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As a part of the 2015 Dow Master’s Fellow Cohort, our team worked to support the success of a new microgreen greenhouse, Black Pearl Gardens, located in the basement of The Black Pearl Restaurant. Our client, Christy Kaledas, is a microgreen grower hired by the Black Pearl to transform their basement space into a greenhouse. All of the crops grown will be served at the Black Pearl restaurant and other local businesses. Black Pearl expects to expand efforts to localize their menu, and promote their efforts by advertising the restaurant as a sustainable place to eat. Our team of fellows developed recommendations for many aspects of the project: social media analysis, project development/operations, logistics recommendation, environmental analysis, analysis of space, growth plan, and financial feasibility. The full report includes details of this project to used as a case study about urban farming.

Improving the process of de-silting can play a key role in the local agriculture. There are more than 45,000 irrigation ponds in the Telangana region that need to be periodically de-silted in dry seasons to maintain their water storage capacity. Better management of the de-silting process can provide rural employment, and improve storage of rainwater for use during the dry season. Also, silt can be used as a fertilizer to improve land productivity and reduce the environmental footprint of farming in the region. An interdisciplinary student project team of Dow Sustainability Fellows at the University of Michigan (U-M) identified a need for systematic planning to include de-silting best practices into mainstream agriculture.

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Many organizations create social impact through their actions, such as creating jobs, supporting local farmers, and supporting people from diverse backgrounds. However, one of the main challenges these organizations face is expanding in a sustainable manner. Recommendations for organizational leaders include ensuring that social impact increases as the business grows, carefully monitoring the quality of products or services, and identifying methods to reduce costs.

The U-M Graham Sustainability Institute systematically integrates talents across U-M schools, colleges and units, and partners with external stakeholders, to foster collaborative sustainability solutions at all scales. Learn more about the sustinability research and educaiton work of the Institute.

The agriculture sector is increasingly impacted by climate change. Variable weather patterns, soil erosion, and industrial agricultural practices have caused considerable damage to the farming community, particularly in developing countries. However, mobile and other technological developments provide an opportunity to improve agricultural practices in developing countries and facilitate better adaptation to climate change.

California, a key agriculture state in the United States (US), is facing one of the worst droughts in history. The frequency of severe droughts may be increasing due to climate change. Better water efficiency may offset the impact of severe droughts now, and in the future. Improving water efficiency in agriculture, a sector that accounts for 70% water usage, is a priority. Although some farmers have adopted existing agricultural water conservation practices, the majority of farmers have not adopted practices described here. Understanding the barriers to adoption is important to increase adaptation of conservation practices by more farmers.

Access to electricity is critical for emerging countries to improve opportunities to work, learn, and thrive economically. In sub-Saharan Africa, the problem is acute, with nearly 620 million people that do not have access to electricity. Those that do have access in both the rural and urban areas of this region rely on diesel fuel generators. 

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Alexandra Chen, Elizabeth Grobbel, Kenneth Johnson, Jill Kiepura, Kyle Murphy, Benjamin Sevald