greenhorns winter newsletter
What a gentle start to winter. After that one big snow, its been just fine and sunny. Much nicer than last year. Good weather for making lists, actually. What will we need to succeed?
We will need to work as a team.
We will need know our history.
We will need to occupy public offices, and lobby effectively.
We will need small-scale manufacturing + technology that serves our farming practices.
We need to keep innovating, particularly when it comes to accessing capital and land.
We need to stay joyful and not get sour when the weather is crazy.
We need to gossip with each-other to discern trends, mimic good models, avoid risky ones.
We need more national and regional leadership.
We need to be serious about the health of our bodies and the solvency of our enterprises.
We need to judiciously use government-subsidized credit from the FSA or Farm Credit.
We need to negociate with the suburban and gentrified urban edge around our cities, to find peace and respectful engagement, same goes with non-farming landowners and slow-money philanthropists.
We need to form coalitions, coops, associations, and partnerships.
We need to inspire+ challenge! the USDA agencies ( especially NRCS) to understand and serve us.
We will need to feed more people on less land in more biologically intensive and labor intensive ways.
We need to win the hearts, the kids, and the loyal pocketbooks of consumers.
We need to redeem foodstamps for those who cannot afford our produce.
We need babysitters and accountants, graphic designers and high speed internet.
We need to figure out the student debt situation. Farming isn't a good way to service debt.
America has kindled an influx of ambition and determination into the agricultural sector, this is significant. Documenting + championing that phenomena around the country has occupied much of my time over the past 4 years. We've gladly listened as the chorus grew stronger, more confident. Recorded the voices of young farmers speaking about purpose, about methodology, about practical concerns, about how to bring about change. Hosted all sorts of gatherings, bundled and broadcast them. Boring? not in the least. We've had a grand time as opportunistic little press darlings, with fun things to say, and a film to promote. But ultimately its collaboration that makes it happen. Our methodology is community organizing, networking, and communications. We produce events for young farmers. Which is to say we create the space for conversations about the logistics of change both in person ( around a fire or a board room table) and in the realm of new media. To support this movement's movement forward.
What is the transformational potential of this young movement?
We can populate the landscape with idealism, learning from our elders in the sustainable agriculture movement, more that that, we can spread an infectious culture of possibility. Undaunted and positive, it is right that we should attack the system at its very foundation, build the new economy starting at the interface of human and natural systems. What a great consipiracy, lets choose agriculture, a system of production that generates jobs, income and food. Where better than small farming, a truly generative sector of our ravaged economy , and when practiced sustainably contributes mightily to the restoration of local places and local capacity.
Starting with our apprenticeships, each season sees us stronger, makes us tougher, more resiliant and determined to see it through. Eating well, and working outside builds courage, rosy cheeks, endurance. We are not buying BIG business as usual, no way! We are producing the many small businesses of tomorrow. It is brave! it is hard! But when we start our own businesses, we take very practical actions needed to undertake the transition. We build the bridge from today.. over to tomorrow. If we get our way, if we get our land, if we can access capital to build our businesses and support our young families... this new yeomanryl is far more potent that you might first think. We represents a politics of possibility, and the freedom to speak our minds and institute our principles.
The timing is poetic, particularly in the Northeast, where farmers are restoring barns built by our nation's first statesmen, who were also farmers. Supporting this movement also means supporting the culture of possibility, and a certain visionary stubborness. We are not here to be employees to the agri-business agenda, we are not here to grow commodities for export, we are not here to consume. We are here to follow the work begun by Robert Rodale, Lady Eve Balfour, Helen and Scott Nearing and many others.
To expand and endure. To organize, to reproduce. Same operating agenda as life itself, creating order and upward movement from the materials at hand.
At this point, heading towards the Farmbill I'd say we're in pretty good shape. We have the dataset, we have the stories, we have the start of a national network. We, the young farmers movement, are well represented in the media and on the hill by more and more literate young farmers. There are farmer-statemen and women in our ranks, there is ambition and leadership. National Young Farmers Coalition issued our Report, "Building a Future with Farmers", which shares a lot in common with the Grow NYC report "Farmers on the Edge"- both addressing the challenges faced by farmers. And we've got our legislation organized, The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act. We'd love to get Olympia Snowe to sponsor it, so if you're in her district make a call. Interest is strong, though the economy is weak and there are more of us every day. Of course, democracy needs you! in order to work. So I hope you'll join the effort, at the federal level during farmbill, or perhaps if its your inclination at the local level. To point our policy towards progress.
FIVE ITEMS to consider in this newsletter.
1. READING in bed ! Homework can be cosy.
2. FARMHACK=Greenhorns and National Young Farmers Coalition (especially Ben Shute, Severine and Dorn Cox) have been very hard at work on FARMHACK- a community for farm innovation.
Both online and in person, collaboration makes it happen.
3. Major events this year, MIT, SUNY and Greenstart NH.
Engineers circled with farmers in a Grange hall, dehulling oats, designing web-interface, working in a focused atmosphere of mutual respect and investigation.
We roped in Amy Francheshini, of FutureFarmers.com to design the front end.
Forum and Wiki are still in design phase. But we are much the happier for being partway LAUNCHED.
* Also, Eliot Coleman watched Ben's presentation and offered up the CAD-designs of his swiggle hoes+ other tools for the open-source archive.
