the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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talking co-ops

View More: http://turnquistphotography.pass.us/faith_gilbert

Today on Greenhorns Radio, Sev speaks to Faith Gilbert, author of the Greenhorns Guidebook  Cooperative Farming, a how-to handbook on forming collaborative farm ventures, and the Vegetable Manager and Administrative Lead at Letterbox Farm Collective. Letterbox, which produces everything from vegetables to pasture rabbit (which you may remember from our post earlier this week), uses a cooperative model to increase worker investment and spread power horizontally through the farm.

Faith and Sev will talk cooperative farming, Hudson Valley, and community organizing in the digital agrarian age LIVE today at 4:00 PM on Heritage Radio Network. Tune in then, or, as always, catch the podcast any time after the show airs!


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free download of “pasture rabbit for profit”

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Nichki Carangelo, of the delightful Hudson Valley-based, cooperative Letterbox Farm Collective, has just finished a publication on the commercial production of pasture rabbits. Funded by a SARE grant, “Pasture Rabbit for Profit” is an easily digestible, practical resource for farmers intended to guide readers through the start-up phase of their own pasture-based rabbitry. It includes a full enterprise budget along with housing plans, sample breeding schedules, feed guidelines and other rabbit husbandry basics. And it’s available for free download here!


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farm or three ring circus? maybe both

BK Grange LIC (1)

Greenhorns correspondent Julia Caruso spoke with Anastasia Cole Plakias of Brooklyn Grange about the farmer’s perspective on the relationships between urban and rural farms and Brooklyn Grange’s biggest challenge.

It is undeniable that real estate is skyrocketing in metropolitan areas with New York City arguably leading the pack. City dwellers are being pushed out, businesses are being forced to move, and urban farmers’ creativity is being tested. That’s why when Anastasia Cole Plakias, Ben Flanner, and Gwen Schantz, co-founders of Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm were looking to purchase land in New York City in 2010, they looked up towards the sky.

Brooklyn Grange began as the largest rooftop soil farm in the world with one-acre of land atop a commercial building in Long Island City. They broke even their first year and two years later they expanded and purchased 2.5 acres of rooftop space above the Brooklyn Navy Yard on a 20-year lease. Anastasia, VP of Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm, said that the only way they could be fiscally responsible and create a replicable and scalable urban farm, was by purchasing land closer to the sun. But even with their success it is becoming exceedingly difficult to sustain.

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maine asks trump to make sail freight a reality

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Or, well, almost. As you may remember, two summers ago, the Greenhorns loaded a schooner with 10 tons– $70,000 worth of cargo– and sailed it from Maine to Boston to sell at markets in the city. And then, the NEWSAG conference held a “FoodBarge Hack” lunch at their annual conference. The Portland Press Herald said of the project, “It’s art. It’s protest. It’s celebration. And, who knows? It may even be a practical way to get cargo to market.”

It looks like Maine’s Department of Transportation might actually agree. As BDN Maine reports, “The National Governor’s Association submitted its members’ wish lists to the Trump administration last week. The overall list isn’t being made public, but the Maine Department of Transportation is releasing its proposal: almost half a billion dollars for improving the state’s roads and bridges and to jump-start a project that would revive a long-dormant coastal barge route, from Maine to New York City.” They’re calling it the “New England Marine Highway.”

Though the Greenhorns would like to see a less fossil-fuel dependent model than tug-boat-pulled barges, we’re glad to see people thinking more creatively about viable ways to move goods from agricultural areas to regional markets. Put a sail on that barge— or, oh we don’t know, a solar panel, a hydrokinetic turbine, or some draft power— and we’re all for it!

Missed Maine Sail Freight, read more here!


