the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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its world food day!

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Today is world food day and the second day of Food Week of Action. World food day was established in 1945 on the anniversary of the launch of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Celebrated on the 16th of October each year, the purpose is to raise awareness of hunger and poverty and to inspire ideas for change, the ultimate goal is zero hunger. The FAO gives 8 reasons why we should all do what we can to achieve zero hunger:

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happy international day of rural women!

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credit: UN Women/Narendra Shrestha

The UN designated October 15th as international day of rural women in recognition of the crucial role that women and girls play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing. Rural women play an invaluable and significant role in food security, resource stewardship and and environmental sustainability. Although women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, in addition to the bulk to unpaid domestic and care work, women and girls in rural areas suffer more extreme levels of poverty. They also face gender related barriers to exiting poverty due to difficulties accessing credit, land and other essentials.

“Globally, with few exceptions, every gender and development indicator for which data are available reveals that rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women, and that they disproportionately experience poverty, exclusion and the effects of climate change.” – .un.org

The focus of International Day for Rural Women 2017 is: “Challenges and opportunities in climate-resilient agriculture for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.” Rural women and girls are disproportionately affected by by climate change events and conditions including access to natural resources and the consequences of climate change can often reinforce and intensify existing gender inequalities.

When women succeed, all aspects of society improve as a result. They play a key role in building community resilience and responding to climate-related disasters. They tend to make decisions about resource use and investments in the interest and welfare of their children, families and communities. When women are empowered to act as both economic and political actors, they influence policy decisions in the direction of provision of a public good and access to social infrastructure. All of these are crucial for  peaceful societies that be resilient in the face of disaster.

Today also marks the beginning of Food Week of Action, presented by the Presbyterian Hunger Programme – this year we are proud co-sponsors! Every day this week has a theme or action that you can take to make a real change in the world.

To read more about this year’s celebration at UN Women click HERE.


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traces of glyphosate found in ben & jerry’s icecream leads company to launch an organic range.

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credit: Daniel Acker/Getty Images 

The Health Research Institute (HRI) laboratories  recently reported that there were traces of glyphosate found in  13 out of 14 tubs of Ben & Jerry ice cream tested in the EU. The samples came from a range of countries including  the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Glyphosate is one of the most controversial of weedkillers and had been classified by the WHO as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. Although according to the New York Times, similar levels of glyphosate in B&J ice-cream have also been recorded in the US, scientists claim that the amounts found were “very low and not likely to pose a public health problem”. European consumers are becoming less and less tolerant of traces of poison in their food. There have been recent calls for a blanket ban on glyphosate at EU level.

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new resource: national sustainable agriculture oral history archive

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credit: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders

The National Sustainable Agriculture Oral History Archive is a collection of interviews with people who have been instrumental in the development and implementation of public policies to advance sustainable agriculture in the United States. It was started in 2015 and has been growing ever since. Several of the interviews are with key members of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and their interviews document the process of formation and evolution that has led to the NSAC that we know today. They also discuss the federal policy reforms NSAC, its allies, and predecessor coalitions have achieved over the past four decades.

To date there are 31 interviews available in the archive, most in a video format with accompanying written transcription. The plan for the next year involves conducting 8-10 more interviews featuring  several farmer/civil rights activists in the South among others.

Among the main topics covered in the interviews are:

  • The political and social context surrounding the initial federal policy efforts in the 1970s and 1980s to advance organic and sustainable agriculture;
  • The evolution of what became the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, from its early days as an informal network of grassroots organizations, to the more formal structure of regional Sustainable Agriculture Working Groups (SAWGs) in the 1990s, to the NSAC of today with its 120 organizations from around the country;
  • A review of the policy gains that support organic and sustainable agriculture achieved through federal Farm Bills from 1985 through 2014, including a discussion of where policy proposals fell short, despite the efforts of sustainable agriculture advocates;
  • What now? Exploration of priorities going forward that are needed to strengthen organic and sustainable farming and build a healthy food system.

Check out the archive HERE

The archive is housed at the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. The interviews were conducted by Ron Kroese (rkroese@visi.com), a senior fellow with the University’s Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems. 


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event: are rural communities doomed? changemakers say no!

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credit: japan society

As you may be aware, Japanese society is contending with the combined societal challenges of an ageing population, low birthrate, and the decline of primary and local industries in a highly globalised world. This trend has also led to a significant and rising level of inequality between urban and rural areas in Japan. While Japan may be the first country to have to contend with these challenges on such a large scale, these same issues are in the pipeline for all developed and developing nations, the US included. We now know that the average age of the US rural farmer is about 57, and yet there are significant barriers for the next generation of young farmers who wish to access land. We here at Greenhorns know this as well as anybody else, our mission is to support and motivate the young farmers movement!

In response to these challenges, the Japan Society and the Japan NPO Center have joined forces for Resilient and Vibrant Rural Communities in Japan and the U.S., and are bringing together leaders from Japan and the U.S. dedicated to the revitalization of rural areas and small towns experiencing economic stagnation and declining population. Leaders from Japan will visit West Virginia, Ohio and Nebraska in the first stage of the project. Through the sharing of best practices that build back community resilience and vibrancy, the project contributes to leadership development through a unique international learning exchange and experience, and strengthens the work and impact of the participants’ organizations and their respective communities.

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listen: episode 3 of the just food podcast

Listen to the latest episode of The Just Food Podcast. The 6-part podcast series covers a range of topics aimed at cultivating justice and health. They are produced by the Berkeley Food Institute in partnership with the UC Berkeley Advanced Media Institute at the Graduate School of Journalism. Episode 3 tells the story of the nation’s first sugar-sweetened beverage tax which came into law in 2014 in Berkeley. It examines how the tax and the revenue it generates are shaping the health of Berkeley residents today.

Listen to the other podcasts in the series HERE 


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rally keep the soil in organic! – oct 8th and 15th

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“Organic without soil is like democracy without people.”

     -Vermont Lieutenant Governor-elect David Zuckerman at the Rally In The Valley

The first of two rallies to keep the soil in organic takes place this Sunday October 8th at the Intervale Center (180 Intervale Rd) in Burlington VT. The second rally is being planned for Sunday, October 15th on the green at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. These are just two of dozens of rallies happening around the country this fall in solidarity with organic producers growing in, and caring for the soil.

Tractor parades at each rally will start rolling at noon, followed by brief speeches, local food, live music, and lively celebrations!

Speakers at the Intervalle rally include: Senator Bernie Sanders, Eliot Coleman, Lt. Governor David Zuckerman, Maddie Monty, Christa Alexander, Taylor Hutchison, Will Raap, Joe Tisbert and Pete Johnson.

Speakers at the Hanover rally include NOFA VT executive director Enid Wonnacott, farmers Roger Noonan, Lisa McCrory, Will Allen, Jake Guest, Dave Chapman, Karl Hammer, Michael Phillips and Davey Miskell

Please join us as we rally together to take back the National Organic Program (NOP) from corporate influence and reclaim the lost meaning of organic. Organic integrity has suffered in recent years as a flood of hydroponic vegetables and berries and products from animal confinement operations have forced their way into the Program. Join us in sending a strong message to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) that animal confinement and hydroponic production have no place in organic. Real organic is based on healthy soil and working with natural systems, not imitating and replacing them. We are preparing for a historic NOSB vote in November on reconfirming fertile soil as the foundation of organic farming.

Contacts:

Intervale: Davey Miskell (802) 318-0576 or Maddie Monty (802) 324-1580

Hanover: Dave Chapman (802) 299-7737 or Cat Buxton (802) 359-3330

To keep up to date on the “Keep the Soil in Organic” movement, click HERE.