“We live and die by chemical agriculture”. In the age of rampant use of chemicals such as the dreaded dicamba, truer words have perhaps never been spoken. Zachary Michael Jack, Iowa View contributor recently writes in the Des Moines Register about stark contrast between pesticide and herbicide spraying in the 80’s during his childhood versus the situation today. In times past, farmers applied chemicals to their crops when the winds was calm, and neighbours knew even then to bring their children inside away lest they be exposed to these toxic clouds.
“Sadly, the common-sense, Golden Rule honor code that held sway in the fields each spring in my 1980s Iowa boyhood no longer holds. And for those of us who still live on the farm but don’t engage in chemical-intensive large-scale farming, the results are both toxic and terrifying. Farmers now routinely spray their seasonal herbicides in winds so fierce even private pilots think twice about taking off. We watch as wind-driven clouds of chemicals drift across our fields and into our children’s lungs, onto our plants and trees, and, through the cracks and fissures of our old farmhouses, right into our very homes.”
As formerly rural populations have become increasingly urbanised, chemical hungry crops have become the dominant life-form and rural human populations are suffering from higher mortality levels as a result. Jack goes as far as describing those relocating to urban and suburban areas as rural refugees. And yet he does not call for these farmers, generally good, down to earth people, to cease their spraying, but rather makes a poignant plea that they reinstate the golden rule honor code out of concern not for himself, but for the rural children who have no choice but to breathe this chemical laden air.
Click HERE to read the full article on the Des Moines Register.
Growing Magazine recently published a good examination of community finance, community resilience and community agriculture – the CSA model. They profile 3 different farms: Brookford Farm in NH, Norwich Meadows Farm NY, and Prairierth Farm IL, all of whom are practicing a modified, diversified form of CSA and are thriving! Continue reading
The Common Friars are men and women, married and single, lay and ordained, of an emerging monastic order in the Episcopal Church, seeking to understand and live out what it means to be a Christian disciple today. They do this by placing the utmost importance on being connected to the land, to each other, and to those on the margins of society. Their land that they steward and are connected to is the Good Earth Farm located in Athens. Ohio. They live and work together here and and contribute their individual talents and gifts to one another and to the broader community. Their actions are guided by the “Rule of Life” which is defined by poverty, joy and hospitality, prayer, work, the eucharist and meals and you can visit them in Ohio if you’re in the area!
Check out their blog and website HERE
The Quivira Coalition’s New Agrarian Program (NAP) is partnering with skilled ranchers and farmers to offer apprenticeships in regenerative agriculture. Together, they create opportunities for full-immersion learning from expert practitioners. This program is designed to support the next generation of food producers and targets those with a sincere commitment to life at the intersection of conservation and regenerative agriculture. NAP mentors are dedicated stewards of the land; they practice regenerative methods of food or fiber production, provide excellent animal care, and are skilled and enthusiastic teachers. Continue reading
Calypso Farm & Ecology Center (Fairbanks, AK) is now recruiting applications for their 2018 Farmer Training Program, a 5-month immersive residential programs. The Program runs from May 7th to September 29th, 2018 and is designed to equip participants to become self-reliant farmers through immersion in all aspects of farm operations, working alongside experienced farmers for an entire Alaskan growing season. Calypso’s unique setting also provides exposure and experience with farm-based environmental education, community events, and a range of homesteading skills. The following is just a selection of the skills covered over the season:
- Seeding and caring for greenhouse transplants
- Prepping the field for planting
- Planting and direct seeding
- Managing soil fertility
- Weed and pest management
- Caring for farm animals
- Operating a CSA
- Running a farm stand and selling to local restaurants
- Working safely, using Natural Balance
- Whole Farm Business Planning
- Blacksmithing & Wood Carving
- Wool Processing
- Tool Making and Maintenance
This program is particularly good for beginning farmers as it includes a ‘Beginning Farmer’s Bonus’. Any participant who completes the entire program (including completing their whole farm plan) will be eligible for a bonus payment after completion of the program, intended to support any future farming plans. Farmer Bonus’s are based on need as well as program participation.
Students can choose to take this program as a 6 credit course through the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Ortensi Farm Day is part of HMI’s Open Gate Learning Series. Open Gates are peer-to-peer action-based learning days with short presentations and small group exercises geared for participants to share discoveries and management techniques with guidance from experienced facilitators and producers. Holistic Management works with nature, not against it. The day will include discussions about planet and animal-friendly management techniques that lead to richer soil, improved water containment, nutrient-dense food, more successful farms and ranches, and thriving communities.
Register HERE before November 3rd to take part in this on-the-ground learning day, connect with others who care about a healthy food system and help strengthen your local communities.
This workshop takes place on October 18th – 19th at Adams State University. It is led by Dr. Allen Williams, a champion of the grass-fed beef industry as well as cutting edge grazing methodology. Dr. Williams helps restore natural soil water retention and reduce runoff, increase land productivity, enhance plant and wildlife biodiversity, and produce healthier food. In fact, he developed many of the original grass-fed protocols and technologies now adopted by the grass-fed sector.
