the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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agtools technology to reduce waste for growers, shippers and buyers

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credit: Agtools

Despite the fact that 1 in 7 Americans if food insecure, every year, American consumers, businesses, and farms spend $218 billion a year, or 1.3% of GDP, growing, processing, transporting, and disposing  of food that is never eaten. That’s 52 million tons of food sent to landfill annually, plus another 10 million tons that is discarded or left unharvested on farms. Food waste occurs because of low market prices and high labor costs, which makes it uneconomical for farmers to harvest all that they produce. There is currently a lack of streamlined technology in the agriculture industry to provide accurate information that is timely and useful to industry operations.

AgTools hopes to reduce the amount of food that is wasted and increase sustainability by bringing new intelligence to the agriculture market. Their system employs real time information and statistics regarding time, cost, supply, demand, and more throughout the food supply chain and aims to optimize the economic results of all stakeholders in the industry but addressing the major communication gaps that exist between farmers and retailers. Their proprietary technology incorporates all levels of business operations from farm production to various stages of logistics, suppliers and buyers for Tier I, II or III and provides alerts and information that will directly benefit and influence decisions in the industry on a regular basis such as weather patterns and consumer trends.

Growers can use the software to plan their harvest based on solid information to get the most out of their crop. Shippers can get the data they need to have to ensure the timely and most efficient delivery of products. And buyers can get real time data to plan their purchases, know what is going on in the market every day in terms of product, availability, surplus, shortfalls, and basis for shifts in pricing

To find out more (and to try their free trial) click HERE


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if you wanted to track your local wind patterns…

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We’ve got another good one for all of our fellow map geeks out there. Sev just learned about Windy TV from the lighthouse keeper in the Azores. The website provides a real-time map visualization of wind and weather patterns around the globe. It allows the user to zero in on a specific address or to get a satellite’s-eye-view of whole continents, and it’s a great tool for educating yourself about about predominant wind patterns and their seasonal variations.

Utility aside, we’d be remiss for not mentioning that the visualization is in and of itself downright gorgeous; as far as we’re concerned this is kind of the best way to spend time on the internet since Google Earth.

Oh, and bonus? Windy TV also provides your local forecast five days out without the encroachment of ads.

It makes so much sense to be as familiar with the wind as you are with your coastline, your local watershed, your local politics…

The air is moving! Can you feel it?!


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crop planning resources for farmers

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‘Tis the season for nailing down your crop plan for the Spring! (Hypothetically, this would have been on our to-do lists for early December ago, but I can’t be the only one whose holidays got the better of her business agenda, right?) Is this your first time crop planning? Looking to upgrade your system? Maybe you’re feeling a little lost or a little down-to-the-wire. Here’s a collection of resources to make the process a little easier:

1. Penn State’s guide to making plans for the season: specifically for CSA farms, but this advice is adaptable to market and whole sale farms as well. Basic, comprehensive, and
2.  “Crop master” spreadsheet to model off of: comprehensive, super-logical, easy to follow, and easy to replicate– provided you are familiar with inserting formulas into spreadsheets.
3. A template that you can edit: a template from Tom Becker of Sunseed Farm, which will potentially save first-time veggie farmers a lot of time and energy: the sheet includes already-made formulas and already input crop information. Note: will have to be adjusted to reflect individual USDA zones.
4. Collection of great links/resources on the subject: “everyone’s brain works differently.”


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according to tech wizard lu yoder, this is the machine that he’s recommend if living in a boat, small apparent, or out of a station wagon in winters

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This vintage machine with heavy gauge steel mechanics is on long-term loan to AMT. It is installed in a cabinet specifically for sewing (do not remove). The Singer 401-A is a good strong machine capable of sewing heavy materials such as Canvas, Denim, Sunbrella, Duck Canvas, & leather as well as light weight materials. Before using please attend the short training.

Tool lead: Crafty Rachel

Training: Every other monday, during the textiles lab hours (see calendar)

Maintenance: Monthly = Oil and run according to the instructions in the manual. Annually (with heavy use) – Proffessional service which usually runs about $135.

Maintenance log: July 9, 2012 – Service at Berkeley Vacuum and Sewing Center $150

Manual: External link to PDF

Features:

  • Slant Needle
  • drop in bobbin
  • twin/double needle stitching capable
  • adjustable needle position
  • 28 built in stitches
  • Singer Stitch
  • (and a bunch more stuff)

Attachments:

  • 5 Bobbins
  • Straight stitch foot
  • throat plate
  • Button foot
  • Special Purpose foot
  • Seam Guide
  • Narrow Hemmer
  • Ruffler,
  • Singer stitch discs numbers 1 thru 5


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developing the grape cultivars of the future

With a focus on disease resistance and hardiness, researchers are hard at work developing the grape cultivars of the future.

Through a multidisciplinary collaborative project called VitisGen, researchers are are working to decrease the time, effort, and cost of developing these new grapes.

According to the VitisGen website, the project “incorporates cutting-edge genomics technology and socioeconomic research into the traditional grape breeding and evaluation process, which will speed up the ability to identify important genes related consumer-valued traits like disease resistance, low temperature tolerance and enhanced fruit quality.”

To learn more about VitisGen, click HERE!

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Today, in incredibly awesome things made available by the internet, a new(ish) website  called Vintage Aerial provides access to over 5 million photos, taken in 41 states over the second half of the twentieth century.

Looking to find an aerial photograph of a specific farm, homestead, or rural township? The librarians at the site are nearly positive that they can find it for you, and for no cost! Prints of the photographs are then made available.

Just looking to browse the visual rural history of this country? Many of the prints are available to view online— many accompanied by stories from current or previous owners.


