the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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ice detained migrant farmer activists: thousands responded.

Though those who live farther away from the muddy melting snow of Southern New England, may not have caught wind of the migrant rights struggle that has been playing out between farms and courthouses around the region, it’s worth everyone’s attention.

Since the ICE arrest and detention of farmworkers and Migrant Justice leaders Jose Enrique “Kike” Balcazar Sanchez and Zully Palacios Rodriguez on March 16, hundreds of people have gathered around Vermont and in Boston to demand the young activists release. Migrant Justice is a Vermont-based organization that organizes three regional migrant worker communities to advocate for human rights and economic justice. Especially considering some of the anecdotes in this excellent piece by LatinoUSA.org on their case, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which immigration officials are not intentionally targeting human rights leaders for deportation.

Both are in their early twenties, neither with any prior arrests, and they were on their way home from the Migrant Justice center when they were stopped. Balcazar, as LatinoUSA reports, “is an active community organizer in Vermont, and served on Vermont attorney general T.J. Donovan’s Immigrant Task Force, which was created in January as a response to President Trump’s immigration executive orders.”

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talkin healthcare for farmers

Farmer Taylor Hutchinson photo credit: Kathleen Masterson/VPR

Taylor Hutchinson – photo credit: Kathleen Masterson/VPR

Folks, this is a pretty important conversation!

Already on the margins of income, new farmers face an especially challenging prospect when it comes to budgeting for health insurance.

The good people over at Vermont Public Radio recently did a show on the difficulties of trying to navigate the world of health care for farmer businesses.

UVM rural sociologist and researcher Shoshanah Inwood says when they asked farmers about issues they faced she expected to hear about cost of land, inputs, neighbors, but was surprised to learn that health care was on all the participants minds.

“The number one issue facing farmers was the cost of health insurance. They identified that as the biggest threat to their farm,” she said.

“Well, how many people know a farmer that has an injury? Or a farm family that has a chronic health issue? Or a mental health issue?’ And everybody’s hand goes up,” Inwood said. “And that’s the one issue we really never talk about, are some of those social needs that farm families have.”

Let’s just say this now: health care as a right not a privilege!

You can hear the VPR interview with farmer Taylor Hutchinson (Footprint Farm) and read the full article here 

 


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forget the champagne this NYE: we found lost apple cider

Shacksbury Orchard out of Vergennes, VT is collecting  lost apple varieties and creating remarkably distinctive hard ciders from them. In the best thing since Rodolph came to the Island of Misfit Toys, the orchardists have grafted a Lost Orchard, propagating 12 carefully selected wild and heirloom apple varieties to over 1000 trees. No where near VT? Not to worry! You can find their ciders around the country and even order online.


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keep the soil in organic

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Can produce grown in a soilless medium be called organic? Vermont-based “Keep the Soil in Organic” says HECK, NO. Growing rapidly, this grassroots movement is drawing attention to the degradation of organic certification by big money and corporate interest in hydroponics. Started with a petition by two small-scale organic farmers, Dave Chapman and David Miskell, “Keep the Soil in Organic” has gained traction nation wide and around the world. Organic has always been about the health of the soil, so why change now?

The hydroponic invasion started as a tiny exception here and there years ago. Now it has become the dominant form of production for certified “organic” tomatoes and berries in the US. What began as a minor trickle has become a major flood, as the hydroponic greenhouse producers of the world have discovered that the USDA will allow them entry into the coveted organic market. By changing the fertilizer brew in their mixing tanks to “natural” (but highly processed) soluble fertilizers, and then switching to “approved” pesticides, the hydroponic producers can miraculously become “organic” overnight.

Growing soilless plants with force fed organic nutrients is a step backwards. Perhaps it is a technological innovation, but not an organic innovation. Call it what you want, but it is not organic.

To learn more about the “Keep the Soil in Organic” movement, check out their website HERE for more information, petitions to sign, actionable steps to take, and  videos of a recent farmer-led rally in Vermont. In their words, “Organic without soil is like democracy without people!”


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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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ASAP: demand that obama veto the DARK act!

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The following message is from our friends at the Cornucopia Institute and references the recent GMO labeling law, so called the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, which purports to mandate GMO labeling while, in reality, does not give the FDA the ability to enforce the act, allows companies to opt for labeling practices that are not –er– exactly labeling, and (perhaps most dangerously) takes the right away from states such as Vermont to enact their own GMO labeling laws.

“President Obama has yet to sign the toothless GMO food labeling bill passed by Congress.  If you already called the President, or signed one of the “unofficial” petitions, urging him to veto the bill you still have one more chance to influence him.  Please sign the official We the People petitionto the White House today urging President Obama to veto this bill.”


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hudson valley farmers are making responsible meat eating easier

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Attention Northeastern meat eaters! These beautiful farmers, and our friends, over at Cairncrest sell sustainably-raised, small-scale, hand-processed pork (raised on forages, local non-GMO grains, and whey from yogurt manufacturing) and 100% grass fed beef at locations in NY, PA, and VT. Highest quality meat from caring and skilled farmers. Order what you want online and choose a pick-up location!

They are also looking for individuals or groups who might be interested in setting up buyers clubs in the Hudson Valley. So if you are a passionate foodie go-getter in the that area, contact the farm!