This workshop focuses on the connection between cattle management and healthy soils as part of the local food economy. The Field Day on the second day focuses on details important to local cattle producers in managing and assessing their operations, maximizing quality, and ensuring soil and human health.
To see the full programme click HERE
To register, click HERE
The Livestock Conservancy are holding their annual conference in Williamsburg VA from November 9th-12th 2017. The Livestock Conservancy, is a national nonprofit which plays an important role in educating the public about heritage livestock breeds on both a national and international scale.
Speakers include Deborah Niemann-Boehle, a heritage breed farmer and author of three books on sustainable living, Kathy Donovan who produces award winning heritage wool from her flock of Karakul sheep, and Steve Edwards of Gwaltney Frontier Farm, Inc , a non profit breed conservation program in VA. There are full-day and pre-conference clinics which cover a vast array of topics, from heritage breed selection to social media marketing and everything in between.
There will be a networking reception on Thursday evening before the pre-conference intensive clinics begin on Friday morning, these include:
- All Things Sheep (Full-day)
- Using Entertainment, Education, And Public Service to Promote Heritage Horses (Full-day)
- The Natural Home Dairy
- Maximizing Your Products and Marketing Heritage Breed Wool
- Chicken Processing
- Social Media Marketing Options for Your Breeds
- The Tricky Business of Breed Registries and Associations
The conference workshops include:
Grass Based Cattle Geese – What Makes Them Special | Managing Poultry Health Before Problems Happen | Dutch Belted Cattle | Maternal Breed Selection | Gardening with Chickens | Strategies to Protect Your Favorite Breed for the Future | The Shocking Truth About Electric Fences | Small Ruminant Health and Biosecurity | Selecting the Correct Forage for your Ruminate | Value-Added Meat Goat Production…and more!
The conference has much to offer greenhorns. If you would like your rare breed meat to be featured, the Livestock Conservancy encourages you to send business cards and flyers to Angelique (firstname.lastname@example.org). These can be shared with attendees during the kick-off banquet on Friday night. Your name and contact information will also be included in the conference packets that all attendees receive at check-in. There are also a number of volunteer opportunities available.
For more information about the conference or to register click HERE
This weekend, Friday August 25th – Saturday August 26th CCEE Livestock Educator Jason Detzel is running a 2 day hands on clinic on rotational grazing. Over the course of the weekend you will learn the practical skills necessary for implementing a rotational grazing system on your farm to improve the overall health and efficiency of your animals. Rotational grazing systems can also increase your profits by lowering feed costs, improving pasture swards, decreasing on farm labour requirements among a host of other benefits.
Bee colony loss is an increasingly serious issue for the entire beekeeping industry causing in some cases an unsustainable loss of 1/3 of beekeepers operations. In response to increasing levels of colony loss, the first ever survey of parasites and pathogens in regional bee colonies has just been carried out and released by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Programme. The survey participants included 31 beekeepers of all stripes, from hobbyists to commercial beekeepers. Project leader Emma Mullen, a Honey Bee Extension Associate with Cornell University, Ithaca, NY explains that “this project documents for the first time the levels of key parasites and viruses in commercial and hobby bee colonies in Northern New York”. The aim of the project was to contribute to regional knowledge of pathogens affecting bees, and to educate regional beekeepers about ways to protect against relevant pathogens relevant to protect against economic and colony loss. The replacement of a colony can cost between $100 and $200.
The New Agrarian Program at Quivira Coalition has some more really great apprenticeship openings in California and Colorado.
All the details below:
Eight-Month Ranching Apprenticeship in Chico, California Continue reading
Good Monday to you!
Here in the North East the weather seems hellbent on reminding us that its still winter… so when a job posting like this comes across our desks we feel obligated to share the warmth far and wide.
Most rural communities can trace their origin to some sort of food production. As industries come and go and we find ourselves headed back to the soil – to towns and villages that have been watching the population migrate in the opposite direction – we are reminded that food production can/is/will always be a vital part resilient communities.
And now a wonderful opportunity in Huntly, Scotland.
From the posting:
Town is the Garden: Gardener in Residence
Deveron Projects is an arts organisation based in the rural market town of Huntly, Scotland. Through creative critical work we aim to contribute to the social wellbeing of the town, connecting artists, communities and places. Deveron Projects has no building, instead the town is the venue; acting as studio, gallery and stage for artists of all disciplines invited from around the world to live and work here.
Through artist driven projects we explore, map, inhabit and activate new spaces and places around Huntly. We believe artists are cultural activists that can energise people and communities, adding vitality to our society. By utilising creative and playful processes art can be employed to untangle and overcome real-life challenges, invent and enact alternative possibilities, and help solve problems.
The Town is the Garden is a one-year creative horticultural programme aimed at improving Huntly’s potential to grow more of its own food and create a more sustainable local food economy. Through employing a Gardener in Residence we hope to develop Huntly into a garden town that celebrates locally grown produce.
It’s an ambitious project, but we’re certain there are some well callused greenhorns out there looking to dig into something like this.
You can find out more about this position here.