The Irresistible Fleet of Bicycles

grass roots farmers’ cooperative guide to overcoming the barriers for beginning farmers

posted January 24, 2018

credit: Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative

Howdy! Cody Hopkins, here. I’m thrilled to be guest blogging for the Greenhorns on behalf of Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative. We’re a group of pasture-based livestock farmers operating under a single set of animal husbandry standards and selling our meats under the same brand. Of the many exciting endeavors our cooperative has set out to accomplish, the one I want to focus on here is our efforts to breakdown the daunting barriers to entry for beginning farmers.

My wife Andrea and I are fortunate to have been farming for 11 years now. When we first founded Falling Sky Farm, we had a lot of support from friends and family. But not everyone is so lucky. And even though we had relatively easy access to leased land (a barrier that’s insurmountable to a lot of folks looking to get started in agriculture). Dealing with the lack of access to processing and cold storage services, combined with managing the complexity of operating a fast-growing small business, was extremely overwhelming.
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downeast foxfire camp registration now open!

posted January 23, 2018

Downeast Foxfire Camp is a ten-day rowing and sailing expedition in eastern Maine that is being hosted by the Greenhorns and taught by the wonderful and talented Arista Holden. The expedition will take place from August 17th – 26th 2018. 

In addition to travelling in a Bantry Bay gig to rugged, spruce-covered islands and peninsulas, we will be celebrating the folk traditions of the Maine coast and practicing our best “Leave No Trace” camp craft techniques. Together we will learn traditional crafts, sustainable forestry techniques and island farming. Expect to be challenged, inspired and to make life-long friends as we ebb and flow along with the 12 foot tides in an environment of support, safety and encouragement. 

The course boh starts and Ends in Machiasport, Maine – 44 ̊37’15” N  67 ̊23’03” W 

The cost of this expedition is $450 which includes:

– Three meals a day with snacks
Training in:
– Traditional seamanship: rowing, sailing, navigation, knots, tide and weather
– Spoon carving and birch bark containers
– Sustainable firewood lot management
– Salt water farming
– Leave No Trace camp craft techniques
– Foxfire oral story collection
– Lots of smiles, support and spontaneous fun.

*Not Included:
Getting to/from Machiasport. (However we will help you connect with other participants to carpool)
The nearest International airport and bus station with connections to major US cities is in Bangor.

Group size: 15-25 people​

Have ​questions? Please contact:
Arista Holden
Trainer and Program Director of Downeast Foxfire Camp.
arista@greenhorns.org

Click HERE to find out more about the Downeast Foxfire Camp!


Submit to The New Farmer’s Almanac!

posted January 3, 2018

Greetings writers, artists, photographers, and agrarians! It’s almanac time again! If you would like to contribute, now is the time to get thinking, writing, and creating. This year we have a wonderful new editor, Briana Olsen. Contact her with your ideas and submissions at almanac@greenhorns.org. Please see below for more details about the submissions process as well as our guidelines for themes for the upcoming Almanac.

Submission Guidelines:

Deadlines

For best consideration, send a quick description of your piece to almanac@greenhorns.org by the end of February. After February, we will continue to review submissions on a rolling basis. Query before submitting at almanac@greenhorns.org.

 
Written Submissions
Send us essays, interviews, recipes, ruminations, reading lists, rants, star charts, stories, instructions, jokes, thoughts, dreams, or other curious textual things. For prose, 700 words (give or take) is our preferred length. If you’re submitting poems, give us up to three to consider. If your work defies such categories, aim for one page, or two, or three (but no more than that unless we ask).

Visual Arts Submissions
Send us your photographs, original art, illustrations, picture essays, flowcharts, diagrams, maps, doodles, or natural world paraphernalia. Whatever your medium, materials should be submitted as 300 dpi grayscale images, formatted as .tiff, .png, or .jpg files. With each piece, please specify artist name, name of work, and medium.

Farmers React
We will solicit your reactions to selected art works early in 2018. Let us know if this form of writing calls to you.

Themes & Questions
As usual we have laid out some themes as a scaffold to inspire and provoke your Almanac contributions. You can ignore them, or you can rebut them–but it does seem to work well when we have some consonance within the chapters.

