the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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great press!

New Life at Sonoma County’s Historic Granges
by Mary Callahan for The Press Democrat


A surge of interest in natural foods, local sourcing and environmental sustainability is bringing new life to the Civil War-era Grange movement, driving participation and restoring its relevance among modern folks yearning for connection to one another and to the food they consume.

The Sebastopol Grange — part of the nationwide farmers alliance that spans 147 years of agricultural development, economic expansion and vast social change — is among the groups that are thriving, its membership surpassing 200 people just a few years after its existence was threatened.

“It’s a process of revitalizing community,” President Jerry Allen said. “It’s going on all over, and it’s sure going on here.”

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bumper harvest for commodity crops and subsidies

Nov 19 (Reuters) – U.S. farmers are about to reap a bumper harvest not just in corn and soybeans but also in new subsidies that could soar to $10 billion, blowing a hole in the government’s promise that its new five-year farm bill would save taxpayers money.

Because of ample supplies, corn prices have fallen well below the long-term average price used as a benchmark for one of the new programs. Ironically, this year’s bumper harvest may not be large enough to compensate for those price falls and revenues for some farmers could be low enough to trigger payments.

“Crop insurance has drifted away from that basic safety net concept and the farm bill has taken it even farther away.”

Click to continue reading this Reuters Article





Photo courtesy of Acton.Org

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what if you only ate the foods within your county lines?

“2 women, 365 days, 3,878 square miles,” is the title line on Bodnar’s and Gowan Batist’s blog, The project began on Jan. 1, with these two young women emptying their cupboards of everything not created locally. Then, they began their year-long journey of eating food only grown, harvested and produced in Mendocino County, right down to the salt and pepper on their table.

Batist is a farmer; she manages the farm at the Noyo Food Forest in Fort Bragg. Bodnar runs the social media business called Social Media Sisters and has taken over as organizer of the Mendocino Farmers Market, held on Friday afternoons in the summer.

Their rules are fairly simple to understand, but hard to live by. They eat strictly locally produced food, which means all of the ingredients must be grown or harvested within the county. There are no exception for staples, such as seasoning, oils or grain. If they are traveling, they will eat food only locally grown in that area, or take their local food with them. Their top priority is to grow enough food for themselves, then supplement their diets with items from local farmers, ranchers and fishermen. Click HERE to read more about this amazing adventure!

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tangled roots and bitter fruit: what ferguson can teach the food movement

Excerpt taken from Eric Holt-Giménez’s eloquent article on Food First 

Comparing our society to apartheid is so repugnant as to be almost incomprehensible… except to the African-American communities suffering from unparalleled and disproportionate levels of violence and incarceration; or to the immigrant communities who pick our crops and process, cook and serve our food, yet have the highest levels of food insecurity in the nation; or to the underserved communities of color whose poor wages, poor schools and poor diet have resulted in an epidemic of diet-related diseases. Click HERE to read more!


joel salatin shares his opinion with greenhorns after nyt glorifies new ag data and technology

“The demise of the small family farm has been a long time coming;” writes New York Times journalist Quentin Hardy. The solution to escaping this demise? Get big. Get REAL big, through investing heavily in expensive, mind-boggling technology in order to stay competitive in the world of corn and soy. In last week’s article, Working the Land and the Data, Midwestern farmer Kip Top was interviewed about how his implementation of the newest technology and data (drones, GMO crops, infrared cameras, GPS combines, iphone apps for irrigation, cloud computing systems and satellite imagery) has allowed him to increase his production from 700 acres in 1970 to 20,000 acres today.

Joel Salatin shared his retort with the Greenhorns:

As a puff piece for industrial agriculture, the Nov. 30 NYT Working the Land and the Data story about the 20,000 acre Indiana farm does an incredible disservice to earthworms, soil life, and the entire integrity food movement.

At the risk of sounding ungrateful, many of us think farming this way is terrifying, violent, and harmful.  The world has twice as many obese as hungry.  Frankly, we don’t want or need these bushels.  They destroy soil, create chemicalized riparian dead zones, produce nutrient deficiencies and depend on taxpayer subsidies.

To insinuate that those of us who create intricate multi-speciated bio-mimicry farms are technologically backward is not only incorrect; it’s disingenuous.  On our farm, we use computer micro-chip electric fence energizers to manage cattle so they don’t even need corn.  How about that for futuristic?  And yes, the production per acre is the same while building soil, hydrating the landscape, and sequestering carbon.

And if I don’t bow to Monsanto, I’m not using business principles?  Dear me, it is precisely because of business principles that I think Monsanto is the Devil. The real kicker in the accompanying video, of course, is the notion that the featured Tom farm is smart.  The obvious insinuation is that the rest of us aren’t smart.  Pardon me, but I’ll take the smartness of nature’s template over the contrivances of Monsanto anytime.

And by the way, my family enjoys being with me on our farm.  It’s an aesthetically and aromatically sensually romantic place.  What a horrifying thought that I would need driverless tractors in order to spend more time with my family–the ultimate segregated farm.  How tragic.  Diminishing farmers indicate a weakening civilization.  And yes, farmers include backyard gardeners.

Armed with our laptops, electron microscopes, and a deep awe toward ecology and food integrity, a whole new generation of farmers is realizing that community-building diversified farms enjoy more economic, ecological, and emotional resiliency than industrial models.


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“we are beginning to see the power of food as an issue”

Food Power!

Mark Bittman’s article in the New York Times, Nov. 25, 2014.

There are four basic ways to change the food system. I talk about three of them a lot: The first is to eat differently, focusing on good food and especially plants; the second is to bring change to your work, whether that means becoming a farmer or helping other people eat better through your role as a teacher, doctor, artist, techie, lawyer or journalist. The third is to work locally to effect change in, for example, school systems or municipal politics.

The fourth is the toughest: Change the system that governs everything, including food. This means changing dominant economic theories and practices, and indeed the nature of capitalism itself. That isn’t happening anytime soon.

But incremental changes are possible within that system.  Click HERE to read more of this fantastic article! Continue reading


greenhorns report on the national ffa convention

 Greenhorns, in partnership with Organic Consumers Association were in attendance last month at the national gathering of the FFA. The FFA National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, saw a sea of 60,000 students representing every nook and cranny of America (and its territories) gathered together for fellowship, belonging, education and scholarly competition. Between the ages of 13 and 18, many of these students are next-in-line to the family farm and occupy a strategically powerful position in the future of American Agriculture; they are kids with land. With a self-confidence rarely seen in teenagers and impeccable public speaking skills, these students in their blue corduroy jackets cut quite the impressive figure, particularly in a stadium context.

They are team-spirited, motivated and articulate, and most of them credit these qualities to the organization that brought them together, the FFA. The FFA is turning these next-in-line farmers, agriscientists, ag teachers and farm sympathizers into successful leaders, fierce entrepreneurs, and good Samaritans…for Big Ag.

This polished youth constituency at the FFA sing the praises, almost exclusively, of Big Ag. How did this happen? Lets start with the obvious place; let’s follow the money.

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