the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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greenhorns feature: resillient farming in a changing new england

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Organic Farming in Concord
By Bonnie Rubrecht

Concord, Massachusetts might be known primarily for its ties to the Revolutionary War, but today it’s a thriving and affluent Boston suburb of a population of nearly 20,000. In the midst of historic mansions and some of the most valuable property outside of Boston, Hutchins Farm has been cultivating 65 acres of organic fruit and vegetables since the early 1970s. Greenhorns had the opportunity to talk to Liza Bemis, the great-great granddaughter of Charles Hutchins, who originally purchased the land that became Hutchins Farm in 1895 for his New England dairy. Liza didn’t envision herself working on the farm she grew up on, but after six years working in an office, she was ready for a change.

“The bigger question,” Liza explained, “is how do we deal with more severe weather events? Whether it’s plant breeding, cover cropping to keep the soil in place … just this past year we had a tornado [in Concord]. What does that mean for us?”

When Liza returned to Hutchins, she began helping out with farmer’s markets and now manages all of the farm’s sales, overseeing select wholesale accounts with local restaurants, dealing with their accounting and managing their farm stand on Monument Street. Family-owned for five generations, Hutchins was originally a dairy called Punkatasset Farm. “But in our grandparents’ era, dairy in New England was dying,” Liza explained. “More than half of the land was sold off, leaving just the original homestead—about 65 acres.” The remaining land was leased out to other farmers, or used for growing hay.

Despite his parents prodding to go into a different career, Liza’s father, Gordon Bemis, was smitten with farming.
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farm classes online this winter

cornell-small-farms-program

Winter is a great time for farmers to rest, slow down the pace, and build new skills for the coming growing season. The Cornell Small Farms Program is pleased to announce the winter roster of online courses available through its Northeast Beginning Farmer Project. These courses help farmers learn from the latest research-based education.

Since 2006, the program has offered high quality, collaborative learning environments online and each year educates hundreds of beginning and established farmers through these courses.

http://www.nebeginningfarmers.org/online-courses/

Are there courses for me? From aspiring to experienced farmers, there is a course for nearly everyone. There’s a handy chart on our course homepage to direct you to the right courses for your experience level.

What are the courses like? All of our courses consist of weekly real-time webinars followed by homework, readings, and discussions on your own time in an online setting. If you aren’t able to attend the live webinars, they are always recorded for later viewing.

Qualify for a 0% interest loan! Participants who complete all requirements of one or more online courses are eligible to be endorsed for a 0% interest loan of up to $10,000 through Kiva Zip.

Each course is $200, but up to 4 people from the same farm may participate without paying extra. See the course description page for more on the course learning objectives, instructors, and outline

http://www.nebeginningfarmers.org/online-courses/


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it takes a region, saratoga springs, nov. 12-14

NESAWG Conference Logo

Back in June, we posted about the upcoming NESAWG (Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group) It Takes a Region Conference. And maybe, at that moment, you thought that this year’s theme of “Putting MOVE in the Movement” was so freaking great that you signed up immediately. If so, good for you! But maybe you, like me, were busy planting kale starts, packing for market, coordinating campaigns, or any of the many other June activities that might keep a Greenhorn busy and, planning to sign up later, left the conference page open in a tab on your browser for months. If so, I wanted to gently remind you that It Takes A Region is in THREE WEEKS: Nov. 12-14 in Saratoga Springs, NY. And, phew, it is not too late to register!

This year’s conference will focus on studying social movements of the recent past in relation to our current work in sustainable food systems and food justice. Examples of workshops include sessions on: Addressing Racism in the Food System, Enhancing Food Security in the Northeast, and Food Hubs. The conference is geared towards farmers, nonprofit professionals, activists, and journalists alike, and there is ample discussion time built into the conference schedule.

A few more logistical things to consider: the deadline to book hotels rooms with the special conference discount is October 28, and there are ride and roommate boards available for those looking to share rooms and/or carpool. For all other information, check out the exceptionally-easy-to-navigate conference website.


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working the land symposium, oct. 10, shelburne, vt

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Next week, in conjunction with its current exhibition Eyes on the Land, the Shelburne Museum in Vermont is holding a Working the Land Symposium. From 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Sunday, October 10, regional scholars will present on the histories, stories, archeology, and symbolism of the working landscapes of New England. These presentations will be followed by a panel discussion by the artists featured in the exhibition.

If all of this cold back-to-school weather has given you a hankering to get your academic on, you can buy tickets here. The cost is $50 for General Admission; $45 for Museum Members; and $15 for Students. For additional questions please contact symposia@shelburnemuseum.org or call 802-985-3346, x3392.

Much more information on the event and the organization can be found on the museum’s Facebook page.


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switzer fellowship app is open — let’s get a farm leader in there!

Every year the Switzer Foundation provides funding for 20 scholars and innovators in terminal graduate programs in New England and California. The scholarship is $15,000 for the course of a year for people doing work on sustainability, agriculture, urban development, and related fields/issues.

Their call of for applications says, “Candidates for the Fellowship should demonstrate outstanding leadership potential, be able to clearly communicate how they will apply their technical or professional expertise to environmental issues, and convey a clarity and sense of purpose about their work.  Leadership qualities valued by the Switzer Foundation include a desire to work collaboratively and across disciplines, a commitment to applied environmental work, interest in developing leadership skills and an appreciation of the importance of networks.  Candidates for the Switzer Fellowship are chosen not only for their excellence in academic and scientific or technical work, but also on their true dedication to aggressively pursue practical solutions to environmental problems.”

If this sounds like you or anyone your know, check out the application instructions HERE, and look at last year’s grantees HERE.


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agrarian investments

agrarian-entrepreneur

Making a profit off of real estate investment is no new thing, even when it comes to farmland. Land grabs make the land valuable without valuing the land. There are some investment groups, though, that aim to invest in land sustainably.

One such group is The Entrepreneur Agrarian Fund (EAF), a private equity fund establishing a network of livestock based farm enterprises that provide local grass-fed, natural and organic meats to markets of the Northeast.

Capitalizing on immediate market demand, the EAF utilizes regional production efficiency to create strong investor returns through cash-flow from a consistent supply of premium crops, and on-going improvement to land and soil quality. Thus making investing in the land more attractive to individuals and groups looking to put their money into something they believe in, without sacrificing a favorable return value.

 

 

read the full post at Agrarian Trust