the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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graziers wanted in NY

grazier, ny, greenhorns,

We’ve come across a cool program for aspiring dairy farmers! If you’ve been mulling over the various routes get into dairy perhaps this is worth looking into.

From the press release:

Cornell Small Dairy Support Specialist Fay Benson is recruiting participants for the New York edition of the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program, the groundbreaking, nationally-recognized apprenticeship program for the agricultu
ral industry.

Modeled after apprenticeship programs such as those for developing a highly skilled level of experience for new plumbers and electricians, the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, or DGA, is recognized by the federal Department of Labor.

The two-year DGA requires 4,000 hours of instruction, including 277 hours of online classes, and on-the-job training on farms approved for good agricultural practices and safety measures. The federally-registered apprentices are paid on an established wage scale to work on an existing grazing dairy farm while they gain knowledge, skills, and early experience. The wage increases over time as skill level grows.

Those interested in becoming an apprentice or serving as a Dairy Master Grazier may apply online at www.dga-national.org; for assistance, contact Abbie Teeter at ajt248@cornell.edu, 607-391-2660 ext 412. Once registered, the apprentices and Dairy Master Graziers can search the entries across the 9-state region to initiate discussion of a possible apprenticeship opportunity.

To learn more about the New York Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, contact Fay Benson at 607-391-2660, afb3@cornell.edu. Benson is project manager for the NY Organic Dairy Program, an educator with the Cornell University South Central NY Regional Team, coordinator of the NY Soil Health Trailer, and a member of the New York Crop Insurance Education Team.


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california is blessed with rains, but what about other regions?

sahara-mali

Photo Credit: Jeanne Menjoulet

After 5 years of severe drought, a series of winter storms has drenched and flooded California. Over 40% of the state has had its drought restrictions lifted and the Sierra’s have been swallowed by snow.

But what about other regions in the world? Climate change and severe drought have wreaked havoc across West Africa. Subsistence farmers are finding they simply can’t get by, causing mass migration and dangerous treks across the Sahara and through destabilized countries. A recent article in the New York Times, with personal stories, maps, videos, and stunning photography, tells the whole story.

“Climate change on its own doesn’t force people to move but it amplifies pre-existing vulnerabilities,” said Jane McAdam, an Australian law professor who studies the trend. They move when they can no longer imagine a future living off their land — or as she said, “when life becomes increasingly intolerable.”

Folks, this is a must read, especially for those interested in global agricultural and climate issues!

Check it out HERE.


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go rogue: join the farm corps

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Katy Giomboini shares her seasoned observations on the internship program offered by the Rogue Farm Corps in Oregon. Whether you are interested in farming for the first time or you are looking to hone skills that you’ve gained from past apprenticeships, the organization offers two training programs suited to fit your educational needs. They are accepting applications for this year on a rolling basis

View from the Sidelines: Cultivating the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers
By: Katy Giomboini, RFC Chapter Coordinator

As I look to the start of the 2017 growing season and review farm internship applications, I can feel my excitement building.  I imagine it’s a similar feeling that farmers get at the start of the season.  Excited for what the year will bring, trying out new techniques, doing a little bit better than last year.  Another season, another group of enthusiastic individuals looking to see if farming is a career path for them.  Their backgrounds are as diverse as the tomato section of a seed catalog.  Some are fresh out of high school, others looking to change careers.  Some have zero farming experience and others have degrees in agriculture.  There are big plans on how they are going to run a farm/restaurant/retreat center and others simply looking to get their hands dirty.  For most, this season is going to bring a lot of surprises, a lot of reality checks, a lot of stories, and for a few, it will lay the foundation for their farming career.

I am about to start my fourth season as a chapter coordinator with the Rogue Farm Corps, a beginning farmer training program in Oregon, and each year I am inspired by the folks that choose to uproot themselves to live and work on a farm for a growing season.  Farming is not easy.  As any of the interns will tell you, the first month they’re on farm, they are tired, like bed-time-at-8:00pm tired.  Many experiences don’t require the strength and agility to squat, bend, and pull day in and day out.  But as the months go by, they get stronger.  One of my favorite image is of an intern, probably 5’2”, who at the start of the program could barely carry a 50 pound bag of poultry feed, but by the end she was easily carrying two 50lb bags as she zoomed around doing chores. What once seemed hard becomes routine.  Continue reading


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agrarian economics: a letter from a young farmer

kevin-morin-photo

I met Kevin Morin in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, a town on the outskirts of Montreal, and home to some of the last vestiges of agricultural land on the island metropolis. At the time Kevin was working for the Cooperative farm Tournesol. Recently Keven and Nikaela Lange both won the Beingessner Award for Excellence in Writing for essays outlining hopes for the new farming economy. Below we have reprinted Kevin’s essay with permission from National Farmer’s Union and you can find both texts on the NFU site.  

Kevin’s letter poses a question that I think many of us ask each day as we sweat and plant, weed and harvest, email clients, pour over spreadsheets and budgets, then pass out exhausted: is the current system of economic evaluation compatible with ecological agriculture and a sustainable future?  This last week I had the good fortune of seeing Dr. Vandana Shiva give the keynote address at NOFA Vermont and once again I was reminded that, like Gandhi’s call for spinning and making clothing by hand, farming is a simple but profoundly revolutionary act. 

My Future Vision for Canada’s Farming and Food System

by Kevin Morin

While talking about backyard cereal breeding, an old Cape Breton farmer once told me that the agriculture there was so far back that now they’re ahead. And if you were to have a cereal killer oatmeal stout from the Island’s own Big Spruce Brewing, you may be inclined to believe that.

I dream of a farm of my own someday, cows in the pasture, neat rows of cabbage…. Think of the rainy days spent in the woodshop, the brisk November mornings crouching in the greenhouse, a woodlot to keep me busy over winter and spring. To farm such a mixed enterprise like that of our grandparents is no romance. Continue reading


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medicine poem-pep talk

Snow melt and unusually warm days have the maple sap flowing fervently in the Northeast. It is hard not to feel as though, Winter it may still be, the growing season is upon us. Possibilities abound plentiful as the sap. And is there anything quite so delightful and quite so paralyzing as possibility?

It’s a good time for a pep-talk. And since all of our best mentors are poets, it feels right to introduce Sonya Renee Taylor, the award-winning poet, activist, founder and director of The Body is Not an Apology, an organization that promotes radical self-love and body empowerment as the cornerstones of global transformational social justice. (Can I get a heck yes?) But Sonya, oh dang: this woman speaks for herself!

If the first video is a little shot-to-the-arm pep talk (and, trust me, it is), the second video, a recording of the 2015 commencement speech at Hampshire College, is like meeting a medicine man in the woods, is a bath in the river Jordan, is a steady infusion of exactly that which you most needed. This is twenty-five minutes that you definitely have. Not to mention, there’s a bonus tutorial on paying back your student loans!

4-horsemen


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the four horsemen of the good food movement

If you love something, every now and then you should take a step back and think about how that thing could be destroyed. Or as Mike Lee puts it in a well-thought out article for Food+Tech Connect:

A great way to understand how to strengthen something is to think about how you might destroy it. It’s a thought experiment that can jolt the mind into thinking ruthlessly about where your weaknesses are, so you can shore them up. It’s an exercise the Good Food Movement should try to protect the gains we’ve made.

He then goes on to describe the “Four Horsemen of the Good Food Movement.” Just as the Bible’s Four Horsemen will bring on an apocalypse, Mike points to four attributes that could send the Good Food Movement into a death spiral: Apathy, Consolidation, False Truths, and Elitism.

So go ahead: click HERE to poke holes in what you hold dear, all in the name of making it stronger!