Check out this awesome rice growing project in Maine by Wild Folk Farm. Their goal is to get as many farmers and folks eating and growing rice throughout Maine, the Maritimes, and the Northeast. They are developing an educational, research and commercialized rice operation as currently there are no commercial rice growers in the state, and only a sprinkling of homesteading rice practices. Most domestic rice farms in the United States are monocultures that rely heavily on fossil fuel-driven mechanized cultivation and harvesting processes, and chemical sprays and fertilizers. Their proposed systems on the other hand are ecologically beneficial and symbiotic, adaptable to otherwise inaccessible farmland (low-lying wet clay soils), void of chemical inputs, and after initial excavation of the paddy areas, non-reliant on fuel-driven tools and machines. Arsenic is not an issue in our rice. Continue reading →
The Guardian are warning of an ecological armageddon due to the data published in a study released yesterday which shows that insect populations have declined by over 75% in the last quarter century.
“Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth [but] there has been some kind of horrific decline,” said Prof Dave Goulson of Sussex University, UK, and part of the team behind the new study. “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”
Insects are one of the most crucial elements in the global ecosystem as vital pollinators and as a food source for animals further up the food chain such as bats, birds and amphibians. The research was carried out in Germany which has been a popular location for recent studies on entomology with specific focus on the decline of pollinators. We have written before about the role of widespread pesticide use in the decline of insect population. Although researchers in this most recent study were unable to confirm the exact impact of pesticide use on the mass extinction of insects, other similar and more specific field studies have confirmed that there is a causal link between the two.
It is becoming more and more clear with every passing day that our current agricultural practices that require enormous chemical inputs and the clearing of natural wildlife refuges cannot be continued. Large scale industrial agriculture, rather than feeding the world is killing it. Once we exceed the ecological tipping point of an ecosystem, irreversible collapse is imminent.
You can read the full study on which the Guardian article was based article HERE
We posted last week about a study carried out on bee populations in NNY and the effects that pathogens and parasites are having on bee populations in the region, however it seems as though bee health is the flavour of the month as another, much larger study has just been released which studied the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on honey bees and wild bees. While this is not the first study of its kind, and it largely confirms what we already knew, it is more comprehensive than previous lab-based studies which have indicated that neonicotinoid pesticides cause considerable harm to bee populations and health.
Salvage capitalism, ecological assemblages, and precarity… These are a few concepts that Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing fleshes out in The Mushroom At the End of the World, a genre bending book that tracks the global economy by way of the Matsutake mushroom.
As a farmer, I have noticed that my own ways of thinking and seeing the world have shifted with each passing season. I have felt something akin to love for an animal that I knew would one day be dinner, have felt tremendous connection to invisible soil critters and life webs as I hoed through pea patches. Social scientists refer to this process as affect, the suggestion that other-than-human-beings (plants, animals, earth elements) can impact and shape our ways of being. Continue reading →
Monsanto’s Roundup is facing increasing legal pressure with it’s active ingredient being labeled as potential carcinogen. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s marquee product, Roundup, is coming under fire from hundreds of legal challenges across the U.S., with individuals alleging that the herbicide is carcinogenic and linked to cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Whether the cases pay out for plaintiffs remains to be seen. But at the very least, they represent a big opportunity for litigators, with some thinking “glyphosate” could become a legal buzzword on par with asbestos.
The article suggests that the increasing legal cases against Monsanto is related to a recent change in the statute of limitations that allows individuals 2 years to file a lawsuit after they are aware of a possible health concern. Over the course of the next few weeks and months the number of cases good be in the thousands.
It’s hopeful trend in the longstanding legal battle farm workers and communities have been waging against the biotech giant.
Misleading title perhaps… but for those of you that are curious about seed production, consider checking out this series of tutorials by Martina Widmer et Sylvie Seguin from the Coopérative Longomaï and the Forum Civique Européen.
Beautifully captured, this series takes you through all the stages of seed production for 32 different crops.