The overarching theme of this year’s Almanac is a bigger, broader, more inclusive understanding of who we are as Americans, as humans, and as agrarians. As Marada Cook says, “Food is physical” — the physical proof of a series of interlinked land actors. When Aldo Leopold talks about “land as a community to which we all belong,” we can recognize ourselves and each other as inextricably connected beneficiaries and victims of land-use decisions. Directly or indirectly. Now or sometime soon. The fictional and exclusive “we” that sees itself set apart from the coiling, uncoiling, and recoiling of nature’s laws and our society’s inequities may exist in television and consumerist narratives, but it is a shrinking and fortified minority.

We therefore challenge ourselves to look directly at the questions: “Who are we? And how can we work together?”

Aren’t we the successors of the oppressors and the oppressed? Aren’t we the inheritors and en-actors of their historical legacies? Aren’t we the offspring of homesteaders, of slaves, of indentured servants, of the dispossessed Irish, Scottish, Chinese, Mexican, African, Japanese, and Caribbean diasporas? Aren’t we descended from the trail-guard cavalry or the buckboard opportunists with a pick-axe? Aren’t we the H2A guest workers, or undocumented and fearing the traffic cop? Aren’t we the kids on the Reservation, or orphaned from it by bureaucracy? Aren’t we those chased over the border by structural adjustments, refugees of the “Green Revolution”? Aren’t we citizens of this same landscape, voters in our watersheds, stewards in the neighborhood, committee members to a changing climate? Isn’t that the we that we are talking about?

As in nature, our diversity will always be our strength. It will take all of us working together–and valuing our differences as much as our commonalities–to turn our world’s situation around. Our hearts and minds, shovels and sandbags, our libraries and schools, our relief efforts and common grounds are more crucial now than ever to address crises near and far.

The editors of The New Farmer’s Almanac challenge you, dear authors and agrarians, to consider the many that make up the WE, the many that create US as collaborators in our shared project of survival. We invite you to name your subject, your object, your actions, and your place in the ecosystem of succeeding, emergent, spontaneous, collaborative future-making that lies ahead.

January

What story are WE?

Reflections on the Trump era, local practices, resilience-based organizing. Tuning in, Tuning out–coping strategies, adrenaline and keeping it real.

– Peace Economy, relations in a small town.

– Peace Economy, relations in the big city.

– Peace culture, non-violence and relating through conflict.

– Peace culture–relating across histories with hispano/indigenous water rights.

– Radical Extension–a thought experiment on how the Extension service might operate in the future, imagine the role of community testing plots for new crops and varieties.

– Punk Extension–a thought experiment on how communities might self organize to do crop research and form adaptation strategies on next crops…

February

Age of SAIL

Looking across the bow at a new economy–a report from the International Sail Freight Alliance.

– How do we orient (post-colonially) to the logic of the landscape, the harbor, the river-system, the portages and canal-making.

– Bodies in Motion/Thoughts on animal movement, human migrations, and the finding of habitable habitats in our beleaguered world.

– Re-negotiating terms of trade.

– Re-negotiating settlement norms.

– Looking at the cargos pre-diesel:Sandalwood, Potatoes and Sardines to the California Gold Rush, Opium and tea Trades, Chilean Nitrate, Russian Hemps, Chinese Silks, Tropical Hardwoods, Masts and lumber, Molasses and Rum, Ice to India. Pick a story, go research it– and tell us what you learn of its enduring consequence.

– Wobbling docks, longshoremen, and the Wobblies.

– Some thoughts on Partnerships and LLCs.

Book Review.

March

Age of TRAIL

Criss-crossing the plains and passes. Please choose one and teach us about it.

– The role of the US cavalry, native treaty negotiations, and broken promises. Fort Laramie.

– The history of trade along the Santa Fe Trail.

– Jedediah Smith and the Beaver trade.

– Forts–Fort theory.

– Fording the rivers, taxes, veins, caches, the Cumberland Gap.

– Research Project: Comparative legal infrastructures of Pastoralism (i.e. Seven North African nations agree to allow their pastoralists to travel freely between the nations without harm).

– Forgotten words, “Land Marks” of animal passage.

– Beginners’ guide to Fruit Exploring.

– Tracking on the farm, using spoor and knowing the wild life.

