the irresistible fleet of bicycles


Leave a comment

lessons from a culinary workforce development program

credit: Berkely Food Institute

Berkeley Food Institute Community Engagement and Leadership Fellow and Sociology PhD student Carmen Brick, writes about her experience with workforce development programs for the BFI blog. From the outset, Carmen was aware of the perceived issues with workforce development programmes which are often criticized on the basis that they teach soft rather than hard skills and that they take financial advantage of those without access to other options. Yet Carmen observed another side of the situation from her work with those in the Kitchen of Champions program.

what I observed was that soft skills “training”—ranging from employment services such as crafting a resume to discussing short- and long-term goals and strategies to overcome barriers—was welcomed by many program participants who wanted more support in remaking their lives.

Carmen’s perspective on these programs is interesting and considered but most significantly she recognises that they are not perfect and that there is much room for improvement, but also potential for transforming these programs into resource that can encourage local community empowerment and food justice saying:

Given this potential, advocates and researchers focus upon food justice must learn more about the outcomes of these programs and their ability to contribute to fair employment in the food system.

To read the full article, click HERE


Leave a comment

yikes! ‘human pet food’ scandal in brazil

Farofa_brazil.jpg

credit: User Carioca/wikimedia commons

The Guardian wrote an article recently about the ‘human pet food’ scandal that is currently unfolding in Brazil.

“Prosecutors in Brazil’s biggest city have opened an inquiry into a controversial plan to feed poorer citizens and schoolchildren with a flour made out of food close to its sell-by date that critics have described as “human pet food”.

The food product (if you can truly even call it that) is call farinata (flour in Portuguese) and is suggested as a way to feed the poor at no cost to the government. The primary concern in this case is the nutritional content of what the government is planning on feeding to people. João Doria a multimillionaire businessman who is touted as a possible candidate for next year’s presidential elections has described farinata as “solidarity food” and said it was “made to combat hunger and also supplement people’s alimentation”.

“Poverty, homelessness and unemployment have risen in recent years as Brazil struggled with a debilitating recession. But nutritionists attacked the plan, arguing that nobody knows exactly what farinata is made of – nor even whether it is safe.

“It is not food, it is an ultra-processed product,” said Marly Cardoso, a professor of public health and nutrition at the Federal University of São Paulo. “You don’t know what is in it.”

To read the full article click HERE.


Leave a comment

agtools technology to reduce waste for growers, shippers and buyers

unnamed (1).png

credit: Agtools

Despite the fact that 1 in 7 Americans if food insecure, every year, American consumers, businesses, and farms spend $218 billion a year, or 1.3% of GDP, growing, processing, transporting, and disposing  of food that is never eaten. That’s 52 million tons of food sent to landfill annually, plus another 10 million tons that is discarded or left unharvested on farms. Food waste occurs because of low market prices and high labor costs, which makes it uneconomical for farmers to harvest all that they produce. There is currently a lack of streamlined technology in the agriculture industry to provide accurate information that is timely and useful to industry operations.

AgTools hopes to reduce the amount of food that is wasted and increase sustainability by bringing new intelligence to the agriculture market. Their system employs real time information and statistics regarding time, cost, supply, demand, and more throughout the food supply chain and aims to optimize the economic results of all stakeholders in the industry but addressing the major communication gaps that exist between farmers and retailers. Their proprietary technology incorporates all levels of business operations from farm production to various stages of logistics, suppliers and buyers for Tier I, II or III and provides alerts and information that will directly benefit and influence decisions in the industry on a regular basis such as weather patterns and consumer trends.

Growers can use the software to plan their harvest based on solid information to get the most out of their crop. Shippers can get the data they need to have to ensure the timely and most efficient delivery of products. And buyers can get real time data to plan their purchases, know what is going on in the market every day in terms of product, availability, surplus, shortfalls, and basis for shifts in pricing

To find out more (and to try their free trial) click HERE


Leave a comment

applications for calypso farm & ecology center’s 2018 farmer training program are now open!