There are a ton of great books out there on seed saving, but it can be a bit of a challenge to find such consistent and well documented video tutorials.
And if you want a little more inspiration for why you might consider saving seed, have a look at this lovely post by greenhorns contributor Sophie Mendelson.
Hey, we mostly all know by now that trees are pretty nifty things. But, did you know that some scientists are using the migration patterns of glowing geckos to prove just how important trees are in the protection of both flora and fauna on your farm?
What better way to show that climate change is adversely affecting the environment than to find a really cute reptiles, dust them with glowing powder and watch them move around at night.
The research found the geckos can identify habitat at 40 metres away, but not 80 metres away, suggesting that the loss of trees would reduce the amount of habitat for many species and reduce connectivity of already fragmented landscapes for some migrating species.
Yep, yep, if you were thinking of dropping a few acorns in the ground, or perhaps planting a hedge next to that old field next spring, know that the geckos (among others) around the country will rejoice.
The Greenhorns, a nonprofit dedicated to young agrarians, is updating one of America’s oldest ag publications.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Long before Martha Stewart printed her seasonal gardening chores on the first pages in each issue of Martha Stewart Living, The Old Farmer’s Almanac outlined the farm-related tasks for any given month in a not dissimilar tone.
“Milch cows should receive especial attention at this season. Do not let them—or, in fact, any of the cattle—stay out too much in the cold, raw wind,” advises The Old Farmer’s Almanac from March 1892. As for the rest of the month, “This is a good time to decide which crops you had better plant; those which are best adapted to your soil, of course, should be the ones.”
However bossy, The Old Farmer’s Almanac is still a beloved and trusted guide—my grandparents kept a copy in the TV room of their farmhouse long after their own milch cows were sold, and my stepfather tucks the annual volume on the dictionary stand in his. But the folksy mix of weather forecasts, planting advice, astronomical and astrological data, recipes, and various articles (the 2017 edition includes a story titled “How to Woo on the Web”) has a very particular audience.
“Our mission is to promote the next generation of young agrarians, and we do that through mixed media,” said Laura del Campo, director of The Greenhorns, a grassroots nonprofit devoted to recruiting, promoting, and supporting a new generation of young farmers. A new take on The Old Farmer’s Almanac—called, rightly, The New Farmer’s Almanac—is one of the organization’s catalyzing contributions to the conversation about where agriculture is headed in the next 20 years. The upcoming issue—which was just bumped from this month to December, giving you extra time to add it to your Black Friday or Cyber Monday gift-shopping list—is focused on the notion of the commons as it relates to agriculture.
And if The Old Farmer’s Almanac seems old-fashioned—it was founded in 1792—that’s not the half of it.
“The almanac as a form is actually much older than The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” said The New Farmer’s Almanac Vol. III lead editor, Nina Pick. There is, for example, the Babylonian Almanac, which dates back to the first millennium BCE and detailed the relative auspiciousness of each day of the year for any endeavor of ordinary life—including activities related to food, health, travel, and business. In the first century ACE, Greek writer Ptolemy connected celestial movements with future weather patterns. By the Middle Ages, people saw little difference between predicting the movements of the stars and tides and predicting the future for purposes of divination. In other words, you could read your horoscope in medieval almanacs—just as you can today.
The New Farmer’s Almanac engages with an ancient form by including these traditional elements while also pushing ahead into new territory.
Pick said the new publication is “drawing on a very old, traditional form, and while keeping the integrity of this old form, we’re also radicalizing it—bringing in ideas that are more revolutionary, more radical—to have these conversations with a new agrarian movement.”
Contributions come from farmers young and old, activists, economists, poets, ecologists, and a former Russian literature professor. One contributor, Elizabeth Henderson, has been an organic farmer since 1980 and is two weeks away from celebrating the end of her 28th season at Peacework Organic CSA—which she says is the oldest CSA in New York State north of Long Island. She has contributed to The New Farmer’s Almanac for two years, and the latest volume includes two more of her essays: one on GMOs and another on raising the minimum wage for farmworkers.
