Common food products may soon be out of reach for the world's poorest people within the next two decades, according to climate and market research published by the Canadian NGO Oxfam International.  A combination of rising global temperatures and failing markets is pushing people further into poverty, and limiting access to basic nutritional sources like maize and rice. 
You can read more about the report here, and access the Food and Agriculture Organization price indexes here.
 
 
The World Bank recently reported that high food prices have pushed 44 million people into poverty in the past year.  The World Bank's president, Robert Zoellick, attributes this (to a certain extent) to unrest in the Middle East, although it is clear that creative solutions to agriculture are important for the future!  You can read the article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12474021
 
 
Innovate, Create:  Innovation, creativity power fresh thinking at Harvard featured VertiGrow in a piece on the design process at Harvard.  Read all about the fascinating inventions that have emerged through Harvard classes, labs, and free time on campus!

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/02/innovate-create/
 
 
Harvard's own Calestous Juma just released a new book, "The New Harvest" -- you can read about it here~


 
 
A recent UN survey indicates that 60% of Africans will live in a city by 2050.  The UN is concerned with where people will live.  We think this ties into questions of how they will get the food they need.  
You can read the BBC article on the UN report here.

~Ellie
 
 
It's been a few months since graduation, and things have definitely been moving fast with VertiGrow!  We are currently working with XYZ design firm on our second round of prototypes, and are testing the new design this month.  Our homepage has been updated with some of the new designs, but we will continue to share our progress.  We're hoping to have our beta prototype in the field within the next few months.  
~Ellie  
 
 
Ellie and I officially graduated from Harvard College last Thursday, taking VertiGrow along with us :P This means more time to devote to VertiGrow, such as planning our pilot project 2 back in Kibera this summer to test out the newest round of prototypes.

I just want to take a moment to thank Harvard, especially the Idea Translation Lab, SEAS and Medicine in Need, on behalf of the whole VertiGrow team, for believing in us and supporting us from day 1. We hope VertiGrow will always remain part of the amazing Harvard-born NGO community and will make Harvard proud!

~Tina
 
 
This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of representing VertiGrow as one of six panelists for the event entitled "Social Enterprise 101: Get it Started", hosted by the Harvard College Social Enterprise Association. This event was directed at Harvard undergraduates interested starting or getting involved with social enterprises, and stimulated great discussion on some of the most thought-provoking issues surrounding challenges and opportunities in this relatively new sector.

The panel featured some of the most inspiring leaders in the field:
Sutton Kiplinger, Executive Director of Project Health (Boston)
Matt Joyce, co-Founder of Philly Fellows
Scott Warren, Executive Director of Generation Citizen
Amit Garg, Founder of Hospitals for Hope
Shalaka Joshi, Vice President of CSO Partners

Next week, Ellie will be leading a workshop on social entrepreneurship at the finale event of the InFocus-Nonprofit Program hosted by Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business.  Stay tuned for more updates!

~Tina
 
 
Kibera has long been known for it's "flying toilets," or, plastic bags filled with human waste thrown into street corners or wherever there is space for them.  A recent invention is an eco-friendly version of the flying toilet, which takes the standard plastic bag, adds a biodegradable, odor-suppressant coating, and ties in fertilizer creation capabilities.  This new iteration of the flying toilet can actually create wealth from waste!
Check out the BBC article here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8594972.stm
 
 
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Vote for VertiGrow!  We need your help!  Please click on the link below and visit the Ashoka Changemakers competition page.  You have to register with an account, and then you can vote for your three favorite projects.  We are 1 of 13 finalists (chosen from over 200 applicants!) 
http://www.changemakers.com/en-us/nutrition