the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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ny: orcharding workshops at the greenhorns headquarters! come one, come all (until spots fill up)


Eliza Greenman is the resident cider/heirloom orchardist and director of biodiversity for the Greenhorns. Come to the Greenhorns headquarters in Westport, NY and learn more about apples than you ever thought possible!

Originally posted on unconventional stories from a young apple farmer:

The Home Orchard: a series of workshops with Eliza Greenman

May 9th: Fruit Tree Topworking Workshop!

Imagine a single apple tree in the spring blooming with a bouquet of white, pink, red and purple flowers. Imagine that same singular tree with red, green, yellow and russeted apples in the fall. That tree is possible to obtain if you learn how to topwork. Come and learn the art and technique of adding different varieties to a tree. On Saturday, May 9th, heirloom and cider orchardist Eliza Greenman will walk you through the steps necessary to change an apple, pear, or hawthorne tree over to something you find more useful to your lifestyle. Whether you want to convert an abandoned orchard over to different varieties, or you are tight on space and want one of your trees to supply great pie apples for every month of the apple season…the learning…

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public comment on proposed changes to sheep program

If you care about having access to grass fed, pastured lamb and sustainable fashion — like domestically made wool fabric, clothing and yarn — please submit a public comment against proposed changes to the H-2A sheepherder program by June 1, 2015.

Sometimes, regulations with the best of intentions show a lack of connection to the land, and do more harm than good to land stewardship and agricultural businesses. This is the case with the Department of Labor’s (DoL’s) proposed amendments to the H-2A sheepherder program. Nearly 1/3 of U.S. sheep flocks are shepherded by H-2A workers, which means hundreds of sheep operations and the survival of many, already tenuous lamb and wool businesses is seriously threatened.

man on horseback with hundreds of range sheep on mountain

A way of life at risk due to proposed changes to the H-2A sheepherder program. Image from Library of Congress.

Here are some points you may wish to include in your public comment:

  • Ask that the DoL retain the Special Procedures that have worked well since the 1980s.
  • Ask that the public comment period be extended to July 15, 2015 to give shepherds, shearers and ranchers time to respond. One month is not enough time to respond during lambing, calving and shearing season, the busiest time of year.
  • Ask that the DoL not change the definition of “range.” The DoL wants the new definition of “range” to exclude fenced land, but fences, including moveable ones, are necessary to prevent sheep from eating poisonous plants, to manage intensive and rotational grazing, and to protect animals from predators and heavy traffic on public roads (much of which comes from the oil and gas industry, in these areas).
  • Point out that the DoL wage calculations are flawed and show a lack of understanding of shepherding and sheep shearing practices. The base wage used by the DoL includes the need for workers to pay for rent, food, clothing and transportation expenses. Shepherds do not have these expenses because it is standard practice for ranchers and wool producers to cover all of them. Wool producers do not have enough profit margin to pay twice for all of these things.
  • Express concern for increased fires in a time of severe drought. Many Western sheep graze on crop residue and in suburban and urban areas, as forage reduction for fire prevention. This sort of grazing requires the livestock to be watched and under the care of an H-2A shepherd. A lack of H-2A shepherds would, indeed, lead to increased fire risk.

Additional talking points and background are available in this PDF.

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eco-foundation in nepal post earthquake relief efforts


An Eco Foundation in Nepal that one of our Greenhorns members visited is leading the way in sustainable relief post earthquake in their community, located just outside of Kathmandu. Their vision is to not only provide immediate relief, but to use this event as an opportunity to foster long-term, comprehensive, and sustainable solutions in the community. Currently they are organizing families in need into categories based on necessities such as water, food, housing, clothing, health, and safety.

Like many villages surrounding Kathmandu, Khahare has been significantly damaged with over 500 houses destroyed. At the foundation, their natural building techniques and recycled bottle houses we able to withstand the earthquake! This wonderful display of alternative building techniques also helps them be in a better position to give aid to the community.

See updates on their facebook page for continued efforts and look below for specifics on how to donate.

11060291_964081713625890_9203025405678576422_n bottle house still standing!

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Bannock making workshop


Well done, Scots! This is a fantastic way/model to connect hip food culture to what makes sense for growing local.