“My position is that if we want to have an agriculture that is worth sustaining we have to find a way to pay the people who work on our farms living wages—not just minimum wage—so it’s a respected profession that people are anxious to get into,” she said.
There is a strong anti-GMO theme running throughout the volume, Pick said, and support of local and alternative economies. Henderson, for her part, said she has been able to sustain her farm for so many years by building and relying on networks of social capital. The members of Peacework, for example, contributed money to the Genesee Land Trust to purchase the farm’s land.
“That’s what we need to build—cooperation and a solidarity economy,” she said. “Because the regular capitalist marketplace isn’t paying us enough.”
In addition to expert essays and practical illustrations of lunar cycles, what makes the almanac so unique as a form is how it also makes space for beauty, as well as the ineffable qualities of life captured most compellingly in art. This, too, is radical, Pick said.
“Drawing attention to presence, to the movement of seasons, to land, to seeds, to the beautiful details in nature is a radical action in a cultural moment that is completely dominated by screens and lack of presence, lack of commitment to nature, lack of intimacy with place and with earth,” she said.
Poet Douglass DeCandia was eager to contribute to the third volume because “I feel that The New Farmer’s Almanac is giving voice to the people who are coming to agriculture to help heal the land, ourselves, and our communities.”
What the almanac as a form can do—and what The New Farmer’s Almanac does—is unite two distinct human needs between the covers of one book.
“It speaks to the part of us that needs to read poetry and see beautiful artwork as we’re sitting around the fire on a winter’s evening,” Pick said, “and the part of us that needs to know, ‘OK, I wonder when there’s going to be high tide on June 20? When is the moon going to be full in December? And where can I buy my seeds?’ ”
“The almanac, out of all the literary genres, offers this beautiful bridging of body and soul and a real integration of the two,” she said. “We can’t be here on Earth as one without the other.”
-Sarah McColl has written for Yahoo Food, Bon Appétit, and other publications. She’s based in Brooklyn, New York. This piece was created for Takepart, published on November 6, 2016.
Respected Internet explorers and seekers of Harmony with Nature; welcome to this entry portal, introducing you to our work at the Ha’iku Aina Permaculture Initiative (also known as HAPI).
The project, as we see it, is a way of applying principles of agroforestry and permaculture in an area of rainforest on this beautiful island in the South Pacific Ocean.
Integrating principles and wisdom of native Hawaiian spiritual culture, we are aspiring to create a model of soil renewal, reforestation, and human interaction with nature in a paradigm of respect, harmony, and adherence to the natural law. Welcome to our vision and our world. We hope you will find something here that can serve and inspire you as well.
(In the Hawaiian Language, which is filled with mysteries and hidden meanings, “HA” represents the Breath of Life – The Spirit, “I” represents The Self, and “KU” means “rising upright” it is the name also given to the Rising Sun. So Hai’ku, the name of the place where our project is located can be said to represent The True Self Standing Upright in Spirit).
Kiva and Greenhorns working together to help small farmers grow their businesses
Katrina and Keely, Founders of Tinyfield Farm in Brooklyn, NY
The Greenhorns and Kiva are working together to help farmers access the capital and customers they need to successfully grow their businesses. Over the next few months, The Greenhorns will host a series of articles and podcasts about how farmers can benefit from a 0% interest, crowdfunded loan from Kiva at various stages in their business’ lifecycle.
Imagine the perfect growing season for your farm. It’s probably a warm, sunny one and the frost stayed away long enough for you to complete your harvest. You’re popular at your farmers markets, always selling out, and your delivery van didn’t break down once! People are raving about your produce: they’re writing great reviews and are signing up for your CSA.
It’s the type of season that fills you with pride.
Now imagine a season where things start to go wrong. The weather takes a turn for the worse and a field gets flooded, your delivery van breaks down on the way to market, the birds are more numerous than usual and are destroying your food…The list goes on and on.