2018 Farmer Training Program Flyer.jpg

Calypso Farm & Ecology Center (Fairbanks, AK) is now recruiting applications for their 2018 Farmer Training Program, a 5-month immersive residential programs. The Program runs from May 7th to September 29th, 2018  and is designed to equip participants to become self-reliant farmers through immersion in all aspects of farm operations, working alongside experienced farmers for an entire Alaskan growing season. Calypso’s unique setting also provides exposure and experience with farm-based environmental education, community events, and a range of homesteading skills. The following is just a selection of the skills covered over the season:

  • Seeding and caring for greenhouse transplants
  • Prepping the field for planting
  • Planting and direct seeding
  • Managing soil fertility
  • Weed and pest management
  • Caring for farm animals
  • Harvesting
  • Operating a CSA
  • Running a farm stand and selling to local restaurants
  • Working safely, using Natural Balance
  • Whole Farm Business Planning
  • Blacksmithing & Wood Carving
  • Building
  • Wool Processing
  • Tool Making and Maintenance

This program is particularly good for beginning farmers as it includes a ‘Beginning Farmer’s Bonus’. Any participant who completes the entire program (including completing their whole farm plan) will be eligible for a bonus payment after completion of the program, intended to support any future farming plans. Farmer Bonus’s are based on need as well as program participation.

Students can choose to take this program as a 6 credit course through the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

To find out more about the program, click HERE


Leave a comment

read: with only 60 years of harvests left, how do we transform our food systems?

chagford-1-759x500

credit: Indie Farmer 

Elise Wach from the Indie Farmer wrote an article published last week that explores the necessary trajectory of the future of farming. At a time when industrial agricultural systems are depleting our soil and placing quantity of produce and profit before quality and ecological health, this discussion is crucial. She also addresses the myths and misunderstandings attached to the local and organic food and farming movement.
 “Ecological and local food movements – and the farmers supporting them – are not trying to be elitist. They are trying to survive. In our current socioeconomic system, which ‘externalises’ the social and ecological costs of production, farmers tend to have two main choices – quality or quantity. They either produce for luxury niche markets (e.g. organic salad leaves, fancy preserves and veg boxes) or produce as much as possible through increasing their farm size (a strategy largely influenced by land area-based subsidies) and using industrial practices that destroy the soil, wildlife and water.”
 It’s a fantastic article that gets to the core of the problems in the current global food system, saying:
“It is clear that the existing food and farming system is not serving the public interest. It is also clear that efforts to change our food system through existing socioeconomic models have not worked. The problem isn’t organic. It’s capitalism.”
To read the full article by Indie Farmer, click HERE


Leave a comment

open gate field day: ortensi farm ny

calves-in-deep-grass-600x398.jpeg

credit: HMI

Open Gate: Ortensi Farm Day
November 11, 2017
Ortensi Farm in Richfield Springs, NY
Tickets $25, includes lunch!

 

Ortensi Farm Day is part of HMI’s Open Gate Learning Series. Open Gates are peer-to-peer action-based learning days with short presentations and small group exercises geared for participants to share discoveries and management techniques with guidance from experienced facilitators and producers. Holistic Management works with nature, not against it. The day will include discussions about planet and animal-friendly management techniques that lead to richer soil, improved water containment, nutrient-dense food, more successful farms and ranches, and thriving communities.

Register HERE  before November 3rd to take part in this on-the-ground learning day, connect with others who care about a healthy food system and help strengthen your local communities.

 


Leave a comment

the peasantry fight for control

19170704_Riot_on_Nevsky_prosp_Petrograd.jpg

Street demonstration in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) after Provisional Government troops open fire, July 4, 1917. Viktor Bulla / Wikimedia

In a recent article about the 1917 February and subsequent October Revolutions, Jacobin magazine discuss how, as in so many other revolutions, boiling point was reached in the fields and among the peasant class. The peasants were discounted by many at the time, on the right and left alike as ignorant and unimportant, or in the word of Marx as “the class that represents barbarism within civilization.”

Throughout 1917, however, these supposedly backward people surprised their supporters in the intelligentsia with their clever revolutionary activity. While each region and village had its own nuances, the main structures of this largely self-generated politics shared many characteristics.

First, the peasants banded together to form village committees. They also called these organizations peasant committees, although trusted non-peasants were sometimes allowed to take part: teachers, priests, and even landowners found themselves participating in committee activities. The rural workers quickly excluded anyone from those groups who tried to dominate the organization.

