the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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stay local but stay informed

Interested to know what’s going on in the global agrarian movement? We do our best to cover stories from across the globe, but… there’s a lot going on. One way we keep informed on all of the work of our fellow farmers is through La Via Campesina.

La Via Campesina is the international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity. It strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture and transnational companies that are destroying people and nature.

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call for film submissions for change making tool-kits

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Real Food Films is calling for filmmakers to submit projects by April 1st that correspond to the themes of:

  • Crafting Public Policies for Public Health: Taking on Big Soda
  • Building Power with Food Workers
  • Tackling Climate Change Through Food

Selected films will be included in their 2017 Organizing Toolkits, which will be jam-packed with educational materials for groups and individuals interested in working in food system reform.


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support the young farmer success act

Hey friends, Last month, Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and John Faso (R-NY) reintroduced the Young Farmer Success Act (H.R. 1060), a bill to provide student loan forgiveness to young farmers.
This is an initiative which could have a very positive impact, not only on current farmer, but by encouraging more young folks to join us in the field.
Tell your representative’s that this is an important issue! Take a moment to head over to the National Young Farmers Coalition to sign on.


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what an english sheep farmer has to say about rural america

Wood Farm Barn Rustic Weathered Old Barn Wood

“But for my entire life, my own country has apathetically accepted an American model of farming and food retailing, mostly through a belief that it was the way of progress and the natural course of economic development. As a result, America’s future is the default for us all.

It is a future in which farming and food have changed and are changing radically — in my view, for the worse. Thus I look at the future with a skeptical eye. We have all become such suckers for a bargain that we take the low prices of our foodstuffs for granted and are somehow unable to connect these bargain-basement prices to our children’s inability to find meaningful work at a decently paid job.”

James Rebanks in the New York Times op-eds last week explaining why the stakes are so high, but missing all the reasons to hope… (This is the part where we say, YOU, Greenhorns! From your draft-powered farms to your new resilient corporative models, there are a lot of new energy in rural America. And, thank you!)


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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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talkin healthcare for farmers

Farmer Taylor Hutchinson photo credit: Kathleen Masterson/VPR

Taylor Hutchinson – photo credit: Kathleen Masterson/VPR

Folks, this is a pretty important conversation!

Already on the margins of income, new farmers face an especially challenging prospect when it comes to budgeting for health insurance.

The good people over at Vermont Public Radio recently did a show on the difficulties of trying to navigate the world of health care for farmer businesses.

UVM rural sociologist and researcher Shoshanah Inwood says when they asked farmers about issues they faced she expected to hear about cost of land, inputs, neighbors, but was surprised to learn that health care was on all the participants minds.

“The number one issue facing farmers was the cost of health insurance. They identified that as the biggest threat to their farm,” she said.

“Well, how many people know a farmer that has an injury? Or a farm family that has a chronic health issue? Or a mental health issue?’ And everybody’s hand goes up,” Inwood said. “And that’s the one issue we really never talk about, are some of those social needs that farm families have.”

Let’s just say this now: health care as a right not a privilege!

You can hear the VPR interview with farmer Taylor Hutchinson (Footprint Farm) and read the full article here 

 


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“ditching NAFTA” may hurt american farmers, but which ones?

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/515380213/515638250

NPR’s The Salt spoke to American farmers growing products (strawberries) in and outsourcing their products (milk, powdered) to Mexico. And no doubt, these industrial farmers will either pay more to import and export their crops and could lose potential markets. Given, however, that NAFTA’s effect on small and medium farms in this country– which we rarely mentioned in the discussion– has been largely detrimental, and NAFTA’s effect on small farmers in Mexico has been unequivocally disastrous, we wonder how this conversation could be extended to address small-scale sustainable agriculture.  Greenhorns, policy buffs, what do you think? Surely, it is not always true that what is bad for industrialized ag is good for sustainable ag, but….

What do you think, Greenhorns, specifically our economics buffs out there, what will it mean for young agrarians and small farms if the US “ditches NAFTA?”