the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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environmental racisim: hog farms in north carolina

The first thing Violet Branch does when she wakes up is to inhale through her nose to see whether the smell of hog excrement from across the street has seeped into her home again.

“Sometimes when I wake up the odor is in the house. Sometimes before I go to bed, the odor is in the house,” says Branch, 71, who lives next door to a swine farmer who keeps two lakes filled with a swampy mixture of feces and urine that he periodically spreads on his crops as fertilizer. An acrid odor of rotting eggs fills her yard at least twice a week and occasionally her home, giving her nausea and on some occasions causing her to vomit. All she can do is wait until it passes or ask her son who lives next door to drive her to the nearby Walmart where she paces the aisles until her breathing returns to normal.

Branch is one of over 500 residents in eastern North Carolina who are suing Murphy Brown, the pork production arm of Virginia-based meat conglomerate Smithfield Foods. They’re seeking damages over the cesspools, or lagoons as the industry calls them—uncovered earthen storage pools of waste. The complainants say the lagoons disrupt their lives and devalue their properties. Click HERE to read more.

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apply to be a faith fellow

Fellowship dates: January 11 – 14, 2016 
Location: Stoneville, North Carolina

What: A holistic leadership development program for young North American faith leaders (we define “faith leader” broadly) who are exploring vocational issues focused in the areas of food justice, sustainable agriculture, climate change, and ecological resilience.

Why: There are too few leadership development opportunities for young faith leaders working on the issues posed by broken food systems, climate change, and ecological degradation, and yet these are issues that faith leaders and congregations need to confront head-on. Through this fellowship, the next generation of faith leaders will explore and deepen the inner resources needed to sustain their work. This program also provides an opportunity for emerging leaders to consider how they may further engage our pressing ecological issues, connect with other similarly committed leaders, and better tell the story of why this work matters for the life of congregations and people of faith.

Who: Young (age 40 and under) religious leaders who show exceptional promise. The 15 fellows selected will be people who already possess leadership experience in the program’s focal areas.

Where: At a quiet Franciscan retreat center in the North Carolina Piedmont, roughly 30 miles north of Greensboro, NC. The nearest airport is Piedmont Triad Int’l Airport (GSO). Volunteers from St. Francis Springs will shuttle people to and from the airport at no charge.  Fellows will share a room with one other fellow. Single rooms are available for those who need special accommodations.

When: January 11 – 14, 2016. Fellows need to check in by 1pm on Monday, Jan. 11th and will be free to depart no earlier than the morning of Thursday, Jan. 14th. Fellows need to be present for the entire fellowship. Based on experience level and congruence with our program, several fellows will also be invited to lead a workshop at our annual five-day Food & Faith intensive retreat in June, which takes place in western North Carolina.

To apply, click here.

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north carolina: rural academy theatre will be clip-clopping your way soon!

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Bring a blanket to sit on, a coat to wrap up in, cash for the show & all your cheap art needs, a friend to share in your delight & snuggle up to, a sense of wonder, good boots & a flashlight to find your way back to your car, bike or horse.

2015 Tour Schedule:
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rural academy theater fall tour!

Check out the schedule here.

RAT '14 Poster small format


This fall The Rural Academy Theater will clip clop its way into your back yard and heart with a full array of exciting new material to inspire, charm, divert and incite.

The ambassadors of The Slow Theater Movement bring with them an evening of audience manipulated mini-circus, a fast paced, slap stick exposé of North Carolina’s pro frackinglegislation and a two dimensional study commissioned by the University of Cardboard exploring ideas of geographical identity and the human presence as viewed on a geological timeline.  The evening will wrap up with a screening of Georges Méliès’ 1902 classic silent film “A Trip to the Moon” with live, eclectic score provided by The Rural Academy Orkestar. Continue reading

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young farmer mixer in raleigh, nc

National Young Farmers Coalition and Rural Coalition: Young Farmer Mixer
9/14/2014 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Old Milburnie Farm, Raleigh, NC


Join us for a Farm Aid after-party with wood-fired pizza, cold brews and the company of fellow young and beginning farmers from central North Carolina and beyond.
Visit for more info & RSVP.

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manual and youtube channel on good agricultural practices (GAP)

tomato lady

This manual provides real-world examples of how small, diversified farms can cost-effectively manage food safety risk, and meet the standards set in the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification program. The goal was to see whether it was possible for these types of farms to actually pass a GAP audit, without breaking the bank and without requiring them to change their crop production practices. The intent of this manual is to share tips and strategies learned from this research that other small, diversified produce farms can employ to meet GAP certification requirements imposed by potential buyers. Click HERE to download the manual or HERE for their How-To Youtube channel! 

carolina farm stewardship association




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growing the grower

a short piece about one greenhorn in North Carolina.  The article also mentions an important  N.C.  incubator farm – the Farmer Incubator and Grower Project, which greenhorns in the area might want to check out!

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Growing the Grower at Octopus Garden
by Kellyn Montgomery for Catawba County Extension

A few weeks ago, I talked about the challenges of recruiting and fostering beginning farmers. The startup costs, low profit margins, and demanding nature of farming can make it a tough sale for some young people. But for others, like Caroline Hampton at Octopus Garden, these challenges are overshadowed by a passion for sustainability and healthy communities. Hampton’s determination to be a farmer has taken her down a path common to many aspiring farmers, paved by years of apprenticeships and working as a farmhand. Now she is ready to make the leap to farming on her own, which incubator farms, like the Farmer Incubator and Grower (FIG) project in Valle Crucis, can make possible.

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