the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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it’s art, it’s recycle, it’s fuel, it’s interfaith, it’s awesome

We couldn’t help but wrap up this week with a little re-post of this incredibly inspiring and fun initiative coming of Amsterdam.

When you spend  a lot of your life in the country it’s easy to forget about all the cool things that people in cities get up to. And this here is great example of communities, professionals, artists, and academics coming together to solve a unique challenge together.

Alors,

From the blog:

Supernatural is an exhibition and community project developed by Pink Pony Express which worked with a muslim community in Amsterdam to convert leftover bread into cooking gas.

Kolenkit is a majority Muslim district in western Amsterdam with a large amount of waste bread. According to the Koran, bread is not allowed to be thrown away and must be given back the the earth, which has developed a problem with pests. Specialty bins were provided by the municipality to collect and dispose of unwanted bread in a manner that is compatible with Muslim teachings.

Per week there are about 200 loaves of bread thrown away by Muslim families in the Kolenkit. This could generate approximately 60,000 liters of biogas, One stovetop burner set on high uses approximately 1000 liters of biogas per hour. Thus, the bread from the Kolenkit could keep a stove top burning for 60 hours per week. – cyclifier.org

Well, you get the general sense of things. Head on over to their sites, blogs and what not to get more info.

Now we’re all thinking of different ways we can make biogas on the farm… it’d be a great addition to the composting toilet.

Some nice news to digest 🙂


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the incredible american-made, open source, radically accessible, and utterly adaptable tractor

One thing that is clear when you look at Oggún’s website, watch its videos, and study its tractor, is that this a no-frills organization. No frills: just results. And that is precisely why we love them and it so much.

In his ever-relevant essay “In Distrust of Movements,” Wendell Berry writes that the local food and land movement must “content itself to be poor,” because, “We need to find cheap solutions, solutions within the reach of everybody, and the availability of a lot of money prevents the discovery of cheap solutions. The solutions of modern medicine and modern agriculture are all staggeringly expensive, and this is caused in part, and maybe altogether, because of the availability of huge sums of money for medical and agricultural research.”

What we see here, in the Oggún tractor, is exactly what kind of practical, pragmatic results come from a thrifty approach. Accessing Cuba’s local food shortage, Cuban-born  Horace Clemmons and his business partner Saul Berenthal quickly realized that Cuban farmers needed technology that was simple, rugged, and easy-to-repair. And then they asked, why don’t tractors like this already exist, tractors like the original Allis Chalmers G that farmers in the US used in the 1950s? They suspected that stock-based shareholder business models might be to blame: too much money and the input of too many people with money who just do not understand the problems of small farmers.

So, in the grand spirit of Farm Hack, they used open-source technology to build a tractor with all off-the-shelf parts. Thus, repairs can be done in the field and in small local machine shops. Oggún adapted its business model to keep over-head costs low, partner closely with other local businesses, and never develop products that are planned for obsolescence. The tractors is made in Alabama, but it’s available to and possibly revolutionary for small family farmers all around the world.

Tune into Greenhorns Radio today at 4:00 PM to hear Locky Carton, Oggún partner and graduate of the University of Iowa’s agricultural business program, speak more about this exciting project. If you can’t tune in today, don’t forget that a podcast version of our show is always available at the Heritage Radio Network!


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ever needed help renting farmland? then you can help these people make an app for that.

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Farmers who have, would like to, or are currently leasing farm land, you input is needed!
Imagine that after a tiring search of rental properties, you have finally found the right plot of land to farm on, but you have little experience with legal matters and feel like your lease agreements are written in a foreign language– I know, I know, you’re saying, Imagine?! That is literally my life; just bear with me– imagine that in this moment, when it is probably a Friday night and no attorney will be available until Monday, that you can actually use a well-designed online app to get personally-tailored legal guidance.
This is exactly what researchers at Vermont Law School’s fantastic Center for Agriculture and Food Systems are working to create: a first-of-its-kind Farmland Lease Builder mobile app that will provide legal guidance tailored to individual farmer situations and draft leases to be used in conversations with attorneys and in lease negotiations. The idea is that farmers would to be able to use the free app to get as far as possible toward building a useful lease before they need to talk to an attorney. The app will be tailored to sustainable and organic operations — encouraging longer-term land tenure to facilitate stable farm businesses and investment in soil-building.

They have reached out to the Greenhorns asking if there are farmers or farm advocates in our network that would be willing to be interviewed by the researchers about their leasing experiences. Are you? If so, express your interest in the comments or contact Amanda N Heyman directly at amanda@jamborheyman.com.


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yikes!!!!! the future of agriculture or science fiction?

In a recent ECONOMIST article, the future of agriculture is controlled by computers, genetic manipulation, big data, and the assumption that we humans know what is going on with soil-plant relationships (*sarcasm*). This article reads scarily of science fiction.

“Farms, then, are becoming more like factories: tightly controlled operations for turning out reliable products, immune as far as possible from the vagaries of nature. Thanks to better understanding of DNA, the plants and animals raised on a farm are also tightly controlled. Precise genetic manipulation, known as “genome editing”, makes it possible to change a crop or stock animal’s genome down to the level of a single genetic “letter”. This technology, it is hoped, will be more acceptable to consumers than the shifting of whole genes between species that underpinned early genetic engineering, because it simply imitates the process of mutation on which crop breeding has always depended, but in a far more controllable way.”


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does food tech hurt small farmers?

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Does Food Tech Help Farmers?,”was the central question of a Civil Eats article from last week. Reporter Dave Holt spoke to several small scale CSA and market farmers about their experience with the recent glut of internet startups– from Farmdingo to Good Eggs– asking mainly if e-commerce was good for business. Some farmers said yes, some said no. Most indicated that regardless of the relative benefits and costs of partnering with online distribution companies, doing so is becoming increasingly necessary. In the words of one farmer interviewed, “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

 

But the farmers say they were disappointed, when, after being Farmigo’s loyal customer for several years, the company (backed by $26 million in funding) “came into the market we’ve developed over the past 25 years and started competing with us.”

We’d love to hear what you think. Let us know in the comments section if you use or have used an e-commerce platform for marketing and how it worked for you!


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the year that ended dangerously: the ETC’s ireverant, snarky, and spot-on end of year review

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The ETC’s Report also contains this fabulous comic.

Every year, our friends at the ETC (stands for Action Group on Erosion, Technology, and Concentration) puts out an, as they say, “irreverent,” year-end recap– and this year’s is out now! We’ve compiled a brief list of the highlights from the 2015 edition of the ETC’s yearly End of Year Review:

  • Comparing itself to the Grinch that Stole Christmas when complaining about the Paris attacks, the ETC explains how in the proceedings the Climate Activists “lost time and ground that we can’t recover.”
  • Turns out phytoplankton are carbon sequesters.
  • The Good and the Bad news coming out of the tech sphere (gene drives, AI, Ben and Jerry’s, Technology Bank…)
  • Whimsical historical anecdotes from the year (good moral boosters)
  • And this favorite quote: ““Let’s be clear about this, our company was dishonest. And in my German words, we have totally screwed up.”
  • A not-to-be-missed reading list!
  • Clairvoyant prophecies regarding 2016.

Read it here!