the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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accelerating appalachia today on GH radio

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Accelerating Appalachia is a “word HUB for sustainable business,” providing training to, coordinate mentorship for, and encourage financial investment in organizations who are “solving big problems with their business models.” They work predominantly with women entrepreneurs, look to support students, and have even had farms in their accelerator program. If all of this sounds revolutionary for a business incubator, it is. What does this all actually look like on the ground? Tune into the Heritage News Network today at 4:00 PM to hear that and other questions answered on Greenhorns Radio.


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full scholarships for mediation training in the nys agricultural mediation program

 

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Recently, I had the opportunity to be part of a workshop discussion at the NOFA MA conference within which arose the idea that our farms can become centers and examples of social justice and fairness. (Heck yes!) In line with this idea, the New York State Agricultural Mediation Program is currently offering scholarships for mediation training, specifically to people with roots in the agrarian community. The scholarships are provided by the NYS Agricultural Mediation Program (NYSAMP) in order to train mediators who can help out in underserved, less-populated rural areas– and in particular, they need mediators who can serve Columbia, Greene, Ulster, and Sullivan counties.

The NYS Agricultural Mediation Program offers free statewide mediation services to farmers to resolve conflicts including neighbor complains, loans or debts, landlord disputes, and family succession.

These new scholarships are available for a four-day Basic Mediation Training (valued at $1250) and are for applicants who “are curious by nature, and empathic, able to see the good in people, even when people may be in the depths of a highly stressful conflict. Applicants need to be able to see several discrete perspectives or differences of opinions at a time and hold them without judgement.”

Applicants will be interviewed for scholarships. And, if chosen for the program, will be expected to attend the training in March at Common Ground and Dispute Resolution Services. Afterwards they will join an apprenticeship program where they will put their skills into practice and receive coaching.  Applicants must be committed to “giving their time and talents” back to the community and be available to serve as a volunteer mediator in Columbia, Greene, Ulster or Sullivan counties. Applicants need to commit to serving as a volunteer mediator for at least 6 mediations per year for two years. 

The scholarships are provided by the NYS Agricultural Mediation Program (NYSAMP) in order to train mediators who can help out in underserved, less-populated rural areas.

If you are ready to serve or if you know of someone, who you think would make a

great volunteer mediator to “nominate” please contact:

Common Ground for Columbia or Greene County
(518) 943 0523; or email us at info@commongroundinc.org

Dispute Resolution Services for Sullivan and Ulster Counties
Jolynn Dunn  845-551-2668

Applications are due by February 10th.


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the radically pragmatic idea of biomicry

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What is biomicry? In short, an idea that is at once completely revolutionary and also the epitome of conservative common sense. Our friends over at Kiss the Ground have a neat little blog piece this week giving you the rundown on the concept, change makers that are currently putting it into action, and some amazing numbers on the carbon in our world– what’s in the air and what should stay in the ground. Check it out!


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the conversation continues: hydroponics divorce people even further from the stewardship of the land

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This recent submission to our series on whether or not hydroponics should be considered organic comes from Joanna Storie, a Doctoral candidate in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences of Estonian University of Life Sciences. She takes a similar stance on hydroponics to our last contributor, adding that hydroponics are not sustainable agriculture in that they divert attention from strengthening rural economies and reinforce urban ways of being that divorce people further from the land.

Have something to add? Email submissions to greenhornsblog@gmail.com.

In your recent blog you asked the question on whether hydroponics is organic or not and I have to agree that it is not. The following statement sums it up for me:


“Hydroponics may be a fine way to grow food and it might be an important part of how cities feed themselves in the future, but it’s no more a form of sustainable agriculture than producing wood fiber in a laboratory is a form of sustainable forest management.”

It also worries me that Hydoponics divorce people even further from the idea of stewardship of the land– which is something that makes the urban areas increasingly vulnerable, because– even if they can produce food in the cities using hydroponic techniques– this will not be the sum total of their food supply.

Recently I submitted an abstract for a conference, which took the position against urban-centric ways of structuring our society, arguing that “rural social networks need to be seen as inherently valuable to the resilience of the whole region.”

