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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cider day celebrations in somerville – october 19th

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South Street Farm is glorious in the height of fall, and to make it even better, this coming Thursday, October 19th, they are throwing a Cider Day Party! Whether you’ve been to the farm many times or have no idea where it is, you are more than welcome and they would love to celebrate the end of their growing season with you!

Cider Day Party will be a festival of all things fall:
– Apple cider pressing
– Free food (first come first served!)
– Face painting
– Live music
– Games, crafts, prizes, and more

They will also be celebrating their volunteers and unveiling their brand new greenhouse with a ceremonial ribbon cutting so it is sure to be a day full of festivities.
South Street Farm is located at 138 South Street, Somerville MA 02143.
Check out the South Street Farm Facebook page for more details.


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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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help puerto rico get back on it’s feet in the aftermath of the hurricane maria – send seeds!

Hurricane Maria

credit: US Department of Defence

Dear young farmers,

If you are feeling in this circus of crises that our response to the common plight of a planet in an un-natural spin defines us as a society, and that the scar tissues formed over the wounded parts of ourselves and our lands— then perhaps you will resonate with the campaign undertaken by a number of our favorite organic seed companies to send free seeds down to the farmers and gardeners of Puerto Rico.

YOUR EXTRA seeds, or your mothers’ and aunties and favorite foodie customers extra seeds— are most valued by the Puerto Ricans struggling to rebuild their resilience.

If you have a list of folks or a blog or an instagram, or a CSA pickup shed— perhaps you can post this information so that more benevolent biodiverse, material and solidaritous energy can flow down to the hurricane islands.

Seeds (non-gmo, nutritionally dense crops, fast growing, low maintenance, pest or disease resistant, and easy to save seeds) can be sent directly to the farmers on the ground in Puerto Rico via this mailing address:

PUERTO RICO RESILIENCY FUND
Calle Salva #657
Urb. Miramar
San Juan PR 00907
(preferred)
-or-
961 Bergen St, Apt 4B
Brooklyn, NY, 11216

There are a number of other ways you can help if sending seeds is not an option:

  1.  Donate to one of the trusted organizations listed at the end of this post.
  2.  Donate food (fresh, prepared or canned) and drinking water (preferably water filters, specifically those used for camping) directly.  These types of items can be mailed to:

Fondo Resiliencia Puerto Rico, 

Calle Oneill #135, 

Hato Rey, PR, 00918

  1. Donate machinery/equipment: farming tools, generators, chainsaws, wood chippers, solar equipment, 5 gal. gas tanks (empty), etc. – these larger items can be sent to the same address as the seeds.

Puerto Rico Agroecology Funds post Hurricane Maria:

http://www.americasforconservation.org/mx-pr-resilience-fund

https://www.gofundme.com/rescue-prs-sustainable-agriculture

https://www.gofundme.com/5markets

http://www.desdemihuerto.com/so/dLw_kaEP#/main


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the story of the texas xit ranch

XIT_cowboys

XIT Cowboys

In the 1880s, the XIT ranch was the largest range in the world under fence and it all laid in the Texas Panhandle. It’s three million acres sprawled across ten counties in Texas. The state of Texas, the biggest state in the union, used the sale of the ranch to pay for it’s red granite capitol, still the largest state capitol on the North American Continent. The Austin structure still houses the Lone Star state government more than a century later, and is second in size only to the capitol building at Washington, D.C.

The story of the ranch is fascinating and the museum brings history to life. If you don’t get a chance to visit the museum you can read more about that history HERE.


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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.