the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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watch the farm aid concert live from home!


Watch the Concert Live!

If you’re not joining us in Raleigh this year, you can still help celebrate from home. Watch live in HD on AXS TV starting at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific. Or you can watch our HD webcast, Farm Aid 2014 Presented by Amy’s Kitchen starting at 5pm Eastern on

Willie Nelson’s SiriusXM channel, Willie’s Roadhouse (59), will begin its coverage at noon Eastern.

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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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rural academy theater fall tour!

Check out the schedule here.

RAT '14 Poster small format


This fall The Rural Academy Theater will clip clop its way into your back yard and heart with a full array of exciting new material to inspire, charm, divert and incite.

The ambassadors of The Slow Theater Movement bring with them an evening of audience manipulated mini-circus, a fast paced, slap stick exposé of North Carolina’s pro frackinglegislation and a two dimensional study commissioned by the University of Cardboard exploring ideas of geographical identity and the human presence as viewed on a geological timeline.  The evening will wrap up with a screening of Georges Méliès’ 1902 classic silent film “A Trip to the Moon” with live, eclectic score provided by The Rural Academy Orkestar. Continue reading

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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.

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NESAWG conference registration open

get all of the details HERE!


Our 2014 It Takes a Region conference will be held November 11-12 at the Saratoga Hilton in Saratoga Springs, NY.  Pre- conference sessions begin November 10.

What does it take to make our food system strong, resilient and region-sized?  What does real collaboration and cooperation look like?   How can we be more effective?  We’ll be exploring the various channels, mechanisms, structures and infrastructures for making region-sizing work at NESAWG’s 2014 It Takes a Region Conference. 

Together, we’ll explore some of the tremendous advances we’ve made in region-sizing the food system to date, as well as new opportunities for collaboration.  We’ll explore and address the work of farmers, food hubs, cooperatives, and market innovators, non-governmental organizations and Departments of Agriculture, independent researchers, land grant universities, farmworkers, as well as the efforts of science writers and journalists to amplify our stories.  On Tuesday evening, our keynote speaker Jim Hightower will issue a rallying cry for collaboration and change.  Read more. >

Whether you’re a farmer, market manager, ecologist, health care professional, regional planner, educator, advocate, community organizer,  or other food systems practitioner; whether you’re working from environmental, economic, or social angles, we invite you to roll up your sleeves and develop strategies with your colleagues, from NY to WV and all across New England. Join us for Region-sizing: Making It Work! Register here


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