the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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landworkers’ alliance protests in london

Yesterday (April 17th) 100 farmers and growers from the Landworkers’ Alliance travelled to London from around the country to protest outside the head offices of DEFRA and the National Farmers Union.

Under the leadership of Owen Patterson over the past two years, DEFRA has strengthened its support of large-scale industrial agriculture and marginalized smaller producers, while the NFU has consistently lobbied for the interests of agribusiness and ignored the views of smaller farmers.

The land workers’ Alliance want to see small-scale producers put at the heart of decision making in agricultural policy.

“DEFRA needs to recognise the role of small-scale producers in contributing to the national food economy, as well as the environmental and social services provided by these producers,” says Ed Hamer from the LWA.  “As a matter of urgency we demand that DEFRA create policies conducive to a sustainable food future for all.”

The demonstration took place in solidarity with the April 17th – The International Day of Peasant Struggles. A global day of action called by La Via Campesina, the international union of peasant farmers which has over 200 million members worldwide.

Small farmers' demo outside DEFRA offices

(Above) The Landworkers’ Alliance catch minister for agriculture (Owen Patterson) in bed with agribusiness.

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dow chemical seeks usda approval for 2,4-d ready corn



Excerpts taken from the Pesticide Action Network
Dow and USDA are hoping to quietly approve a new genetically engineered corn seed that basically swaps RoundUp (glyphosate) for a worse weedkiller (2,4-D).

As with Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready lines, the herbicide with which these seeds are engineered to be used (2,4-D) will surge in use. Dow aims to get 2,4-D-resistant corn to market this year, soy next year and cotton in 2015. These three crops dominate U.S. agriculture, blanketing over 100 million acres of mono-cropped countryside and driving the pesticide market. Only this time, the fallout will be even worse. Here’s why:

  • 2,4-D is a more toxic herbicide, both to humans and to plants.
  • 2,4-D does and will drift off of target crops
  • Corn is wind-pollinated which means that genetic material from 2,4-D corn will contaminate non-GE cornYou cannot put a GE genie back in the bottle.

To read this article in full and learn more about the effects of 2,4-D corn, click HERE

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need your comments: new fda rules may cut ties between brewers and farmers.

Comment HERE. The public comment period ends Monday, March 31st! 

From the Bangor Daily News:

America’s booming brewing industry and farmers alike are bothered and befuddled by a proposed U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule change that could alter a partnership that dates back to Neolithic times.

To the farmer, spent grains are a valuable dietary supplement for their livestock. It’s common for breweries to reach out to local farms to offer up their spent grains as animal feed. Most often, farmers are happy to oblige, picking up the spent grains themselves a few times per week. Little or no money exchanges hands during these deals. Brewers are glad to get rid of the grain, and farmers are glad to take it off their hands.

The proposed rule is aimed at “ensuring the safety of animal food for animals consuming the food and ensuring the safety of animal food for humans handling the food, particularly pet food,” according to the FDA.

It requires facilities producing animal food to have written plans that identify hazards, specify steps to minimize those hazards, and monitor and record the safety of the feed.

“FDA understands that many breweries and distilleries sell spent grains … as animal food. Because those spent grains are not alcoholic beverages themselves, and they are not in a prepackaged form that prevents any direct human contact with the food, the Agency tentatively concludes that subpart C of this proposed rule would apply to them,” according to the FDA rule.

Most small and medium-sized brewers wouldn’t be able to follow these rules without significant investment. Breweries that want to send their spent grains to farmers would have to dry, package and analyze the grains, all without it touching human hands. These efforts would cost brewers money, time and resources, making it too much of a hassle for some to continue partnerships with farmers, according to critics. (Read the entire article —> HERE)

Comments are needed HERE!

To view the complete rule, visit

For the FDA fact sheet on the rule, visit






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book: the meat racket, the secret takeover of america’s food business

The Meat Racket

In The Meat Racket, investigative reporter Christopher Leonard delivers the first-ever account of how a handful of companies have seized the nation’s meat supply. He shows how they built a system that puts farmers on the edge of bankruptcy, charges high prices to consumers, and returns the industry to the shape it had in the 1900s before the meat monopolists were broken up. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the greatest capitalist country in the world has an oligarchy controlling much of the food we eat and a high-tech sharecropping system to make that possible.