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rural route film tour 2017

The Rural Route ‘Best of/Shorts’ Tour Program
Upcoming Shows:
March 12 – Decorah, IA @ Oneota Film Festival
March 14 – Cedar Rapids, IA @ CSPS
April 6 – Richmond, VA @ James River Film Festival
May 13 – Portland, OR @ Clinton Street Theater
June 3 – Rochester, NY @ The Little Theater
 
This year’s show contains…Réka Bucsi,’s latest animation, Love, featuring red panthers, black horses, and a giant water guy (and has been nabbing masses of awards all around the world)…Black Canaries, Jesse Kreitzer’s stunning, beautifully-shot 1907 period piece about an Iowa mining family’s continuous descent for coal…Jan van IJken’s The Art of Flying, artistically documenting one of the most spectacular sights on Earth involving starlings in Holland…and Ogasawara, Georgian director, Tato Kotetishvili’s whimsical tale of a Dukhabor wedding on the Armerian border…  Check out the full program at https://ruralroutefilms.com/tour/!  
 
Write to tour@ruralroutefilms.com to set up a screening! And filmmakers, please note, Rural Route’s annual CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS closes on March 18!  The best way to submit is via withoutabox(where you’ll save $5 off the already low entry fee).  


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the seed we need: there’s not enough

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Outside right now, in central Massachusetts, it’s 5 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s a thin crust of fresh snow on the ground, and the trees are brown and bare. But in the flood of seed catalogues that have been flowing into the farmhouse mailbox over the past few months, it’s summer. Peas are fat in the pod, the lettuce is in full flush, and eggplants hang heavy, shiny, and purple. All the grass is green. There are flowers everywhere.

It’s into this imagination land of color and warmth that we’ve been burrowing throughout the coldest season as we attempt to tease out a concrete organic crop plan from this fantasy of perfect bounty. But as with any fantasy, there are limitations to this one’s ability to deliver on it’s promise: our land is not perfect land, our soils are not perfect soils, we are not perfect growers, and the weather, inevitably, will not behave perfectly for our purposes.

Even more than the obvious disparities, however, these catalogues are limited in that they bely the true nature of their industry. Abundance, diversity, and choice: this is what we hope to achieve in the crop plan for this farm’s organic vegetable CSA, and that is what the seed catalogues are selling us. But the reality of the seed industry is not that. The reality of the seed industry is this:

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Consolidation is the name of the game when it comes to seed, and nothing suppresses abundant diversity and choice like the concentration of research funding and intellectual property rights into the hands of just a few. Despite the existence of a select number of seed companies that cater to the needs of small-scale, diversified, and/or organic farmers, and despite the considerable (and still growing) market for organic seed, the actual supply of attainable organic genetics is quite small. And without sufficient organic seed, the hardiness of organic agriculture starts to look—well, considerably less hardy.

According to the Organic Seed Alliance’s 2016 report, most organic farmers still rely on conventional seed because they can’t find organic versions of the varieties they need […] The result for farmers is not simply compromised principles and reliance on regulatory exemptions, but a reservoir of organic germplasm whose quality, in addition to scale, is inadequate to their needs.

The reasoning here is partly ideological, partly regulatory, and partly (the biggest part) due to the nature of seed, explains Tyson Neukirch, former head grower at the Farm School. Growing with organic seed means supporting the growth of the organic seed industry—an act of solidarity as well as self-interest. Increased demand ought to lead to increased supply of organic seed, and increased supply enables organic farmers to better comply with organic certifiers who are becoming more stringent with their requirement that organic-certified farmers use organic seed unless, as the USDA National Organic Program puts it, “an equivalent organically produced variety is not commercially available.”

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help wanted on draft-powered farm in saratoga springs

14991403_1328306107219910_4172481367115883977_oNow Hiring for 2017 Farm Assistant!
Featherbed Lane Farm is a full year and draft horse powered CSA, located just outside of Saratoga Springs, NY, producing vegetables and eggs.  We are seeking a Farm Assistant for the 2017 season.  The Farm Assistant will participate in all aspects of farm work with a focus on vegetable production. A full PDF of the job description is attached here:2017-farm-assistant_featherbed-lane-farm.
For more information about the position, please contact Tim at tim@featherbedlanefarm.com.