The Irresistible Fleet of Bicycles

flintsburg, the perils of privatization of water services

posted May 31, 2018

Dangerously high levels of lead in Pittsburgh’s drinking water

It has recently emerged that a lack of corrosion control in the water system in Pittsburgh has caused dangerously high levels of lead in the city’s drinking water. According to Dr. Marc Edwards, levels recorded in Pittsburgh are even higher than the levels recorded in Flint MI in 2015. A lack of corrosion control was the physical issue in Flint, as it is in Pittsburg. However, that the level of lead was allowed to get to such levels shows an utter disregard for the wellbeing of those affected. Government and private actors tasked to serve the people and provide basic and essential services have failed.

It is not surprising to learn that the private company behind the lead crisis in Flint, is behind the current situation in Pittsburgh. Vieola is the worlds largest private supplier of water services.

Unaccountable

The cities of both Flint and Pittsburgh have taken legal action against Vieola. Charges in flint include: “professional negligence and fraud. These actions caused Flint’s lead poisoning problem to continue and worsen, and created an ongoing public nuisance”. In Pittsburgh, the Water and Sewer Authority sued Vieola in 2016 for the sum of $12.5 million. Charges against Vieola include: gross mismanagement of PWSA’s operations, abuse of it’s position of trust and confidence, and misleading and deceiving PWSA.

Despite legal proceedings, Vieola has so far been able to avoid responsibility. In Pittsburgh both the city and Vieola are trying to pass the blame onto each other. Neither party is taking responsibility for poisoning those who they should be accountable to. After an extensive arbitration process Vieola and the city authority issued a joint statement . It said that neither party “admits or concedes any allegations or claims made”

In an era of increasing water scarcity and rapid urban growth, privatization of water services and resources is a global threat. Privitization can seriously undermine the democratic control and power of the people and the structures of the state. Recent events have shown that water privitization also puts the people at risk of being held hostage by unaccountable mega-corporations who have a monopoly on our most precious resource – water.

Read more in the Intercept HERE.


the first of the summer events – gps for beginners june 10th

posted May 29, 2018

There are less than two weeks to go before we kick off our jam packed summer events schedule in Downeast costal Maine! First up on June 10th is GPS for Beginners, led by Markley Boyer. This workshop will be particularly useful for agrarians, young and old who are looking to more efficiently use their land, as well as those interested in cartography and topography.
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a guide to sharing farm equipment

posted May 21, 2018

Faith Gilbert has just released her Guide to Sharing Farm Equipment, a 42-page guidebook intended for farmers, service providers, cooperators, and organizers of shared equipment pools. The guidebook covers a wide array of practical concerns for equipment sharing. It includes case studies, a review of ownership and management arrangements, financial considerations, annotated budgets, best practices, as well as much more to facilitate tool-sharing initiatives. It’s available for free online HERE and print copies are available by request from Letterbox Farm.

the coffelt farm on orcas island is seeking a farmhand!

posted May 16, 2018

The Coffelt Farm is an historic, diversified farm situated on 185 acres in pastoral Crow Valley. Farm operations include a certified raw milk dairy, a market garden, orchards, and a livestock operation which includes cattle, sheep, hogs, and poultry.

Here are the farmhand position details:
Duties and Responsibilities
  • Helping care for all livestock, including, sheep, chickens, beef, dairy cows, and hogs
  • Assisting with milking and bottling most days
  • Assisting with harvest of livestock
  • Helping to maintain facilities, equipment and tools
  • Participating in on-site educational activities
  • Participating in garden and orchard care
  • Helping with various other seasonal work (haying, etc.)
Personal Qualifications
  • Farm-related work experience
  • Strong commitment to the mission of the Coffelt Farm
  • Positive attitude and willingness to work cooperatively and take direction
  • Self-motivated
  • Able to perform physical labor in all types of weather
Compensation
  • $800-1000/month stipend
  • Basic housing (trailer)
  • Produce, milk and eggs and some meals

Click HERE to visit their website and please contact Sara Joy at: sjoypalm@gmail.com to apply.


bicimakina: biking across the US celebrating alternative uses for human-power

posted May 15, 2018

credit: bicimakina

 

You may be familiar with Farm Hack, started by Greenhorns founder Severine. Farm Hack is a worldwide community of farmers that build and modify their own tools (including a few bicycle based tools like the bike tractor). But have you heard about Bicimakina? Bicimakina is a community of makers, educators, and enthusiasts all joined by a common love of human-powered machines. Pedal-powered blenders and hand-cranked grain mills are just a few of the awesome machines that these guys have come up with. Their mission is to create a renaissance of interest and exploration into human-powered technology.