I think the hydroponics fits into the urban 24/7 mindset, which values cheap food and devalues rural social network,  thus exacerbating the situation of removing people further from the knowledge of healthy food and healthy environments.


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raising hell(gate) in urban farming

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Throughout its seven years, Hellgate Farm has always done things a bit differently than other urban farms in New York City- from raising backyard chickens and housing an apiary, to producing its own hot sauce. Hellgate Farm is not your typical urban farm. Last season, crops were grown in over seven plots of land throughout Astoria and Long Island City, though Hellgate owned only one of them. The team has been able to develop partnerships with business owners and homeowners across Queens and convert unused growing spaces and backyards to successfully grow upwards of 70 crops this season, fill 30 weekly CSA orders, make and sell their own trio of hot sauces, and sell produce to local restaurants!

In 2017, Hellgate is exploring a new and less traveled business model in hopes of attaining maximum sustainability, profit, and community impact. Unfortunately, this means having to temporarily put the CSA aside.

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Like most urban farmers Rob McGrath, Hellgate’s owner, envisions everyone having access to clean, organic, and affordable produce. To this end, he is looking forward to improving the local food system by working with a large acreage organic farm in upstate New York. With more land Hellgate will be able to provide additional CSA shares for the Queens community. Their goal is to offer at least 50% of the shares at a subsidized price in areas with less access to affordable fresh produce, combined with community education programs.

Hellgate’s impact will be far more reaching even by harvesting one half acre upstate than they could ever accomplish with scattered backyard plots around Queens, but don’t worry, those plots are still going to be used!

In order to financially support their mission, Hellgate plans to use the land in Queens to focus on their value added products. Last year they began a partnership with a factory owner in Long Island City that provides them access to the factory’s rooftop. Due to the climate on the roof, the Hellgate team was able to grow a wide variety of peppers, and as such, Hellgate Farm Hot Sauce was born. They have already sold thousands of bottles of their hot sauce and it has been a profitable venture to date. Hellgate hopes to expand their product yield even more this year and get more bottles in the hands of their loyal customers.

Through their partnerships with local restaurants and sales of their hot sauces, ketchup, and other products currently in development, Rob hopes to be able to get their sister-farm started and restart the CSA as soon as possible. Rob notes, “This is a lifetime project, it will only keep growing and developing!”

With the team’s continued hard work, community support, and growing line of Hell-ishly delicious products, Hellgate’s new business model is well positioned to pay off for all of us!

-Greenhorns Contributor Julia Caruso

 

 


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pint-sized tea estates

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Photo Credit: Subrata Nagchoudhury

When we normally think of tea farms, we picture massive estates and thousands of acres of that familiar dark-leaved perennial shrub. In North Bengal, however, creative farmers, gardeners, and entrepreneurs are both thinking outside and shrinking down the box. Subhash Sarkar, a retired government worker, is leading the charge:

While this region in North Bengal has always been associated with tea, small gardens like that of Sardar, measuring between an acre and 25 acres, are a relatively new feature and are rapidly coming up. Their owners say that if an acre of paddy yields Rs 6,000 a year, a tea plantation of the same size fetches them at least double the amount if not more, excluding expenses on labour, fertilizers and pesticides.

With small-scale tea farming looking increasingly feasible and earning farmers twice the payback as rice, the suburbs outside of Bangladesh’s major cities may soon be dotted with productive patches of Camellia sinensis.

Check out the photos and learn more about North Bengal’s burgeoning small-scale tea farms by clicking HERE.


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speaking your truth: in honor of every human being marching in the women’s march tomorrow

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I once had the great privilege of living for a while with a lovely and formidable witchy nature woman in Maine. She had the following passage from Audre Lorde‘s The Cancer Journals posted on the inside of her bathroom door, and I have since followed suit. I cannot tell you what good it does for the spirit, to read this first thing every morning! But tomorrow morning, oh on this morning of mornings, I wanted others to read this too as we take to the streets to speak our collective truths; may we also  listen as allies to women of color, and may we remember, may we be bolstered by the words of those who have marched before us. 

“I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you…. What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language.

I began to ask each time: “What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?” Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, “disappeared” or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.

Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.

And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”