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call out for great holiday gifts

It may not be a samurai sword, but these tools are about as close to one as you can get! Hida Tool and Hardware Company features exceptional tools from Japan. Hida Tool is your source for woodworking tools, gardening tools, and kitchen knives that continue the metalworking traditions of the samurai sword makers.

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History of Japanese Tools:

In Japan during the period when samurai existed, katana (Japanese swords) were commonly used and increased in popularity as close-combat warfare evolved.

The swords were hand forged from professional blacksmiths (sword smiths). The steel (combined carbon steels) gets hammered and heated numerous times to increase the sword’s durability. This process of pounding and other techniques used to create a sword eventually was utilized for manufacturing many tools in Japan.

In 1876 the Meiji Government issued an edict to outlaw Japanese swords. It was a hard time for samurai, but the blacksmiths who produced swords were also out of business.

As a way to pass down the skill of tool forging and continue business, many blacksmiths decided to create woodworking, gardening tools and kitchen cutlery instead. Around this period, woodworking in Japan was also going through changes; high-quality tools to increase efficiency were in demand. Combining the skills of Japanese sword forging, the tools evolved in the quality of their cutting edges and durability.

Order your Hida Tool HERE!


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patagonia starts to sell peasants’ food

What we eat does more than just fill our stomachs and nourish our bodies; good food lifts our spirits and helps us understand the world a little better.

We aim to make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and perhaps most important, inspire solutions to the environmental crisis. And nowhere is the crisis more pressing than in the food industry.

To get your hands on fruit & almond bars made only from organic fruit, nuts, seeds and juice,buffalo jerky sourced from free-roaming American bison, soup deliciously good in every way and lightly smoked wild sockeye salmon, click HERE.


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usda makes another website

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USDA has a new website and you can see it here.  Its purpose is to support new farmers and is pretty awesome.

We are thankful for the websites, USDA!

What we’d like is a national land bank that holds land in transition and allows young farmers to buy their way into ownership over the course of 30 years without having to face the rapid fire/ long waiting lists/ prejudiced bankers.

We can dream.

 

 

 


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apply to the community seed resource program!

The Community Seed Resource Program (CSRP) provides tools and guidance to community groups interested in creating seed-focused events, exchanges, libraries and gardens. It is a collaboration between Seed Matters and Seed Savers Exchange to support community seed initiatives and empower community organizing around sustainable seed.

The CSRP offers three resources to empower community organizing around sustainable seed:

community seed toolkits, including seeds, educational resources, and seed saving supplies.
  -access to SSE’s national seed exchange
mentorship

The CSRP focuses on legitimizing three key initiatives of community seed – seed swaps, community seed banks, and seed gardens – so community groups can weave seed into their efforts with success.

Community seed projects revive a tradition we’ve shared in growing food for centuries: from a handful of seed, we grow, gather, and share more seeds – enough not only for ourselves but an abundance to pass on to neighbors, family, and the next generation of gardeners and farmers. Saving and exchanging seeds is the way we discover new varieties, preserve heirlooms, and breed locally adapted varieties.

Whether you are a beginner seed saver or long-time organizer of seed projects, our resources can guide you through the decisions it takes to develop projects that fit the needs of your community. Click HERE to learn more and apply!


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much afoot, ahoof and aweft

at Fibershed. Always a good reminder.

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Fibershed is a non-profit organization that provides experiential education that both generates awareness, and teaches the necessary skills within our community to build and sustain a thriving bioregional textile culture that functions hand-in-hand with principles of ecological balance, local economies, and regional organic agriculture..


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crop planning genius

Tech-Savvy Maine farmer Clayton Carter of Fail Better Farm created this sweet crop-planning software and has offered it up for free!  If you’ve always wanted to be more organized but couldn’t find the time, this is your lucky day.  Here’s the dealwheelhoe-stubby:

You’ve found a sweet piece of land, ordered a pile of seeds, rigged up a greenhouse and you’re itching to get started planting … but when should you seed your peppers so that they’re ready on time and how many will you need to fill up 2 beds … no scratch that you don’t care how many beds; you want to know how many to plant so you can sell that cute new chef the 100 pounds they had ordered for the second week in September.  What to do?!

Enter Crop Planning Software

Started in 2007 as a Northeast SARE “Farmer Grant” by a young, organic farmer in Maine, this free and open source program aims to help small farmers plan and manage the hundreds of plantings they will be making every season.  It allows you to create a “database” of crops and varieties and then to create plantings of those crops, saving lots of tedious and error prone cutting and pasting or repetitive entries.
  * Enter a desired planting, transplant or harvest date and the program can calculate forward (or backward) to the others for you.
  * Enter just one of “beds to plant”, “plants to transplant”, “flats to start” or “yield desired” and the program will fill in the rest for you.
  * Have a lot of successions to enter?  Create one of them, then just duplicate it and shift it by a week or two.  
  * Not sure if you’ve got enough space for your plan?  The program can generate a chart of how many beds you’ll need each week, how much greenhouse space you’ll need each week and more.

Once your plan is done, you can print PDF planting lists for the greenhouse or field that will only show what needs to be done that week (and, of course, what you didn’t get to last week).  Seeded something in trays in the greenhouse?  Check it off as “planted” and it will drop of the GH list and show up on the “transplant to the field” list when it’s time to set it out.

And after this season, you can create next year’s plan based on this year’s and even have it generate a list of how much seed you’ll need to order for each variety.

It’s a free download for Windows, Mac and Linux, and if you like it, they accept donations.  In addition to the main project page , there’s also a fledgling Facebook page and the really adventurous can find the source code over on Github .  It has received support from Northeast SARE MOFGA  and Fedco Seeds