Click HERE to read the full article.


Leave a comment

screening of ‘the native and the refugee’ in new lebanon ny tomorrow

22555115_1175261922574465_7013067964166674909_n.jpg

Abode Farm are holding a screening of Native and the Refugee, a film directed and produced by friends of the farm, tomorrow, October 24th. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers Matt Peterson and Malek Rasamny and will take place in the Family Room in Fatah Hall at the Abode of the Message. Fatah is accessible from the central courtyard of the Abode.

Since 2014, Matt Peterson and Malek Rasamny have collaborated on The Native and the Refugee, a multi-media documentary project profiling the spaces of the Indian reservation in the United States and Palestinian refugee camps in the Middle East. They will give a presentation on their project with an overview of the resonances between American Indian and Palestinian experience, and will then screen a selection of their short films, followed by an open discussion.

Matt Peterson’s writings have appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Evergreen Review, The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, The L, The New Inquiry, and New York Press. In 2014 he completed feature film on the Tunisian insurrection, Scenes from a Revolt Sustained, with a production grant from the Doha Film Institute. He co-edited, with Barney Rosset & Ed Halter, From the Third Eye: The Evergreen Review Film Reader (Seven Stories Press, 2017). He is currently a member of Woodbine in Ridgewood, New York City.

Malek Rasamny is a researcher and filmmaker based in both New York and Beirut whose writings have been published in The Daily Star and Fuse. He’s worked at the Maysles Documentary Center, and was a founding member of the LERFE space in Harlem, the Ground Floor Collective, and Red Channels. He is a regular speaker at the Afikra international monthly series on Arab history and culture, and is currently working on a research project surrounding Druze sovereignty in Lebanon, Syria, and Israel.

 

Details:

Tuesday Oct 24 @ 7PM
Abode of the Message, FATAH Family Room
New Lebanon, NY

Location: Abode of the Message, 5 Abode Road in New Lebanon, NY. Follow signs for visitor parking and enter the Fatah building via the central courtyard.

Overnight Lodging:
The Abode has room to host those traveling from out of town for this event. Lodging will be provided in exchange for volunteer work the next morning. Please let them know if you will be needing accommodations!


Leave a comment

event: see winona la duke speak about language, the living world, and the commons

The theme of the upcoming 37th annual E.F. Schumacher Lectures, taking place on November 4th, is “Choosing the Path that is Green”,  a reference to the prophecy of the Anishinaabe peoples. Winona LaDuke, who is a member of the Anishinaabe is this years keynote speaker. La Duke is an activist, community economist and author and her work has always been in alignment with the work of the Schumacher Center and of Greenhorns. She has been a persistent advocate for community land stewardship, local food sovereignty and sustainable resource use. She has a unique ability to communicate the stories, ideas and wisdom of the Anishinaabe people in ways that are both timely and relevant.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

celebrate with farmworkers in vermont

20171003_122134.jpg

migrantjustice.net

As part of Food Week of Action, today we are celebrating with farmworkers in vermont and as we recognise the huge milestone that was reached in the food and farming world earlier this month.

On Tuesday October 3, farmworker leaders from Migrant Justice and the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s jointly signed the Milk with Dignity agreement.  The legally-binding contract establishes Ben & Jerry’s as the first company in the dairy industry to implement the worker-driven human rights program.  This momentous occasion marks the beginning of a new day for dairy, one that provides economic relief and support to struggling farm owners, in the form of a premium paid by Ben & Jerry’s, while ensuring dignity and respect for farmworkers.

Migrant Justice spokesperson Enrique “Kike” Balcazar spoke to those assembled before he signed the agreement himself to mark the historic moment:

“This is an historic moment for dairy workers.  We have worked tirelessly to get here, and now we move forward towards a new day for the industry.  We appreciate Ben & Jerry’s leadership role and look forward to working together to implement a program that ensures dignified housing and fair working conditions on dairy farms across the region. And though this is the first, it won’t be the last agreement of its kind.”

Read the full article by migrant justice HERE.


