The Nourishmat, a 4′ x 6′ garden system, is an all-in-one roll out garden designed to empower people to start growing food and flowers. The Nourishmat is rolled out onto your soil for easy DIY food production. Roll out the mat, push in the seedballs (clay, seeds, chili-powder and all-natural nutrients), and hook it up to the hose. We think of the Nourishmat as the way to cultivate the next generation of food growers.People have become disconnected from their soil. Earth Starter was formed in order to solve what we believe will be the world’s most pressing issue in upcoming years: sustainable healthy food supplies. Given limited resources and budgets, food as it is available today might not be so accessible in the future. By using the Nourishmat products, you are preparing yourself for this future. Our products offer cost-effective solutions that have a tangible return in your wallet. Our goal is to help people reduce their dependency on global food markets while focusing on creating a more nourishing Earth.

Earth Starter is doing more than just empowering consumers to grow their own food.  They are now making a huge push to help feed children who struggle with hunger. Earth Starter has teamed up with Two Degrees Foods to give 4 meals to children in the United States when you purchase the highly anticipated Nourishmat.  For every Nourishmat YOU PURCHASE, WE GIVE 4 meals to children suffering from hunger in the United States.
The Nourishmat is made of polypropylene, a recyclable landscape fabric used in industrial agriculture.
The Nourishmat was designed to be multi-sensory and intuitive. We used colors in combination with the square-foot method. The layout of the plants revolves around companion planting. For example, the bugs that like marigolds are the same bugs that love to eat the bugs that love to eat tomatoes. Other plants like Nasturitum (everyone’s first question, what is nasti-tu-…..) are great pollinators and so forth. The Nourishmat comes with a planting guide that tells the user where and when to plant.
Every 4′ x 6′ Nourishmat and 2′ x 6′ Herbmat comes with pre-planted seedballs separated by plant type. There is a combination of spring, summer and fall crops so users can continue to grow almost year round (we even have winter wheat during the winter).
We completed a 22 state beta test over the last year and a half. In order for us to have a successful first year run, we had to choose plants that would grow in all USDA hardiness zones. We took the data from our beta test and created the first Nourishmat iteration and adapted a planting guide accordingly. The combination of cool and warm weather crops with a mix of herbs for the summer allows for more successful yields. Bio-diversity promotes more pollinators and the seedballs help protect seeds against harsh environments and pests.
Eventually users will receive instructions based on their geo-location online. That is one of the goals with our Kickstarter — to make information available to our users without overwhelming them or keeping them glued to a tablet or PC. By 2014, users will be able to go-online – select their zip code, we will tell them what grows best in that location, choose a size, and based on seedball inventory, we will use a companion planting method to automatically position and space the plants. It’s all about cultivating gardeners not gardens.
After Kickstarter the the mat will run $39-$79
Nourishmat with Irrigation – $79.95
Nourishmat without Irrigation – $64.95
Herbmat with Irrigation – $49.95
Herbmat without Irrigation – $39.95
The nourishmat
 
We have already done some pilot testing with the summer camps and schools on the east coast. Right now we are working with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and the Mayors office in SF to work on using our curriculum and the Nourishmat as an educational tool. It reduces the intimidation factor because all of the tools are already laid out.
Testimonials
When you combine outdoor learning with something like the ‘Nourishmat’ designed to allow students to grow their own garden and share with other students around the country using the Nourishmat application…well this is hands on learning at its best… students can watch plants grow, share their growing time and success, read, write and communicate with other students, sharing together in the learning experience. Designed for students and schools in mind, the inventors of this creative product are developing a user-friendly curriculum for students as well.Theresa May – Head of School Prince William Academy 

