the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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merry merry men and maidens of the forest of dean

beet the bullly

Despite the brutish encroach of bailiffs and foresters, farming activists in the UK continue to squat the 40 acres of Yorkley Court Community Farm. Since 2012, forty or so residents have established a biodynamic farm and off-grid settlement of treehouses, greenhouses, and a “sphere of high energy improbability” in the Gloucestershire woodlands.

By all accounts, the rightful owners of the property died in the 1800s leaving no clear heirs to the land. The land had been largely neglected until 2012, when the activists set up shop. This past year, the solicitor trustees sold the land out from under them to a local business man who’d like to evict the residents of Yorkley Court and develop the woodland. Residents have no intention to yield to pressure to leave.

“Many protest sites see people parachute in for a purpose, the land isn’t quite so important,” says resident and unofficial spokesperson Frank White, “We have a connection to the land, one which is shared with the community. We’re taking unused land and living off grid. We’re not anti-this, or anti-that, we’re creating a new form of society, one that is healthy, one that can survive.”

Read the original article here and follow developments at the Yorkley Court Community Farm Facebook page.


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the classic american glyphosate meal

Go to a local fast food joint, get the classic American meal of a double bacon cheeseburger, fries and a soda and you are participating in a glyphosate-based food system. The cows (producers of the beef and milk for the processed cheese product) and the pigs (source of the bacon, all ate genetically modified Roundup Ready corn, soybeans and/or alfalfa.

The bun is made wheat that was sprayed with glyphosate just before harvest. The sweeteners in the bun, the ketchup, and the soda are made from genetically-modified corn or sugar beets. The fries are usually cooked in one or more of the following oils, cottonseed, canola and/or soy – all genetically engineered to resist death by Roundup. Even the bubbles in the soda come from genetically modified corn sprayed with glyphosate!

Currently, almost all non-organic animal products, processed foods, vegetable oils and lots of food additives depend on crops sprayed with glyphosate. To read more about glyphosate and it’s effects, click HERE!


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on decay: dental, moral, and otherwise

dental-31726_1280

In delightfully unsurprising news for conspiracy theorists, a recent paper published in PLOS Medicine Journal reveals a rather crooked historical alliance between the National Institute of Dental Research and the cane and beet sugar industry.

The distillation of the story is alarmingly familiar: federal health organization caves to pressure from big ag and industry groups, turning a blind eye to risk to Americans’ health.

Thousands of internal industry documents analyzed by the paper’s authors reveal that the Sugar Industry knew as early as 1950 that sugar was a key player in dental decay. In order to prevent dentists from doing what dentists arguably do best (handing out apples on Halloween?), trade organizations attempted to deflect attention from the sugar question towards research on enzymes that reduce dental plaque and a dubious vaccine against cavities.

The study notes that a whopping “78% of a report submitted to the NIDR by the sugar industry was directly incorporated into the NIDR’s first request for research proposals” for its National Caries Program (NCP), whose purported goal was to eliminate tooth decay in America. Meanwhile, the NIDR neglected to call for research that would potentially damage sugar industry interests, and, when the agency launched the NCP, it omitted this kind of research from its priorities.

The Sugar Industry responded to the paper by calling its tactics “‘a textbook’ play from the activist agenda.”

To which we say, “Carie on!”


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how big money buys off criticism

Robert Reich has a recent post called The Big Chill: How Big Money Is Buying Off Criticism of Big Money. It describes the subtle yet insidious ways in which big money controls forums in which conversations of change might otherwise take place, and the silence that is purchased from non-profits and universities who have wealthy donors to please.

Photo of Robert Reich

As Reich writes:

“It’s bad enough big money is buying off politicians. It’s also buying off nonprofits that used to be sources of investigation, information, and social change, from criticizing big money.”

It’s well worth reading. The allies we may think we have may have strings attached.


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labor, solidarity!

Baja labor leaders learned tactics from their efforts in U.S.

From the LA Times

Before Fidel Sanchez led protest marches this month against growers in Baja California, he fought for higher wages from tomato farmers in Florida.

Justino Herrera, who dons an Army fatigue jacket during labor talks, once led a work stoppage against an abusive labor contractor in Oregon.

Eloy Fernandez said he draws from his union organizing experience in California to keep angry protesters in San Quintin from resorting to violence.

“People get rowdy, but we don’t want that,” Fernandez, who helps run a makeshift camp of striking laborers outside a government building, said Thursday. “We just want to show our presence. To show the government that we are raising our voices. That’s how we did it over there.” Click HERE to read more!


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bill nye the science guy now supports monsanto?

“I went to Monsanto and I spent a lot of time with the scientists there, and I have revised my outlook. And I’m very excited about telling the world. When you’re in love, you want to tell the world.”   -Bill Nye

In his book Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, published just last November, Nye reiterated these points. His concern about GMOs centered mainly on unintended consequences of growing them over large expanses—he cited the example of crops engineered to resist herbicides, which have been linked pretty decisively to the decline of monarch butterflies, which rely on abundant milkweeds, which in turn have been largely wiped out in the Midwest by GMO-enabled herbicide use. Nye praised certain GMOs, such as corn engineered to repel certain insects, but concluded that “if you’re asking me, we should stop introducing genes from one species into another,” because “we just can’t know what will happen to other species in that modified species’ ecosystem.”

Now, Nye’s doubts have evidently fallen away like milkweeds under a fine mist of herbicide. In a February interview filmed backstage on Bill Maher’s HBO show (starting about 3:40 in the below video), Nye volunteered that he was working on a revision of the GMO section of Undeniable. He gave no details, just that he “went to Monsanto and I spent a lot of time with the scientists there.” As a result, he added with a grin, “I have revised my outlook, and am very excited about telling the world. When you’re in love, you want to tell the world!” Click HERE to read more!


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what nobody told me about small farming

Jaclyn Moyer, a small farmer and writer in Northern California, has an article at Salon on not getting by as a small farmer. She describes a situation familiar to many of us, that “90 percent of farmers in this country rely on an outside job, or a spouse’s outside job, or some independent form of wealth, for their primary income.”

Courtesy of the Farm Security Administration photo archive, Library of Congress.

Courtesy of the Farm Security Administration photo archive, Library of Congress.

She writes:

“On the radio this morning I heard a story about the growing number of young people choosing to become farmers. The farmers in the story sounded a lot like me — in their late 20s to mid-30s, committed to organic practices, holding college degrees, and from middle-class non-farming backgrounds. Some raise animals or tend orchards. Others, like me, grow vegetables. The farmers’ days sounded long but fulfilling, drenched in sun and dirt. The story was uplifting, a nice antidote to the constant reports of industrial ag gone wrong, of pink slime and herbicide-resistant super-weeds.

What the reporter didn’t ask the young farmers was: Do you make a living? Can you afford rent, healthcare? Can you pay your labor a living wage? If the reporter had asked me these questions, I would have said no.”
Read the rest of Jaclyn’s essay at Salon >>

We’d love to hear your comments on Jaclyn’s piece and your stories. How do you make farming work for you? Do you see outside employment as a long-term necessity or as temporary, a transition point from our modern day urban professions back to farming? What would most help you, as a new, small or someday-maybe farmer?

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