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the indigenous farming project

Planting Justice in the Owens Valley: the Indigenous Farming Project 

by May Nguyen of Planting Justice 


I’ve been working on behalf of Planting Justice with a project called the Indigenous Farming Project (IFP), a tribal agriculture & nutrition pilot program in collaboration with San Francisco artist collective Future Farmers. Inspired by his train travels through the reservation lands, EPA Region 9 director Jared Blumenfeld recognized a common desire for developing food sovereignty projects within native communities and asked Amy Francheschini of Future Farmers to start up a program that would help tribes gain access to the resources they need to build resilient foodsystems on their lands.

Many tribal reservations are geographically isolated and are “food deserts” in which there is very little or no access to healthy fresh foods, ( In order to combat this health related epidemic, there has been a resurgence in the number of American Indians and their allies championing a revitalization of traditional food knowledge and ritual farming-and-gardening.

In spring 2012, Anya Kamenskaya, the IFP project manager, started the first IFP-sponsored site with the Environmental Department of the Big Pine Paiute of the Owens Valley. Over the course of the year, as I joined on as a co-project manager and permaculture designer, we were able to work with Alan Bacock, Tony Karl & Sally Manning of the Environmental Department to design & plan an active demonstration community garden on the land of the Big Pine Paiute Tribal Headquarters.

Continue Reading… 

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farm labor reality tour

tourFarmers and Farmworkers Unite to Save America’s Small Farmers
Farm Labor Reality Tour Hits the Road to Demand Change
Brewer, Maine (February 15, 2013) – The Farm Labor Reality Tour, a two-week caravan across 15 states to unite dairy farmers and farm labors across the country in their fight for justice, dignity, and fair pay, kicked off today. Led by three grassroots organizations representing small farmers, farmworkers, and food justice activists, Family Farm Defenders, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Food for Maine’s Future, the tour aims to draw attention to the shared struggles of all people who work in America’s fields.
“The people who grow food for this country – be they independent family farmers or farmworkers – are not getting paid a fair wage for their work. That has to change,” said Wisconsin dairy farmer Joel Greeno of Wisconsin-based Family Farm Defenders.
The organization was inspired by the success of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ consumer-oriented “penny more per pound” Fair Food Campaign, which has won agreements for higher wages and improved working conditions from some of the biggest fast food companies in the world. Family Farm Defenders has launched a similar effort — the Land O’Fakes campaign — to change the structure of dairy pricing to ensure a fair wage for farmers. The Farm Labor Reality Tour will promote the campaigns of both groups.

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Occupy the Farm documentary – 3 days left to kickstart!

OccupyBannerWe’ve received 80% of the pledges we need for the OCCUPY THE FARM
Kickstarter campaign.   Only $6,000 more and we’ve reached the goal.

Thank you all for your participation and making this happen. If there
is anyone you know who has been sitting on the sidelines, waiting to
see if OCUPPY THE FARM would reach the goal, tell them to jump on now!
We’ve only got three more days until Monday.

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No Issue in New York State has created as much controversy and public debate as hydraulic Fracturing – or Fracking.

On May 15, 2012, a disparate group of N.Y. scientists, musicians and activists gathered in Albany on the governor’s doorstep to convince him to join the anti-fracking majority.

The resulting film – a cross between “The Last Waltz” & “An Inconvenient Truth” – blends music with a powerful message:

Ban fracking now!

Tell Governor Cuomo to BAN FRACKING IN NEW YORK

call 1 (866) 584-6799 today!

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americorps farming/food justice job in beautiful methow valley, washington

The Red Shed Produce garden, a program of Room One, in conjunction with the Valley Teen Center is accepting applications for the AMERICORPS position of “Teens Growing Healthy Futures Program Coordinator.”    

The core mission of the Americorps member will be growing and harvesting vegetables in the Red Shed garden and creating access to healthy meals  for Methow Valley teens. This position will provide an opportunity for someone with a passion for local, organic foods to work with teenagers; member will help Red Shed establish an additional garden space and help the Valley Teen Center facilitate programs in their new building, both located on the TwispWorks campus.