Working with charter schools and visiting the school fairs has been helpful, but parents have been some of the biggest advocates. They have purchased some of beta quantities to be tested in schools in MD and VA. Some of our Kickstarter levels focus directly on allowing folks to give directly to a school of their choice. By working with the SFUSD we are able to use initiatives like Proposition A which gave 120 schools in the San Francisco area each $150,000 for schoolyard greening. We have proposed to put Nourishmats in those spaces with a curriculum with a much small $6,500 budget. Each school is receiving  $150,000 for their own green schoolyard. This gets spent on landscape architects, and plants, mainly and for some, the process will most likely take a few years to get completed.
Our focus is on providing people with all the resources needed to start growing food and flowers today. We have come a long way and have had many bumps and scrapes on the way. Our Kickstarter page doesn’t show the grit that it took to keep going and how hard manufacturing in the US can really be. But it’s part of our mission. We’ve been getting pushed around since day one. Family friends tried to take our idea, the doors to banks were closed and the only funding we could get was from our bank accounts. We started as two young professionals from the University of Maryland who stepped out of their comfort zone to self fund a company. Our team worked hard to beat out better funded company and apps that were poised to win the 2013 Cupid’s Cup presented by fellow UMD Alumnus Kevin Plank. We took the Nourishmat from three stages of product development on our own dime and just when we thought things were going great, a deal with Orchard Supply went by the wayside when the company fell bankrupt a few weeks ago. It hasn’t been easy but it has always been a battle against the rays of the sun.
In order for Kickstarter to be successful we must reach our $70,000 goal.
Here is a link to the campaign: http://bit.ly/goodmagnourishmat
The three pillars of sustainability. Click on ...

The three pillars of sustainability. Click on image areas for more information. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Green banking is ethical banking that is socially responsible and promotes environmental sustainability.  At first glance, several banks tout their “greenness” in advertising and marketing, but upon closer inspection,it is apparent that many of these institutions limit their efforts to the provision of online services and other practices that reduce the use of paper, thereby appealing to “tree huggers” (a derogatory term for environmentalists who support restrictions on the logging industry and who fight for preservation of forests).  These same banks have adopted procedures to reduce the often burdensome paper load traditionally required for many of their products, including, but not limited to, mortgages, certificates of deposits and loans, both residential and commercial.

Many financial institutions have incorporated banking with the use of mobile applications. The development and introduction of mobile apps to the smartphone market has gone a long way to provide customers access to their bank account 24 hours a day, with the ability to transfer funds between their accounts in one bank, as well as  pay bills and transfer money to outside banks or individuals.  It is important to note that many of these features were made available so that banks could compete with online payment and money transfer giants, such as PayPal, as well as totally online banks like Ally.  These mobile banking apps often include deposit features, which allow customers to make check deposits with the use of smartphone cameras.  The increased use of online banking features have resulted in a reduced carbon footprint with savings in time and transportation with fewer trips required to visit brick and mortar facilities; however, green baking encompasses so much more than this.

The essence of green banking is social responsibility, which in turn, fosters sustainability.  Green banking has five major components.

  1. Green finance.  While it is required that a bank performs credit ratings in its analysis of a proposed investment project, a green bank also will analyze the environmental risk of a potential investment, and it will reject investment in a project that would be destructive to the environment.
  2. Green marketing.  This activity involves making the environmental benefits of the products and services sold of tantamount importance.  These efforts could mandate modifications of products or the production process or changes in advertising to ensure that goods and services, as well as consumer interest, are protected.
  3. In house green activities.  Green banks provide detailed written reports on water and energy consumption, paper use, and the use if supplies, such as ink and toner.  Employees are trained in measures to efficiently use energy, equipment and supplies.
  4. Capacity building and research.  While many banks finance activities at regular interest rates in regions and communities prone to hazardous natural events, i.e., floods, earthquakes and droughts, green banks go farther by creating Climate Change Risk Funds to be used in cases of emergency.  Additionally, green banks show these expenses for emergencies under general expenses on their balance sheets.
  5. Corporate social responsibility.  Banks are corporations and are expected to be profitable.  While most, if not all financial institutions adopt some philanthropic programs, green banking mandates that such institutions carefully manage their economic, social and environmental impact, as well as their influence in “the workplace, the supply chain, the community, and the public policy realm“.  [5]

Any financial institution truly committed to “green banking” will ensure that its structure includes the above-stated components.  The green banking movement is gaining momentum in the global financial sector, and clearly is a win for the banks, the consumers, and the environment.  It is more urgent than ever that we, the green consumers, not only demand the services that we deserve, but also that such services are delivered  in line with our values of sustainability and commitment to the environment.  Let’s join together to encourage and support green banking.  To do so is to live green, be green.

