the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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the awful reign of the red delicious. #eatuglyapples

At the supermarket near his home in central Virginia, Tom Burford likes to loiter by the display of Red Delicious. He waits until he spots a store manager. Then he picks up one of the glossy apples and, with a flourish, scrapes his fingernail into the wax: T-O-M.

“We can’t sell that now,” the manager protests.

To which Burford replies, in his soft Piedmont drawl: “That’s my point.” Click HERE to read this GREAT article from the Atlantic.

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grange future!

It seems like a sinister art project, but it’s not.

Screen shot 2014-09-10 at 11.27.13 AMThe USPS is selling off properties, trying to make up for the estimated 8 billon dollar a year in losses. By some accounts, this represents a failure of state socialism, and a need for privatization. For others it represents a moment of portentous flux, where a new-civic commitment to fairness and transparency can blossom, triggered by crisis. Many other countries have downsized or privatized their postal services, notably my friend Kobe runs an affordable artist cooperative in a former postal-training center in Brussels. It’s so adaptive that a ‘re-use’ is a likely outcome of this ‘ fire sale.’ If we can get the economics right, and mimic the wonderful example of cooperative work demonstrated by Caroline and team at Splinters and logs – some of these spaces might be useful, affordable, communitarian habitat for artists, activists and others who have chosen passion over solvency.

Back to the details, the USPS is selling both buildings, and “excess land”.  As Grange historians and champions, we remind you that the Grange pushed through Free Rural Mail Delivery (the equivalent in its day of rural high-speed internet access). This was understood as a clear cultural infrastructure that allowed rural people and farmers to access Sears Robuck catalog (here’s a 1909 film!). We mourn the contraction of our public institutions in the abstract, but here in my small town (pop 323) it is personal through the very visible stress level of our own post officers, who stopped getting the “new chips” that fit into their scales and help them calculate postage. It is very perplexing to witness the suffering of these small town heroes.  Many of these ladies and gents are running a post office so tiny you could sweep it from a swivel chair. It hurts my heart to watch the indignity as they are forced to do the postage math on a slip of paper, or use a calculator on their computer.

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AG GAG and other thoughts, by john ikerd

10 Reasons to Oppose ‘Right to Farm’ Amendments

 I grew up on a dairy farm and currently live in a small town in a farming area. I have spent my 50-year professional career working in agriculture, mostly with farmers and people in rural communities. I think farmers have the same “right to farm” as other Americans have to pursue any other professional occupation. However, I don’t think real farmers deserve, need, or even want special constitutional privileges. Here are ten reasons for opposing “right to farm amendments.”

1. Agricultural producers already benefit from special right to farm “legislation in all agricultural states. These laws protect farmers from frivolous nuisance suits brought by uninformed or intolerant neighbors who have moved into traditional farming communities.

2. People in rural communities who have the greatest concern for the future of family farms and rural communities are opposing right to farm amendments. National organizations, such as the Humane Society of the U.S. and the Sierra Club, support rural opponents because they don’t think agriculture should be exempt from public accountability for their actions.

Continue reading

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young farmers save barns!

These old barns are good for more than reclaimed wood and weddings
By Lori Rotenberk, 3 Sep 2014 for Grist


Jeff Marshall rolls along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, counting barns on the horizon — 50 so far today, many of them disintegrating. Marshall heads the National Barn Alliance, a nonprofit that works with advocacy groups across the country. He’s speaking on the phone about how many barns have been lost in recent years, as farmers can no longer afford to maintain them, and federal and local funds for restoration dwindle.

According to the American Farmland Trust, we’ve lost 72 million acres of farmland since 1982, with the trend expected to hasten as farmers retire and die. How many barns there once were and how many remain isn’t really known.

But Marshall says a salvation of sorts is taking place. Continue reading

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the myth of america’s golden age

  Joseph E. Stiglitz, Politico July/August
I hadn’t realized when I was growing up in Gary, Indiana, an industrial town on the southern shore of Lake Michigan plagued by discrimination, poverty and bouts of high unemployment, that I was living in the golden era of capitalism. It was a company town, named after the chairman of the board of U.S. Steel. It had the world’s largest integrated steel mill and a progressive school system designed to turn Gary into a melting pot fed by migrants from all over Europe. But by the time I was born in 1943, cracks in the pot were already appearing. To break strikes—to ensure that workers did not fully share in the productivity gains being driven by modern technology—the big steel companies brought African-American workers up from the South who lived in impoverished, separate neighborhoods.


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vandana shiva’s response to the new yorker

Yes! vandana

by Dr. Vandana Shiva
(A response to the article ‘Seeds of Doubt’ by Michael Specter in The New Yorker)

I am glad that the future of food is being discussed, and thought about, on farms, in homes, on TV, online and in magazines, especially of The New Yorker’s caliber. The New Yorker has held its content and readership in high regard for so long. The challenge of feeding a growing population with the added obstacle of climate change is an important issue. Specter’s piece, however, is poor journalism. I wonder why a journalist who has been Bureau Chief in Moscow for The New York Times and Bureau Chief in New York for the Washington Post, and clearly is an experienced reporter, would submit such a misleading piece. Or why The New Yorker would allow it to be published as honest reporting, with so many fraudulent assertions and deliberate attempts to skew reality. ‘Seeds of Doubt’ contains many lies and inaccuracies that range from the mundane (we never met in a café but in the lobby of my hotel where I had just arrived from India to attend a High Level Round Table for the post 2015 SDGs of the UN) to grave fallacies that affect people’s lives. The piece has now become fodder for the social media supporting the Biotech Industry. Could it be that rather than serious journalism, the article was intended as a means to strengthen the biotechnology industry’s push to ‘engage consumers’? Although creative license is part of the art of writing, Michael Specter cleverly takes it to another level, by assuming a very clear position without spelling it out.

continue reading here

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pink collar is the new green collar in nyc farms


Are women more willing to nurture their communities (and also their beet greens)? Are men preoccupied with techie farm toys like aquaponics? Is gender the reason the radio at the Queens Farm washing station is always stuck on Beyoncé and Alicia Keys? More significant, if urban ag work comes to be seen as women’s work, what will that mean for the movement’s farming model, mission and pay? Check out the article “Mother Nature’s Daughters” in the New York Times.


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