the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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sowing the seeds of food sovereignty.

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The mission of A Growing Culture is “supporting farmers to reshape the food system” to ensure that the future of agriculture is just, sustainable  and supportive of farmers. We are very excited about the wide range of resources they have to support farmers, not least their much anticipated Library for Food Sovereignty. The library, due for release in the late summer or early autumn of 2017, will include stories of farmer led innovations from around the world, local knowledge, grassroots farming movements and technical and environmental resources.

Continue reading


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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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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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another model for financing farm starts

Kristopher Flack from 2015 New Farmers Almanac

Kristopher Flack from 2015 New Farmers Almanac

Let’s talk about money folks.

How do we go about starting farms? Some of the main barriers new farmers face are access to training, access to land, access to funding. We’ve definitely noticed that in the last 10 years there has certainly been an increase in training opportunities, from more farms offering better employment, institutions offering curriculum around sustainable ag, and organizations, with as similar mandate to ours, helping connect budding agrarians.

But land access and funding remain serious challenges. While farmers continue to create novel approaches to financing their operations (CSA’s, community borrowing) we clearly need more recognition and support from the financial industry to help get new farms off the ground. Continue reading


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community economies

The Community Economies Collective (CEC) and the Community Economies Research Network (CERN) are international collaborative networks of researchers who share an interest in theorizing, discussing, representing and ultimately enacting new visions of economy. By making multiple forms of economic life viable options for action, these diverse, engaged scholarly and activist efforts aim to open the economy to ethical debate and provide a space within which to explore different economic practices and pathways.

These projects grew out of J.K. Gibson-Graham’s feminist critique of political economy that focused upon the limiting effects of representing economies as dominantly capitalist. Central to the project is the idea that economies are always diverse and always in the process of becoming. CERN and CEC developed as ways of connecting and coordinating the work of researchers and activists who document and theorize the multiple ways in which people are making economies of difference and in the process realizing their interdependence with others.

Our work aims to

  • produce a more inclusive understanding of economy
  • highlight the extent and contribution of hidden and alternative economies
  • theorize economy and community as sites of becoming
  • build sustainable non-capitalist economic alternatives
  • foster ethical economic experimentation
  • engender collaborations between activists, academics and communities

To check out their awesome collection of publications (or their website) click HERE!


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virginia farmers share their stories


Earlier this year, The Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition sat down with the owners of five farms across Virginia to talk with them about their enterprises. They asked them how they got started in farming, where they sell their products, how they handle their labor, and so much more! These conversations were recorded for the purpose of creating videos that will help you learn more about your fellow Virginia farmers while learning valuable information that may help you in your own enterprise. The five farms that will be featured in these videos include:

  • Bellair Farm (Charlottesville)
  • Porcello Farm (Charlottesville)
  • Agriberry Farm (Hanover)
  • Amy’s Garden (Charles City)
  • Browntown Farms (Warfield)

Over the next few months, The Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition will be releasing a new video to our YouTube channel every week to share their stories with you.


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photosynq: open source platform for collaborative problem solving

grassrootsmappingforum250wordsPhotosynQoverview

“PhotosynQ is an open source software and sensor platform where communities can identify, research, and implement new methods to solve their local problems. Our initial focus is on agriculture, where we’re bringing together researchers, extension, crop consultants, and farmers to develop precision ag solutions in markets largely ignored by ‘big ag’ (small farms, niche crops, developing world markets, etc.). Examples include sensor-based methods for early identification of disease, mid-season prediction of yield, evaluating soil quality, and many others.

Our perspective is that sharing data simply isn’t enough – data quality is paramount to produce results that actually matter. Data must be collected using consistent methods, comparable devices, with strategies to identify outliers. Even with all that in place, the community has to have the skills to collect, analyze, and interpret the data correctly with minimal mistakes. At the same time, every project’s data needs are different – different methods, devices, methods of analysis, etc. While consistency and flexibility seem at odds, we’ve worked hard to make a platform in which they both exist, and scaling from new user to a developer is relatively easy. Unlike Xively or other streaming IoT data sites, we’re not trying to be the solution to every IoT problem. If you’re trying to track the temperature in your garage, we’re probably not what you’re looking for. If you’re trying to collaborate across a community, solve a complex problem, and develop a sensor-enabled solution… we’re worth checking out.

Go to www.photosynq.org for more. Hope to see you there!”