the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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we have some qualms about partnership with large seed companies

Nestled in the Norwegian Arctic, secure in an underground vault, rests one resource mankind cannot live without: seeds. The vault is a piece of a larger project of agricultural pioneer Cary Fowler in a passionate race against time to protect the future of our food supply, as captured in a documentary film Seeds of Time.

We sat down with Fowler in advance of our Earth Day screening of Seeds of Time to learn more about preserving biodiversity in agricultural crops and what filmgoers can do to help.

NYBG: How and when did you get the idea for a global seed bank?

Fowler: It was about 2003, and I was doing some work with a group of international agricultural research centers around the world. I took the idea to them, and with their blessings, drafted a letter to the Norwegian government asking whether they might consider doing something like this. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called me and appointed me to head the committee of the feasibility study.

NYBG: Why did you pick Norway?

Fowler: The main reasons were twofold. First, that the Svalbard archipelago was sort-of the perfect location. It was cold, and we wanted the natural freezing environment. It was remote, which meant it was safe, but it also was accessible. Second, the Norwegian government was trusted. No other location could match that.

NYBG: Who decides what seeds are stored in the vault?

Fowler: Svalbard Global Seed Vault’s mission is to conserve seeds related to food and agriculture. Within that group of plants, we don’t make any value judgment. We don’t know what is going to be useful for agriculture 500 years from now. We simply say to other depositing institutions, if you have made a commitment to long-term conservation, send us whatever you have that we don’t already have. We’re a back-up, an insurance policy for other seed banks. You could flip that coin and say they’re also an insurance policy for us. We want a unique sample in at least two places.

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new food rescue program in the hudson valley


Long Table Harvest is a farm food rescue program serving low-income residents in Columbia County, NY, co-founded by long-time Greenhorn Audrey Berman. They’ve partnered with 16 farms in the county to glean surplus produce from June to November and are working with 14 pantries and community based organization to distribute produce to those in need. Columbia County is a uniquely fertile region with the second most farms in the Hudson Valley but a quarter of the population has limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Please consider donating to their worthy cause.

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heroic food- apply now!


The Heroic Food Full-Year Immersion (FYI) Program is designed for veterans with an interest in ecologically sustainable farming for small scale commercial or homestead operations. Trainees either come from local areas and commute from home, or live on the Heroic Food Farm located on 20 tranquil acres just 2 miles outside of Hudson, NY.  They gain hands-on experience through apprenticeships with local mentor farmers, craftspeople and food entrepreneurs. In addition, the program offers workshops, short-courses and individualized support for life and career transitions.

Apply now!

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open source mapping through ny public library


The Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division is very proud to announce the release of more than 20,000 cartographic works as high resolution downloads. We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions.* To the extent that some jurisdictions grant NYPL an additional copyright in the digital reproductions of these maps, NYPL is distributing these images under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. The maps can be viewed through the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections page, and downloaded (!), through the Map Warper. First, create an account, then click a map title and go. Here’s a primer and more extended blog post on the warper.

To read more, click HERE!

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buffalo ny: farm partner wanted

crf 2013

Common Roots Urban Farm is seeking a farm operations partner with a strong interest in farming in an urban setting.  You should have experience growing diversified crops for at least one season and be serious about growing a well organized, bountiful organic vegetable and fruit operation. We would be working on all aspects of the farm together from planning and marketing, to seed starting and field work.  You should be resourceful, responsible, self-motivated, adaptable, and have a sense of humor. Being in an urban setting we often interact with a wide array of people, which you should feel comfortable with.  Social media skills, while not necessary, are definitely a plus!

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another film about young farmers! awesome!

filmGROWING FARMERS, a documentary highlighting the new generation of farmers on Long Island and the struggles and triumphs of the farming community, premiered at the 2012 Hamptons International Film Festival and won the audience award for Best Short Film.  The film includes interviews with Long Island farmers including Sylvester Manor Board Member and Quail Hill Farm Director Scott Chaskey.  Film co-producer  Hilary Leff will be at the screening along with Sylvester Manor Board Member Sara Gordon and Farm Manager Julia Trunzo to lead a round table discussion with the audience and other local farmers including  Herb StrobelFred LeeChris Browder, and more!

The screening will take place at Sylvester Manor on Friday, March 22 at 7:00 pm. Please RSVP to