The next one is up at Intervale in late late April. So if you want in on the process- join the NYFC
--->spanking new website (still beta)
4. PODcasts in the car. A short, though intense, analysis of the situation has yielded a useful insight: Young farmers spend a lot of time driving. Between shlepping produce, and rural living-- many miles get logged, and really if we are serious about outreach to young farmers we'd better figure out how to compete in the ' lady gaga/ NPR radio space'. Consequently we've amp'd up our podcast offerings, our trawling on your behalf, and our coordination of the young farmers's community of sound-makers. We hope to help you shift your podcast-literacy, in the MORE, USEFUL+BETTER direction. Below is a good start, check the blog for more.
--> "Farmbill Policy Podcasts" with our local community Radio station WGXC with a headquarters literally across the park from our office. http://www.wgxc.org/archives/3390. Intro/ Outro music by Max Strawn Godfrey, worksonger from Georgia. (some are not yet archived)
---> "Heritage/ Greenhorn Radio Podcasts". There are now about 90 podcasts up there that you can download to your smartphone and listen to.
---> New Economics Institute/ Vimeos. You can listen to vimeo videos as a podcast. Just let it load on your smartphone and then push play. Here is a good one to start with.
And here are all their MP3 files stored nicely at archive.org.
And here is the story of 2 young farmers who were the beneficiaries of a wonderful commumity process, and now run Indian Line Farm.
----> Here is an opensource audio project
http://kosmoswps1.thing.net/new_site/component/option,com_alphacontent/section,100/cat,14/Itemid,187/ ( thanks to Caroline Woolard for sharing)
---> Archive.org has a 200,000 entry library of old timey radio shows, grateful dead, alternative news programs, books etc.
http://www.archive.org/details/audio. Here is Moby Dick, broken into manageable chapters http://www.archive.org/details/moby_dick_librivox
---> Folkways radio, http://www.folkways.si.edu/. You can do it live streaming on your computer, not sure about car-friendly version yet.
---> If you have suggestions of audio/ podcast/ smart phone friendly soundsystems please be in touch. This week we are recording BEE SONGS with Sam Comfort, a song called "Greenhorns' by Reid Jenkins, for the ALMANAC audio project. Want to record young-farmer relevant content for the almanac? Email Colie Collen, Almanac coordinator with your pitch.
---> Regenerative Agriculture podcast is interviewing our friend Dorn Cox about his soil carbon projects
3. ETSY poster sales/
If you cannot stop the shopping,
at least do it nicely.
or come into our mainsteet Hudson, NY headquarters.
Which we share with seamstress Vilma Mare.
"seeds are our future"
"serve your country food, sheep map"
"farming: a job outside"
"fruits of your labor"
"seeds, you have so much potential"
"use your tools wisely"
"spend some time in the kitchen with your friends"
"your trusty steed"
4. Events to know about
Mark the calendar for January:
SAWG- Little Rock ARKANSAS mixer on Saturday, screening on Friday
MOSES- Screening on Thursday, Lacrosse WISCONSIN
NOFA NY- SARATOGA, mixer w/ Hudson Valley young farmers coalition and NOFA NY beginning farmer project.
Brower Center, Berkeley CA, February 13th, Preview Screening of OURLAND.
Top secret actually, but if you are this mailing list you can come.
Also top secret still is Farmhack Intervale, April. Date announced at NOFA NY/VT.
In case you are new to this list and thinking of writing us a check, here are some events we did this year:
Shearing sheep in the Oakland Museum's Seed Circus,
Bartering with artists "Possibility Posse" in the Union Square Pavillion with Ourgoods.net,
Conspiring with open-source Engineers at Farm HAck events (Mass. Institute of Technology (MIT) and then SUNY and Greenstart New Hampshire,
Mixers in 4 Grange Halls,
Daylong Brownfield remediation workshop (with bike tour) in Baltimore,
young farmer panels (literally dozens of young farmer panels),
Month long tour in the Pacific Northwest,
A massage-for-farmers workshop in Maine,
A theatre collaboration in the Fracking-endangered Sullivan County NY,
more than 300 community-driven screenings of our little indie documentary,
a Farmers March with Occupy Wall Street,
more than 90 young farmer podcasts,
and even a couple of Film festivals.
5. This work must go on. Cash is needed.
St. Augustine says HOPE has two daughters: ANGER and COURAGE.
CONTRIBUTIONS ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE:
make check out to S.E.E. ( our fiscal sponsor)
PO Box 808
Rhinebeck, NY 12572
Merry merry Mangers and north stars.
Goose noises to you all.
Severine v T Fleming+
Jordan Kinley, DP and editor OURLAND
Lucas Potzak+ Sarah Tautin, Ourland production / events coordination
Amy Francheshini, Farmhack WEST/ Ourland graphics
Sydney Flint, Seamstressing+ Seed Circus props
Ben Shute+ Dorn Cox+ Rob Rock, Farmhack EAST
Lulu Mclellan, Ourland Wineland tour
Laura Cline, Graphic design
Colie Cullen, New Farmers Almanac
Hannah Bernhardt, Heritage Radio/ WGXC Radio policy podcasts/ Cornell project dire
Chris Kennedy, Cornell
Ines Chapela, Logistics
Brooke Budner, Pictures+ Posters
Brigid, Etsy management
Anne, Chandler, Michelle, Blog Team
Louella Hill, Seed Circus Oakland
Elise Mcmahon, Zoe Latta, Sydney B, sets props, banners
Emily Hanson, upper Midwest organizing
Maren Miller, Web
Christy Tao, logistics, screenings, accounting