the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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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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coop 57: is it possible to undertake projects outside the market?

Greenhorns- this is a model to watch! Coop 57 gathers organizations from different fields with the aim of promoting a financial model based on ethics, solidarity and self-management that represent an alternative to traditional banking. Coop 57 offers loans and subsidies for the co-operative partners to be able to develop feasible projects that rest on sustainable development, labor rights and service to society. The partners decide which projects will contribute to a new model of “market”. One built upon social networks that allow people to have direct control of what is done with their savings. The difference between “micro-lending” and Coop 57 is that Coop 57 loans incur “social” interest rather than monetary.

Since January 2005, loans worth more than 10 million euros have been granted to projects in the social Catalan (Spain) economy directly tied to the promotion of cooperativism, employment, ecological sustainability, culture and education.. These monies have funded specialized schools, publishers, child care centers, social centers, bicycle repair projects, guerilla theater and street education.

To read more of this interview between Amy Franceschini of Futurefarmers and Javier Perez of Esosecha organic farm, CLICK HERE! 

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farm advocacy 101

upcoming webinar from RAFI USA


Farm Advocacy 101
Tuesday, March 11th, 3:00 – 3:45 pm ET
>> Click here to register.

Sitting across the table from a banker or a loan officer is often intimidating and scary, especially when the farm is on the line. Who can farmers depend on to sit on their side of the table and provide guidance, or at least act as a witness, a note-taker, a second set of eyes and ears? Since the Farm Crisis of the 1980s, farm advocates have helped farmers navigate the maze of regulations that govern agriculture and access to farm credit. Continue reading

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a young farmer designing/running a profitable perennial farm

For those of you out there  interested in permaculture and needing camaraderie in the young farmers growing perennials for a living realm, meet Grant Schultz of Versaland. He’s transforming a 145 acre corn and soybean farm in Iowa into a broad acre perennial farm, capturing grants from the USDA,  implementing farm hack strategies (electric tractor), and offering workshops.

grant schultz1

He was recently interviewed on the Permaculture Voices Podcast. Click to learn more about Grant and how he’s making it all happen.


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food business planning 101

Fare Resources is a Bay Area-based food and farm business consultancy building strong communities through food business consulting, company fare, and education. In March we are launching a 10-class business planning series for start-up and new food business entrepreneurs. In this series we will guide you through the process of writing a business plan and making your lofty IDEA a practical, possible REALITY. We feel strongly about offering business planning services at a fraction of the cost of the consulting work we do.  Continue reading

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maine grain alliance


The Maine Grain Alliance seeks applications to award mini-grants of $200 – $1,000 to fund need-based technical assistance (TA) that will help grain-based business owners secure economic opportunities in Maine.  A total of $2500 will be awarded in this round of grants. 

For more information about the Maine Grain Alliance and its other programs, please visit  The Maine Grain Alliance is a 501c3 non-profit organization.  This technical assistance grant program is made possible by a donor-advised grant program at the Maine Community Foundation.

For more information about the request for proposals email Please email completed proposals to: Application Deadline: August 30th 5:00 pm. Awards Announcement: September 20th.


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farm business class

Registration is now open for the Vermont New Farmer Project farm business class Growing Places.


This Summer:
Growing Places for aspiring and start-up farmers
Location: Vital Communities offices, White River Junction, VT
Time: 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Dates: June 24, July 8, July 22, & August 5
Fess: $100-$135
Registration Deadline: June 10; early discounts available for registrations by May 31.

This four session course introduces new and aspiring farmers to important topics, resources and services integral to getting their farm started off right.  Participants will learn about the cornerstones of farm business development—goal setting and decision making, accessing capital and financial management, exploring markets, and learning about the resources and services available to support beginning farmers.  Continue reading


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