the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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faith farmers

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credit: The Common Friars/ Samantha Goresh

The Common Friars are men and women, married and single, lay and ordained, of an emerging monastic order in the Episcopal Church, seeking to understand and live out what it means to be a Christian disciple today. They do this by placing the utmost importance on being connected to the land, to each other, and to those on the margins of society. Their land that they steward and are connected to is the Good Earth Farm located in Athens. Ohio. They live and work together here and and contribute their individual talents and gifts to one another and to the broader community. Their actions are guided by the “Rule of Life” which is defined by poverty, joy and hospitality, prayer, work, the eucharist and meals and you can visit them in Ohio if you’re in the area!

Check out their blog and website HERE

 


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bad news – usda vote in favour of inclusion of hydro- and aquaponics as organic

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The Packer reports that yesterday the USDA  National Organic Standards Board voted 8 to 7 not to ban hydroponic and aquaponic production from being included under the organic umbrella. Lee Frankel, executive director for the Coalition for Sustainable Organics, shared the news today in an e-mail to members. The board did vote in favour of excluding aeroponics from the definition.

Click HERE to read the full article on the Packer and we will keep you updated once further information emerges.


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the honey locust contest revisited

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In 1926 J Russell Smith launched a contest to gather honey locust pods from across the country, the Savanna Institute are continuing what he started. 

Contest Details & Instructions

Step 1: Photograph the tree

Photograph the tree before the pods have fallen from the tree, although preferably after leaves have dropped. Include the entire tree within the photo. Prior to taking the photo, tack a standard 8.5×11″ piece of white paper to the tree trunk (scale reference). Include the ground. Use the highest resolution camera that you have access to.

Step 2: Collect 25 pods

Once the pods have fallen from the tree, collect 25 representative, dried (brown), whole pods off the ground and put them into one or more plastic grocery bags. The pods should be collected as soon as possible after they fall to the ground to prevent damage from animals. Be sure to choose a representative sample of pods – not the 25 largest! If possible, although not required, please also count the total number of pods that fell from the tree, as this will help calibrate their yield models.

Step 3: Fill out & print the entry form

Fill out the official contest entry form HERE, which includes basic information about you and the tree. You will be able to upload the tree photo here as well. This form will be submitted to the institute digitally, and you will receive a copy via email. Print a paper copy of your emailed entry to include with your pods.

Step 4: Ship your pods & entry form to the Savanna Institute 

Place your bag(s) of pods and entry form into a sturdy cardboard box. Ship your entry to:

Savanna Institute

Attn: Honey Locust Contest

1360 Regent St. #124

Madison, WI 53715

IMPORTANT: If submitting multiple trees/entries, ship each entry separately, using a different box for each. This will ensure that pods from different trees do not mix in transit.

Click HERE for the contest website where there are more details about the contest.


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gipsa decision favors big ag, harms family farmers

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photo credit: USDA/flickr

The USDA recently made their final decision on GIPSA – to pull the pending Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rules designed to level the playing field for poultry and livestock producers. These rules have been languishing since the 2008 farm bill, and today’s action firmly places this administration on the side of large meatpackers and poultry processors, not family farmers.

After years of negotiation and analysis, the rule would have protected contract livestock growers from the retaliation they have suffered after exposing financial hardship and ruin caused by large-scale poultry companies and meatpackers. If there was any hope that Secretary Perdue and this administration would stand up for small- and medium-sized family farmers and the rural communities they support, that has been dashed now.

Click HERE to read GIPSA’s full statement.


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watch: rodents of unusual size

A new documentary tells the tale of the hunters waging war against an invasive swamp rodent species, the nutria, in Louisiana. There is a government bounty on the heads (or tails) of the 20lb, orange-toothed critters – $5 for each severed 12-18in tail collected. Nutiva grazing habitats adds to coastal erosion in a region whose land is already vulnerable to hurricanes. The rodents, introduced to the region for their fur in the days of the fur trade are undermining the land for the people who live there.