Major Responsibilities include:

  • working in the existing Red shed garden
  • harvesting crops in September and October for fresh eating as well as storage crops to be consumed throughout the winter months
  • continuing work towards the establishment of a new garden location at the TwispWorks campus
  • involving teens in the process of planting and irrigating cover crops
  • erecting a deer fence, creating paths and interpretive signs, creating compost bins
  • establishing a gardening program for teen center participants
  • establishing and teaching a cooking program for teen center participants;
  • working with existing Independent Learning Center students to prep weekly meal for Teen Center
  • soliciting in-kind donations for supplemental food (in addition to Red Shed produce)
  • providing mentoring and tutoring support during teen center hours
  • coordinating volunteer chaperones and mentors for teens at the Teen Cente
  • conducting workshops with teens to develop further programming.


  • Experience in large-scale gardening or farming
  • Experience and interest in child and youth development

     The Methow Valley, a small rural community in Eastern WA, sits in the foothills of the beautiful North Cascade Mountains and boasts a plethora of hiking, biking, and ski trails.  The town of Twisp offers opportunities and classes in yoga, music, dance, theatre, and the arts, as well as a natural foods store, a bakery and brew pub.

     Room One is a social service agency promoting health and wellness through consolidation of county outstations and generation of innovative programming.  Room One’s Red Shed program provides access to fresh, organic produce to low-income families through produce distribution and education.  The Valley Teen Center is a youth-driven organization dedicated to fostering connections to a better present and future for all teens and our community, through personal growth, entrepreneurial opportunities, community leadership, and connection to the broader Methow Valley community.  The “Teens Growing Healthy Futures” project will be a collaboration between these entities built to foster healthy eating behaviors early in life and provide a healthy meal during the week for Methow Valley youth. The core of the program will be the provision of a weekly dinner at the teen center, and nutrition, cooking and gardening instruction through Red Shed.

For more information, please contact Kelleigh McMillan at

To submit an application, please find us on

Applications accepted until August 1st, 2012.

Position term: September 1st,2012 though July 15, 2013.

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be a boston tree partier + planter


The Boston Tree Party is an urban agriculture project, a performative re-imagining of  American political expression, and a participatory public art project.  At its core, the Party is a diverse coalition of organizations, institutions, and communities from across the Greater Boston Area coming together in support of Civic Fruit. We call for the planting of fruit trees in civic space and promote the fruits of civic engagement. Each community has committed to planting and caring for a pair of heirloom apple trees.

For more information about the Party and how communities can get involved, please check out our website and blog, and also follow us on facebook and twitter.

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just label it update / new infographic

The next three weeks are critical to the national Just Label It campaign for genetically engineered (GE) food labeling and here is an update:
  • With only three weeks left until March 27, when the FDA must respond publicly to the petition calling for GE-foods labeling, the national Just Label It campaign is launching a major push to flood the FDA with an unprecedented one million comments.  As of today, the petition has already generated a record 900,000 comments, the most comments generated on a food petition in FDA history.
  • The three-week March push kicks off today with the launch of Just Label It’s “Right to Know” Infographic.  Designed to explain GE foods and the need for labeling, the educational tool includes a link to the Just Label It website where consumers can submit a comment to the FDA.  Convenient for sharing on-line and via social media, the infographic is being distributed nationally by Just Label It’s 500 diverse partner organizations. Please help us share this graphic online, via Facebook/Twitter. (Sample tweet here: NEW @JustLabelIt #infographic on the right to know how food is produced & why we need to label #GMOs
  • On March 27, Just Label It will announce the final comments total, as well as the findings of a national public opinion survey on GE food labeling, and its plans for the next phase of the campaign.

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a loss. a bad sign.

Judge Sides With Monsanto: Ridicules Farmers’ Right to Grow Food Without Fear, Contamination and Economic Harm

By Jane Ayers

On February 24, Judge Naomi Buchwald handed down her ruling on a motion to dismiss in the case of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Assn et al v. Monsanto after hearing oral argument on January 31st in Federal District Court in Manhattan.  Her ruling to dismiss the case brought against Monsanto on behalf of organic farmers, seed growers and agricultural organizations representing farmers and citizens was met with great disappointment by the plaintiffs. Continue reading

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