The GreenDesert.org is dedicated to sustainable living in the city by using simple techniques that lessen the footprint on the environment. The goal is to encourage, inspire and inform people about the benefits of a simpler, less materialistic lifestyle, and to teach the importance of protecting our natural environment. If we can make the desert green, we can be green anywhere.
This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, from http://voaspecialenglish.com | http://facebook.com/voalearningenglish
Old properties and empty lots in cities and towns around the United States are finding new life as urban farms. EcoCity Farms in Edmonston, Maryland, is located near shopping centers, car repair shops and homes. The neighborhood is a working-class community. People do not have very much money, and they have limited access to fresh food in markets. Over the past two years, the farm has attracted volunteers from the community like Marcy Clark. She schools her four children at home. On a recent day she brought them to EcoCity Farms for a lesson. Her children harvested rows of spinach, mustard greens, lettuce, Swiss chard and carrots. "It's important that the children understand the connection between the food that they eat, the soil, the air, the pollution, how all this is connected to their well-being," she says. Her son Alston agrees: "You connect with the earth, where your food comes from. You appreciate the food a little bit more." Margaret Morgan-Hubbard started EcoCity Farms. She thinks of it as a place where people can learn to live healthier lives. "Our view is that what happens in a community, influences the culture of that community. So our idea was growing food in a community and showing that you can have farms even in urban areas, redefines what's possible in that area, in that community and brings people together." "Every piece of what we do here is a demonstration to show people everything about how to have a sustainable community," she says. That means not only farming food and raising chickens and bees, but improving the soil with compost made from food waste. Sixteen wooden bins are filled with worms. Their job is to eat the food waste and help make it into compost. EcoCity Farms is an "off the grid" experimental operation. The farm gets its power not from the local electricity grid but from the sun with solar panels. In winter, the greenhouses are heated using a geothermal system. Buried tubes pump air at underground temperature -- thirteen degrees Celsius -- into the structures. Vegetables can be grown all year. So once a week, all winter long, neighbors can come to the farm and pick up a share of the harvest. For VOA Special English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. You can find two videos about EcoCity Farms -- including one about the composting worms -- at voaspecialenglish.com.
(Adapted from a radio program broadcast 06Mar2012)
Controversy and scandal marred Michael Jackson's reputation as the most influential entertainer of all time, however a new book about the King of Pop aims to change that. Joseph Vogel, a doctoral candidate in the University of Rochester's English Department, says he wrote "Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson" to fill a void left by all the books that focused on tabloid gossip rather than his music. Although Michael Jackson's legacy as an artist has received less attention in recent years, Vogel says his work puts him in the cultural pantheon of icons like the Beatles and Elvis Presley.
Welcome to Uzbekistan - an oasis of peace, a land where ancient history and modern culture converge, a country located at the mid-point of the Great Silk Road! It's the oldest land in Central Asia, maintaining a twenty-five century long history, a country with a specific historical and cultural community different from that of other regions. Recently, tourist interest in Uzbekistan has markedly increased and accordingly, the range of travel facilities and the services of local tour operators are being expanded year by year in order to draw more travelers to explore this wonderful place.
On the territory of Uzbekistan there are many cities where hundreds of architectural monuments from different ages are located. Among them are Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Shakhrizabs, Termez and Kokand. These cities were centers of science and art. Great architects created palaces, mosques and mausoleums, world famous monuments of ancient architecture memorializing Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. Many of those masterpieces have not survived to the present; however, from those which have been preserved, it is possible to restore the pages of the distant past. The Great Silk Road, one of the most significant achievements in history of World civilization, also passed through these cities. To enjoy your stay in these historical sites imbued with the atmosphere of ancient times, great efforts have been made to ensure that modern travelers feel comfortable and secure. Therefore, a great number of new hotels and guest houses have appeared, new restaurants and cafes have reached international standards, and modern means of transportation, from cars to tour buses, are available to transport more and more tourists.
The Uzbek national cuisine has a centuries-old history and reflects the diversity of the customs and traditions of the people. The development of the cuisine benefited much from the new crops which had come from the countries of the Great Silk Road. Moreover, the local rulers used to bring the best culinary experts from the conquered lands.
Along with the titbits the guests are treated to the rich mutton soup shurpa, which is spiced with plenty of fennel and parsley.
Yet the main dish of the Uzbek cuisine is pilav(plov). Pilav(plov) is an indispensable part of any festive meal: none of the weddings or any other important occasions, on which guests are ever received, can do without it.
As the legend says, the way of cooking pilav was "invented" during the conquest of Sogdiana by Alexander the Great. Supposedly, during a long mission trip his army ran out of food, except one sack of rice and a wild sheep that they had managed to kill. The cook made a dish from this stuff, spicing it with the seeds of some steppe herbs, and the amount of that "first pilav" turned out to be sufficient to feed the whole army. The respect of the Uzbeks for pilav can be traced in their language: the Uzbek for 'pilav' is 'osh', which literally means 'food'.
In the past pilav was a feast of the poor and everyday meal of the rich. According to historical sources, the emir of Bukhara used to eat pilav three times a day and arranged a sort of cooking contest for the best pilav among his dignitaries.