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Resources for this article:
1.  http://greenbankreport.com/green-bank-deals/what-is-the-meaning-of-green-banking/
2.  http://greenbankreport.com/green-bank-deals/the-future-of-green-banking-is-bright/
3.  http://www.linkedin.com/groups/What-is-green-banking-in-4821165.S.208486050?_mSplash=1
4.  http://www.hks.harvard.edu/m-rcbg/CSRI/init_define.html

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness.    (July 4, 1776)

Credit:  Sharon Lathan

Credit: Sharon Lathan

Happy Independence Day from LGBG!

A Fourth of July fireworks display at the Wash...

A Fourth of July fireworks display at the Washington Monument. Location: WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (DC) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (USA) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Fourth of July is tomorrow, and for those planning picnics and barbecues, we have some last-minute suggestions to make this day a happy green celebration.

  1. Buy local produce—  This is a great time to support local fruit and vegetable farm stands.  In addition to getting the best bargains on your fruits and vegetables, you also will get an extra bang for your buck with fresh products that are organic— no pesticides, preservatives or GMOs.
  2. Grill green and guilt-free.  We know that grilling has an adverse impact on the environment and increases our carbon footprint.  This is true with both propane and charcoal grilling.  According to Steve Skerlos, environmental engineering professor, “what you grill matters as much or more than how you grill”.  The main issue here that often is ignored is the amount of water consumption associated with the production of the product going on the grill.  Consequently, chicken and vegetables have less of a water impact than red meat.  Skerlos suggests putting as much food as possible on the grill because “the more you cook at once, the more efficient you are going to be”.  See video at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/02/green-grilling-4th-of-july-barbecue_n_3535757.html?ir=Detroit.
  3. Reduce electricity consumption.  If your holiday party will continue after dark, consider using solar lamps and lanterns.  These lights will serve as part of your decor while simultaneously reducing your use of electricity.  These products are charged simply placing them in the sun or with the use of batteries.  Check Ikea and/or Target for these products.
  4. Leave fireworks to the professionals.  While fireworks are an accepted part of traditional Fourth of July celebrations, we ask that you leave this part of the celebration to the experts.  Avoid the use of home firework displays as they often result in injury and/or death.  They are costly and not a good buy.  Also, they are prohibited in many jurisdictions.  Take this opportunity to enjoy municipal or other public displays, which incorporate special precautions to ensure the safety of viewers and which offer spectacular displays.
  5. Green your alcohol consumption.  The Fourth of July is a great time to celebrate with organic wines and beers.  There are many selections available to complement healthy grill selections and side dishes.  Check with your local liquor stores for suggestions, and do’t forget to peruse the craft beer selections.  Two good places to start are:
    • http://www.opportunitygreen.com/green-business-blog/2011/05/19/top-10-organic-beers, and
    • http://dontfearthevegan.com/2012/05/30/worthy-of-sharing-trader-joes-vegan-beers-wines/.
  6. Recycle.  Please consider recycling your trash during your celebration.  Your guests, more than likely, will be pleased to have clearly designated containers for trash.  This will save cleanup time when the party is over, facilitate easy curbside placement for trash pickups or trips to the dump, and most importantly give you, the hosts more times to mingle and enjoy your company.  Lastly, you will benefit the environment.

We here at LGBG wish everyone a health, happy, safe, GREEN Fourth of July!