The documentary explores the context of nutria in Louisiana explaining the role they play in a range of areas from ecological destruction as well as their role in the economy as a food source and clothing resource. The film premiers on Wed Nov 15, 2017, 7:15 PM at the IFC Center, NY. and you can read a full review HERE.


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apprenticeships in regenerative ranching and farming

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credit: Quivira coalition/Cobblestone Ranch

The Quivira Coalition’s New Agrarian Program (NAP) is partnering with skilled ranchers and farmers to offer apprenticeships in regenerative agriculture. Together, they create opportunities for full-immersion learning from expert practitioners. This program is designed to support the next generation of food producers and targets those with a sincere commitment to life at the intersection of conservation and regenerative agriculture. NAP mentors are dedicated stewards of the land; they practice regenerative methods of food or fiber production, provide excellent animal care, and are skilled and enthusiastic teachers.  Continue reading


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5th annual perennial farm gathering

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The 5th annual perennial farm gathering is coming up! Farmers, scientists, and people with a general interest in perennial crops and pastured livestock will all find it valuable to learn what other farmers are doing, what’s working well, and what needs more work.

This year, the Savannah Institute is teaming up with the Green Lands Blue Waters (GLBW) annual conference and have expanded their Perennial Farm Gathering to a multi-day event.

Click HERE for more information and the full agenda and HERE to register.


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rich people farming

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credit: NRA Show/Vimeo

The NY Times published an interesting article recently about Kimbal Musk’s (brother of Elon) foray into farming.

Mr. Musk is promoting a philosophy he calls “real food,” which nourishes the body, the farmer and the planet. It doesn’t sound much different than what writers like Michael Pollan and everyone who has ever helped start a farmers’ market or community garden have preached for years.

Musk having spent years working in the tech industry has set his sights on ‘innovating’ the food world motivated by his passion for healthy food and what he sees as the ceremony of food. He has effectively dedicated himself to changing the way Americans eat. He is keen to promote soilless farming a controversial, disruptive opinion within the organic farming world.

For all his business and tech acumen, Mr. Musk can sometimes seem tone-deaf. At a conference on food waste in New York last month, he declared from the stage that “food is one of the final frontiers that technology hasn’t tackled yet. If we do it well, it will mean good food for all.”

When the comment was posted on Twitter, Lawrence McLachlan, a farmer in Ontario, Canada, shot back: “You might want to visit a Farm Progress show. Or even a farm. I think you might have missed 70 years of Ag history. It’s Hi-Tech stuff bud.”

To read the full article click HERE


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check out this wonderful new podcast series

down-to-earth

Down to Earth is a podcast about hope. As climate change collides with our industrial food system, we focus not on doom but instead on people who are developing practical, innovative solutions. We invite you to meet farmers, ranchers, scientists, land managers, writers, and many others on a mission to create a world in which the food we eat is healthy—for us, for the land and water from which it springs, for the lives and livelihoods of the producers, and for the planet. This podcast is produced in collaboration with the Quivira Coalition.

Click HERE to listen.

 


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citizen science vs. dicamba

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credit: 지우 황/flickr 

This citizen science group at PublicLab is starting to corral expertise, team-craft and discover potential scientific inquiry methodologies to look at this terrifying trend of toxic and ever more toxic agrichemicals. Conventional farmers, as well as organic farmers, are profoundly concerned by this militarization of agronomy, it becoming a situation of “Spray or be Sprayed”. How tragic for rural communities that those who spray are likely to be those who also take over the operations of those drifted upon. Low commodities prices, high input costs, and precarious farm viability means that consolidation is only one bad year away—equipment for auction, land for sale, its the brutal contraction and internal colonization of rural America.
 Meanwhile there is no regulatory protection offered as the EPA has approved the new “less volatile” Monsanto-formulated Dicamba. The mass-spraying of these chemicals, particularly now that EU has opted to phase out Roundup, seems like a powerful leverage point to mobilize citizens, and citizen scientists working on behalf of the public good, the public trust, the public body which is our watershed, our watercycle, our drinking water and our farmlands.
If you know people near soybeans who can test, if you know toxicologists or environmental scientists who might be interested to coordinate DIY testing kits, or others whose teamwork could form part of a solidarity action, please send them along to this Public Lab page – it’s a group that helps pull together the teams needed to take on large scale data collection projects.  If enough people are willing to show up, we may have the chance to demonstrate our solidarity with coming generations, and engage in a meaningful resistance!
Spread the word to scientists you know, and ask for insights from farmers you know, the future is in OUR hands.


