Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WGRZ - Push For "Plantagon," Innovative Urban Farming in Buffalo

Written by
Sarah Hopkins

Pierre Wallinder has a vision for Buffalo, and it's called "Plantagon."
"We know it's a solution to a very large problem, which is looming all over us," said Wallinder. "We are living in a world where the population is increasing and acreage is decreasing."
Wallinder says if a Plantagon were to be built in Buffalo, it would help bring the city to the forefront of urban agriculture. The structure is something like a vertical greenhouse. Inside, it would house a conveyor belt that would carry produce from seedlings until they reach full maturity, ready for harvest. Plantagon is a Swedish company; currently the first structure is under construction in Sweden, with another in the works in China.
"We have a number of cities around the globe which are really pushing hard for us to come there," said Wallinder, a native of Sweden and Plantagon's United States spokesman, who also happens to have made his home in Buffalo for the past thirteen years.
"Buffalo is on the list, Buffalo is on the radar screen, and we are carefully talking with different site owners, primarily site owners and site controllers, where we could find a good fit," said Wallinder.
He says ideal locations for the project would be Buffalo's abandoned grain elevators, the Central Terminal or the Broadway Market.
Wallinder says the Plantagon would be about 54 meters tall (177 feet), and would be able to produce a large amount of produce for a low cost to the consumer.
He says building a Plantagon would cost about $15 million, and funding would need to come from a number of different sources.
"The owners will have a share and we are looking for partners," said Wallinder.
The final product would create between thirty and fifty jobs, and would ideally have a restaurant and office space attached. Wallinder claims it would also be a tourist attraction.
"It would create a tremendous buzz, an amazing activity and energy around it," said Wallinder.
He says he has approached local officials about the idea, like Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Sam Hoyt of Empire State Development.
Hoyt said he thinks it is an interesting concept, but would need many more details, such as a solid business plan, before he could comment on whether the Plantagon would be a viable option for Buffalo.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Buffalo Rising article on Living Green Institute of Buffalo and Plantagon

Could Buffalo, one day, be home to a Plantagon?

 Buffalo Rising
 By Jennifer Zeh:

Buffalo has been presented the opportunity to be the third city in a 100 city initiative to grow a greener urban world.

Plantagon International AB, a global brand leader within urban agriculture, is currently in the process of building the first Plantagon outside Stockholm, Sweden. The production is scheduled to be completed in early 2013.

A Plantagon (facebook) is a vertical greenhouse for urban farming which would eliminate the need to transport fresh and organic produce to consumers. The result is simple: better food at a better price while reducing environmental damage and creating jobs in the city.

Plantagon is partnered with SWECO, an international consulting company with sustainable engineering and designs, and is selected to partner with Swedish company SymbioCity.

Plantagon is seeking to construct a second structure in China, with Buffalo as a possible third, and then Barcelona as the fourth. At this point spokesman and director of the Buffalo project Pierre Wallinder told me that he is hoping that The City would play a role in helping to make this happen, and that Plantagon has expressed a willingness to come up with a portion of the funding. Other funding sources would be dependent upon site locations and configuration studies, and Pierre is currently in the process of seeking appropriate partners. "The goal is to produce, on a 12-month cycle, organic and local produce at lowered prices," Wallinder said. "The Plantagon concept is flexible and could come in many forms - the Plantagon being built in Sweden is a $15,000,000 project, which, when considering the benefits, is not a prohibitive figure."

With Buffalo being the third poorest city in America it has a substantial need for organic produce. Buffalo also has immense potential with its location being able to access 40 million people within a four hour commute. "I would not be surprised if we see a continued integration into this area," Wallinder said.

Along with being cost-effective, Plantagon is more space-efficient and the helix process it utilizes increases the production possibilities. The energy efficiency is also higher than that of a normal green house.

Along with the produce benefits, Plantagon would work in cooperation with the Living Green Institute of Buffalo (facebook) under executive director Laurianne Griffis to provide nutrition education to citizens.

