by Jeff Briggers, Huffington Post
A broad range of community members in Iowa City, Iowa kicked off the “Ecopolis Forum” today, a groundbreaking series of monthly winter conversations on creating the first regenerative city of the arts, food, renewable energy, and commerce in the heartland.
Featuring nationally acclaimed farmer and permaculture expert Grant Schultz, the founder of Versaland in rural Iowa City, the first event included a multimedia show on local farm, food and permaculture possibilities for the river town, with a brief showcase on regenerative city efforts in Germany and Australia.
“An Ecopolis cycles resources,” Schultz said to a crowd meeting at the downtown business, Beadology. “Private enterprise and public services can always agree, efficiency centers on cycling resources.”
Laying out a design for a regenerative showcase in the riverfront district of Iowa’s former historic capital, which gained national attention for its community response torecord flooding in 2008, Schultz called on participants to rethink Iowa City’s sense of place and nature, as well as imported sources of food, sprawling transport systems, and an aging grid dependent largely on fossil fuel energy and subsequent waste in enduring periods of record drought, flooding and changing climate.
Schultz issued a timely challenge to creative cities like Iowa City to take the lead in local food, farm, energy and transportation initiatives that positively enhance rather than undermine our environment.
“By April, 2016, we need 90% of the residents of Iowa City to have access to a community garden plot within 16 blocks (one mile) of their residence,” Schultz said. “Growing food is a human right.”
Read the rest of the article HERE!
The debate really hasn’t occurred in Iowa in a prominent way, in part because of the prevalence of GMOs in Iowa agriculture and because of the clout that such agribusinesses as DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto wield in this state. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t strong feelings in Iowa on both sides of the GMO labeling debate. Click to read the rest of this editorial in the Des Moines Register—>
The following essay written by George Naylor was published published by the Huffington Post on May 9, 2014 and is deserving of attention.
The brief article, “A Five-Step Plan to Feed the World” offered by Professor Jonathan Foley in the latest National Geographic magazine, clearly states the stark features of a global society on the brink of overshooting the capacity of the ecosphere. I highly commend Professor Foley and his colleagues for being honest about the depth of the crisis because in the general media, and especially the farm media, one wouldn’t know that anyone should be alarmed at all. Here in Iowa where the landscape is plastered with millions of acres of genetically modified corn and soybeans along with their poisonous herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and fertilizers polluting our lakes and rivers, our institutions deny that Silent Spring has arrived, let alone that anything needs to change. In fact, politicians and educators of every stripe bow to the god of Norman Borlaug, mesmerized by the World Food Prize mantra that we must feed the world using whatever new technology the chemical giants offer to deal with new problems turning up every day. Alarmingly, looking at the title of Foley’s article, we see the same mantra! Click HERE to read more—–>
The National Conference is coming right up. November 6-8, Des Moines, IA
Gather with women farmers, advocates and landowners from across the US engaged in healthy food and farming for a unique mix of sharing, learning, field tours, and seasonal food from Midwest women farmers!
- Keynotes by Danielle Nierenberg of FoodTank, Pakou Hang of the Hmong American Farmers Association, and Kari Hamerschlag of Environmental Working Group.
- Workshops and panels on dozens of topics ranging from CSA management to soil health to farm bill advocacy.
- Field tours will be offered to showcase women-owned farms and teach skills such as chain-saw use and prescribed fire.
- Opportunities to sponsor and exhibit! (The call for proposals is now closed; if you submitted a proposal, you will be notified of its status by one of our staff members.)
Much more HERE
Cultivating Our Food, Farms and Future: 4th National Conference for Women in Sustainable Agriculture
Nov. 6 – 8, 2013 • Des Moines, IA
This year marks the first time this biannual conference has been held in the Midwest, and we’re hoping that will encourage women from all over the U.S. to attend.
WFAN is your host organization, with strong participation from partners including the Vermont and Pennsylvania Women’s Agricultural Networks, MOSES Rural Women’s Project, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, NRCS and more.
Learning, networking, arts and food, and the company of 350 women just as passionate about healthy food and farming as you are. You won’t want to miss it!
Main conference website, with info on our keynote speakers: Danielle Nierenberg of Food Tank, Kari Hamerschlag of Environmental Working Group, and Pakou Hang of the Hmong American Farmers Association.
Family bequeaths farm to PFI
By Jean Caspers-Simmet, Published 3/05/2013
AMES, Iowa —Tom and Irene Frantzen’s desire to preserve their New Hampton land for generations to come led them to bequeath the 300-acre certified organic farm to Practical Farmers of Iowa.
They announced the transition plan at the recent PFI conference in Ames.
Their voices choking with emotion, the couple offered the details of their bequest.
Tom shared how he was moved by Pope John Paul’s words “the land is yours to be preserved generation upon generation,” when the pontiff visited Des Moines in 1979. As “a busy young farmer,” Tom declined his mother’s invitation to see the pope. He stayed home to paint the barn but listened on the radio.
“I was dumbstruck,” Tom said. “In the years that followed on the farm, we walked by faith and not by sight. We had a direction of stewardship but each step brought uncertainty.” Continue reading