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watch: keep the soil in organic

Since last July there have been 15 Rallies to Protect Organic. Some of these Rallies were big, and some were small. They happened from California to Maine. The central theme of the Rallies has been to honor healthy soil as the essential foundation of organic farming.

There is one more Rally still to come; the final Rally at the Jacksonville Florida NOSB meeting on October 31. Please join us at the Jacksonville Rally.

Over 54 people have gotten up and spoken at these Rallies. These people represent a broad coalition of organic advocates, from eaters to policy advocates to farmers. These Rallies demonstrate the growing and widespread discontent with the failures of the National Organic Program.

It is becoming clear that the organic movement will not just silently march along wherever the NOP leads. The NOP was created to serve, not to reinvent.  But the NOP mission seems to be changing from serving the organic community to serving corporate agriculture. The organic movement is based on developing a saner agriculture than radical capitalism will lead us to. The NOP has lost track of this fact. They have lost sight of organic farming.

This November the NOSB will vote on the most important recommendation in organic standards in the last twenty years. The recommendation addresses the basic question of what the National Organic Program stands for. Will they continue to permit hydroponic to be certified organic? Or will they insist that organic farming is based on healthy soil?

Why is soil important to all of us? As global citizens, this is a very important question. This film was made to reach out and inform the NOSB. Please check it out. In this time of social media, anything over 3 minutes long seems daunting, so just watch the first 3 minutes! If you are still interested, watch the next 3 minutes, and so on.


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monsanto sues arkansas over dicamba ban

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credit: flickr/Alternative Heat

In the most recent development in the dicamba scandal Monsanto have filed a lawsuit in Arkansas’ Pulaski County Circuit Court, suing state regulators for blocking dicamba for the 2018 growing season. The herbicide is controversial to say the least, increasing yields in resistant crops but simultaneously killing all other life in the region through drift which subsequently caused serious conflict between neighbours. Monsanto’s argument basically claims that the states ban is depriving Arkansas’ farmers. However many farmers are compelled to use the weedkiller only in a bid to keep up with their neighbours. It’s a race to the toxic bottom.

“The weeds have become so difficult to manage that some farmers don’t see any way that they control them without this,” says Bob Hartzler, a weed specialist at Iowa State University. “If you feel that way then you’re probably willing to take on some higher-level risk.”

Dicamba was introduced to the market because Monsanto’s previous money maker RoundUp has become ineffective against many weeds as they have adapted over decades of exposure. This line of argumentation in favour of adoption of the even more toxic dicamba isn’t particularly convincing as far as I am concerned irrespective of Monsanto’s safety claims.

Unlike glyphosate… dicamba comes with a major liability: it tends to combust in conditions of high heat. That’s why no one has really used it, even though the chemical has been around for years—until Monsanto’s low-volatility version promised to change that. But some evidence suggests that XtendiMax may be more unstable than Monsanto acknowledges. There have been widespread reports of crop damage—as many as 1,000 in Arkansas this year so far, according to the Associated Press. Conventional (non-modified) soybeans are extremely sensitive to dicamba, and farmers are alleging that their fields are being damaged by their neighbors’ applications.

To read the full article click HERE.


