the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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What is it about the ruthless sea? An acculturation in agricultural landscapes, full of flower buds, dewdrops, fresh hay, kittens and baby lambs cannot prepare you for the hard, chilling mechanics of a mechanized fish harvest. To my tender agrarian eyes, the fishing business is brutal. We may call them “stewards of the ocean” but lets face it—they are killing fish.

-Severine on the Alaskan fishing commons in “A Farm Organizer Visits Fish Country: Part II,” for In These Times. Read the rest of the article here!


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pesticides show up in rainwater in four agricultural watersheds

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Image from Wikipedia.

Read this 2008 study on the University of Nebraska’s Digital Commons. The study publishes research supported by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program done in 2003 and 2004, which found statistically significant levels of herbicides and insecticides in rainwater in Maryland, Indiana, Nebraska, and California. We’d like to know how these levels are changing over time as high pesticides continue to be sprayed around the country.


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rockstar of southern california

Evan Marks – Local Legendz

We all have a vague sense that humans have a negative impact on the environment, but many of us push the thought to the backs of our minds and continue on with our days. When Evan Marks made that realization, he decided it was time to do something about it. Once he started getting involved in things like Surfrider Foundation, he learned that agriculture is a leading cause of pollution in the ocean and that’s when he got into sustainable agriculture. In this video, he takes us on a tour of The Ecology Center, his farm and resource “hut” in Orange County. He shows us that amazing things can happen when you “plant a seed of good intention,” and for that, he’s a Local Legend.

After you watch the video, head on over to theecologycenter.org to learn more about what they do and get involved in some of their upcoming events.

 


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joyous JOJOBA jubilee

Jojoba.seed

Jojoba seed

You have probably noticed that there’s a lot of bad news going around these days, and I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just need to watch a feel-good video on the internet. Which brings me to today’s installment of Californians just do the coolest things! (The link reroutes you to an episode of old TV treasure, California’s Lost Gold.)

Check out that sweet video, and if you’re interested more, stop on by the website of La Ronna Jojoba Co. Larry and Donna Charpied have been growing jojoba as an alternative to whale oil for 30 years, and their story is fabulous: it’s the kind of story you’d expect from organic farmers: the bucking of “conventional” wisdom and an awesome stubborn doggedness to grow in a way that doesn’t drain the precious resources of the local ecosystem.


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new institute focused on nation’s soil health

To ensure that soil continues to be a vital natural resource for generations to come, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and Farm Foundation, NFP, today announce the formation of the Soil Health Institute. The announcement coincides with World Soil Day (Dec. 5) and celebrates the 2015 International Year of Soils.

The Soil Health Institute’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of the soil. It will work directly with conventional and organic farmers and ranchers, public- and private-sector researchers, academia, policymakers, government agencies, industry, environmental groups and consumers–everyone who benefits from healthy soils.

The organization will serve as the primary resource for soil health information, working to set soil health standards and measurement, build knowledge about the economics of soil health, offer educational programs, and coordinate research in all aspects of soil and soil health.

For more information, click HERE.


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green farming in the green mountains: farmer training program at UVM

UVM-CDE-Farmer-Training-Program-ICON

Applications are currently being accepted for UVM’s farmer training program! The six-month program offers a certificate in Sustainable Agriculture and provides students with a combination of classroom learning and hands-on experience managing the school’s 10-acre education farm. Each year, 25 students are accepted and learn everything from crop rotation to marketing. If you’re looking for an learning experience that is more formally structured (and probably more comprehensive) than the traditional farm apprenticeship, this program might be right for you!

The program runs May-October and is “designed for people interested in immersing themselves in sustainable, local food systems in a hands-on educational setting. Candidates include, but are not limited to:  new and beginning farmers, urban and community gardeners, farm educators and students interested in deepening their understanding of sustainable farming systems in an intensive and focused learning environment.”

You can learn more at UVM‘s website and order an information packet for the program. Admission is given on a rolling basis.

 


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amazing new energy source: introducing TREES

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Scientists at the Climate/Energy Design and Research institute (CEDAR) have just announced the discovery of an astounding new energy source that promises to solve several of humanity’s thorniest dilemmas at once.

“This is a paradigm-shifting moment,” says Dawn O’Newday, the engineer in charge of the project. “Whatever your game is, this changes it. Big time.”

The new energy source, called TREES (Totally Renewable Energy, Emissions capture, and Storage) is, as the name suggests, completely renewable. Unlike conventional power plants, TREES devices use no fuel; and unlike most solar and wind technologies, TREES requires no non-renewable materials for the manufacture of panels or turbines.

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northern NY research evaluates non-traditional crops for high tunnel growers

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The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has funded a number of projects evaluating ways to extend the growing season and crop options for high tunnel farmers in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties; photo: Michael Davis, Willsboro Agricultural Research Farm.

Can cucumbers, basil, ginger, green beans and zucchini be more profitable crops for farmers than tomatoes, the king of high tunnel produce? The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has released the results of a project evaluating the economic potential of the non-traditional tunnel crops.

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eat well guide!

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New York, NY (June 23) — The GRACE Communications Foundation today launched its new Eat Well Guide, the largest online directory of sustainable food vendors in the country with 25,000 listings of restaurants, farms, farmers’ markets, food co-ops and more across the United States.

View the Guide: EatWellGuide.org

“People want locally grown, sustainably produced food, so we’re making it easier for them to find it,” said Dawn Brighid, project director of the Eat Well Guide. “Most American shoppers take into account where their food came from when they’re grocery shopping. They want to support food producers who are doing their best by their customers, their workers and the planet.”

A 2014 poll by Cone Communications revealed that 83% of Americans consider sustainability when buying food and 81% would like to see more options that protect the environment. This demand is evident in the enormous increase in farmers’ markets over the last 20 years, which are up 370% from 1994 and 123% from 2004.

In addition to fulfilling a vital need for consumers, the Eat Well Guide helps sustainable food producers and retailers reach individuals beyond their usual customer-base, providing a much-needed marketing boost to small farms, farmers’ markets, restaurants and food co-ops that are often outmuscled by large food corporations’ huge advertising budgets.

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the butterfly girls: sustainability in prisons project promotes conservation

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The Butterfly Girls
By Paul Sheldon and Burt Klein, Corrections One

This story highlights the Mission Creek Correctional Center for Women’s work under the Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP). Under the project, the prison has compost piles, recycling bins, garden beds, water-recycling systems, and butterfly-propagation greenhouse maintained by the inmates. Washington inmates raise endangered frogs, butterflies, grasses and mosses.  Pilot activities from 2004-07 helped the prison reduce its operating costs and environmental impact while fostering engagement with nature and conversation among the entire prison community.

The mission behind SPP focuses on three areas:

• Green-collar education and training
• Sustainable operations of prisons
• Scientific research and conservation

Here are a few more articles about green initiatives in the prisons:
Inmate Blog: Hard Time Cafe
Green Jobs Training Smoothes Re-entry Process
Angola’s 100-year Commitment to Sustainability