– Quaker Underground, apples, and peace.

Book Review.

April

Age of RAIL

Farmers Cooperatives, especially the sheep/goat cooperatives of Texas and Colorado, a micro history.

– Hoard’s Dairy, the Wisconsin cooperative milk delivery history.

– The Oak Savanna, and its analogues (Savanna Institute).

– Cattle hubs and spokes, slaughter, hides, buffalo robes.

– Oil Trains, a report from Wisconsin on the rail freight of fracked shale gas.

– Vision for bio-myco-remediation of contaminated railroad lands.

Book Review.

May

FAIL

Failure

Failing

Exploring trauma in relation to extreme weather.

– Fraternity, exploring the themes, rituals, economic relations and underlying lessons of Fraternal orders in the US.

– Stories from Grange revivals and dissolutions.

– Healing from Lyme.

– What went down with the California “Green Grange Movement.”

Farmers react: ART PIECE.

June

Faith Lands
Testimony from farmers working within religious communities, or on church-owned lands.

– A report from the Catholic Workers Movement.

– Report from Puerto Rico/Caribbean relief work.

– Report from the American Friends Service Committee.

– Culinary Seed Breeders Network.

– Sandhill Cranes, migration and the Federal Wildlife Reserve system (GMOs?).

– Super PACs–back to the land as a progressive political strategy, Brian Donahue…

Farmers react: ART PIECE.

July

Labor forms, Labor arrangements, Negotiating power.
Sharecropping

– Illustration: Comparative value systems for shared profit models (East India Company, Letters of Marque, Whalers, Merchant-ships, Sharecropping arrangements) (cotton, pecans, wheat ground, marijuana cartel). *Will require some research and interviews.

– Illustration: Peasant holidays secured in different feudal arrangements, concessions for subsistence alongside service to the estate/center of power.

– Overview of the H2A system.

– Description of the Student Loan Forgiveness program.

– Illustration: Photos of Sharecropper houses, photos of sugar cane workers, photos of Mockabee farmworker houses, photos of farm apprenticeship housing, photos of mini-houses, photos of prairie homesteads, photos of worker trailers.

– Sharecroppers Union formed Southern Federation of Cooperatives, the legacy and the work ahead.

Farmers react: ART PIECE.

August

Reparations

What would a Restoration Economy look like? And would it pay as much as videography?

– Confronting racism in the food system.

– Sherman’s Order.

– Solidarity practices.

– Thought experiment: What would it look like if the Food Deserts got a Land Trust, and elected to protect their agricultural foodshed?

– Intersectionality.

– Acequia stories: Hispano/Indigenous water rights issues in the Southwest.

Book Review.

September

Marijuana culture

– Marijuana philanthropy, small town politics.

– Market limits…Who will smoke it all?

– Race and enforcement, legalization for whom?

– CBD recipes and markets.

– Venture stoners.

– Discussions about warehouses, hydroponics, and the future of ‘organic’.

Book Review.

October

Genetics

– Population breeding, a report on the work in Italy.

– Adaptation, how does nature learn?

– Assisted migration theory, SW Seed Partnership botanists explain their work collecting seed from native populations for restoration practices.

– Personal audit, who are my people? Which WEs am I?

November

Native Sovereignty Movements

– The work ahead.

– Native food products, aggregation.

– The story of Chimayó chiles.

– ‘First foods’.

– About the Huckleberry Commons of Mt. Hood.

Book Review.

December

Scar Commons

Looking at the forms of human coping post-crisis, post-displacement. How we reformulate ourselves into coherence. Reactive institution-making.

– Refugee farms, Alcoholics Anonymous, Syrian Seed bank project, Community Centers in the old rural schools, and on.

– Personal reflections on healing from trauma.

With thanks,

Briana Olson – Lead Editor
Severine vT Fleming – Director of the Greenhorns
Katie Eberle – Visual Editor
Emma O’Leary – Office Manager


Agriculture Conference 2018

posted December 21, 2017

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Agriculture Conference 2018 will take place from the 7th to 10th of February at the Goetheanum in Dornach.