This fall, the Bicimakina team are leaving Oregon and heading across the US on an epic bike trip to find and interview other like-minded Human-Powered Machine users and builders. If you are one of these minded people get in touch with them and tell them about your project and they might just come to you! Their trip will take a year, and their exact route will be determined by the locations of the people who are going to be on the show but their goal is to do a full loop across the US.

Check out their website HERE


newsletter: summer schedule….and more!

posted May 8, 2018

Hark the peeps!

Sniff the earth!

SHE IS HERE!

In this edition:

  • Greenhorns summer schedule
  • Sources of hopeful and useful news
  • Engagement opportunities with Greenhorns

Summer Schedule

As you know Greenhorns has recently moved our headquarters to ‘Reversing Hall’ , an old Odd Fellows Hall in Pembroke, Downeast Maine. To celebrate and showcase our beautiful and historic HQ we will be hosting an array of summer workshops and camps that support the entry of young people into sustainable agriculture in Pembroke this summer.

June:
GPS for Beginners  June 10th

 

Our teacher is Markley Boyer, conservationist and adventurer and we will be learning how to use digital mapping, remote sensing, large-scale print-outs and plain old drafting paper to create working farm management plans. We’ll use great software to access different layers of information (soils, tax maps, etc). The resulting maps/farm plans can be used for grazing management, organic certification, trail-making, agroforestry, monitoring seaweed harvests and other aquatic users, and includes multi-layered data about weather, wildlife and other phenomenology.

We will work with a variety of tools, comparing best uses. From Open Source: Farmier, Gaia Maps, Pasturemap, Prospect, maybe even a tiny bit of google maps. We have a few lender-laptops for those who need, if you have a laptop please bring it. Class size is limited, scholarships available. $40 to register: office@greenhorns.org

One day short-course in Scything: June 15th

Taught by scything legend (and neighbor farmer) Jim Kovaleski and Carol Bryan of Scythe Supply. You will learn to manage fencerows, roads, paths, lawns, orchards – all without motor noise! Find the optimal physics, the romance of the swing, and learn some small tricks for sharpening and blade maintenance. (If you are coming from away, plan to arrive the evening of June 14th)

No purchase of Scythe is required, but all equipment will be available for sale. The daylong course costs $20 for downeasters/$40 from away, and includes camping, picnic lunch, use of outdoor kitchen.

Trail building theory and practice workshop: June 16th & 17th

Hosted by:
– Brannan Buehner of Owl and Bear Tree services,
– Connor Stedman of Appleseed Permaculture,
– Deirdre Whitehead, Maine Coast Heritage Trust land steward

All animals and all empires understand the power of the trail – but do you? We’ll cover siting and planning, tool-use, wet-area materials, underbrush and trail-edge management. Reading slope, topography, landform– what does the land want? How can we design a sensuous slalom, with just enough intervention and design? We’ll do some wildlife trailing and tracking, noticing how animals use the landscape, where do they congregate, over-winter, nestle-down. How does this relate to our own goals, for hunting, for under-story herbalism, for siting our pathways across the forest?

Join 3 experienced trail-makers as we cover theory, tools, practices and implementation in a very beautiful Maine forest. We’ll create some trail earthworks (swales, drainages, water-bars, brush-piles and brush-gabions) that prevent erosive decline of the trail-way, and discuss remediation for old lumber roads. The techniques of trail-making can build skills relevant on self-willed as well as domesticated landscapes, today’s meadows are yesterday’s woodlands. From here, we can begin drawing the forest-habitat back out into the meadows with agroforestry planning. YES! We will actually make trails through a beautiful forest on a salt-water farm in Downeast Maine and you will gain serious confidence to make better trails in whatever forested landscapes you call home. (June 15 afternoon/evening arrival)

$25 downeasters/$60 from away for the two day course, includes all meals. Scholarships available, email: office@greenhorns.org

Wild and Cultivated Algae: Seaweed workshop #1: June 23rd

This will include a full day session with Sarah Redmond and special guest teachers which will feature:

  • Presentations and Slideshows at the Reversing Hall, field study on the shore.
  • Orientation to the Inter-tidal, marine biology
  • Introduction to wildcrafting and farming edible seaweeds.
  • Look at the history of seaweed aquaculture around the world.
  • Looking at the potential for seaweed aquaculture in Maine: opportunities and risks.
  • Introduction to the work of Elinor Ostrom on the Commons, and principles of community resource management.
  • Introduction to species, ecology, ethics, equipment, siting considerations, seasonality, harvest, processing.
  • We’ll discuss bio-safety protocols, look at seaweed health and disease management strategies.
  • We will talk about local economy, political ecology and learning our lessons from fisheries history in Maine.
  • We’ll discuss what kind of policy is needed create a Maine seaweed sector inviting to young, conservation-minded mariculturists.
  • We’ll evaluate wild and cultivated products, discuss best practices and market potential
  • We will have plenty of time for discussion.