Leave a comment

bad news for those of you following the dicamba issue…

soy-964327_960_720.jpg

The EPA has finally announced its decision on dicamba last week. The department, headed by Scott Pruitt has decided to allow farmers to continue to spray the weed killer on Monsanto soybean and cotton crops. With increasingly widespread use of roundup and other weed killers, many invasive weeds have become resistant over time. Dicamba is marketed as a product that can replace these now ineffective weed killers. There is no mention of what is to happen when Dicamba also fails to be an effective weedkiller, although if we keep spraying our food and environments with poison, we may not be around to have to contend with this problem. (After all, there is significant evidence to suggest that the use of pesticides over the last few decades has lead to a rapid increase in colony collapse and pollinator deaths.)

The use of dicamba is not just a problem for the animals and people who end up as the eventual consumers, or for the farmer who chose to employ it on their land. It’s toxicity be confined within the borders of a particular piece of land and there is a huge risk of drift into neighbouring farms. Diamba cannot be contained just the latest EPA regulations are a feeble attempt to do just that. This is the text of their October 13th press release:

EPA has reached an agreement with Monsanto, BASF and DuPont on measures to further minimize the potential for drift to damage neighboring crops from the use of dicamba formulations used to control weeds in genetically modified cotton and soybeans. New requirements for the use of dicamba “over the top” (application to growing plants) will allow farmers to make informed choices for seed purchases for the 2018 growing season.

“Today’s actions are the result of intensive, collaborative efforts, working side by side with the states and university scientists from across the nation who have first-hand knowledge of the problem and workable solutions,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Our collective efforts with our state partners ensure we are relying on the best, on-the-ground, information.”

In a series of discussions, EPA worked cooperatively with states, land-grant universities, and the pesticide manufacturers to examine the underlying causes of recent crop damage in the farm belt and southeast.  EPA carefully reviewed the available information and developed tangible changes to be implemented during the 2018 growing season. This is an example of cooperative federalism that leads to workable national-level solutions.

Manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to label changes that impose additional requirements for “over the top” use of these products next year including:

  • Classifying products as “restricted use,” permitting only certified applicators with special training, and those under their supervision, to apply them; dicamba-specific training for all certified applicators to reinforce proper use;
  • Requiring farmers to maintain specific records regarding the use of these products to improve compliance with label restrictions;
  • Limiting applications to when maximum wind speeds are below 10 mph (from 15 mph) to reduce potential spray drift;
  • Reducing the times during the day when applications can occur;
  • Including tank clean-out language to prevent cross contamination; and
  • Enhancing susceptible crop language and record keeping with sensitive crop registries to increase awareness of risk to especially sensitive crops nearby.

Manufacturers have agreed to a process to get the revised labels into the hands of farmers in time for the 2018 use season. EPA will monitor the success of these changes to help inform our decision whether to allow the continued “over the top” use of dicamba beyond the 2018 growing season. When EPA registered these products, it set the registrations to expire in 2 years to allow EPA to change the registration, if necessary.

EPA Website 

These new regulations do not address the issues of drift in any substantial way. Farmer David Wildy, who has first hand experience of having his soy crops destroyed by Dicamba drift from a neighbouring farm, in an interview with NPR earlier this month spoke about how Dicamba use is dividing rural communities. The inability for farmers to control the drift in any meaningful sense means that there is no guarantee that neighbours will not have their crops and livelihood destroyed (not to mention the toxic  effects that it has on wildlife ecosystems, soil and water health, and human health).

Most worryingly, as the risk from drift increases, more and more farmers in cotton and soy farming regions will be more increasingly likely to adopt Dicamba resistant crops and subsequently adopt Dicamba as a means of weed control. Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy unsurprisingly welcomed the new regulations and expects the use of Dicamba to double this coming year as a result.


Leave a comment

join the climate justice movement.

30449764332_0762112a30_b

credit: Fibonacci Blue

As part of Food Week of Action, the Presbyterian mission, sponsors of the week, bring us a message of climate justice today.

