen and nectar to feed their babies. HEY! How did the chicken get into my car?

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in my car with 30000 girls

Scott & Nicole & I drive from Santa Cruz to Aptos to pick up a bee hive containing a 6 lb swarm that beekeeper Tom caught last week. Driving back up the highway with 30,000 girls in my pontiac vibe is a unique experience. I have never been so alert for pot-holes and speed-bumps before. Tim and Jessica help me place the hive. Next morning at 9 am nobody is out—still too cold. At 11 am a gentle hum fills the air – the bees are orienting themselves at the new location. I let a few bees land on my hand. They are so docile. They do have an unusual color range: some are golden yellow, others are dark brown.

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