the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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learn to farm on an island in washington

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Want the skills to manage your own farm? The Organic Farm School on Widbey Island in Washington State offers aspiring farmers a practical education in how to start and manage a small scale organic farm.

They still have a few openings left for 2017 and accept Americorps awards and/or offer need-based scholarships towards tuition.

Our full-time, 8-month long experiential farmer training program is for aspiring farmers seeking to learn and practice the technical and business skills needed to run a small-scale, organic, commercial farm. Through cooperatively managing the school’s ten-acre farm and attending weekly lectures, discussions, and demonstrations on topics including organic crop production, soil science, business planning, and direct marketing, students will acquire a thorough education in organic small farm management. Student are mentored through the creation a personal farm business plan and regular field trips to regional farms allow participants to see a variety of farming styles and talk to experienced producers.

Through management of the student farm, participants develop their practical farm skills including planning, tillage, greenhouse propagation, weeding, harvesting, marketing, record-keeping, and more. Students also learn to operate tractors, make compost, and manage the farm’s livestock. With the skills and knowledge gained and a business plan in hand, program graduates are ready to start and/or manage their own small organic farm. Find out more and apply at www.organicfarmschool.org.


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meatsmith classes are up! vashon, wa

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Brandon and Lauren are not strangers to meatsmithery, in fact they are owners of Farmstead Meatsmith.

“We generally harvest for small family farmers who raise a couple of pigs, a few sheep or a flock of various poultry for their own household.  Think very small scale. The animals never leave the land they know, we use peaceful and humane kill methods specific to each animal’s nature, and we offer every part of every animal back to the farmer.

Unlike many processors, we don’t know the meaning of trim.  Well, we do, but that is why we don’t do it.  We make sure the quality fat you meant for your animal to have, stays there.  Consequently, you will get all your meat back.  And by that we mean 100% of hanging weight.  Standard industry procedure is to dispose of as much as 50% of hanging weight.

Because the dinner table is where the rubber meets the road, particularly with unfamiliar cuts, innards and extremities, Brandon makes himself available for advice long after he leaves your farm.

We also make classes out of harvesting events for interested students near and far. Often we teach the farmers who hire us, enabling them to keep all or part of their processing costs in-house for the next season.

Currently we reach farms in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.  A handful of farmers have flown Brandon to the east coast, the midwest and recently to the UK.”

Upcoming classes include:

3-Day Goat Harvest Classes; Vashon Island, WA

3-Day Pig Harvest Classes; Vashon Island, WA

U-Pick Turkey Harvest; Vashon Island, WA

If you can’t make it to a class check out the other resources Farmstead Meatsmith has to offer, HERE.


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bread is broken

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 12.51.33 PMOn the morning of July 13, like most mornings, Stephen Jones’s laboratory in Mount Vernon, Wash., was suffused with the thick warm smell of baking bread. Jones walked me around the floor, explaining the layout. A long counter split the space down the middle. To the right was what Jones called ‘‘the science part,’’ a cluster of high-tech equipment designed to evaluate grain, flour and dough. Jones, who is 58 and stands a daunting 6 foot 5, calls to mind a lovably geeky high-school teacher. He wore dungarees, a plaid shirt, a baseball cap and a warm, slightly goofy smile. Two pairs of eyeglasses dangling from his neck jostled gently as he gesticulated, describing the esoteric gadgetry surrounding us. The 600-square-foot room, known as the Bread Lab, serves as a headquarters for Jones’s project to reinvent the most important food in history. Click HERE to read more!


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plant breeding for local food systems

Abstract:

The rapid growth and co-option of the local agriculture movement highlights a need to deepen connections to place-based culture. Selection of plant varieties specifically adapted to regional production and end-use is an important component of building a resilient food system. Doing so will facilitate a defetishization of food systems by increasing the cultural connection to production and consumption. Today’s dominant model of plant breeding relies on selection for centralized production and end-use, thereby limiting opportunity for regional differentiation. On the other hand, end-user-driven selection of heirloom varieties with strong cultural and culinary significance may limit productivity while failing to promote continued advances in end-use quality. Farmer-based selection may directly reflect local food culture; however, increasing genetic gains may require increased exchange of germplasm, and collaboration with trained plant breeders. Participatory farmer–breeder–chef collaborations are an emerging model for overcoming these limitations and adding the strength of culturally based plant breeding to the alternative food movement. These models of variety selection are examined within the context of small grain and dry bean production in Western Washington.

Read the full study (pdf)


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job opportunity!

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Here’s a well-paid reporting fellowship with an environmental flavor based on a beautiful island off of Seattle:

YES! Magazine seeks a journalist for a one-year, full-time, in-house reporting fellowship based in our Bainbridge Island, Washington, office, near Seattle. The fellow will receive a salary of $40,000, plus vacation and health benefits.

This fellowship is designed to support reporters from communities that are often underrepresented in the field of journalism. YES! Magazine established this fellowship to increase diversity in our economic and environmental reporting and writing.

Here is the full job description