Originally posted on :

A motley crew of bannocks made over a rather hot fire at our workshop on Saturday! We hosted a conversation about the role of artists in building more sustainable food cities at one day event at Tramway on Sat 14th March. Participants in the workshop made their own bannock from scratch then cooked it over a fire while we talked about our approach to food and sustainability. The event was organised by Creative Carbon Scotland and part of the Green Art Lab Alliance. Read more here

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civil eats commentary


Editor’s Note: Fixing Food, Fixing Media

Supporting better journalism is a value proposition–just like supporting a better food system.

Journalism and agriculture are two sides of the same coin: Both have been made artificially cheap. We have come to expect free media, just as many expect to be able to buy a dozen eggs for under $3.00. But lack of social investment in both of these public goods is leading us down the wrong path.

If you read any of our stories, you know all too well the high cost of a broken food system and the “true cost of food.” And if you’re like me, you probably try to spend a little more on food you value when your budget allows it.

I’m proposing that more of us should begin to see journalism that way. Yes, buying healthier, sustainably produced food helps keep the environment cleaner, ensures that farm animals and workers are treated better, and leads to better personal health outcomes. But investing in well-crafted reporting and thoughtful commentary is equally important in a world of listicles, sponsored content, sensational headlines, and dumbed-down aggregation. Continue reading the full story.

By on March 30, 2015

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occupy the farm action shuts down sprouts farmer’s market in walnut creek

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On March 14th, farmers and neighbors of the historic Gill Tract turned out in large numbers to disrupt business as usual and eventually shutdown a local Sprouts supermarket. Their message to this corporate supermarket chain? “Don’t build a Sprouts ‘Farmer’s Market’ on our historic Gill Tract Farmland”.

A crowd of 100-150 protesters, including a brass band, “occupy the farm” activists, and a large delegation of workers from the Fast Food Workers Union converged on a normally quiet Sprouts Supermarket in suburban Walnut Creek. Protesters held a sit-in to block the main entrance to the store, rallying around a 600 pound stump they had set down in the entranceway. The stump came from an approximately hundred year old Gill Tract tree that had been recently cut down by contractors preparing to pave the Gill Tract for the construction of the Sprouts store. Meanwhile, at the the other set of doors, protesters bearing branches from felled Gill Tract trees held a robust picket line turning away many would be customers.

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build farmer collaborations with cornell cooperative extension: april 9 & 10

Extension Workshops to Build Farmer Collaborations for Sales, Marketing and Delivery of Local Foods

Many farmers are teaming up to develop, market, and deliver multiple products to meet the needs of buyers interested in purchasing local foods. Cornell Cooperative Extension will hold workshops in Burrville, Canton and Plattsburgh to help farmers develop formal partnerships, cooperatives, and corporations.

The workshop agenda features Bobbie Severson of the Cooperative Enterprise Program of the Cornell Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, and panels of three farmers explaining their experiences with working together and the pro and cons of their particular systems.

‘These Extension workshops in Northern New York are timely as farmers there begin to look at developing food hubs. The option for building collaborations between farmers to market and deliver products can be attractive for implementing that type of project, and cooperative, group-action businesses not only strengthen farmers but enhance the local food sector and add vigor to local economies,’ Severson says.

‘Informal agreements or a memorandum of agreement may work for a while, but over time joint purchases of equipment and sharing income can lead partners to wanting more formal strategies. These workshops will help farmers develop those strategies,’ says co-organizer Anita Deming, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County.

The Farmer Strategies for Working Together workshops have a $5 fee and are set for:

Thursday April 9, 1-3 pm, CCE Clinton County Meeting Room, 6064 State Route 22, Plattsburgh, to register: CCE Clinton County: 518-561-7450 or CCE Essex County: 518-962-4810 x0

Thursday April 9, 7-9 pm, CCE St. Lawrence County Extension Learning Farm Classroom, 2043 State Highway 68, Canton, to register: CCE St. Lawrence County: 315-379-9192

Friday April 10, 1-3 pm, Farm Credit East Office, 25417 NY Route 12, Burrville, to register: CCE Lewis County, 315-376-5270 and CCE Jefferson County, 315-788-8450.


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