God created the earth, and it is sacred. As Psalm 24:1 proclaims, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it.” Therefore we are called to stewardship of the earth. When we work to protect creation, we are answering God’s call to till and keep the garden (Genesis 2:15). In the face of deepening ecological crises caused by the earth’s warming, our call to act as earth’s caretakers takes on more meaning. Our efforts will curtail the shrinking of sacred waters, the endangerment of living creatures of every kind, and the vulnerability of our brothers and sisters in developing countries.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has identified food, transportation, and energy as the three key personal areas that need action to help stem climate change. The Presbyterian mission have created a resource to educate the public about the actions that they can take personally to protect against the worst effects of climate change.

The advice given is simple and has an aspect of theological reflection, and if undertaken on a large scale has the potential to affect great change. They include measures such as eating local food, organic or sustainable food, eating less meat, and a reduction in personal consumption. If  you want to get more involved in the climate justice movement and take part in the creation of resilient communities that support people and the environment check out Our Power campaign to see what is happening in your area and how you can get involved.


Leave a comment

the farm school is now accepting applications for 2018

unnamed.png

Program Dates: October 2018 – September 2019

Since 2002, The Farm School has offered a practical, real-world agricultural education for aspiring farmers, educators and community leaders. The Learn to Farm program is a full-time, residential immersion in the work and rhythms of sustainable farm life. Everyday, and in every way, student farmers at The Farm School learn to farm by farming, supported by coursework, mentoring and instruction from staff farmers.

The Farm School helps their students establish conceptual understanding and physical competency in a wide range of skills and areas of farm production: forestry, animal husbandry, carpentry, mechanics, business planning, homesteading, marketing, cooking, organic vegetable production and beyond. The program curriculum reaches one hand back into history to pull forward the best of what traditional agriculture has to offer and with the other hand pushes ahead into cutting edge creative and dynamic ways of enriching our stewardship of land.

If you are interest in applying, please note that the Priority Application Deadline is February 15, 2018
 
There are number of visiting days coming up in the next few months, you can register for one of the below by submitting your farm application. 
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Thursday, November 30, 2017
Thursday, December 4, 2017

There are a number of fellowships and significant tuition assistance is available in a number of forms directly from the Farm School. Their goal is to assemble a terrific and diverse group of students, with few limitations due to their capacity to contribute financially to the program.
 
Doune Trust Fellow: 
One full scholarship is available for a uniquely bright and compelling student representing an underserved community with great potential to serve or lead that community agriculturally. This scholarship carries the full value of the student farmer tuition contribution, including room, board, books and materials.
 
Willow Tree Fellow: 
One full scholarship is available for a student that identifies as African American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx or Indigenous and who demonstrates particular promise to make good use of the Learn to Farm Program’s agricultural training. This scholarship carries the full value of the student farmer tuition contribution, including room, board, books and materials.

The Farm School is licensed by the Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure as a private occupational school and approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide training for eligible veterans under the GI Bill. A full year’s college credit is available for Sustainable Food and Farming majors at the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture. The Farm School will honor the full value of AmeriCorps Education Awards.
For more information about available tuition assistance and fellowships, click HERE

 


Leave a comment

insect numbers fall by 76% in 27 years signaling an impending ‘ecological armageddon’

images

The Guardian are warning of an ecological armageddon due to the data published in a study released yesterday which shows that insect populations have declined by over 75% in the last quarter century.

“Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth [but] there has been some kind of horrific decline,” said Prof Dave Goulson of Sussex University, UK, and part of the team behind the new study. “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”

Insects are one of the most crucial elements in the global ecosystem as vital pollinators and as a food source for animals further up the food chain such as bats, birds and amphibians. The research was carried out in Germany which has been a popular location for recent studies on entomology with specific focus on the decline of pollinators. We have written before about the role of widespread pesticide use in the decline of insect population. Although researchers in this most recent study were unable to confirm the exact impact of pesticide use on the mass extinction of insects, other similar and more specific field studies have confirmed that there is a causal link between the two.

It is becoming more and more clear with every passing day that our current agricultural practices that require enormous chemical inputs and the clearing of natural wildlife refuges cannot be continued. Large scale industrial agriculture, rather than feeding the world is killing it. Once we exceed the ecological tipping point of an ecosystem, irreversible collapse is imminent.

You can read the full study on which the Guardian article was based article HERE