Farm lunch provided $200/Scholarships available. Email office@greenhorns.org to RSVP

July

– July 21st – 22nd: “Halls away Downeast” – A bus-your of historic halls from Ellsworth to Eastport, Maine.

August

– All of August: Blueberry Camp!
– August 5th: Blueberry Wine Workshop
– August 17th – 25th: Sail Training Camp – Downeast Foxfire with Arista Holden

September

– September 7th – 9th: Edible Wild Plants and Mushrooms in the Maine Woodlands and Wildlands – with Russ Cohen and Peter McCoy

October

– October 13th: Wild fruit vinega! Making apple cider vinegar on a homestead scale.

Emma made a nice calendar online where you can view the full line up.

We’ve also got a few hovering workshops on natural beekeeping, oystering and another one on seaweed ecology…so stay tuned! We will be posting them on social media and the online calendar.

Sources of hopeful and useful news

Given the state of the world, we are finding that without some effort we fall into a NYTime/NPR/Guardian votex of headline -in the time that could be spend on personal research and inquiry on topics relevant to intervention. Therefore we have been taking the effort to catelog alternative sources of new and learning which can occupy the ‘news curiosity’ in a more uplifting and fulfillling manner You get the drift?

Global Sisters Report – news from nuns around the world.
Reveal – a podcast from the Centre for Investigative Reporting.
Down to Earth – a podcast from Quivira Coalition
The new food economy – a slightly bitchy new online food and farm news source, we love them!

Here is a list of others that you should check out too!

Purple Pitchfork
Heritage Radio Network
Farmer to Farmer Podcasts
Permaculture Voices
Farmstead Meatsmiths
Ileia magazine
The Ruminant
Radio Cate/ Down to Earth
NextEconomyNow Podcast
Delicious Revolution Podcast
The Daily Yonder
Civil Eats
Ag Insider
Tilth Online
Perennial Plate videos
Rural in These Times newspaper
Rural Roots Film Festival
Farmerama Podcast

Engagement Opportunities

Sought: EXPERIENCED and EXCELLENT volunteer proofreader/final editor for the forthcoming Greenhorns guide to Food Logistics. You will work in partnership with Claire and Leah the authors, to bring to final perfection our new guidebooks as we head into layout and art production. It says volunteer, but we’d be very willing to barter you a free tipi-weekend with blueberries and boating for your family. Email office@greenhorns.org

Sought: Part-time Spring/Summer Greenhorns! We’re looking for a few good part time residential workers to help with establishing our summer camp infrastructure, cataloging the library, preparing the hall for the new office and our summer programs. We can also help you find other local work around here in Downeast Maine…there are wonderful local organic businesses to chose from. Get in touch now! with your resume and cover letter. Early birds et their first choice of bay-view tend platform. We are looking for motivated, happy, helpful and kind-spirited Greenhorns for our new home, we had such delightful winter helpers..and now the sun is shining and the air is warm! Email office@greenhorns.org

Sought: micro-part-time Greenhorns bloggers, please get in touch with Emma@greenhorns.org, blog maven about contributing to our beloved blog. Usually it’s a 1-2 hour a week commitment and gives you a chance to peer into an amazing trove of news items!

Looking forward to a very busy summer!

Thanks to our crew,

Soraya Farivar – Former intern, current Greenhorn
Ethan Bien – OurLand
Arista Holden – Downeast Fox Fire Sail Camp
Briana Olson – Almanac Editor
Katie Eberle – Almanac Design
Leah Cook & Claire Cekander –  Greenhorns Guide to Food Logistics
Emma O’Leary – Administrative Director
Ian McSweeney – Treasurer
Severine Fleming – Director

Donate to help the Greenhorns continue with our important work. Please click here and feel happy that your support is shared (8%) with our new fiscal sponsor MOFGA (Maine Farmers and Gardeners Association)


the maine rice project is looking for land!

posted April 25, 2018

You may remember our previous post about The Maine Rice Project. Their goal is to get as many farmers and folks  as possible eating and growing rice throughout Maine, the Maritimes, and the Northeast. They recently received a grant from Maine Technology Institute to expand their rice growing operation and are looking for help finding new sites to expand to.

