the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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call for articles: farming matters


Deadline: 1 December 2014.
Farming Matters

As a south Indian farmer said, “soil is the mother of agriculture, the mother of life”. And 2015 is the International Year of Soils. So now is an appropriate time to look again at soils that are so fundamental to agroecology and family farming. Soils are not only the foundation for agriculture, livestock production and forestry, they also supply clean water, capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide many other ecosystem services. However, these functions are jeopardised as many soils are becoming increasingly degraded.

And whereas research and policy often emphasise the use of chemical fertilizers to boost production, these by themselves cannot reverse the problems of degraded soils and poor crop yields in the long term, and may even make them worse in some cases. What is central is that the nutrient content of the soil says little about soil health, and whether the soil can actually sustain production over decades…  Continue reading

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faith & fears in wendell berry’s kentucky

via Grist


Faith and fears in Wendell Berry’s Kentucky
By Darby Minow Smith

Wendell Berry’s mind is preoccupied with four dead sheep. I join the 80-year-old food movement sage for a drink and a visit in the kitchen of his neat white house on the top of the hill in Henry County. The talk meanders, picks up steam, and tapers off until the hum of the refrigerator fills the air, but the conversation always circles back to those missing animals.

Berry has four fewer sheep, but there were only two carcasses. The others disappeared without a trace. It’s coyotes, according to a trapper who knows the beasts and how to get rid of them. Berry has never heard of coyotes doing such a thing — not the stealing of sheep, for which they have an established reputation, but for doing such a clean job of it. No telltale chunks of hide or dried blood. I can tell that the mystery rattles around in his thoughts even as we trade stories of hunters being hunted, my home state of Montana, and women who tell dirty jokes.

Berry’s mind is one of the most famous and respected in environmentalism. The farming poet has been writing since the ’60s, and has more than 50 books to his name. His timeless tomes show a deep love of nature and rich understanding of the power of community. Described as the “modern-day Thoreau,” Berry holds up the simple, good things in the world while decrying the forces of greed and globalization that sully them. The man knows how to pack a punch in just a few words: “There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.’’

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greenhorns and cycle farm, among others fantastic farmers, featured in orion article “the new farmers”

November/December Orion Magazine Article

Jeremy and Trish Cycle Farm

Today’s green movement is considered by some Millennials and Gen Xers to be an equivalent to the Civil Rights struggle—the organizing principal propelling young people into action. Recent decades have seen unprecedented environmental demonstration in Washington, as well as committed political activism from the likes of, which is staffed almost entirely by Millennials. Yet during this same era, the movement has nevertheless suffered major blows due to legislative decision-making (or lack thereof). As a result, disbelief in government as a driver of meaningful change seems to be growing, as well as turning some young, would-be activists, like Miller and Shapero, toward small-scale farming.

One young farmer, Trish Jenkins, who co-owns and operates Cycle Farm in the Black Hills of South Dakota told me that the connotation of what it means to be an environmentalist is changing.  “To me, twenty years ago, it meant people who saved the rainforest,” she said. “But we’re making a difference on our own land. We’re storing food, we’re sequestering carbon, we’re using our bicycles to take our crops to market. People still need to write letters, and lobby, and wear their ‘Save the Whales’ t-shirts. But they need to do the hands-on work, too.” Click HERE to read this article!

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saint organic: coach mark smallwood

Over the last 14 days, Mark Smallwood has been on a walk. A walk that will hopefully change the way that we look a climate change and think about how we can reverse this disastrous phenomenon.

Each day he walks ten miles, on a journey from the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, PA to Washington, DC. Along the way, he has had the honor of meeting with farmers, local public officials, community members, students and activists. Every person he meets is impacted by the effects of climate change. From the disastrous hail storm that occurred in Reading, PA in May to the local fisherman and their concern that Atrazine was found in spawning beds of small mouth bass in the Susquehanna River. Climate change affects us all and the impact and destruction caused by catastrophic weather events is more noticeable with each passing year.

Along the way, he continues to tell people that climate change is a gift. This is Mother Nature’s way of letting us know that she is sick. We have broken our ecological systems and only we can fix it. He has data that proves that a global transition to regenerative organic agriculture can reverse climate change.

To learn more about Mark’s delivery of this data to Washington DC and how you can help, click HERE!

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more on trade deals & GM standards

The European Union is negotiating the potential future of British agriculture with American corporations, developing deals that, unless tempered, could possibly threaten UK sovereignty
by Samantha Lyster for Fresh Produce Journal

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US is an attempt by both parties to strip away red tape.

The Americans are looking for more freedom to trade in a range of industrial sectors, including agriculture. The NFU recently asked for assessments to be carried out in the areas of meat, eggs, and sugar to ascertain what impact TTIP would have on these sectors.

However, apart from Freshfel, the European fresh produce association, which has been involved with talks on apples and pears, it appears that the EU has not engaged in any talks with UK representatives for the fresh produce industry, although the Fresh Produce Consortium is aware of the negotiations and is monitoring news surrounding them.

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the southwest, claims that emerging information gives UK farmers, especially small-scale operations, great cause for concern. She says that if successful, the agreement could result in the harmonisation of food standards between the EU and GM-friendly US.

“The potential race to the bottom on environmental standards, employment rights and animal welfare is one of the key concerns Greens have about these secretive trade negotiations.

TTIP is a huge threat to hard-fought- for European standards on the quality and safety of our food,” adds Cato. All parties concerned over the negotiations point to the element of the treaty called investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). ISDS in effect grants multinationals the same legal position as a nation state itself, and allows them to sue sovereign governments in so-called arbitration tribunals on the grounds that their profits are threatened by government policies.

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