the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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the future of farming in new england

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After a year that put large swaths of New England in prolonged severe to extreme drought, reporter Kori Feener devoted episode two of her new podcast series to ask: what is the future of farming in New England in an increasingly erratic climate? Feener speaks to our  a small farmer, the head of environmental studies at Brandies University, and our own Severine. The experts agree, the challenges are daunting but hardly insurmountable. Realistic and yet incredibly hopeful, this is great listening for long days of seeding in the greenhouse.

To that point, the new series, Under Reported, is sleek, smart, and incredibly engaging. Based out of Boston, Feener goes beneath the headlines to give voice to the personal narratives of today’s news cycle and draw attention to what the mainstream media often ignores. “Through in-depth interviews, and audio storytelling Under Reported connects with those on the front lines of change in America.”

We also highly recommend episode one, on Standing Rock, Sovereignty, and Erasure.


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seedy films

Misleading title perhaps… but for those of you that are curious about seed production, consider checking out this series of tutorials by Martina Widmer et Sylvie Seguin from the Coopérative Longomaï and the Forum Civique Européen.

Beautifully captured, this series takes you through all the stages of seed production for 32 different crops.

There are a ton of great books out there on seed saving, but it can be a bit of a challenge to find such consistent and well documented video tutorials.

And if you want a little more inspiration for why you might consider saving seed, have a look at this lovely post by greenhorns contributor Sophie Mendelson.

 


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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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an alternative route to farm financing

 

photo credit – Don Graham

Recently a friend of mine ran a pretty successful crowdfunding campaign to help secure a startup loan for her and her partners farm. I had heard of Kiva before (socially focused micro loans) but this was the first time I actually checked the organization out.

Crowd-sourcing has it’s detractors. For a while there it seemed like kickstarter was set to be the worlds largest purveyors of ‘knick-knacks with a purpose’. But given barriers to finance, they actually can be useful tools. It takes town and a community to grow food and it makes sense to have communities and people directly invested in the success of farms and businesses in their regions.

Kiva has a fairly simple concept and for folks that want to go around traditional forms of debt, ie banks, this could be another option. The part of this organization that makes the most sense is that there is 0% interest. Even though I am not a financial specialist, I can state pretty unequivocally that’s a pretty good percent rate for interest! It’s also a unique way to get community buy in for your farm without having to secure 1000 individual small contributions (and the paperwork and legalities that would entail).

Other social, agriculture, and community related crowd financing platforms exist as well. The slow money movement’s Beetcoin is a good example.

So, if you have been looking into different financing to help get things off the ground take a second to look into this organizations and some of the other successful small farms that have used the tool for funding their projects.

you can check Kiva’s site here


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the farmers aren’t alright

Rural View - Anton Novoselov

Rural View – Anton Novoselov

We recently ran a piece from VPR on farmers and the difficulties of accessing affordable health insurance – this is surely a topic that requires some serious thought and discussion in the years to come.

Wrapped up in our general well being is the taboo topic of mental health and as we invest our bodies, savings, and futures into the land, it can be a serious challenge to keep the spirit and mind at peace. Whether you are starting or running a business, changing fields, underpaid, or just exhausted, farming can be incredibly stressful work. So following on this theme we’d like to recommend the Ruminant’s recent episode on farmers and mental health.

The Ruminant is wonderful podcast and blog that discusses ideas, issues, and inspiration for today’s agrarians.

So give yourself and hour, pour glass of wine or warm a cup of milk. curl up and listen in on what is an important conversation for all of us to be having.

You can hear the episode here

 


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staple bedside reading material

journal-of-peasant-studies-greenhorns

“Women in Agriculture” by Filipino activist painter Federico (‘Boy’) Dominguez

Greenhorns, we want to point you in the direction of two texts on contemporary farm life!

The first is The Journal if Peasant Studies, a publication that focuses rural politics and development. If you’re a farmer, researcher, activist, or just plain curious about the breadth of the agrarian perspectives this is a great starting point!

You can download the 44th edition free here.

Next, we would like to give a shout out to our very own publication: the 3 Volume of The New Farmers Almanac. We’re pretty proud of this compendium of agrarian life, which focuses on the commons and features writings, illustrations, thoughts and musings from 120 farming and ranching contributors.

You can order your very own here.

more reasons why bees are awesome

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L0008282 The drawings of a bee and its parts.

Bees are awesome. Full stop. Yet here’s more reasons to marvel at our bewinged friends: despite their tiny little brains, they can adapt their behavior, make use of “tools”, and solve more complex problems than we humans originally thought. All with the help of fellow bees or puppets.

Yes, you heard right. Puppets!

In findings recently published in Science, cognitive scientist Clint Perry demonstrated that bees could learn to roll a ball to a designated location in order to receive a delicious reward of sugar water. And if they couldn’t work it out themselves?

If a bee couldn’t figure out how to get the reward, a researcher would demonstrate using a puppet — a plastic bee on the end of a stick — to scoot the ball from the edge of the platform to the center.

“Bees that saw this demonstration learned very quickly how to solve the task. They started rolling the ball into the center; they got better over time,” says Perry.

What’s more, bees watching their cohorts receive these rewards would then adapt their behavior and find ways to get that sweet sugar water faster and more efficiently.

“It wasn’t monkey see, monkey do. They improved on the strategy that they saw,” says Perry. “This all shows an unprecedented level of cognitive flexibility, especially for a miniature brain.”

Click HERE to read or listen to NPR’s story on these smarty bees. They even suggest bees could learn to fetch!