For the past five years the project has been based out of Wild Folk Farm in Benton. During that time the Ben and Asher  have successfully shown that rice can be grown in Maine, and that there is a market for it. They have expanded from one small experimental rice paddy, to 2/3 of an acre in rice paddy cultivation, producing 3,000 pounds of rice annually and have learned a lot along the way. Right now demand for their rice is surpassing what they can supply at our farm (how awesome is that!).

This summer the search is on for new locations in the state of Maine on which to build a bigger, better rice paddy system. They are looking to partner with existing farms interested in incorporating rice paddies into their farm operations and/or leasing land to grow rice. The rice paddy system they are planning to build will be in the range of 1-4 acres, and site work is expected to begin spring of 2019.

Paddy systems will be built and designed based on individual site characteristics, working with farm owners to ensure designs integrate well into their current operations. One of the advantages of growing rice in Maine is that rice paddies work best in poorly drained, clay rich soil which do not typically suit growing vegetables and other crops. There is plenty of this kind of soil in Maine.

A good rice paddy site will need to have the following basic characteristics:
1) Clay Soil
2) Uphill pond with good capacity, or place to dig one
3)  slight slope for water management
4) Zone 4b or warmer

For more information visit: wildfolkfarm.com or email: wildfolkfarmers@gmail.com


first draft of the next farm bill just released

posted April 13, 2018

Farm Bill Swiss Army Knife

Yesterday, the House Ag Committee released their first draft of the next farm bill, which when passed will be in place until 2023. 

The process required for the farm bill to pass is as follows:
1. The House Ag Committee releases their draft.
2. The committee meets for “markup,” when they suggest and vote on amendments – This is scheduled for next Wednesday,
3. The amended draft goes to the House floor to be voted on. At this stage, any member can introduce an amendment which will then be voted on. Once this process is completed the House will vote to pass a revised version of the farm bill.
4. After the House stage, a similar process will be followed in the Senate.
5. The final stages of passing a bill into law include the conference committee before the final vote.

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plant matter art show in portland maine april 13th

posted March 30, 2018

Rachel Alexandrou has been a regular contributor to Greenhorns New Farmers Almanac over the years. Her stunning work will be shown in a solo art show on April 13th in Portland Maine at Oxbow Brewery’s Gallery 49. Rachel’s current work focuses on concepts of decay, plant matter and herbarium specimens. 20% of the proceeds of the show will be kindly donated by Rachel to two land trust in the area, the Damariscotta River Association and Midcoast Conservancy.
Please support this wonderful artist and the equally wonderful cause that she has chosen.

maine governor blames land trusts for states rising property taxes

posted March 8, 2018

Maine Governor LePage
This message is sent on behalf of Tim Glidden, President at Maine Coast Heritage Trust. 

Dear Maine Land Trusts,

Last night, Governor LePage delivered his final State of the State address. As we expected, right out of the gate he blamed land trusts for Maine’s rising property taxes. He relied upon many statistics to make his case. Unfortunately, much of what he said was inaccurate and out of context.

What’s Missing?

The Governor’s comments continue to ignore the many benefits of conservation land to Maine people and our state’s economy. These land trust conserved lands include more than 2.1 million acres of productive forestland, 36,000 acres of active farmland, and more than 60 access sites for commercial fisherman. Land trusts also provide public access to sportsmen on more than 90% of all their conserved lands and thousands of miles of trails for hiking, skiing, mountain biking, ATV riding, and snowmobiling.

In addition, contrary to the Governor’s depiction, land trusts are working in partnership with municipalities, community leaders, and businesses all around the state to complete conservation projects to improve the lives of Maine people and visitors. This is why land conservation and efforts like the Land for Maine’s Future program continue to enjoy should broad, bipartisan support.

Big Misstatement

The Governor’s speech included the wild assertion that land trusts are responsible for removing more than $18 billion of land off the municipal tax rolls, resulting in a loss of more than $330 million in property taxes. To the contrary, the $18 billion and $330 million figures he referenced include all tax exempt real estate (land and buildings) owned by the Federal Government, the State of Maine, municipalities, quasi-municipal organizations, churches, and other nonprofits. We estimate the land trust component of this figure to be less than 1% of the total.

For more information and additional statistics about Maine land trusts and their lands, view the report HERE.

What you can do to help

MCHT anticipates that the Governor will be submitting legislation over the next month targeting land trust tax exemption eligibility.

Over the past few weeks, many of you have stepped up to submit opinion pieces to your local newspaper to tell the real story of land conservation in Maine. These have been very helpful. If you have not had a chance to submit something to your local newspaper, it is not too late.

Stay tuned for future updates on this issue. MCHT is working on additional communications strategies and will share with you the legislation once it becomes official.

Click HERE to watch the full speech (the land trust section begins around the 12-minute mark). Alternatively, you can also read a full transcript HERE