Running a farm can be a stressful affair, especially when it comes to dealing with uncertainty.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Hundreds of farmers have found peace-of-mind by raising 0% interest capital for their businesses from Kiva, a nonprofit that supports U.S. entrepreneurs.
Since 2012, Kiva has helped hundreds of farmers raise over $2 million in funding – all without charging a single cent of interest or fees.
As a nonprofit, Kiva is dedicated to increasing access to capital for business owners who need it the most: people who are unable to raise money for their business from traditional sources, like banks.
With 8,000 small business loan applications rejected in the U.S. every day, more and more entrepreneurs are turning to alternative sources of financing, and Kiva is here to help.
Kiva is a crowdfunding platform like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, except instead of donations or purchases, the “crowd” makes 0% interest loans to entrepreneurs fundraising on the platform.
Kiva’s “crowd” is made up of 1.5 million supportive lenders around the world, many of whom lend locally and become business’ new customers, brand ambassadors and fans.
Like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, entrepreneurs create a campaign where they tell their story and why they’re raising money. Unlike Indiegogo and Kickstarter, entrepreneurs on Kiva have a 90% public funding success rate.
Even better, farmers have a 98% funding success rate on Kiva!
Over the next few months, The Greenhorns will post a series of articles and podcasts about how a Kiva loan can support at different stages in a farm’s lifecycle. These posts will be anchored in stories of real entrepreneurs, who have grown their business through Kiva.
Theo, Co-Owner of Helios Farms Liz, Co-Owner of Happy Hollow Farm
These entrepreneurs are people like Liz, co-owner ofHappy Hollow Farm, who borrowed $10,000 to build three high tunnels that extended her growing season; and Theo, co-owner of Helios Farms, who borrowed $5,000 to help purchase a refrigerated trailer to serve as a butcher shop and walk-in cooler.
More than just capital, Liz and Theo had 337 people from Kiva’s community lend to them! These entrepreneurs now have larger networks of people who believe in them and their businesses.
This is the power of Kiva. Kiva’s community of lenders truly believes in supporting small business owners and shows so by expecting only the money they lent in return for their investment.
Every farmer has their off-days, and Kiva is here to help them realize more perfect ones.
Check in again next week for a new story, and to learn more about Kiva, visit us.kiva.org/greenhorns or email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a recent ECONOMIST article, the future of agriculture is controlled by computers, genetic manipulation, big data, and the assumption that we humans know what is going on with soil-plant relationships (*sarcasm*). This article reads scarily of science fiction.
“Farms, then, are becoming more like factories: tightly controlled operations for turning out reliable products, immune as far as possible from the vagaries of nature. Thanks to better understanding of DNA, the plants and animals raised on a farm are also tightly controlled. Precise genetic manipulation, known as “genome editing”, makes it possible to change a crop or stock animal’s genome down to the level of a single genetic “letter”. This technology, it is hoped, will be more acceptable to consumers than the shifting of whole genes between species that underpinned early genetic engineering, because it simply imitates the process of mutation on which crop breeding has always depended, but in a far more controllable way.”
There is a deadline this Friday for getting signed up for a special Monarch Habitat EQIP contract that’s very different from the normal. You don’t have to be a producer, it’s not a rental payment but an incentive for seeding so it’s a one-time payment. So, anyone with an odd half acre minimum (like where farmstead building have come down but it’s not in row crop) can qualify for this assistance on paying for seed. The land doesn’t have to have a cropping history. You just have to get signed up by Friday to get into the pool.
There is especially interest in signing up areas along the band of counties, two on either side of I-35 through MN, IA, MO, that is dubbed the “I-35 corridor” (which doesn’t mean attracting butterflies to get smashed on the window, it’s just a landmark) where they’re trying to boost the amount of food plants for larvae to assist the monarch migration north to Canada and the generations back south to Mexico.
Get to your local NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) office to find out more details.