The biodynamic preparations bring vitality to the earth, its fruits, the farms and their communities. They inspire our actions and bring concrete benefits to nature as a whole. They also present us with big questions. At the conference insights will be shared from all over the world and in order to inspire and encourage, there will be an intensive exchange of experiences. Those invited include farmers, gardeners, wine growers, orchardists, herb growers, advisors, researchers, students and apprentices, food processors, traders, cooks, nature educators and also consumers and friends of the biodynamic impulse. The plenary sessions will explore the preparations in all their breadth and depth, in the parallel themed sessions specialists will be able to share experiences and deepen their work while in the workshops intensive personal dialogue will be encouraged. To complete the programme there will be music, artistic courses, guided tours of the Goetheanum and an exhibition. 

The conference includes: Themed sessions on biodynamic preparations for viticulture, food, tropical agriculture, preparations in daily life, soil fertility, medicinal plants and herbs, plus 23 workshops, 14 artistic courses and 15 guided tours. All are welcome.

Click HERE for the Programme and HERE to register.


intergenerational succession?

posted December 20, 2017

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‘If there’s no water, what’s the point?’ Female farmers in Arizona – a photo essay

Debbie Weingarten and Audra Mulkern, December 19th 2017, The Guardian 

Despite the fact that women have always farmed, they have been left out of our agricultural narrative. An incomplete story has real consequences: women have been left off land titles and bank documents; they have been denied federal loans and training opportunities; and until the 1982 census of agriculture, female farmers were not counted at all.

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“gene drive” proposal to make weeds more susceptible to ROundup

posted December 19, 2017

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The Heinrich Boll Foundation and the ETC Group recently released a 20 page report about the ill defined and understood “Climate Smart Agriculture”. Unsurprisingly the agro-industrial sector has embraced these developments that rely heavily on synthetic biology. Synthetic biology sometimes dubbed “genetic engineering on steroids,” broadly refers to the use of computer-assisted, biological engineering to design and construct new synthetic life forms, living parts, devices and systems that do not exist in nature. Proponents maintain that designer crops and entirely genetically new products are the way forward in the fight against climate change. The lobbying power of this sector is significant, we cannot allow them alone to dictate the future of the food system.

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the strategy of crooked cucumbers

posted December 18, 2017

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credit: Max Pixel

In the southwest German city of Freiburg, there is a successful co-op of some 260 people who are participating in successful organic vegetable gardening and sharing the costs and risks. Whatever the harvest, good or poor, it’s distributed to all members. Cucumbers are allowed to be bent, carrots entwined, the occasional lettuce smaller than average. Seasonal, totally organic growing, 100% original seed, local food production, solidarity economics, collective property and education are some of the many hallmarks of the work that they are doing.
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mofga charcuterie workshop

posted December 15, 2017

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Join Andy Smith of Smith’s Smokehouse and delve into the basics of charcuterie through a series of four workshops. Learn how to create your own charcuterie goods, and potential business, and then dig deep into a variety of curing processes including bacon, bresaola, beef jerky and more!

Don’t forget to register for this course, there are only 10 spots available. The complete series is $350 for MOFGA members and $400 for non-members. Each course will take place at Smith’s Smokehouse; bring your own lunch.

Click HERE to register and please contact Anna Mueller at events@mofga.org if you have any questions.


woodlanders – exploring the work of people who depend on and care for forests

posted December 15, 2017

Woodlanders is an online film series that seeks to document the work of people who care for and depend on forests for their livelihood and well-being throughout the world. They are up to 21 episodes now, and each episode focuses on a person or culture who has a sustainable relationship and/or livelihood with a forest. The topics covered range from Chestnut nurseries to oak swill basketry to woodland mushroom cultivation.

Click HERE to read more about the project and please consider donating to the patreon fund if you like the work that these wonderful filmmakers are doing.


the world’s first mycology school!

posted December 14, 2017

MYCOLOGOS is the world’s first online and in-person mycology school and demonstration mushroom farm, based in Portland, Oregon. They are currently raising funds through a Kickstarter campaign (ending December 20) where you can save up to 80% off online courses in mycology. The founder of mycologos, Peter McCoy will be teaching a Greenhorns mycology workshop in our new headquarters in Maine next Summer. Email greenhornsoffice@gmail.com to express your interest in this July 2018 class.
Click HERE to check out the kickstarter, there is only 6 days left to donate!