the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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check out this wonderful new podcast series

down-to-earth

Down to Earth is a podcast about hope. As climate change collides with our industrial food system, we focus not on doom but instead on people who are developing practical, innovative solutions. We invite you to meet farmers, ranchers, scientists, land managers, writers, and many others on a mission to create a world in which the food we eat is healthy—for us, for the land and water from which it springs, for the lives and livelihoods of the producers, and for the planet. This podcast is produced in collaboration with the Quivira Coalition.

Click HERE to listen.

 


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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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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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experts say 2017 might be crawling with ticks

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Because of our dogged propensity to spend pretty much all of our time outside, our proximity to livestock, and our unparalleled love of tromping through the woods in the Spring, agrarian-minded folk need to be especially vigilant for ticks. And so, farmers in the Northeast will shudder to listen to this piece on NPR, suggesting that due to a mice infestation of 2016, 2017 may be crawling with the Lyme Disease-carrying deer tick. (Worth noting here that regardless of where you live, the piece is well-worth listening to for its insight into how human activities have led to the proliferation of deer ticks.)

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/518219485/518743106

When I got Lyme Disease myself several years ago, I made it a bit of a mission to learn everything I could about ixodes scapular, commonalty known as the deer tick. Among the most useful of information that I unearthed was this information on the life cycle of a tick: ticks are most likely to feed on humans during their nymph stage, which occurs May-July (though, where I live, this seems to happen earlier and earlier every year; we were finding nymphs on us in the unseasonably warm April of 2016). They don’t feed again until they become adults in the mid-to-late Fall– making October the second peak in tick season in New England. If there’s a time to be vigilant, even to stay out of the woods, it’d be in May or October.

All of this is to say, now is a good time to prepare for the first peak of the Spring, and the good news for farmers is that one of the best things to do to reduce your local tick population may be to get a flock of fowl. Flower and veggie farmers will be relieved to hear that planting herbs as common as garlic, thyme, yarrow, and basil can keep ticks out of your fields and garden. Other tips that I’ve read and liked? Take a shower as soon as you come inside for the day, nuke your clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes when you take them off, carry a lint roller to collect ticks off your clothing while you’re outside.

My favorite method, though, involves keeping the pests off of your in the first place. DIY tick repellants contain essential oils that mask your smell and repell the ticks. These oils include rose geranium, sweet grass, eucalyptus, peppermint, and– what I’ve personally had the most success with– cedar wood. And though my partner swears that he’s seen ticks literally jump off parts of his body upon which he’s applied clove oil, I haven’t yet found any evidence to back up this claim. Here’s a great recipe, but there are plenty more available with a quick google search.

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!


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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?”


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dogfish: a shark for breakfast?

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A shark called Dogfish. Photo by Ben de la Cruz/NPR.

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/508538671/508668113

Currently one of the most plentiful fished fish on the East Coast is actually a shark called dogfish, and yet most Americans have hardly even heard of it. So where are the catches going? Turns out, 90% of the fish Americans eat is imported, whereas 99% of dogfish is exported other places.