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food / travel

Urban Farms, Supersized. Largest Ever Rooftop Garden To Be Big As Football Field

A trio of German entrepreneurs is hoping to convert an old industrial building in Berlin into the world's largest rooftop farm. Plans for the self-sustaining organic spread, which should be up and running by 2013, include a fertilizing fish farm

Rooftop city farming is growing more and more popular
Rooftop city farming is growing more and more popular

*NEWSBITES

BERLIN - If all goes as planned, a sprawling organic farm will soon be up and running a stone's throw away from a six-lane autobahn in Berlin's Südkreuz industrial zone.

By spring 2013, tons of lettuce, kohlrabi (a variety of cabbage), tomatoes and herbs are expected to be growing under protective glass roofing – on a city rooftop, some 7,000 square meters of it, an area as big as a soccer field. And in the building underneath, say the three 30-something Berliners behind the ambitious project, there will also be an aquaponic fish farm.

"The beauty of our plan is it's self-sufficient. Only fish food has to be brought in from the outside," says Nicolas Leschke, one of the three entrepreneurs. Water containing excretions from fish bred in large tubs will fertilize the produce, leaving clean water to flow through the closed water circuit back to the fish.

"Our intention is for this to be the biggest roof farm in the world," Leschke adds. He and his partners are part of a small but growing international urban farming movement. "It's ridiculous to continue growing produce only in the countryside that then has to be trucked to cities," says project partner Christian Echternacht.

"All the resources we need are available through renewable energy and rainwater collection," says third partner Karoline von Böckel, who is responsible for ensuring the project's optimum sustainability. Farm production will be sold on site and in stores in the immediate vicinity, she says.

In cooperation with the Berlin Institute of Technology, the three young Berliners are presently fine tuning their feasibility study. The project will cost 5 million euros, and investors are being sought. Even if they don't find any, says Leschke, "nobody's going to stop us. 2012 is the International Year of Sustainable Energy For All and there will be plenty of support programs for pioneers like us."

Read the full original article in German by Julia Becker

Photo - New Brunswick Tourisme | Tourisme Nouveau-Brunswick

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Society

A Closer Look At "The French Roe" And The State Of Abortion Rights In France

In 1972, Marie-Claire Chevalier's trial paved the way for the legalization of abortion in France, much like Roe v. Wade did in the U.S. soon after. But as the Supreme Court overturned this landmark decision on the other side of the Atlantic, where do abortion rights now stand in France?

Lawyer Gisèle Halimi accompanies Marie-Claire Chevalier at the Bobigny trial in 1972.

Lila Paulou

PARIS — When Marie-Claire Chevalier died in January, French newspapers described her role in the struggle for abortion rights as an important part of what’s become the rather distant past. Yet since the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade in the United States, Chevalier’s story has returned to the present tense.

A high school student in 1971, Chevalier was raped by a classmate, and faced an unwanted pregnancy. With the help of her mother and three other women, the 16-year-old obtained an abortion, which was illegal in France. With all five women facing arrest, Marie-Claire’s mother Michèle decided to contact French-Tunisian lawyer Gisèle Halimi who had defended an Algerian activist raped and tortured by French soldiers in a high-profile case.

Marie-Claire bravely agreed to turn her trial into a platform for all women prosecuted for seeking an abortion. Major social figures testified on her behalf, from feminist activist Simone de Beauvoir to acclaimed poet Aimé Césaire. The prominent Catholic doctor Paul Milliez, said, “I do not see why us, Catholics, should impose our moral to all French people.”

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