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the family farm bulks up

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Lon Frahm may represent the future of farming. Inside a two-story office building overshadowed by 80-foot steel grain bins, he points to a map showing the patchwork of square and circular fields that make up his operation. It covers nearly 10% of the county’s cropland, and when he climbs into his Cessna Skylane to check crops from the air, he can fly 30 miles before reaching the end of his land. At 30,600 acres, his farm is among the country’s vastest, and it yields enough corn and wheat each year to fill 4,500 semitrailer trucks. Big operations like Mr. Frahm’s, which he has spent decades building, are prospering despite the deepest farm slump since the 1980s. Years of low prices for corn, wheat and other commodities brought on by a glut of grain world-wide are driving smaller American farmers out of business.

Continue reading


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job: full time teaching farm manager position in upstate ny

North Country School and Camp Treetops seek a full-time Teaching Farm Manager to oversee a year- round farm program intended for both food production and education of middle school aged children.

North Country School is an independent boarding and day school for grades 4-9, and Camp Treetops is a seven-week, overnight summer camp. They share a spectacular 200-acre campus in the Adirondack High Peaks region of upstate New York. The farm operation includes five acres of mixed vegetables and flowers, 35 acres of pasture, two commercial-size greenhouses, 500-tap maple sugar operation, and a multi-barn complex that houses animals raised both for consumption and for teaching purposes. Our animals include pigs, chickens, turkeys, sheep, goats, and horses. For more than 75 years, students and campers have benefited from active participation in the care of barnyard animals and the growing and harvesting of food. Nationwide, we are one of only seven Founding Programs of Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Project. In recent years, the farm has served as nexus for much of our sustainability education.

The teaching farm manager is responsible for the care of all animals; vegetable and flower production; hiring and managing farm interns; and farm record keeping. He or she also works with School faculty and Camp counselors to integrate the farm and garden into academic curricula and daily activities, including preparing children for community-wide events like chicken and potato harvest. Applicants should have experience working in schools or other child-centric teaching environments, and should have demonstrable ability to manage a small staff and to delegate. A strong background in agriculture, knowledge of animal care, background in herd management, and competence with farm machinery are required. The qualified applicant will have experience with horse management and an ability to work closely with the NCS/CTT riding staff, who oversees a robust camp and school riding program. Supplemental farming skills, including basic carpentry, masonry, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical are a plus. Compensation and Benefits: Compensation and benefits include housing and meals; access to campus facilities including a lake, rock climbing crag, rope tow and ski hill, forest trails, wood shop and arts studios; group health insurance and retirement plan. Salary is commensurate with experience.

Minimum Qualifications:
• A desire to work at an educational institution with animal and plant production systems
• A demonstrable ability to coordinate complex tasks in a rapidly changing environment
• A desire to work with teaching faculty and camp counselors to integrate farming systems into a middle school curriculum and camp programs
• A demonstrable ability to supervise and mentor interns
• A demonstrable ability to plan production systems through time
• A demonstrable ability to operate a variety of hand tools, power tools and farm machinery • A desire to work outside in a variety of weather conditions

General Responsibilities:
• Depending upon the season, coordinating and accomplishing all aspects of greenhouse and field plant production systems and/or animal care at the barns and/or maple syrup production

  • seeding, transplanting, weeding, harvesting, soil building
  • acquire and sell horses, acquire and coordinate the harvest of production animals
  • lead morning and afternoon work crews
  • work within a budget and provide accounting of all purchases within numerous budget lines
  • coordinate school or camp community work projects
  • develop and coordinate garden/barn program activities
  • application of organic pesticides
  • collaborate with our kitchen staffs to produce food for the community
  • daily mentorship and supervision farm/garden interns
  • provide multiple teaching and learning opportunities for interns
  • maintain written records pertaining to the farm
  • maintain a 500 bucket sugar maple stand and coordinate with our school program staff to work with students in the production of maple syrup
  • daily barn chores and other related barn activities such as animal maintenance, stall cleaning
  • general carpentry with respect to maintaining farm buildings and pasture fences

    To apply, or for more information, send an email to: applicant@ncstreetops.org, or send a request via U.S. mail to: Attention: Farm Manager/Educator Search Committee, North Country School and Camp Treetops, 4382 Cascade Road, Lake Placid, NY 12946.