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Native food sovereignty in the face of coronavirus

posted May 26, 2020

A “Seeds and Sheep” project in Utah is one of many innovative programs seeking to help Native communities become more food sovereign and self-reliant.

A beautiful article from writer Erik Ortiz, As the coronavirus pandemic strains supplies, Native Americans fight food insecurity. Read to discover the initiatives in food and seed sovereignty in Native communities across the country, to develop “resiliency gardens” and a stronger local food supply.

Photo from Cynthia Wilson, originally published on NBC

“Across the country, as households turn to planting and gardening as a relaxing hobby or to become more self-sufficient during turbulent times, the act of cultivating one’s own food has taken on a greater significance among Native American communities where the pandemic has laid bare an enduring food crisis and a desire to return to customs and traditions some fear are slowly being lost.”


USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Applications Open Today

posted May 26, 2020

From FUTURE HARVEST, the Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture:

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the new Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to provide $16 billion in aid to farmers who suffered economic losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, making it the largest single payment in history to our nation’s farmers.

Today through August 28, 2020, farmers that meet eligibility requirements may apply. Funds will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis, so if you do, we encourage you to apply as soon as possible. 

The following summary is based on information provided by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Read more about required documentation,  expected payouts, farmer eligibility requirements, and what to prepare before applying, click here


boston area gleaners hiring distribution manager

posted May 26, 2020

From the Boston Area Gleaners:

BAG, a nonprofit hunger relief organization dedicated to rescuing surplus farm crops for people in need, is looking to hire a Distribution Manager to join our operations team.

The Distribution Manager fulfills the mission as established by the Board of Directors, which is to rescue surplus farm crops for people in need.  In doing so, we are building a reliable supply chain of agricultural surplus to regional hunger relief food agencies. A very high degree of accountability is required in order to provide excellent customer service and outcomes to our partner farms, recipient agencies, volunteers, donor base, and our primary beneficiaries – food insecure people in eastern MA.

The Distribution Manager oversees receiving, inventory management, order coordination and fulfillment, as well as truck loading, deliveries and other tasks as necessary. This position also works closely with the Operations Director and the Operations Manager to continuously to improve operations.

If you are interested in helping us supply fresh local produce to people facing food insecurity in eastern Massachusetts, please consider applying.

 After reviewing the full job descriptions through this link, interested candidates should submit a resume and cover letter to admin@bostonareagleaners.org.


weekend reading: Coronavirus, meat, and food systems

posted May 23, 2020

From Marion Nestle’s remarkable blog Food Politics, three articles not to miss out on this weekend: “Three exceptionally thoughtful and interesting pieces by people who have been writing about food and food systems for a long time”….

Jane Ziegelman in the New York Times: America’s Obsession With Cheap Meat

Eric Schlosser in The Atlantic:  America’s Slaughterhouses Aren’t Just Killing Animals

Michael Pollan  in the New York Review of Books: The Sickness in Our Food Supply


what to make of this?

posted May 23, 2020

From Vice: Man Who Has Never Had an Actual Job Encourages Laid-Off Workers to Pick Fruit

Some have criticized Prince Charles’ suggestion that people out of work due to coronavirus sign up for underpaid physical labor.

“Charles name dropped Pick for Britain, the government’s newly launched campaign to find seasonal help for farms and farmers who desperately need it. According to The Guardian, 98 percent of the United Kingdom’s fruit pickers came from countries elsewhere in Europe last year, with the majority of them arriving from Bulgaria and Romania. In late March, before the UK locked itself down, the Concordia charity had secured the services of more than 10,000 foreign workers, but only a handful of them were allowed to travel in time.”

“Due to a combination of coronavirus-related travel restrictions, a controversial immigration bill that targets so-called “unskilled” workers, and good old fashioned xenophobia, there are anywhere between 70,000 and 90,000 seasonal positions that still need to be filled—and fast. On Tuesday, Environment Secretary George Eustice introduced the shiny new Pick for Britain website for job-seekers who are ready to be up to their elbows in broad beans.”


Blow Up the Restaurant Industry and Start Over

posted May 23, 2020

A system that relies on exploitation isn’t one that should survive the pandemic. There’s a better way to feed people and care for workers.

Check out this rad article about reimagining the restaurant industry. Full of potent anecdotes woven together by author Marian Bull and published May 21 in The New Republic: founded in 1914 as a journal of opinion which seeks to meet the challenge of a new time. Today, The New Republic is the voice of creative thinkers, united by a collective desire to challenge the status quo. Some tidbits from Marian’s article:

“We need ownership models that challenge the status quo, all along the production line.”

“We need a redistributive model. There’s no way to change what’s wrong in the industry by fussing with the margins.”

“The whole thing about the restaurant industry is that nobody wants to see how the sausage is made.”


Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

posted May 20, 2020

Virtual event
Merlin Sheldrake & Helen Macdonald
Friday, June 5 at 12pm PST

From the wonderful Point Reyes Books, an upcoming virtual release party that you won’t want to miss! —- Register on Eventbrite

Point Reyes Books: “We’re delighted to host Merlin to celebrate the release of Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures. (That’s his copy of the book above, being devoured by Pleurotus, or oyster mushrooms.)

“You may remember fungal biologist Merlin Sheldrake from Robert Macfarlane’s Underland, where Rob describes the pair’s jaunt through Epping Wood to discover the secrets of the “wood wide web.” (You can read that piece in the New Yorker, as well as a glowing review of Merlin’s book published in the magazine just last week.)

“Merlin will be joined by Helen Macdonald, author of the bestselling memoir, H is for Hawk, for this special afternoon event available streaming on Zoom and Facebook Live.

This is a free event, though we encourage you to pay what you can to support the bookstore during this time, or to consider ordering the book from our website.

About Entangled Life

“Dazzling, vibrant, vision-changing . . . a remarkable work by a remarkable writer, which succeeds in springing life into strangeness again.”—Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland


national young farmers coalition, hiring admin intern!

posted May 20, 2020

The National Young Farmers Coalition seeks a part-time Administrative Intern to provide basic financial and administrative support for the Operations Manager. For the full job description and details on applying, please visit  website.

The Administrative Intern will be based at NYFC headquarters in Hudson, NY. Given COVID-19, the Administrative Intern will initially work remotely until it is safe to properly train them in-person on tasks that require being in the Hudson office.  The Intern can expect to work 8-10 hours per week at an hourly rate of $15 per hour. This is a temporary position (through September 2020) with the possibility of becoming permanent.


Regenerative Farming in New Zealand

posted May 20, 2020

How regenerative farming can serve as a tool for global sustainable development

Author John Mccrone recently wrote an article concerning New Zealand’s prospects for regenerative farming in Stuff, a New Zealand news and media site. In it, he situates regenerative farming within the framework of New Zealand’s farming future. Mccrone highlights global challenges and trends: COVID-19, the climate crisis, supply chain shifts in the production of artificial meat, to name a few. He outlines how regenerative farming can and has served as a response to these world obstacles. 

In terms of public health, for example, regenerative farming offers more whole and nutrient rich foods when compared to industrially farmed alternatives.

A Canterbury regenerative cropping farm.

“Industrial farming becomes a false economy when stacked up against the world’s soaring bill for chronic diseases – diabetes, cancer, heart attacks, immune disorders. And governments are now coming to realise that. Time to switch back to food with a proper nutritional density.”

Regenerative farming also helps to mitigate the climate crisis.

As outlined by Mccrone, “biologically-active soil is a huge carbon sink.”

To learn more about regenerative farming, its implications in New Zealand, and its role in shaping a global food future, follow this link to Mccrone’s original article.


Oaklands Farm, Gardiner ME seeks farm manager

posted May 20, 2020

The owners of Oaklands Farm seek an enterprising farmer or farming couple to manage an established grass-fed beef and forage business in central Maine. The property, owned by a family trust, is located 4 miles from I-95, 50 miles north of Portland and 35 miles from midcoast, in a community with a small downtown, food co-op, restaurants, and cultural opportunities.  

To apply, send the above materials by April 30th to:  abby@landforgood.org using the heading “Oaklands Farm Search.”  Applicants who are selected for interviews will be notified by email and will receive additional information regarding the specifics of the situation. Full application materials including more detailed maps with field names, soil types and stewardship guidelines are available here

The farmland is best suited to growing grass and raising livestock. The current business consists of a grass-fed cattle operation with 12 brood cows and calves (Hereford-Angus crosses) and 12 yearlings as of spring 2020; a well-established customer base for retail and wholesale sales; production of forages (wrapped bales and dry hay, both round and square bales) for sale and cattle consumption; and land, buildings and equipment as described above. 

Opportunities include:  a one-year trial period as an employee of existing business in exchange for housing; followed (if trial period is successful) by assuming management of business under yearly operating plan approved by owners and long-term lease from trust. Arrangement includes opportunity to expand business or add new enterprises within basic constraints of land stewardship guidelines and best management practices and to earn an equity stake in the business. Business has an excellent location, stable customers and significant goodwill.

Applicants must have 3-5 years of experience with livestock farming and operating farm equipment. A Letter of Interest should include: (1) a resume detailing farming experience and skills in the following areas: raising/handling livestock; soil management and raising forage crops; operation and care of farm equipment; marketing; business practices, record keeping, and finance; and (2) a one-page statement describing your vision for a farm that utilizes the assets described above while stewarding the land in a sustainable manner.