The structure is also considered to be attractive and would create jobs for local industries such as construction, hospitalities, agriculture and tourism. The structure can be free-standing and designed and built to utilize space provided, or it can revamp an existing structure or area, which is more eco friendly and would give certain Buffalo landmarks a helpful spruce.

The chosen architect for the project is David Stieglitz of Stieglitz Snyder Architecture.

Places that have been considered for the Plantagon location include the Broadway Market, the waterfront and the old grain silos, a Buffalo invention and the largest collection of silos in the world. Wallinder said that ultimately the location decision will be based on the community's wants, but the Buffalo team feels that the Outer Harbor would be best due to its accessibility. "We are finally seeing that area rising up. Our whole lives should be down there," Griffis said.

Among other initiatives being put into action around the city, Plantagon would help change Buffalo into America's first and largest green and sustainable city. A sustainability center would benefit Buffalo by not only selling the organic produce but by cooperating with local farmers to expand the organic options in a complete market, providing for restaurants and cafes, a recreation and health center and an educational center.

Integrating Plantagon into an existing infrastructure of the city would take the current surplus heat and waste and would put it to use, creating food out of wastes and decreasing energy costs and emissions. Other advantages to Plantagon are food security, decreased CO2 emissions, selling directly to consumers, better land use and an increase in value of surrounding properties. The payback period is estimated to be three to five years.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Buffalo Pan American Expo German Carpenter's Tent - Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village German Festival

This Saturday, June 16th from 12 to 8pm The Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, a museum in Amherst, NY, will be hosting a day of music, dancing, food, beer and German heritage, as well the Vintage Volkswagon Car Club.

Look for the German Carpenter's Tent on the the Towngreen Walkway, run by Annie Levay-Krause of The Living Green Institute of Buffalo. This tent will feature info about the German carpenters of the early 1900's who helped build the Buffalo Pan American Expo, a vintage tin lunch pail with a sample of their work day's diet and a carpenter (Robert Krause) who will plane curls off a wood block for the little ones and cut mortis and tenon for the curious using turn of the century tools.

Below is the update on the day's activities:
Here are Robert's turn-of-the-century carpentry tools. He spent the day sharpening them and showing how they were used.

I talked about the German laborers brought on for the building and demolition of the Buffalo Pan American Expo in 1902 and fielded lots of questions about the foods they ate, the hours they worked, what type of work they did and what rights they had as immigrants.

I won the cake contest with Best German Theme and Best Cake All Around

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Where East Meets West Fundraiser

The Institute had it's first fundraiser Friday, April 28th in Amherst , NY at a showcase home. The collection of art featured was astounding! The artists were thrilled to have their art featured and were happy to help in our first hands on efforts to share the Living Green vision. Keep an eye out for future events! If you want to see a particular photo up close, just click on it when it pops into view.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Want to bid on our basket and help out a worthy cause?

Living Green Institute, Sail Buffalo, and SOLE of Buffalo offers this for bid at Planet Tapestry: Full Circle's auction, a $420 value.

  • 11th Hour by Leonardo diCaprio
  • Gift certificate from SOLE of Buffalo for catered meal for two with wine pairing
  • Gift certificate from Sail Buffalo for family of five for 2.5 hours
  • Locust Bean Tree Carved Wood Bowl from Carvings For A Cause in a Life is Good bag
  • Set of 5 environmentally friendly cleaning products
  • Hand Woven Grapevine Basket from Ellicottville, NY

Join us for Tapestry's most important fundraising event for the whole school year: Planet Tapestry: Full Circle! Saturday night April 28, 2012 beginning at 6:30 p.m. Food, beverages, basket raffles, auction items, live band, and a DJ, a Wine Wall, dancing and a video celebration of the charter school!


Tapestry was pleased to inform us that our basket was one of the higher selling auction pieces, bringing in over $300! They are also interested in working with us on future Health and Wellness related events, which is fantastic as it's our mission to create learning moments focused on nutrition, health, wellness, and projects of that same vein.

Our 1st fundraiser is this Friday, April 27, 2012 6 to 10pm