the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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civil eats commentary

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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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help fund low income csa in maine!

MOFGA needs your help! We are raising money to support organic farmers in Maine that offer CSA shares for half price to low-income families. This program allows these families to access healthy, organic food and creates a new market for local farmers!

By donating to this campaign you are supporting certified organic farms to offer half price Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares to low-income families in their communities. In the video, you can hear one of the farms participating in this project, Hatchet Cove Farm, talk about the role they play in food security in their region. For the past 5 years, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) has done fundraising to enable farmers to offer reduced price shares while the farmers still receive the full share value.

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farmer to farmer podcast: profile of liz graznak

Check out the first episode of Chris Blanchard’s new Farmer to Farmer podcast. In this episode he speaks with Liz Graznak about the challenges and rewards of running an organic vegetable farm in the heart of Missouri’s corn and soybean country. You will hear her story, as well as practical tips and ideas about farming. Listen in your car, listen in the field.

Listen HERE or download the episode for playback later HERE.

Find more episodes of the Farmer to Farmer podcast, along with practical links, HERE.

If you want to be on Chris’s show, we hope you reach out to him!


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wired: hardware design should be free. here’s how to do it.

Hardware Design Should Be Free. Here’s How to Do It.

by Richard Stallman

in Wired

WE MUST DESIGN free hardware. But the question remains: how?

First, we must understand why we can’t make hardware free the same way we make software free. Hardware and software are fundamentally different. A program, even in compiled executable form, is a collection of data which can be interpreted as instruction for a computer. Like any other digital work, it can be copied and changed using a computer. A copy of a program has no inherent physical form or embodiment.

KEEP READING to find out more about free hardware design.


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farm for sale in monmouth, maine

We got word from Nancy Chandler that her 50-acre farm in Monmouth, ME is up for sale. Here’s her listing:

I have a great opportunity for a new farmer to buy an established vegetable, berry, and/ or pastured livestock farm in Monmouth. This ex dairy farm would make a great meat goat, chicken, or sheep operation, with the possibility of more adjacent pasture or hay lands leased. It could also provide a quick startup for up to 10 acres of vegetable and row crop production, fruit trees or nursery plants. This is a great opportunity for experienced farmers who have access to capital for a 50 acre farm, with 10 acres of rock free, fertile hay or crop land, a 5 bedroom 2300 square foot  farmhouse, which includes 2 separate living areas, 3 dairy barns, 6 acre pasture, and 20 acres forest.  Chip and Nancy Chandler ran organically certified Phoenix  Farm from 2005 through 2013, growing berries, 4 acres of vegetables,  cover crops, hay, and cut flowers.We built a solar & wood heated greenhouse into the barn, and added a 70ft by 30 ft, 2 ply poly high tunnel. The farm is leased thru April to another organic farmer, who has put in 1 acre of fencing and pens for goats, built a walk in cooler, and kept the 4000 square foot dairy barn, and smaller hay barns in good repair.
To see my farm pictures and description, please go to  the Maine Farmlink listing, http://www.mainefarmlink.org/archives/8035. The farm address is 191 South Monmouth Rd, Monmouth, Me,  14 miles north of Lewiston/Auburn, the second biggest urban center in Maine, and 7 miles from the Maine turnpike, 1 hour to Portland. Please email me questions at NChandler51@comcast.net, or call(207)389-1474 to discuss this property.
 For 10 years on 4 acres I have brought the ph and soil fertility up to good levels, increased organic matter, reduced perennial grasses and annual weeds, and established high bush blueberries, elderberry, rhubarb, and raspberry plantings.  We have upgraded all essential house structure, heating, waste disposal and energy efficiency on the large farmhouse, and maintained the barns of this old dairy farm.
The soils are completely rock free, ph at 6 or above, organic matter 5 to 6%, and fertility highest on 3 1/2 acres of crop land, certified organic from 2005 thru 2012, with 6 hay acres that could yield productive row crops. Established raspberry plantings have yielded 400 pints per season, 15 elderberry bushes are prolific, and 30  high bush blueberry plants are coming into full production. I have implemented an NRCS  conservation plan to vegetate the stream bank, increase field nesting birds, prevent field erosion, improve soil fertility and stream quality, & increase pollinators. Seven acres of pasture are bordered by a great firewood lot, of 20 to 40 year old mixed hardwoods, pine, hemlock, and spruce. The house is energy efficient, with double pane windows, new roof,new interior and exterior paint, furnace and septic system, with all lead paint and asbestos insulation removed, and a 10 year old well.
The farm price is $245,000 without equipment, or $258,000 with a 15 year old TAFE tractor with front loader,  discs,  plow, chains, bean/corn seeder, and FarmAll C with two directional plows and weeding sweeps. Hand equipment includes a field mower, microseeder, and cover crop spreader.

Marketing opportunities include an established, full season 25 person CSA(40 in the past), farmer markets in Winthrop, Lewiston, Augusta, Bowdoinham and Brunswick, senior farmshare, 2 small Manchester stores, CSA at a doctors office in Augusta, and wholesale to schools, hospital, Crown of Maine, and Food and Medicine in Brewer.

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